A City Alone: The History of New Capenna
The people of New Capenna act like there was no history before the city; they're wrong. There was a plane out there centuries ago, one of many cities, kings, cultures, and wonders. That Capenna, Old Capenna, is gone, lost in a cataclysmic war against a forgotten enemy—the same war that prompted the creation of New Capenna, the towering city. While there might be pockets of civilization out there in the unknown, as far as the people of New Capenna are concerned, their city is the plane.
Defiant Against the End
Safety in New Capenna's heights came at the cost of memory, living and recorded, and saw history transmuted into myth and legend. The invaders ate hope, turned parents against their children, and poisoned the plane for millennia. It was only through the intervention of Old Capenna's archangels and their hosts that the plane's mortal defenders stood a chance. Allied with these divine warriors, Old Capenna's defenders managed to hold a small pocket of land, encircled but defiant against the end.
In these defenders, the roots of the modern five families can be found: the paladins that would go on to become the Brokers, the druids that would become the Cabaretti, the weaponsmiths and artisans that would become the Riveteers, the oracles that would become the Obscura, and the aristocrats that bankrolled them all, the noble classes that would become the Maestros.
Hope, Shielded by Fire
The invading enemy sent their forces again and again against the spears of Old Capenna's final defenders, and though the angels and mortals held, it was plain to the archangels that they could not win. The enemy's numbers were inexhaustible; in addition to their own knights, the enemy added the mortal dead to their number, sending the animated corpses of fallen defenders to fight against their comrades. To save the people of Old Capenna from this fate—and the plane from total defeat—the archangels turned to an old, familiar enemy: the archdemons of Old Capenna.
A Fortress Above
While the allied armies of Old Capenna held the line, the archangels and archdemons together raised a shining tower, a mighty fortress that pierced the clouds. As quickly as they could, the people of Old Capenna hurried to the safety of the fortress tower, lending their own labor to build it higher, to fill it with streets and parks, boulevards and buildings that looked like home and stood in shining defiance of the enemy that swarmed the plane outside. This place would hold the plane: this fortress became a city, a city the people called New Capenna.
The Plane Is Dead, Long Live the Plane
The allied forces of the archangels, mortals, and archdemons were the last to enter the city, after holding open corridors for refugees to stream into the lower elevators. The enemy never stopped. Legends tell of the last battle of the war being fought on the final elevator, with allied soldiers throwing enemy knights off the rising platform as it approached the underbelly of the city. The enemy rebuffed, the last elevator arrived, and New Capenna was sealed to all below.
A Stark Question
With the surviving population of the plane safe inside of New Capenna, the archangels and archdemons let the people celebrate. However, the archangels could not find joy, as they knew a dark truth. This tower, for all its might and defiance, would still not be enough to stop the enemy. Though well defended and difficult to access, if the enemy could find a way inside, which they would never stop trying to find, the war would rage here as it did far below. Thus, the city's architects puzzled over a stark question: how could they guarantee the safety of the city and the plane upon which it stood when they were so grossly outnumbered?
A Bleak Answer
While the archangels puzzled, the archdemons of Capenna plotted. During the war, Capenna's archangels and their angelic hosts ravaged the enemy with their mere presence. The archdemons studied this divine natural weapon and realized that if they could trap angels and distribute their essence across the whole of New Capenna—maybe even out into Old Capenna—they could drive the enemy back and ensure the city and their people would be saved. Alone, though, they could not accomplish their betrayal, so the archdemons sent their whisperers to the ears of mortal, power-hungry Capennans, planting a bleak answer to the question of the future: trap the angels, and let an age of demons begin.
Demontown, Part 1
The archdemons' five mortal champions were minor leaders and influential, petty aristocrats, charismatic in their own ways and already gathering small but passionate followings: Raffine, a controversial fortune-telling sphinx who long believed she was an instrument of prophecy. Lord Xander, an ailing artist of an all-but-dead aristocratic house, jealous over the critical acclaim his younger peers received. Ziatora, a young dragon berserker and bandit leader who lived to fight and dreamed only of power. Jetmir, a prodigal son turned hermit druid, who refused his order's asceticism, indulged in wild hedonistic parties, and never wanted the music to stop. These four were gathered by the final archdemonic champion, a brilliant, uncompromising, utterly fanatical lawyer, Falco Spara.
Demontown, Part 2
Eager to gain a slice of New Capenna before all wedges of power were claimed, these mortals gave themselves over to the archdemons, whose plot against the archangels could only be accomplished through the archdemons' own mutual sacrifice. The five became demonic hybrids, gifted and cursed by the archdemons bound to them, their vices magnified and powers enhanced.
