Devil's Cradle is heavily influenced by such media as Bloodborne, Ravenloft, Dark Souls and Vampire Hunter D. Its vibe could best be described as post-apocalyptic tranyslvanian steampunk, and its various bizarre qualities are meant to hammer home to PCs that they're somewhere dark, miserable, dangerous and foreign. Visits to Devil's Cradle should always feel rushed, as if it's only a matter of time before something terrible happens if the characters stay in the city, which it usually will.
“All right, so it’s a city that’s under a perpetual thunderstorm that randomly abducts ships from across the planet all day from dawn to dusk, is ruled by an empty building where no one hears noise, has a quarter of the place sealed off to contain roaming hordes of radioactive undead, and exists under a giant web of steel cables woven across the colossal bones of some prehistoric monster. Am I missing anything? Seriously? Giant metal spiders? WHY DO PEOPLE LIVE HERE?” -Evon the Explorer, upon learning about the city in which he'd arrived. Devil's Cradle The infamous and accursed capital of Allacraus, Devil's Cradle is a telling example that things can always get worse. The city is located on a bay that's guarded by an enormous underwater castle stretching across the bay's floor right where it connects out to sea. The castle's spires jutt just high enough to form a natural barrier to entering the harbor through any but the approved gates, and are capable of defending the entire city from any nautical attack. Still, Devil's Cradle is known for certain other properties, each infamous in its own right. Some of the more notable are detailed below. The World's Bones: Devil's Cradle sits in a bay largely defined by jagged black and green limestone, but one other material features heavily in any view of the city. Protruding from the surrounding rock rise a series of enormous bones, each the size of a castle tower or larger. For most of the city's history, it existed in the shadows of these bones, forming a kind of grim break against the elements that was in some areas incorporated directly into the city's architecture. The rough bowl shape formed by what seems to be a gigantic rib cage surrounding the city is the origin of the city's strange name, as early explorers often remarked that it resembled a cradle. The Fallen Quarter: Before its war with Shovani, the city was already known as a place of curses, waning sunlight and ill fortune. Its massive ports and convenient location as a nexus for trade were barely enough motivation to keep people passing through the city. Then hostilities broke out in earnest with Shovani, and near the climax of the war, a great explosion of dark energy tore through an entire district of the city. The cause of the phenomenon is still unknown, though theories and rumors abound. The strange black light of the blast instantly slew those it touched and reanimated many of their bodies in a twisted version of undeath even deadlier than the typical products of necromancy. A massive wall has since sealed off that district, but the effects linger on in other ways, not the least of which is a decided mood of pessimism. The district is still accessible through a heavily guarded underground passage called the throat of Orpheus, but because it's flooded at all but low tide it can be difficult to navigate and often strands explorers in the quarter for much longer than they'd care to stay. The Maelstrom Since the explosion, the skies above Devil's Ante have gone from frequently cloudy to one long storm that covers the sky from shortly after dawn until dusk each evening. The Maelstrom, as it's come to be known, has some bizarre properties. When at its most violent, it seems to form a link with other storms out at sea, possibly with all nautical storms everywhere. Little is known except that the few vessels foolhardy enough to venture out into the harbor proper during especially fierce periods vanish whole. Even stranger, from time to time the storm will part to reveal a new vessel from some other location. There is no apparent rhyme or reason to these strange abductions, save that those of the crew that survive the passage describe having sailed into an ominous storm in whatever waters they were originally sailing. Distance seems wholly irrelevant to this property of the Maelstrom, with vessels appearing from the opposite side of the continent or even further afield. The Lattice of Steel and The Clockwork Arachnia When the Maelstrom first appeared, it delivered lightning strikes into the city with such frequency that many assumed the city would be abandoned. Many were packing up to leave after the explosion anyway, but then the spiders arrived. In one of the few public acts of the parliament of silence, it was proclaimed that the city would now be under the protection of "new guardians," and that people should not fear the storm. The spiders simply emerged from the sea and set to work, weaving a network of steel cables above the city that they anchored on the enormous bones that defined the city's skyline. In just a few days, this web began to draw the lightning into itself, with the resulting energy pulsing along the web in a loud crackle that spared any of the city's denizens from the storm's wrath. Combined with the natural insulation from the wind which the city enjoys from its location in a crater, this new protection made living in Devil's Cradle possible despite the constant ill weather. Nonetheless, the various dangers of the city outweigh the benefits to the vast majority of prospective citizens, and most who reside in the city permanently are forced to live there by ties to shipping, an industry that still uses the harbor's nightly stretches of calm to unload goods and passengers bound for destinations across the continent. This has led to Devil's Cradle becoming something of a ghost town, with abandoned buildings outnumbering those that are inhabited. Its slums contain the truly desperate folk who can afford no other lodgings, and outside the well-patrolled central district crime is rampant. Though the nobility of Allacraus all have manors in the city, most are maintained by a small private guard while the wealthier class resides on property further into the countryside. Still, there is a great deal of opportunity to be found in the city, for those who have courage and the means to defend themselves. Several dangerous organizations inhabit the city, from the thieves guild to the feuding noble houses to the infamous governing body known as the parliament of silence. Recent events have seen some new arrivals as well, a small cabal has grown in the wake of the disaster referring to themselves as the Clockword, and insisting that the spiders are merely the first of a new enlightened race that was coming to cleanse the world of all flesh.
The city of Devil's Ante, and in theory all of Allacraus, are ruled by the Parliament of Silence.