A Visitor’s Guide to the Rainy City (2020)

Seems fitting to kick off ZineQuest3 with a week of cool RPG zines. Let’s start with my favorite from ZineQuest 2, A Visitor’s Guide to the Rainy City from Superhero Necromancer. It is pure setting, no rules, no stats, just lots of evocative detail on the titular city where it does indeed rain every day, year round. This has required the residents to adapt in unusual ways – the rain only lightens up enough to allow the burning of fire for part of the year so there are many surprising culinary adaptations, for instance (alchemical boiling salts are a must). Instead of rats, the vermin of choice are oozes and slimes. There are also way more umbrellas than your usual fantasy RPG setting. In fact, the entire culture of the city is defined by dampness and (depending on your level of wealth) its avoidance. Oh, and there are pirates who live on a floating island made of bound together shipwrecks.

I guess you could call it whimsical, for lack of a better word. It gets into a neighborhood similar to Neil Gaiman’s or Susanna Clarke’s territory. There are light elements of steampunk. But it never becomes cloying or overwhelming. A lot of the appeal comes from Bill Spytma’s art, which somehow channels the aesthetics of both medieval woodcuts and Victorican engravings simultaneously. It strikes a balance similar to Planescape.

Which is appropriate, because the most interesting thing about the Rainy City is that it seems to A. Be at the center of all universes and B. Those other universes have started to collapse in on themselves. This has led to refugees from other world washing up at the Rainy City by the shipload, making a strange world significantly weirder. Which is saying something considering there are giant newt-drawn carriages driven by intelligent octopuses.

All told, an impressive feat of world building, in which much of the details of the world are rendered in inference and implication, rather than tediously spelled out. This results in multiple imagination-stoking ideas on every page. I dare you to read it and not start sketching out a possible campaign.

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