Together with their archdemon patrons, these demon hybrids and their followers took advantage of a sudden slumber that struck the invaders' forces—its cause unknown, but nevertheless welcome—to act on their plan and achieve success beyond their most optimistic projections. In place of a prolonged battle, the archdemons and the five captured the archangels and their hosts during a city-wide celebration of victory. While the people were told the archangels had voluntarily sacrificed themselves to send the enemy into a slumber, the five and their organizations, their families, suppressed the grim truth: that the archdemons had used the angels in the defense of the city, trapping them in a kind of stasis that saw their physical bodies converted, slowly, into the fuel of the new age: Halo.
The Business of Crime
In the modern era, the five families have settled in to dominate niche industries and command territory in the city's three boroughs, operating in full view of each other and in secret. A nominal, all-but-vestigial city government ensures the lights stay on, the water is clean, and the streets are kept in good repair. Law as other planes know it—a crown or government and a police force, with hard rules and penalties for those who break them—does not exist in New Capenna. Instead, there is an agreement, a code agreed to by the five families. This code, first drafted by Falco and agreed to by the leaders of the five families, establishes the loose rules of peace: as long as you stay in your lane, you may do what you like.
With no city authority to regulate them, the families must keep themselves in line. Fronts, subterfuge, and clandestine operations are played out as mutually understood theater. They all do it, and they all understand that it is polite to try and hide their flaunting of the rules, a nod to the fact that the rules exist. Flexibility, allowances, favors, and looking the other way is key in New Capenna: as long as no one family attempts to take too much for themselves, neither will the other families, and there is peace in New Capenna. This is a bloody kind of peace, to be sure—enforcers and street-level bosses scrap and fight, goons become bodies, small shipments go missing—but to the families, those are acceptable losses. Rent, paid to prevent war.
The vast population of New Capenna had no knowledge of the archdemons' betrayal of the archangels and the five families' power grab. The invasion had raged for generations. They were exhausted, scared, and hungry for safety. If ineffective kings and weak administrators couldn't provide it for them, then maybe these new organizations, these five families with their charismatic leaders, could. The angels sacrificed themselves to gift you this city, the family bosses said. They gave themselves up to make Halo, to distribute it across the city and throughout the air itself, so that you could be safe and prosperous, industrious, working to build this city ever higher and grander, with the hope to one day return to the plane below when the angels' sacrifice is complete. The people accepted this proposition. They thanked the angels for their sacrifice, let the comforting shield of Halo fall over them and erase the past, and then got to work.
Whatever Happened to the Rest of the Plane?
In the present day, New Capenna is a bustling hive, a plane-in-a-city that towers miles into the sky atop a forest of structural columns and anchors, surrounded by a skirt of wires and a shield of diffuse Halo, the very essence of the angels.
To the people of New Capenna, the threat that drove their ancestors into the city is so distant as to be all but forgotten. That was the old plane, "out there" and long ago. On occasion, new arrivals with old names ride the ancient lifts up from below, bringing with them stories of hard-lived lives and wasteland nightmares, but they find that few in New Capenna are very interested in what happens outside of the city. In time, these new immigrants, too, find themselves forgetting. The pace of the city demands it. New Capenna is the city of opportunity: a place to forget who you were, a place to write a new future as you seek a new fortune or build a new life on this new plane.
When we arrive to New Capenna, we discover the facade of peace between the five families is beginning to crumble. Halo, a viscous, divine, oil-like fluid in high demand for its magic-enhancing and curative power, is running out.
The families all sense the end is coming, even if they don't know the shape or method by which it will arrive. Already they've begun stockpiling as much Halo as they can, and there's little enough to go around. Places and people once understood to be off limits have become targets. The violence once restricted to the docks and warehouses of the Caldaia and the alleys of the Mezzio has crept up to splatter the golden streets of Park Heights.
None of the five families know what happens next, but all of them agree on one thing: the balance of power in the city is shifting. The rules they used to live by no longer apply. Halo, the thing that saved the city once, might doom it now. Angels, once thought vanished from the plane, are starting to return. The archdemons who granted the families their power are distant. The party is about to come to a crashing halt, and none of the families want to be left to pick up the tab.
New Capenna: The City Today
There is more to the plane than just the city of New Capenna, though you wouldn't know it if you asked any of New Capenna's citizens. The city is a colossal urban tower built atop the rubble of a forgotten kingdom's capital, a lone sentinel in a vast and empty wasteland, containing almost the entirety of the plane's population. The metropolis is split into three distinct boroughs, from bottom to top: the industrial Caldaia, the bustling Mezzio, and the glamorous Park Heights.
