The Fallen City
Story Title: The Fallen City
Elevator pitch: For nearly a thousand years, the city of Ashirae floated among the clouds, isolated from the rest of the world, an idyllic society run by their goddess, Cybil. Six months ago, Cybil was killed and the city came crashing down into a world it was not prepared for. Now, the player must help decide the fate of a city out of time as multiple factions fight to the death over who gets to control it.
~1000 years ago, the city of Ashirae was just a floating city in the desert region of the world. But as brutal war consumed the land, the city's guardian deity, Cybil, made the choice to isolate her people completely—cutting off all contact with the outside world and grooming the following generations to believe that there was only Ashirae and nothing else. But after centuries of total control, the cracks started to show and young woman named Meridia rose up and ultimately slew Cybil. As Cybil was the sole power source for the city, this brought everything crashing down, literally and figuratively. Unbeknownst to the citizens, the world had drastically changed outside the city's walls, and the people now find themselves embroiled in a tense standoff between the local powers-that-be over who gets to claim Ashirae as their own.
For miles and miles in every direction, there is only sandy desert. The ocean can be seen from the highest spires of the city, and dense jungle lies far to the north, but the city is stranded amid the dry, rocky wastes for all practical implications. They have no supply lines, no local currency, and no idea what the geopolitical situation is like. They're not even equipped to handle the brutal heat and lack of water, as the city was sustained in much more temperate altitudes, their needs met by Cybil's power. The city is densely packed, a tiered hive with everyone stacked on top of each other in a confusing network of stairs, walkways, and terraces. Its architecture hails from a time when wonders were more commonplace, alien in the current timeline and environment. How the city changes and evolves (or doesn't) to meet its new demands is up to the player and the choices they make going forward.
Ashirae, the Fallen City: The city itself is the most important figure, a world out of time being forced to adapt to much harsher conditions, both socially and ecologically. Before The Fall, citizens used magic bracelets to enjoy a blessed life free of difficult decisions made for them by Cybil, and smartphone-like levels of communcation and applications. All of that is gone and now the city is behind on basic infrastructure, economic force, and government.
Cybil: The now-dead goddess of Ashirae, her name and presence still linger in everything from the load-bearing statues of her all over the city, to a people who don't know how to function without her. Things were not perfect in old Ashirae, and the Usurper's rebellion came about when it was revealed that Cybil was controlling people's lives to a disgusting degree, denying them basic choices because it would endanger her control of the city, and thus her ability to protect it. She had endowed her people with incredible gifts, but at tremendous costs they were unknowingly paying for generations.
Meridia Goldblade: The Usurper to some, Liberator to others. Meridia's story is your typical magical rebel fare, with her discovering powers outside of Cybil's control and using them to destroy the tyrannical hold on the city. Meridia is not blind to the conflict she has created: Ashirae is materially worse without Cybil and Meridia does not pretend otherwise. But she stands by her decision to free her people, to give them the opportunity to be free and make their own choices without the meddling hand of a deity. She is the de facto leader of the city for the past six months, but knows others could manage the city better. She is currently in talks with the leaders of each faction, hoping to find one who will not simply be another Cybil to her people.
Maraat Thousand Petals: The head envoy of the Ebon Empire, here to negotiate Ashirae's integration into the rightful rulers of the world. To members of the Empire, it's unthinkable that Ashirae doesn't belong to them: the talks are merely a discussion of how painless the acquisition will be. Secretly, Thousand Petals is in dire straits. Her family is in a desperate political situation back home and she's on her last strike with them. She needs Ashirae as a win and will do whatever it takes to secure it. Also, she's a mech pilot, so there's that.
Ahmad Mirobu: A general for the nearby Ja'ashin Dynasty. While a branch of the Ebon Empire, the Ja'ashin see Ashirae as a chance to assert their independence—and possibly their eventual dominance over the crumbling Empire. Militaristic and practical, Ahmad claims the city has landed in their territory and thus belongs to them instead of the Empire.
The Vulture King: A terrifying bandit lord that has plauged both the Ja'ashin and the Empire for centuries (yes, centuries). The politics of the situation are irrelevant to him: Ashirae would make a perfect fortress for him and he will kill anyone and anything that tries to stop him. A devout believer in “Might makes Right,” The Vulture King has no patience for the facade of politeness that the Imperials and Dynasts exemplify. He knows they'll murder and slaughter just like him to get the city; he's just more honest about it.
The Fallen: Ashirae was a city of wonders, of climate control, digital banking, city-wide communication, and plentiful resources. That was before The Fall, before they learned their lives were a lie fed to them by their most trusted goddess. Now it's a city of desperation, sand, heat, and starvation. Worse, the citizens cannot even safely flee to other cities, as the surrounding cultures are completely alien to them, ready to prey on the naive outsiders from the sky. This culture shock has lead to many paralyzed and depressed citizens who have simply given up, aimless depressives at best, catatonic bodies in the streets at worst as they flounder existentially for what to do next.
Other Notable Aspects of the World:
The Rivermen: A faction of merchants that claim no political affiliation to anything other than commerce and the facilitation of such. Some are here to eagerly reap the virgin market of Ashirae, others are here to exploit its lack of political protection to rob it blind.
The Natives: There are dozens of local nomadic tribes who exist outside of either major government, at one with the desert as its true native people. Ashirae has landed in their territory, and some see it as a sign that the city is meant for them, while others want it destroyed.
First of His Name: Rarely mentioned, but ever-present, the undead are a constant problem in this world. Those who die gruesome deaths, or do not have proper funeral rites performed risk rising again as hungry ghosts and restless dead to torment the living. On the other side of the Veil, this region is ruled by an undead demigod known only as First of His Name. Interested players can call his attention to the city and potentially turn it into a haven for the dead, where no living faction can tread.
Cybilites: A growing number of citizens have rallied behind one of the old governors of the city, wishing to restore Ashirae to its former glory, resurrect Cybil, and oust Meridia and the invaders—preferably through violence.
Every faction has its own plot lines—furthering its agenda, gaining footholds of power, cleaning up its messes, stifling its enemies—and these are often intertwined with another. Very rarely can you help one faction without also helping/hurting another. The player is free to explore these options as the game progresses, allowed to change their minds as new information comes forward. Around the ¾ mark of the game, the player will have to definitively pick which faction they want to control the city, which every other faction will try to resist, leading to a final chapter confrontation where the city is besieged by the snubbed powers and aided by the allies you created. Unless you side with him explicitly, the final boss will always be The Vulture King, as he waits for the city to wear itself out fighting the other powers before swooping in to claim the corpse, true to his name.