A Ruined City

Dungeons & Dragons Location.

Napoli.

Naples could be a fantasy location for your next Dungeons & Dragons game.
I recently came back from a few days in the Italian City of Naples. A thriving Port and hectic city with a mix of every culture.

The idea that a modern city could be transcribed directly into a game #RPG setting isn’t new of course but having now witnessed the city first hand It could make for an interesting location.

From a visual point of view the first thing that strikes you is the graffiti.

Do you remember the scene in the Monty Python film. The Life of Brian. The graffiti was forty feet tall. Well its worse here.
It is adorning every clear surface, building wall, window, sculptures and signs. But no attempt has been made to remove or control its spread also Litter is everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. Then the traffic. In this modern world it is cars but it is so easy to visualise horses and camels drawing wagons of fruits and vegetables. People pushing carts. Shouting, hawking their wares.

Begging has its place wherever you go. Here its on every street. The characters that you see could be straight out of a game #rpg from far-flung locations who have made it here via land or sea and now found themselves without anything. Visually they fit every stereotype.
That NPC that steps so close that you see every cracked tooth. The wayward hair that as a Game Master (GM) you do your best to describe.

Dogs wonder the streets freely. Polite sign-age ask you not to touch or feed these strays and in some cases wild roaming animals. At any moment a pack of dogs could be your next adversary. The one that tests that new steal you bought from that blind beggar.

Animal waste is something you need to be aware of unless you think it lucky. Then in that case you would be classed as very lucky in this city.
Smell can be a very useful tool in your next game. No not the real thing unless you have been unwell or eaten something that didn’t agree with you. The described smell like sounds can be a very useful addition to the mood and feel of your location in your game.

The city is in total disrepair. Decaying buildings are nearly all that greet you. Plaster falling from walls. frescoes and features left to fend for themselves. Pollution and neglect eat away at these once proud and elegant façades.
You would imagine that these buildings were anything but inhabitable yet they still have occupation and life within. Its like the fortitude of the buildings will alone keep the occupants safe. How could this building ever harm anyone.

People live on top of each other. Floor added to floor to the point you think it could not hold anymore but yet another floor is added.
Cracks now give the buildings a new face. An old and tired look. They seem sad. Unloved.

Washing hang from balconies trying to dry from the warm air that drifts through the narrow claustrophobic streets. Yet the buildings seem to try their best to keep warm but it’s just dripping tears of despair.
Yet hidden as if turning its face away from the outside world are hidden gems to delight the eye and fill you with awe.

The populous are forever oblivious to what is around them be it litter about their feet or the concerns of others going on about them.
It seems they put all their effort into their appearance. With quality of cloth and personal standards high on their agendas. Shops sell every kind of over the top quality of clothing. Anything that could in the end take away interest in the state of their city and place your interest squarely on them.
It’s like they say. “yes my city is shit but at least I look good so look at me”.
Everything about them just reinforces this self-image.

With all this activity going on there still seems a relaxed and sedated feel about the whole city. Shop owners relax outside their shops. Smoke, drink and laugh.

Markets are at the end of every ally way. Stalls of every kind will lay for all to see. Shouts and calls to buy from every direction.
Fresh fish, freshly caught that day and landed at the harbour.
Butchered right in front of you. Whatever your order they can fill it. Some squid and octopi and even shell-fish kept alive in water buckets so you can witness how fresh they are.
Raw and cooked meats and even offal is on display.

Be aware this is one of the many locations the city has to offer an opportunity to the pickpocket. He will be that nobody who just brushed past or a gang of thieves. Well oiled in the art of deception.
Bring this place to life with a thought for what seems minor can add even more colour to your vibrant game night..

Vegetables from far and near some you have never seen before and with some happy to never see again.

Then there is the prepared foods. Pizzas and pies. The smells are at times overwhelming yet totally enticing.
Don’t forget the drink. Coffees and teas. Beers and spirits. Yet if you take the invitation to sit will cost you just to sit. You will not find that out until you are presented with the bill.

This now brings me to the largest openly demonstrated gang. They act and seem like a gang. They run the city. This is only a perceived image but its a strong feeling.
The Police. They walk or drive the city. Hang out in groups. Talk and smoke together. Occasionally you will see them set off in a particular direction and all the peddlers and scally wags run and hide but nothing changes.
The city militia are the ever ready force to be there whenever they are not needed or called for. A bribe may see them fight on your side for once. Then again it may see you spend the night or two in a dank cell.

This city works. How it works seems a mystery. All the chaos fixes together like an ever-changing jigsaw puzzle.

2 Comments

  1. As an Italian, I think you nailed everything right: you saw much more in the city than the inhabitants or other Italians see in it, and yes: it would truly make for an awesome D&D or just about any RPG setting!! Great work, I think I’ll share it on facebook too, and see what other Italians make out of it! :)

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