The Caldaia is the bottommost borough of New Capenna, the industrial heart of the city full of factories, warehouses, and titanic infrastructure. The structural columns of New Capenna stand mighty here, dwarfed only by the power of the Riveteers who call the Caldaia home. Though the Caldaia might lack the glamor of Park Heights or the cutthroat striving of the Mezzio, it is animated by purpose, grit, and gumption. Without the laborers of the Caldaia, united and organized by the Riveteers, New Capenna would grind to a halt.
The Caldaia is home to a diverse population of humans, devils, viashino, and rhox, living and working together in the row houses and factories there, or riding the city's elevators up to build the chrome towers of the Mezzio and Park Heights.
The Caldaia is the busy, crowded, industrial base of New Capenna. The Riveteers are the dominant family here, but they are outnumbered by the sheer mass of working people that live in the Caldaia's densely packed apartments.
The most notorious of these districts in the Caldaia is the Verts, where the city streets have been removed on either side of the block, creating a fortress-like row of apartment buildings where high-ranking Riveteers relax.
The Mezzio is the vibrant, striving, densely populated, and largest borough of New Capenna. The middle layer of the city, the Mezzio never sleeps. Whether its commuter traffic up from the Caldaia or back down from Park Heights, the streets of the Mezzio are always busy, always humming with life, promise, and people. Always building, always remaking itself, never quiet, never boring; in the Mezzio, laborers in stained dungarees rub shoulders on the subway with socialites in furs. Maestro enforcers walk the same streets as Obscura mystics. Between the fire of industry below and the ritzy playground of Park Heights above, the Mezzio is the "real" city of New Capenna, where dreams are cultured and fortunes made—and lost. When you're in the middle, climbing and falling are both only a step away. The Mezzio is home to the Cabaretti, Obscura, and Maestros.
The Mezzio is where decadence and austerity collide, mixing into an eclectic, chaotic, vibrant tapestry where tradition dances with progress and creates the city. The Mezzio is hustle and bustle, never asleep; there's always something to do, someone to see, somewhere to go, with interesting food, music, a show, a scene—it's no wonder the Cabaretti and the Maestros fight to call this borough of the city home.
Though the Caldaia claims the industrial heart of the city, the Mezzio claims its cultural heart. From the great station of Bassomar Bridge that connects the Caldaia to the Mezzio, to Vesti Square in the never-dark center of the city, and all the way up to Cloudponte Bridge, the Mezzio is the largest borough of New Capenna.
Above it all is Park Heights, the airy uppermost borough of New Capenna where buildings glitter in chrome, gold, glass, and steel, scraping the sky and arcing above the clouds. There is nothing above Park Heights but the celestial arc of stars, and the people who call Park Heights home know it.
The least densely populated borough of the city, Park Heights hosts the homes and headquarters of New Capenna's bosses, owners, and titans of industry. Opera houses, orchestra halls, members-only clubs, venues, shops, parks, estates, and gardens can all be found in Park Heights as well: anything exclusive, anything opulent, anything that citizens of the Caldaia and Mezzio think frivolous—but secretly desire—one can find in this borough of the city. In Park Heights, every sidewalk is a runway, every shop is a stage, and any rule can be broken if you know who to pay.
Park Heights is home to the Brokers.
Park Heights Locations
Park Heights is the top of New Capenna, where the mighty play and indulge, and the city itself bends to their will. It is a beautiful place, with rolling green parks, trees, public gardens, and the only borough where one can look up and see nothing but sky. The central feature of Park Heights is the park that gave the borough its name: Ferara Park, where the city fathers commissioned landscape that emulated the elysian acres of Old Capenna, including the kraken they imported and installed in the park's central lake.
New Capenna: The Five Families
Hailing from the artisans that built the kingdoms of Old Capenna, the Riveteers are the major power of the Caldaia, the mortal builders of New Capenna, and the keepers of the largest stockpile of Halo in the city. They are a rowdy, action-first, move-fast-and-break-things crime family whose members are not afraid of fighting hammer and nail to accomplish their goals. Once a union of workers, the Riveteers still hold to many of the values that once organized them: loyalty, strength in numbers, and mutual support.
