A Topographical Presentation

From the city's origins to its modern-day landmarks, you'll find everything you need to anchor your characters and concepts into the world.
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IamLEAM1983
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A Topographical Presentation

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This guide will focus on presenting Hope geographically, in order to provide a sense of orientation, scale and general placement of the city. Streets of Hope having fairly comic-bookish roots, you won't be surprised to see that the city rests on fictitious land masses and overlaps with real-world roads, potentially swallowing smaller locales in the process. Considering this, while hitting Google Maps might give you some sense of what to expect in terms of general location, you'll obviously notice that some of what characterizes Rhode Island's coast will have been altered to suit our needs.

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Basic Topography

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Hope connects with the mainland through Silverbrook, an industrial borough located west of Sand Hill Cove and extending further westward into Point Judith. Point Judith Road, or Highway 106, extends further south in Hope's universe, in order to enter Silverbrook and provide access to a series of three bridge providing access to Green Island. At this point, the narrow band of water separating both land masses becomes known as the Hillard.

Immediately south of the Hillard is Green Island, which includes Pickman Sound. The Sound being a progressively narrower band of land curving northwards and facing the mainland, a cove – simply known as Indian Cove – is created by the empty space inside this curve and alongside the island's main body. Mertown is located at the centre of this cove , on a smaller landmass holding some two hundred inhabitants, and is connected to Green Island with a bridge and a ferry system.

All three bridges and roads from Mertown provide easy access to the Sterling Turnpike, which transitions into Quigley Road – essentially the city's spinal column. Quigley Road stretches up along the Sound's entire length, coming to a stop at Marsh Cape and Buck Island Bridge. The “Q”, as most people come to call the road, is covered by the city's elevated maglev system along most of its length – at least up to the end of the Green Island district. While its official name honors Governor Caliban Smith, most of everyone takes to calling it the El, in a manner similar to seasoned Chicagoans, or the Lev. The Q is also present underground, but as a pedway constructed by thoroughly renovating and repurposing the old subway system. Along its length, a myriad of service corridors and streets are present, providing access to apartment buildings, office towers, condos, shopping malls or maglev access points without ever setting foot outside – a useful asset for all Guildmates. The pedway even connects to the fully-underground section of Renton, which is largely designed to serve as a user-friendly lodging alternative for photosensitive vampires and aliens who couldn't survive exposure to daylight's concentrations of ultraviolet rays.

North of Marsh Cape and at the very end of the Q's most treacherous stretch waits the Buck Island Bridge, and Buck Island proper. This is the smallest of all three landmasses, but also the most impressive. Perched atop blackened, rocky cliffs, Buck Mansion is surrounded by a small English garden and is a stark example of Colonial architecture, mingled with several Neo-Gothic touches. Its rear side tends to impress many visitors, with its steel-reinforced concrete basement plunging squarely down into the cliff face in order to provide the top floors with as much stability as possible.

Smaller islands dot the southern coast of Green Island, but most are of no interest to anyone except bird-watchers or canoeing fans. At most, vestigial remains of the early colonists' first few attempts at implanting fishing villages can be found there. Even so, considering their value as a sightseeing element and as a practical temporary mooring point for fishing boats looking to take a break, a few modern cabins have been erected amidst the crumbling remains of old stone-hewn shacks and can be rented out on a daily basis.

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The Boroughs

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Silverbrook
This borough, formerly known for its industrial contribution to the city's prosperity, is today largely known for serving as where warehouses, power stations, food distribution centers and industrial campuses are located. Leases are low, land value follows along, and criminality, while not insufferably high, is notably higher than elsewhere in town, thanks to the absence of a properly staffed police precinct. A small police station on Sandison Street is tasked with covering the entirety of the borough, largely because most of it isn't exactly comprised of living space. This, obviously, guarantees that most of the patrolmen in place around Silverbrook have had dealings with members of the Commission. It is further divided into four neighbourhoods, with each one corresponding to one of the local crimelords' claimed interests.

