Hi guys, welcome to the Bridgetown world-building articles. This is a continuation of the character bio articles I have been doing, focusing on the town itself instead of the people that run it. As mentioned in my Sunday article, this week I am going to focus on the initial spark of inspiration that spawned this wretched den of humanity. As you might have guessed from the title, I am starting in the sewers.
I couldn’t tell you how exactly I ended up researching the different kind of sewage systems over the ages. I think I had an idea in mind for constructing my own metropolis from the ground up and was researching all the underground utilities necessary to keep a city running. The one that caught my eye was a combined sewer, which, for the most part, did an excellent job of keeping the sewage flowing away from the city. However, in order to cope with heavy rain, which runs the risk of flooding the sewers up into the streets, there is a secondary overflow which dumps directly into the river. Now, obviously this is an inefficient system, not fitting for a metropolis, so I started scaling back my ideas to a much older sort of town.
This town would need a river for these sewers to do their job, so I decided to have one piercing through the heart of this slowly forming town. Now, as I mentioned these sewers were not very effective when dealing with floodwater, so every spring when the ice melts the sewers would overflow, belching dilutes sewage straight into the river and providing a pungent odour for all concerned. This set the tone of the town almost by itself, a place that festers and stinks, a place confronted with their own waste and decay. The tone was good, but it needed more, so I decided to look even deeper.
Down below the sewer network, filled with rats, down past the bedrock that supports the town and down through the rock with the strange glowing fungus you will find the deepest and darkest part of the town. I love working in the fantasy genre, that was a fixed point almost from the start, but I had been writing about the Sidhe in a different story, and wanted to try something different. I started thinking demons. This is not a nice place to live, so it needed a hook, a reason for people to want to live there. And what better hook than beings that could give you your heart’s desire, all for the measly cost of your soul. The wretched and rotten tone took on a note of depravity as people would give up all they should hold dear for whatever they wanted.
The underground parts of the city had taken root, becoming a dirty secret for the town to hide from the rest of the world. Their desire to hide it gave the place a very insular feeling, distrustful of outsiders, unless, of course, they had gold.
I could happily keep writing for pages and pages, but that would leave me precious little to write about for the next four weeks. So, I will leave this article here, with the foundations in place, ready for future articles to build the town on top. But, I will be back next Thursday, and I will look in detail at the feature of the setting that gives the town its name.