Managed by the steady claw of the demon-dragon Ziatora, the Riveteers's purview encompasses the whole of the city, even if they typically are only associated with its lower levels. No building goes up—or comes down—without the Riveteers's knowledge and expertise. Without them, the city falls. Spurred on by Ziatora's totalizing draconic vision, the Riveteers believe themselves heirs to a draconic heritage; they can take the city apart and build it anew, and they are unafraid to engage in this aggressive deconstruction and remaking, especially if the target of their efforts are their enemies.
The Riveteers are concentrated in the Caldaia, where they work in the factories and forges but can also be encountered throughout the city erecting buildings and tearing down those who fail to keep up with their protection payments.
The Riveteers Central Locations
The Riveteers's headquarters is The Treza, a cavernous warehouse lair in the port district of the Caldaia, where Ziatora lounges and manages the Riveteers's business. Inside this massive space, Ziatora has had her Riveteers build a monument to her own glory, shaping its iron beams and balconies into draconic shapes. High ceilings and channels of molten metals define the interior of the space, crossing over floors of dark glass. The Treza is always busy, echoing with the sound of Riveteers smugglers fencing their latest hauls, lair bosses training their new recruits, and general carousing.
Hidden below The Treza and open only to Ziatora and her most senior Riveteers officers is Ziatora's Dracotreasury, a massive vault full of gold and Halo. This place is dangerous to those without draconic heritage or other protection: the air itself burns with toxic gasses piped in from the Caldaia's industrial plants, a security measure to protect the Kingdom-Era treasures, gold, and Halo Ziatora stores within.
In Old Capenna, the Obscura were wizards; now, they deal in prophecy, fortune telling, and esoteric communion with dreams and the realm of the dead. If an event happens in the city, the Obscura will have predicted it, captured it with their signature aperture magic, and filed it away in their archives. They are the builders and breakers of fortune; for a price, you can have the future that you want, or bury someone else's.
The Obscura are led by Raffine, a sphinx-demon from Old Capenna prone to portentous visions of the future. The Obscura work to keep balance between the five families; if they can't conquer the city by sheer muscle, they can at least command the flow of information in New Capenna by running cons, blackmailing powerful adversaries, rumormongering, grifting, and laundering reputations.
The Obscura are concentrated in the Mezzio, though they are also found among the rarified parlors of Park Heights and scummy sewers of the Caldaia. As diviners—and directors—of prophecy, fate, and fortune, it is the Obscura's job to be everywhere in the city, and to appear as if they are nowhere but the warm confines of their shops and parlors.
Their headquarters is the Cloud Spire, a seemingly inaccessible skyscraper in Park Heights, where Raffine and their high officers keep tabs on the city through an extensive network of surveillance magics.
The Obscura Central Locations
Though the Obscura center most of their actions in the Mezzio, the palace of the mind and soul at the heart of the Obscura's operations is the Cloud Spire, a towering skyscraper in Park Heights. There, in its uppermost observation decks, Raffine keeps her office amidst the Obscura's most sensitive, powerful instruments of augury and surveillance: the air itself is full of whispers and ghostly images, a real-time feed of the city fed to Raffine by her field agents.
Lower levels of the Cloud Spire contain the Interfactorium, where Obscura agents plot and scheme using scale maps of the entire city and a temporal-prophetic library of histories and potential futures.
Once the aristocracy of Old Capenna, the Maestros of New Capenna are master assassins with a code: be precise, be professional, and be thorough. They think of themselves as artists and critics. Paintings, sculptures, or performances, the Maestros are avid collectors always in search of the next big thing while, at the same time, quietly working to curate New Capenna's past, keeping the secrets of Old Capenna hidden in their museum archives and vaults.
Led by the demon-vampire Lord Xander, the Maestros are New Capenna's premier assassins, vampiric professional killers who see a contract not just as business but as a chance to perform. They maintain a warped and self-serving view of their work: they are saviors of the city, philanthropists beyond compare, and are ruthless in their pursuit of the fame and cultural cache that they believe they deserve. They will kill without a thought or moment of regret if it means achieving their goals.
The Maestros are thick amongst the Mezzio and Park Heights. Rarely found in the Caldaia unless engaged in philanthropic pursuits, Maestros enforcers and assassins prefer what they think are the finer, more cultured districts of New Capenna. Equally at home in an exclusive lounge as they are at a high-class gala, members of the Maestros have an undeniable allure about them—a gift of vampirism, to be sure, but also of taste. Their headquarters is the Museum of Old Capenna, in Park Heights, where Lord Xander keeps his office.