Sandhill is considered to be part of Hope's Little Italy, and provides the locals with cheap apartment buildings, an abundance of markets and restaurants, a few office blocks and a smattering of parks. Being part of the incorporated neighbourhood stretching East of Sand Hill Cove, it tends to be considered as the easiest and cheapest entry point in the city, officially housing a few hundred thousand and unofficially hosting a few hundred more, thanks to its ideal location as housing solutions for sweat shop workers. Weasel Biggs exerts personal control over this area as the newest capo of the Biggs family, and commands both his relatives and the tatters of the Magi family.

Coburn is located at the northwestern tip of Sandhill and largely houses two industrial parks, one of which is the property of Ruthven Corporation. Goliath tends to operate in the heart of the city, but it still does own two large storage facilities on Exham Street, which are patrolled by the company's own security staff. Even so, small warehouses dot the forlorn and poorly-lit roads in this neighbourhood, which is largely known for receiving some of Mertown's refrigerated or freeze-dried catches. No overt crimes take place in this area, but the cold needed to store the sea's plunder is a natural fit for the local Finman representative, Sarvin.

Atop the midpoint of Sandhill is Naughton, a neighbourhood chiefly known for providing both active storage and factory space, as well as a smattering of gentrified streets designed to please lovers of Industrial lofts or new Bohemians looking for easily claimable creation spaces. While the pubs and bars in this area aren't legion, Jimmy Winters manages to share the resulting plunders with Anastasius Mentalistevich – except for the fact that the Grayskin is strictly a legal entrepreneur pushing for the development of arts and culture in a city far too known for its propensity to favour explosive displays and immediate threats as forms of power.

East of Naughton waits the northern half of Chinatown, largely known for harbouring more storage space and for following the same general urban planning as Sandhill. Factories dot the space here and there, but whatever isn't housing the fruits of the city's wider forms of Import-Export business tends to feel like a wider, Westernized take on the Chinese rutongs, row upon row of small brownstone apartments and several small shops and businesses having been built there. While the factories have been aggressively claimed by white-collar associates of the Five Hundred Dragons and therefore provide Watatsumi with an entrance point into the city and America as a whole, the Sons of the White Dragon patrol these streets for oddly civil and disinterested reasons. Less a mob than a literal citizens' protection group, the Sons and their leader, Shen Long, bring occasionally much-needed restraint to the mustelid's occasionally more overt or mercenary designs.

Green Island
Directly across the Hillard from Sandhill is a continuation of Little Italy. Colloquially known as the local Little Italy far moreso than Sandhill itself, South Little Italy or “Solita” is the core of Weasel Biggs' family and entreprise. Much of the businesses and families there share ties with the Biggses as well as the ancestral Greenes, with the very first of the Donnola chain of high-class Italian restaurants being established there. The company's main offices are located atop Buck Tower, a Terran-Karthian joint effort super-tall structure that would make Dubai's Burj Khalifa feel a little threatened. The crime lord's penthouse, located on the upper two floors, is connected to the outside world with a maglev elevator and a private helipad. Considering, the southwestern tip of Solita tends to thematically bleed with the financial district, also providing office towers and other high-rises.

West of Solita are Willowdale's two halves. While West Willowdale houses the wealthiest of all residents and is where you'll find Holden Hall, the Eastern half is where about one third of the city's financial district can be found, along with the City Hall proper. With a strong police presence and Wyvern Securities' watchful eye, all business-oriented sectors are practically inaccessible for traditional criminals. Those of the white-collar variety, however, would do well to ensure that the local Black dragon's single eye doesn't notice their cooking the books, so to speak. As long as this is taken in mind, East Willowdale can and very well is a literal playground for anyone looking for a place to play fast and loose with stocks, bonds and small fortunes. Otherwise, East Willowdale is a shopper's paradise, with countless streetside shops and restaurants catering to just about all palates and all wallets, from Parisian haute couture to trendy thrift shops to Weasel's revisited cannolis and the average hot dog vendors. Other landmarks include the

East of Little Italy, Chinatown resumes in the form of a narrow band of skyscrapers and office towers hugging the Hillard. There, the focus shifts to import counters and American headquarters for homesick personal augmentation companies from the Land of the Rising Sun. Katayama Limited's main offices are among the most notable landmarks, as well as the Xiao Long Tower. Behind the polite and soft-spoken import-export offices, the Sons of the White Dragon use this large business to better procure any needed resources for themselves and as a means to keep an eye on its leader's homeland.

