Penumbra City

Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness

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Welcome to Penumbra City. There’s plenty to do, if you don’t mind the dust. Or the smoke. Or the crime. Or the monsters.

Penumbra City is a class-based TTRPG set in the mysterious world of Harrow, created by members of the Strangers Collective. Players are led by a game master through a lore-rich world with simple game mechanics where they may encounter monstrous centipedes, fungal entities, creatures summoned from the plane of Rot, or the ethereal god king, Athe, himself.

There’s a black fog that hangs over the city, and it’s not as metaphorical as you might hope. It’s coal dust. Somewhere up through that smoke, there’s a glorious silver city hovering in the sunshine—but don’t concern yourself much with the floating quarter, because only the rich and holy will ever see it. Groundside, orphans dig through rubble and trash to scavenge the parts to fix their motorcycles, street poets sell fungus and brawl over territory, and bureaucrats ride black horses to midnight salons where they plot the death of the god king. The graveyard’s been squatted by immigrants now for longer than you’ve been alive, and there’s a gang of nihilist ex-marines who seem intent on blowing up half of everything.

Penumbra City is a rules-medium, campaign-world-richtabletop roleplaying game designed for 3-6 players.

This is a class-based game with simplified core mechanics but a broad range of character class abilities. Healing is hard to come by, so the decision to fight must never be taken lightly. While one player takes the role of the Game Master, players roll all dice. Most rolls are made with d20s. Penumbra City uses a reputation economy–it is a world where money has lost its luster, and it is a character’s reputation with the various gangs, factions, and coalitions that determine their access to resources.
The book contains a complete game system as well as a lore-rich world with its own complete cosmology. The city contains eleven unique districts. There are nine playable classes (or twelve, if we reach our stretch goals) and twenty or so factions. The only other things you need to play Penumbra City are dice, pen and paper, a game master, a party, and to answer the call to adventure. And to not get eaten by a murderous swamp crane.

Who You Can Be

• Doggirl: A motorcycle-riding, house-squatting, live-fast-die-fast mechanic who sings in tongues and knows that one day their bike is going to explode beneath them.

• Ex-Marine: When you leave the elite Marine Corps you’re supposed to turn in your bolt thrower and your coal-fired exoskeleton, but the ex-marine must have forgotten.

• Fungalian: A street poet who deals fungus both legal and illegal, whose drugs can bolster her comrades and can send her into a battle frenzy.

• Gunslinger: A gunsmith who builds and modifies their own firearms.

• Labor Thug: If you ask them, Labor Thugs and the union are the only thing standing between industrial workers and exploitation. Standing between with iron pipes, wrenches, or anything they can get their hands on.

• Lordling: It ain’t easy being a rich bastard. Well, maybe it is easy. The Lordling is slumming with the revolutionists, and it turns out privilege can still get you embarrassingly far in this world. The Lordling has all the right gear, can get out of jail with a favor from their father, and can solve an awful lot of problems by throwing silver around.

• Occultist: She wears all black, she likes bombs, she talks with the dead, she’s got a phantasmal familiar, she reads tarot, and she curses anyone who gets in her way.

• Patchworker: Everyone is scared of these doctors. They can do wonderful and horrible things with scalpels. They can also slap some fungal paste onto a patch of skin they’ve cut off a corpse, put that bad boy right onto your wounds, and heal you up. It even works most of the time.

• Rat King: The orphans who live in the shadow of the Silver City are damn strange. The Rat Kings are the damn strangest of them. They eat mushrooms that let them commune with rats, who swarm over them like living armor and attack their enemies.

• Clacker: They're building a "distributed difference engine" in the sewers of the city, and if you don't like it, too bad, because they're also the best bombmakers around. It doesn't do well to interfere with their plans.

• Corsorian Knight: They never get angry, they never get tired, and they also, somehow, never seem to die. The Corsorian Knights belong to an ancient order of anarchist knights who each devise their own tenets and who fight in a calm trance.

• Gaslamper: The warriors of the secretive Fraternal and Sororal Order of Gaslampers are an old-fashioned bunch. They ride horses, shoot crossbows, fight with sword and cane, and meet in moonlit groves to plot the death of the immortal king. And they look good while they're doing it.

Differences From Some TTRPGs 

• Reputation matters, money doesn’t: The complex economy of Penumbra City doesn’t run on money, it runs on trust. Rather than track gold or dollars, players track their character’s various reputations with the three coalitions.

• Simplified and class-based: There are no skills to track and no spell books. Each character has set abilities that come with their character class.

• Dangerous: Healing is hard to come by in Penumbra City, and it’s easy to find your character maimed or even killed if you aren’t careful.

• Players roll, not the GM: In combat, players roll their attacks and they roll to defend themselves from the enemy’s attacks.

 • Armor works like temporary hit points: A character tracks their hit points, or HP, but they also track their armor points, or AP. AP is recovered after each combat. HP recovers much slower.

Game Design: Inmn Neruin
Illustration: Robin Savage 
Copyediting and Book Design: Casandra Johns
World Design: Margaret Killjoy

Penumbra City was beautifully printed and bound by Book Mobile into a handsome 6x9" black-and-white hardcover book with a silver foil-stamped cover. It is 285 pages. 

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