The Maestros Central Locations
Like the Obscura, the Maestros haunt the Mezzio but keep their headquarters in Park Heights. The Museum of Old Capenna is the main Maestros hangout where Lord Xander holds court as chief curator and host. At the museum, one can wander through the warm, clean halls of New Capenna's history, viewing art, sculptures, and artifacts from the Kingdom Era, the city's early history, and even some contemporary pieces. Hidden throughout the museum are entrances to both the Shadow Hostel, where assassins gather to trade secrets and contracts, and Xander's Vault, the old vampire's personal collection of artifacts, weapons, mementos, and art.
Raised from the druids and bards of Old Capenna, the Cabaretti are the engine that fuels New Capenna's celebrations, festivals, and parties, dictating both pop culture and the trends that move the city's elite. Opulent revelers, the Cabaretti run dance halls, concert venues, and the finest restaurants up and down the city's boroughs. Their doors are always open, and they'll always greet you with a smile, but don't ever try to leave without paying your tab.
The Cabaretti are managed by the demon-cat Jetmir, known for both his generosity and jealousy in equal measure. Once a druid of middling reputation, Jetmir's long life at the helm of the Cabaretti has cemented his reputation as the true master of ceremonies. In New Capenna, the Cabaretti deal in favors, culture, and coin. Their parties and influencers dictate who is "in" and who is "out," which restaurants and venues succeed and which fail, whose music is played at bandstands and whose records wind up in a Caldaia dumpster. If you want to make it in New Capenna as a star or tycoon, you'll have to find a way to pay your dues to the Cabaretti first.
The Cabaretti are found throughout the Mezzio and Park Heights where they are tastemakers and breakers, culture-seekers, and creators. Their headquarters is the Vantoleone, a sprawling venue in the Mezzio where New Capenna's major celebrations are held, and father Jetmir ensures the Halo never stops flowing.
Cabaretti Central Location
The Cabaretti are creatures of the Mezzio, running nightclubs, music halls, and lounges throughout the city's largest borough. Their most famous venue is the Vantoleone, a sprawling leisure and entertainment complex where the party is quite literally never ending, Halo is flowing, and any pleasure or preference one seeks can be found for a price, as always.
Though the Vantoleone is open to the public, areas of this massive complex are off limits to all but the most exclusive guests: the Rose Room of the Vantoleone is the most exclusive, a lounge whose doors only open for high-ranking Cabaretti officers, the trendiest stars, and those whom Jetmir personally finds curious, interesting, or alluring.
The Brokers were first recruited from the paladins of Old Capenna; in New Capenna, they are rigorous favor-dealers that practice a self-serving, but still useful, form of contract protection. They focus on keeping a peace that benefits the five families and maintains the facade that this is a city with rules and order. They will keep you safe whether you want them to or not.
The Brokers are led by the demon-aven Falco Spara, the originator of the Brokers's contract-weaving abilities. As New Capenna has grown and become more removed from its founding era, Falco, the once gregarious public defender, has withdrawn into his residence in Park Heights where he leads the Brokers from behind a desk and occupies himself with esoteric legal theory.
Whispers surround his practice: that he works to interpret a doomsday prophecy that threatens all of New Capenna, and rather than prevent it, he guides the Brokers to take advantage of this coming doom. These whispers are quickly silenced by senior partners, who privately worry that Falco's prophetic obsession might see his worst fears realized.
The Brokers are servants first, agents of the upper crust's upper crust, and bruisers comfortable on the underside of the barrel—the armor on their suits is there for a reason.
Practicing a unique style of contract magic invented by their founder, the Brokers offer their services at no upfront cost to those in desperate need. Whether accosted by a gang of brass-knuckle-toting Riveteers in the Caldaia or cornered by bloodthirsty Maestros assassins in Park Heights, the Brokers will intercede when called, offer terms, and fight on their new clients' behalf. The price is always the same: a favor, to be collected later, for a benefit—your teeth, your business, or your life—that's hard to turn down.
The Brokers's headquarters is Nido Sanctuary, a lavish office in the central district of the Mezzio.
The Brokers Central Location
Though the Brokers's officers tend to live in Park Heights around Falco's penthouse, their main offices are in the Mezzio. Nido Sanctuary is a bright, clean, and well-appointed office complex in the heart of the borough, with readily accessible law offices and defense firms open to the public at all hours.
The Sanctuary's off-limits areas house training areas, armories, and dormitories for solicitors and new recruits. Falco Spara has quarters in Nido as well, though he rarely uses them anymore and frequents the firm as the text of his prophecy is kept in its ironclad vault.
If you'd like to see the city from its streets, check out Streets of New Capenna's story at the Story Hub!
Set credits available at the bottom of the product page.