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Using the Rainy City with Risus

S. John Ross‘s Risus: The Anything RPG can do anything. It says so right on the tin.

And, if it is anything, the Rainy City is certainly something!

But because something isn’t exactly anything, we’ll need to narrow things down just a little.

The kit.

  1. First, grab Risus
  2. Next, grab the Visitor’s Guide to the Rainy City, which you can’t, strictly speaking, physically do yet (though you can buy it!). So for now, just grab a copy of the map from the Kickstarter page, and the free sample neighborhood spreads for Vagabond Bay and the Tower Cliffs, and then mine the tag “the rainy city” on this blog for ideas while you wait for the summer release of the actual full zine. 

Ok, take Risus. The house rules to apply are:

  1. One of your clichés should include your district, unless you’re a recently arrived refugee (and possible also even if you are a recently arrived refugee. 
    1. There are no restrictions on how few or how many dice you put in the cliché for your district. Maybe you’re not very well established or well connected or well liked in the district (1), or you just never fit in (also 1). Maybe you’re a paragon of the district or a Very Important Person (4). Maybe you’ve been trying your whole life to show that you aren’t like those other people in your district but everyone still knows you’re from there (4). Maybe you just got here, but the place just clicks (4). You know how to write a cliché. Use that. 
    2. You can have more than one district cliché if you’re from one district but have moved to or spent a lot of time working and living in another district. There’s no real limit here other than your imagination. And I suppose, also, your total number of cliché dice. 
  2. That’s it! That’s all the house rules. Unless you want house rules, in which case, use your house rules. 

Here are examples of all the main Districts as clichés, with example abilities, familiar places, and other specifics within each one to give a sense of the kinds of things you might use your district cliché for. As always, these are just to give you ideas and inspiration. They don’t follow a single standard style because these are example from different players that have come up in actual play of the city. They’re exemplary, not exclusionary — like everything in these “how to use the Rainy City with your favorite game” posts, the point is to inspire variaty, not close it off. That goes double for Risus — the whole point of a cliché from a game-design perspective is to connect to shared cultural knowledge without closing things off. 

As always, make the city, and these clichés, your own.

The Tower Cliffs

know a good hat when you see one ● know a spirit, demon, fairy when you see one ● recognize wizards by power and rank ● know the wizardous lineages (master/apprentice lines) ● get a gargoyle’s attention ● recognize when an out-of-towner is just a tourist and when they’re casing a tower ● never contest the way with a miner ● dodge magical misfires ●  avoid unruly apprentices ● remain calm in the face of high weirdness

Vagabond Bay

talk about the weather ● know a mermaid when you see one ● know a tax collector when you see one ● steer clear of the Sons of Arne ● spot a refugee in need of a helping hand ● Port Association for the Beneficial Incorporation of Refugees and Asylum Seekers ● know where to find a smuggler ● poxhardy (resist diseases… well, the symptoms at least) ● affable (carouse) ● spirited (hold your intoxicants well) ● lively (good in a bar-brawl) ● talk like a sailor ● get out of the damn water ● look blasé about weird people and cultures ● appease ghosts (if you’re from Murk Corners) ● befriend gulls ● steer clear of the Vagabond Bay Boys ● navigate narrow, twisted alleys ● sleep in a boat ● lend a hand to deepsies ● have a drink at the Three Sheets (Brining Lane) ● have a drink at the Dilly in the Dally (Brining Lane) ● don’t look fresh off the boat

Embassy Row

visit the Galleria ● bet on the races ● hold your own in a fencing match ● know the families, crests, and genealogies ● clip the inner swells in your fine vessel ● know your way around an estate ● speak diplomatically, even with the most curious of people ● respect the old money ● challenge the new money ● hold strong opinions about Art, Society, and Man ● I know absolutely everybody who’s anybody, Darling. ● You call that a foyer?

The Headlands

walk windswept roads ● shelter in a storm ● hunt on lonely moors ● hunt in deepest woods ● know who to talk to, and who not to talk to, on the road ● watch the flocks ● boat on rough coasts ● find warmth and comfort where you can ● carve wooden figures and scrimshaw ● know your way around the manor and the forest ● talk with village folk

Levee Town

know the signs ● know the paths ● have a drink at the Engine Room ● hold your breath to avoid the fumes, vapors and smoke ● mind the Constables ● keep track o’ cults, societies n’ brotherhoods ● fake your way through a quasi-religious ceremony ● know a Sump dweller when you see one ● politely walk away from a street prophet

The Mids

discuss recent scandals of Old Town, the  Mids and Embassy Row ● frequent the best shoppes and eateries ● host a dinner party  ● stay alert that your pocket not be picked ● avoid giving offense ● never contest the way with a porter, carriage, or coach ● watch for falling bricks, lamps, goods, &c ● walk the streets without getting your umbrella entangled ● for that matter, never contest the way with a baker, barber, chimney-sweeper, barrow-woman, &c ● navigate the Catacombs at day

Old Town

get the goods at the Bazaar of the Bizarre ● get on well with Thatchers ● get good deals from alchemists ● appreciate the opera at the Harmonious Chantry ● have a drink at Georgie’s Pub ● don’t stare at the gargoyles ● know where the best patterers are ● move briskly through crowded streets, alleys, and markets ● what’s the talk on the Eastern Market walk  ● spot strangers to Old Town ● know your roads, streets, and alleys, and what they once were

Rickety

walk with sea legs ● Navigate a maze of wood, nets and alleys ● find a proper drink ● find a proper game of chance ● roll o th’ dice ● tie a proper knot ● where’s a sailor go to get a proper tattoo round here? ● know sailin’ lore ● find a mermaid ● find hidden treasure ● hide treasure ● get a drink at the Rooster n’ Pig ● get a drink at the Black Tooth Grin ● get a drink at bosun’s buoy ● dodge Blackfeather’s Crew ● dodge Water Willie’s Crew ● dodge Early Yardarm’s Crew ● row a boat ● keep a beat ● look damned fine dancin’ at the end of a length of hempen rope ● talkin’ the walk

The Sump

know these waters and woods like the back of your hand ● squint at Will o’ the Wisps so as not to be enchanted ● travel by barge, raft, and canoe ● walk with stilts ● climb vines, ropes, ladders, and poles ● recognize the poison molds and fungi and avoid eating them even when you’re really hungry ● make stew out of a surprising variety of critters ● sucker punch and general fisticuffs ● eat boggy pie ● brew homemade rice beer ● avoid or appease the Flood Street Gentlemen ● avoid and appease the Flood Street Descendants ● have a fine meal and a drink at the Salted Leech

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