Going clockwise, you'd leave Chinatown and venture south, to Renton. Existing as Hope's largest affordable middle-class neighbourhood, Renton is further divided into older and newer sectors, adding some slight differences in terms of land value. Some neighbourhoods are characterized by their Victorian brownstones and cottages, others pack bungalows and apartments from the fifties and sixties, while a few projects display the newest currents in home design, from ubiquitous solar panels to factory-level electrochromic windows. Renton houses its fair share of Irish and Scottish descendants, which gives a distant grasp on some tills and cash registers to Winters.

Directly south of Little Italy, North and South Sheffield can be found. The northern borough houses the city's Stock Exchange, currently helmed by Mel Othstein, and continues much in the same vein as East Willowdale. Goliath Corporation's offices and its main campus can be found there, as well. The Nicholas Buck Courtroom is established there, along with the offices of both Ephesian Legal Counsel and Tanner and Associates.

South Sheffield serves as further residential zoning and also as the location for both the Trismegistus Institute, a study and research group primarily reserved for scholars of the arcane, and Hope University. A few streets south of the campus, you'll find The Last Round Bar & Grill, a family-friendly establishment helmed by Silas Robertson, alias Coach, along with the imaginatively named Bob's Gym and Garage, helmed by a Sammaelite demon of the same name. An artificial stretch of land, assembled from the dirt expelled from the subway system's first excavations, is used to support the Dirk Greene International Airport and Spaceport, its ramps extending Eastward into the Atlantic.

To the west of the wider Sheffield borough is Brickston, another residential stretch characterized for its housing of the most expensive and ancient cemetery established on Green Island, Fortunato Lots. Owing to the peculiar energies produced by burial grounds, an aura some sensitives and the vocabulary-deprived would call “deathy” is prevalent in the area. Members of more dark or bohemian crowds tend to congregate there, much to the dismay of the elderly populace, and have brought about the Nemed, a Goth club located in a strip mall on Ayers Street. Brickston is also the residence of Thomas Quint, who fought long and hard to save an old grain silo from dezoning and successfully turned it into a modern-day wizard's tower. Considering, Fortunato Lots' soil is rarely given the chance to appear completely undisturbed for a full year, and the need to push back the occasional necromancy-induced spate of undead activity has motivated the placement of a full-scale police precinct.

Pickman Sound
Leaving the core of the city, larger and more scattered residential neighbourhoods begin to give way to farmlands. Of some interest are Old Hope, Pickman's Shore and Little Kerry, each only housing a few hundred inhabitants.

Old Hope is paradoxically one of the most expensive places to live in on the main island, and one of the oldest. Seeking to preserve the architectural value that was almost lost during the Battle of Hope, land values have been artificially and tremendously raised by the Urban Planning department. Narrow streets, clapboard fronts and wooden sidewalks all give this neck of town a pleasantly old-fashioned appearance. Here and there, however, bigger Colonial houses can be found, including Cordatus' expensively reproduced Welsh property, which is quaintly surrounded by tall grass, trees and the distant sounds of the surf hitting the cliffs.

Pickman's Shore is marked by a gentle slope towards the sea and graced with East Beach. This brings in tourists during the summer and provides an easily accessible way for the city folk to get some summertime fun in. A few fishing boats are also moored there, largely belonging to human and anthro captains. Just about the only business to be found in the Shore is Poseidon Fisheries, which is led by the fairly elusive Harrison Arkham – who is largely considered to be a Buck par alliance. Derived from one of Eliphas' teenage flings, his form of the family curse is fairly... unique.

