OmphalosSetting > OmphalosCity

Omphalos City

Omphalos, the Navel of the Worlds, is built much like a six sided funnel: the six border cities open into their individual planes, but each has one side that joins with Omphalos, and toward the center, the ground drops steadily until it plunges into an apparently bottomless pit, the Maw, whose sides are apparently layers of lost, abandoned, and destroyed cities. The area within the funnel is almost 2000 square kilometers, with a radius of 10km. The border cities outside the funnel differ in sizes, but their individual thresholds are at least 10.5km. Approximately 1.5 million people live within Omphalos, and twice that in the surrounding gateway cities.

Major Features of Omphalos City

The six planes that merge with Omphalos are called Cardinal Planes. Where they meet Omphalos, a Threshold is formed, looking like an inward-curving triangle, the upper tip vanishing into infinity. Within Omphalos, the sky looks as if it had been cut into sixths.

The city sinks inward toward the Maw at the rate of a block or so every decade.

The Monuments are the sole exception to this, eight landmarks, generally strange stone pillars etched with ancient writing. These alone do not drift inward to the Maw, and to a small extent, the ground around them is resistant to that eldritch pull; this causes a strange warping effect as buildings are pushed outward, rather than be dragged across a Monument, then inward after they have passed the Monument. Some buildings crash into one another in the process, and are rebuilt, then repaired as needed, creating accidental-looking architecture.

It is possible that Cysts are also an exception. What is known is that space becomes abruptly warped around a point, and a new structure appears, consisting of a pocket dimension apparently torn from another universe. Cysts are essentially like dungeons, in that they contain a magic crystal at their core, alien to the other dimension, either bonded to the cyst's guardian or protected by them. Once the guardian is slain and the crystal removed, the pocket dimension collapses, leaving behind only the superficial damage. Cysts are usually removed quickly, but if they persist, they become larger and more dangerous, expanding the warped area.

Portals will occasionally appear within Omphalos. These are true doors between dimensions, which last anywhere between hours, days, and weeks. They do not reappear; their main effect is that Beyonders may appear and become trapped in Omphalos, or people of Omphalos may disappear into them.

The Sky of Omphalos

The sky is divided into six parts, one for each of the planes, and the shared region is approximately a 10km diameter inverted funnel, going up apparently infinitely into the sky. How far, no one knows; the winds grow too strong and become rife with lightning storms and other strange effects. Whatever lies at the top is called only ‘Apex.’

Day and night differ for each of the Cardinal Planes, as do the number of suns and moons. It might be daylight in one plane, but due to the position of the sun there, the light might be directed away, leaving much of the city in shadow... Or it might be toward, and blanket the city. Astrologers go mad here, "skyshattered."

The Royal Ring

Within the Thresholds is the Royal Ring, ranging from one to two kilometers. Here, the roads are straight and wide, and there is plenty of space between the solid, very expensively constructed buildings, which belong to the richest, most influential lords and ladies of Omphalos. It takes anywhere from 100 to 240 years for a building at the outskirt of the Royal Ring to reach the inward rim of the Market Ring. Some families move frequently, updating their dwellings as their tastes change; others prefer to live in the same building and move suddenly. Still others simply own an entire radial section of the Royal Ring, and 'moving up in the world' simply means one's quarters are shifted outward toward the threshold.

Here too are the embassies of the Cardinal Planes, the carefully managed parks and universities and most expensive market districts that cater to the nobles. By convention, a single road runs straight down the center of each District's royal Ring, and every hundred years, a new Ring Road is commissioned that runs in a perfect circle across the circumference of the city. It is a matter of frequent debate: many recall the last Great War, and argue that while it makes for good trade, it also allows far easier penetration of soldiers into another district. But for now, the Council's mandate holds.

Two of the Monuments that dot the city of Omphalos can be found in the Royal Ring, one to the north, Alfzongen, and one to the south, Ichoryon.

The Market Ring

The most palatial of the buildings have long been torn down before they pass the limits of what are considered the Market Ring, though some nobles cling to their estates longer than they should, despite the stain it places on their status.

