Fortitude: the Far Roofs is draft-complete, but waiting on the Book of Golden Hours. It’s an Immersive Fantasy-focused setting book for the “Far Roofs,” where the talking rats of Fortitude have their adventures.
I want this game to feel like one of those overwhelming movies—like Lord of the Rings, Princess Mononoke, or Spirited Away.
I want it to sweep down and catch you up in it:
To seize you with its vistas, to carry you away with its soundtrack, to stun you with its incredible events, to win your heart instantly with its characters. I don’t want you to sit back and be blasé. I want you to be taken by it, to lose yourself in it, to forget for a moment now and then that you’re playing a game and be lost in the wonder and terror and awe of it.
That’s why you’re going to play people who get swept up in this as well—
Why the default storyline in a Far Roofs game is that you’re ordinary human or human-like people who get sucked into the stories of the far roofs, taken out of yourselves, seized up by wonder at the things you’ll see and find, stunned by incredible events, and hopefully won over by the stock characters that this book provides.
You might very well be incredibly cool, the hero of this story, but this isn’t about your being the hero, or even not being the hero. It’s about finding this incredible thing—this incredible place and these amazing people and these terrors, these monsters, these god-like horrors—that you never knew was right next door.
It starts with the rats of Fortitude.
You probably know about these guys, both IC and OOC. I mean, you’re picking up this book, so you have probably read the core book, so you probably know that Fortitude has talking rats. And your PC probably knows about them too. They’re rats, who woke up from the sleep of rats, doubled in size, got the power of speech, the power of thought, learned to wear clothing and a sword-belt when they wanted to, learned to stand on two feet when they needed to, and in general became people. People, and, also, rats.
They are heroic. I don’t know if ordinary rats, rats that don’t talk, think of themselves as heroes, but the talking ones do. And they. Are. Amazing. They don’t exactly have strength to throw around, but they have tenacity and they have grace and they have hearts overflowing with valor, so much so that you can’t take five minutes in their company without getting a little braver yourself. They are alive, with so much energy and vim that’ll rub off on you too, but most of all, they are brave.
And if you meet them, then you’ll love them—I hope, and I also hope for your sake it ends there. I… feel like I’m better because I’ve gotten mixed up with their business, but at the same time, I don’t think I could possibly wish it on anyone else, because they fight such terrible horrors…
I guess I need to explain that, but I’m stuck, because I don’t know how to explain that.
There is another world, and it’s right next door to our own. If you go up onto the roofs, and run them like the rats do, you’ll find them getting closer and closer together until they merge; until you can’t see the houses beneath them any longer; and if you keep going, you’ll eventually reach these whole landscapes on the rooftops, strange fairylands, magical gardens, inexplicable towers, and all manner of wonders, and out there is where most of the monsters—the “Mysteries”—that the rats deal with reside.
I don’t know why this is there. I wish I did. I wish I could explain it. The best I can say is, when I first went to the public library, I was astounded. I had known there were libraries. I’d read books that had talked about libraries. I’d gone to school and there was a little school library. But I hadn’t realized—there was so much… so very much—
The Far Roofs aren’t a metaphor for libraries.
They aren’t a metaphor for anything, since they’re a real place, but even if they were, it wouldn’t be for libraries. It’d be for, for, for everything, for all the wonders that you never see, all the things you never find, all the things you could turn the corner and discover, but haven’t yet, or never do. For the wonder of the sea, the sky, the people around you. The amazingness of (as Rilke put it) things. The way that the world is limitless and even the things you think you know have endless depths inside them.
There’s this whole world of magic and to get there, you just go up, and over, and on a bit, and there you are, and you never knew, you still don’t know, just what you’ll find.
Regrettably it is the domain of the Mysteries.
It is not an inhabited land; it hosts neither fantasy civilizations nor real ones. Oh, there are places here and there with small and functional settlements and some of the Mysteries have entourages—but “habitation” is not a characteristic of the place. It is too wild and hostile a land for that; too dangerous, in the thrall of the great monster-gods.
…what can I tell you of the Mysteries?
The rats keep books on them—stories, notes, and thoughts on them—and even so they know little more than do you. Hoop Snake lures you into following it. Sphinx scrawls riddles on the walls. Unicorn dissolves you with its presence: the moment of its existence is so timeless and real that you fade away before it like a dream. Hedge the Fang lives at the edge of the world and shapes the sea and the endless sky.
They are creatures of a profound and overwhelming presence. They are horrors but they are very personal horrors—more likely to take interest in you than to crush whole towns. They are functionally immortal: they may die, but they return. Some are cruel; some are kind; most are indifferent to morality and simply act as they choose to act, letting the outcomes fall out as they may.
This is a story of how you become entangled in the stories of the Mysteries—
How the shadow of a Mystery falls over your life, and you join the rats in an adventure against that Mystery. And afterwards, I think, it’s hard to stay away: you want to, but you can’t, because there’s always something calling you, after that, back to the Farthest Roofs.
It’s terrifying, you see, but—
It’s so beautiful.
All my life, all my life, it was, it had been so little, so meaningless, until that moment when I met Lilith and Evans Koschieff, until I found my way up there, and had my first adventures with the rats.
A ~95k word RPG supplement for the Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine RPG.