Little Kerry, however, is particular in that for only a dozen houses, it houses an impressive three hundred souls. The neighbourhood is largely populated by Elves, a smattering of the small humanoids electing mortal individuals or families as their companions and caretakers while they, in return, repay their daily debt by performing chores around the house or, in some cases, piloting a few tractors out on the field. However, Little Kerry is also home to the second oldest native resident in town, Jack Greene, alias Old Jack. The agrarian dryad was planted shortly after Sophia gained consciousness, in an attempt to help the struggling countryside produce more goods, as her protective influence didn't extend so far East.

Beyond, Jack Greene's domain – small wheat fields and orchards – cover the remainder of the Sound and taper off when one reaches the tip of the Sound. There, Meer Lighthouse waits, signalling to all Mertown-based fishermen, as well as those hailing from Pickman's Shore. Past the last twisting rise atop craggy cliffs, the Buck Island Bridge waits.

Mertown
With its scant few five hundred residents, Mertown doesn't warrant much more than a small police station, a few shops, a single tavern – Old Nessie's – and its colourful collection of small bungalows and cottages, all largely populated by centuries-old Scottish Americans too proud and stubborn to lose the brogue. The Mac Loch have claimed the island en masse, while other aquatic breeds are grudgingly left some place to develop. As small and as tightly-knit as this community is, very few of them seem to have reacted to the island's incorporation into Hope's greater municipality. Most still live as though “The City” were some kind of foreign, untrustworthy organism to fear and even despise in some cases, but Seamus Mac Loch stands as the one notable exception, standing as Captain for Precinct 32, which is tasked to cover Mertown as well as parts of Renton and Chinatown. Few of the locals there have much kindness to spare for someone without decent sea legs (or flippers), but the selkie contingent is not solely limited to the harsher, more insular phocine members of the clan.

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Faerie

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The Realms of Seasons are a parallel reality which is known to intersect with the mortal plane nearly wherever the Fae make themselves known or choose to live for any length of time. Considering this, Gates to Faerie are relatively stable, only collapsing permanently if its surrounding Fae populace is scattered or forcibly removed. They exist as very powerful magical constructs, however, and as such, tend not to swarm a given area – no matter how large the local Summer or Winter populations.

If anything, Faerie can be counted on to align itself with the dominant clan in any given city. As Hope is dominated by Summer holdings, then all local Gates will lead to destinations within Summer. In keeping with Percival of Evergloam's Viscount authority, Hope's corresponding locale in Faerie is known as County Evergloam.

The Black Ridge
Essentially corresponding with Silverbrook, the Ridge is a chain of treacherous, blackened spires only shyly covered by low brushes and mossy growths evoking the mortal plane's tundras. The lowest, softest inclines of this area are home to bugbear clans who tend to be the first line of defence against the intrusion of forces from Darkest Winter – or the Others. Summer's warmth feels strangely distant in this area, and Winter's cold chill is never quite far. Mortals not being native of Faerie, however, these temperatures manifest more as emotional cues and atmospheres than true senses of frigid weather.

High atop the Ridge, watchtowers are carved into the black, almost gleaming rocks. While light can be seen inside at all hours, everyone knows not to disturb the members of the Watch, a collection of gruffs, bugbears, Sidhe and Hounds holding the line against the neighbouring Frostfall Forest.

In Faerie, the Hillard does not exist. Instead, it gives way to a narrow and long valley called the Reach, where Evergloam's forces gather to train and prepare for whatever could assault the Viscount's Hold.

Hope-Upon-Faerie, or Evergloam
Climbing the steep hill to the other side of the Reach, you reach an immense grassy plateau, covered with a city that feels at once familiar and utterly alien. The outline of the city feels roughly similar, landmarks in Faerie correspond with landmarks on the mortal plane, but their nature is generally completely different. Enter a Gate through a dive or a biker bar in Hope and you might find yourself in the back of a fine clothier's store in Evergloam.