In their place spring up offices, shops, workshops, smithies, auction houses, schools, libraries, market squares, apartments, rows of houses for the lesser merchants, and villas for the greater ones, and guild halls for the sundry professional associations that do business within and out of Omphalos. Here too are granaries, warehouses, and storehouses for the riches that trade hands every day. This is the beating heart of the city's economy.

In the centuries it takes buildings to migrate another two kilometers from the Royal Ring to the Common Ring, they will have changed hands at least ten times. Real estate is a thriving business, even as other businesses go from feast to famine.

Four of the eight Monuments that dot the city of Omphalos can be found in the Market Ring, one each to Hexszaxtzor, Yaxchilan, Viostethaer, and Galadh.

The Common Ring

The Market Ring has no clear delineation from the Common Ring: there are still marketplaces, stores, and street bazaars aplenty in the middle ring of the city, but there are far more humble houses, tenements, and factories than would be tolerated in the higher-rent district, and the clothes people wear drops dramatically from gaudy silks and embroidered robes, to simple cotton and linen. Waste-producing industries like tanners, butchers, industrial-level manufacturing and forges, and textile bleaching are more often on the outskirts of the Common Ring, where the wastes can conveniently be dumped into runoff strings trickling through the Lower Ring, to vanish into the Maw.

The streets are noticably tight here, and the warping caused by the Monuments in the outer Rings has told on the rim roads, making them twisty, weaving things, blocked off where enterprising developers found it convenient to build across their widths. Basements suffer first, as the ground compresses around them; plumbing collapses in on itself, and gas networks seal themselves off rather than release explosive gases into the air. Aqueducts begin to collapse, sewer tunnels and runoffs start to cave in and must be cleared by hard-working kobolds and ratkin.

Virtually none of these public utilities survive into the Lower Ring, with sewers becoming open channels of effluents that drain into the Maw.

The ground runs at about a 10-20 degree tilt, and while some buildings are rebuilt on foundations to level them out, other buildings simply let their tenants live with the inconvenience. Omphalos citizens frequently joke, how do you know someone lives in the Common Ring? One of their legs is shorter than the other.

One of the eight Monuments that dots the city of Omphalos can be found in the Common Ring, uneasily between Alfzongen and Yaxchilan, though at this point, the architectural styles have begun to blend and the racial and political distinctions have fallen away, in favor of their commonality: in the common ring, everyone's doing what they have to do, to get by.

The Lower Ring

The ground takes on a 20-40 degree tilt here, causing the buildings to lean precariously over. Only the most poor and desperate live here; there are no landlords except for gangs, and their notion of rent and reasonable collection schedules can be dangerously volatile. The air stinks, as plumbing has ceased working entirely, forcing inhabitants to travel to find drinkable water.

By this time, if any building were to have conceivably survived this long, they would be around six to eight centuries old, making them dangerously unstable. More likely they were torn down for their materials, then new buildings built of cheaper materials. Even so, some hidden vaults and crypts may have been forgotten, making scavenging a potentially profitable business... If risky, due to the roaming mobs of humans, goblins, and other ne'er-do-wells that squabble over territories here.

One Monument is here, between the districts that nominally belong to Galadh and Ichoryon.

The Throat

Past a 45 degree pitch, around 2km out from the notional center, demonic creatures like giant fanged bats and wyverns begin to appear, and the further one goes, the more dangerous these creatures become. Occasionally a Surge causes the monsters to rise out of the pit and attack the city. They are fended off by the Last Bastion, an order of knights serving penance, and former knights from all ways of life who are looking for one last cause for which to give their lives, who operate from an array of perpetually-being-rebuilt stone towers called the Teeth.

The Maw

The pit at the utmost center is hungry. It devours the city slowly, perhaps a block every decade, but still, imperceptibly by normal standards, Omphalos draws in the surrounding city, so everything moves inward, including sections of the border cities. Buildings smash against one another and crumble. The poor and desperate rebuild what shelter they can, selling the more precious building materials on to the merchants, making do with scraps. Curiously, this effect does not touch certain places, called Monuments, and buildings adjacent to these places enjoy a limited degree of resistance. The effect is also not constant; some years nothing happens, and other years, an entire row of ramshackle wooden houses will be drawn in overnight, pitched over the edge of the Throat.
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