Most importantly, however, Evergloam feels designed according to old European tenets, unlike Hope. At the closest point to the city's absolute centre stands the White Tower. Sir Percy's personal quarters are located at its base, while Eirean has taken residence at the top. No matter where you are in Evergloam, the Tower is there to be found, as a landmark. The Court Hall, Arcaneum and guardsmen stations all roughly correspond to the Town Hall, Trismegistus Institute and police stations to be found in Hope. Other points of congruence aren't as precise, leaving room for some of the above-mentioned discrepancies in purpose or location.

Avalon
This island is rather well-storied in Western history, but few people know it stands as one of the few landmasses on the planet to have developed its own Genius Loci. As old and important as it once was, Avalon has gained the ability to travel, to open and close Faerie Gates at will. Ever since the death of Arthur Pendragon, this last cipher of old saurian supremacy has relocated to Mertown's corresponding location in Faerie. There, instead of Old Nessie's or the other stores the Mac Loch may favor, you'll find Caer Draig – the last remaining place of assembly for all of dragonkind.

The Free Lands
This expanse corresponds to Pickman Sound and its various locales, and is where most elven bands who have chosen not to journey to the mortal plane reside. It's also where you might expect to find Wyldfae styled after Native American tales and legends, specifically those of the Wampanoag people. While outside of Evergloam's jurisdiction and considered a part of the Wilds, the locals have chosen protection over the risk of being assaulted by things from beyond the Hole and Banshee Falls. As such, generally placid bands of gruffs and hounds patrol these fairly verdant lands, that offer the kind of yield Jack Greene would probably kill for.

Banshee Falls and the Hole
Banshee Falls corresponds to Buck Island and as the name suggests, manifests as an underground spring bubbling to the surface and spilling its waters in the Atlantic's mirror image. Its waters are black, however, and unlike the rest of Evergloam's positively teeming life and unimaginably bright colours, the entire place feels washed-out to human eyes, as if almost drained of all life. The name also implies the presence of a Banshee, Riona, who has been tasked with the unenviable charge of living there, in order to watch over the source of these black waters.

Instead of finding a mansion, you'll find Riona's fairly modest shack. Nearby, you'll find the Hole. Where does it go? She doesn't know, and refuses to let anyone near it. To step close to the Hole is to understand you're staring at Faerie's reflection of the unseen and unknown source of the calamities plaguing the Bucks – and that trying to scale down into it would bring most certain doom. No light source can pierce its inky blackness, and its malevolence is so thick you could almost touch it.

If one thing is certain, it's that this has nothing to do with Darkest Winter. Even Mab wouldn't craft something so horrid, so despicable – and just think to leave it there for others to endure.

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Beyond Faerie

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In the mortal plane, the ocean is strictly this : an ocean. In Faerie, the ocean that surrounds Evergloam on three sides only shelters kind spirits in close proximity to the islands. The further out you go, the more these waters come to represent something darker, more intrinsic than simply the Atlantic and Pacific's spiritual clones.

No-one knows exactly where, but there's a point where all waters – both of Summer and Winter – converge. Further beyond this point, these waters are no longer parts of Faerie. They reach into Something Else – The Far Reaches.

There's a point where against all odds and all rules known to apply to Sidhe, their domain simply ends. All rules end. All logic ends. The edge of Faerie becomes palpable, a fibrous matter you can touch; and breaking through it kills you. Some say that if you could stare past that wall long enough, if you could pierce the darkness, you'd find the Darkhallow. Floating on top of those black waves of churning quantum potentials, the fortress of the mind shared by all Void Weavers awaits.

Both immesurably far and intolerably close, the Darkhallow is unique to each Weaver. Its purpose escapes mere words, its designs are legion.

It's getting closer, according to some of the best scientists in Faerie. All the same, the concept of something getting closer feels trite in this plane of existence, where time dilation is a common side-effect experienced by travelers to and from the mortal plane.

It's probably nothing. There's no reason for the Darkhallow to break out of its native conditions. Faerie is as noxious to it as it is noxious to us.

Or is it?

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