Duel of Guns is an event-centric live roleplay setting, the progeny of Duel of Swords/Fists/Magic and the Red Dragon Inn, perhaps the internet’s oldest chat-based Free-Form Roleplay Setting. It uses this website and sub-folders of the Rings of Honor website (which hosts the current day Duel of Swords/Fists/Magic) to manage information and provide for a competition-based mechanic to aid in the storytelling inherent in its setting.
If you’re finding yourself confused, uncertain of what any of the above meant, I’d suggest checking out the Rings of Honor website and its Getting Started tab as your introduction to the 20+ year old roleplaying community of Rhy’Din and the concept of “Dueling” as an in-character bloodsport. Below, you’ll find information about the setting of Duel of Guns, which is a collaborative attempt to paint one possible future for the ever-growing city of Rhy’Din.
Rhy’Din: A City of the Dead Above, and “Dust Town” Below.
Duel of Guns takes place in a bleak, possible future, starting in the year 569 by the Rhy’Din Calendar (the current year is 532), though most refer to it as the year 36 A.N. (After Nexus). The Rhy’Din Defense League holds open, for spectators and participants, the Duel of Guns once a week (with the exception of challenge matches) within the old Arena (now called The Battleground) at what was once the Red Dragon Inn. The large Arena floor is nothing like it once was. The old stairs that led to the rest of the renowned Inn have been demolished, and the great doors of the Arena have been heavily barricaded. Fighters and participants access the Arena through a series of underground tunnels that are manned by armed RDL guards and Checkpoints; to even reach the Arena requires much effort. However, in a world with few forms of entertainment, the remaining survivors in Rhy’Din are eager for a means of escape, however fleeting.
Outside of the underground tunnels and the Red Dragon Inn (now, a heavily-guarded fortress), Apocalypse has come. Hordes of mindless zombies roam the streets of the dead city, and most survivors have fled to roaming camps, rumored safe-havens across the globe, or live starving and oppressed in the vast maze of underground tunnels that are guarded and policed by the Rhy’Din Defense League and its President, Lord Imperius. Food is scarce, murder is commonplace, and there is little hope left in a world that has seen the vast majority of its population decimated over the years by an unrelenting plague of zombies.
Magic does not exist in Rhy’Din any longer. There are whispers that Lord Imperius and the Rhy’Din Defense League, the most organized and powerful force remaining on the planet, are responsible for the dread day some thirty five years ago; Rhy’Din and the rest of the world was ripped away from the Nexus and thrown into its own pocket dimension. With this vile act came the zombie plague that has overrun the world and taken the lives of billions. The heroes and defenders of Rhy’Din and other nations struggled to recover, but without access to the Nexus or the rest of the outside Universe, magic ceased to exist in Rhy’Din. For a while, heavy weaponry and technology were enough to hold off the ever-growing hordes of undead, but in time, only ashes and a brutal, dog-eat-dog society remained. Those that die, no matter the cause, rise again to join the ranks of the undead, and despite years of research – no cure has been found.
Lord Imperius and the Rhy’Din Defense League have turned the Red Dragon Inn into an incredible fortress, and have managed to avoid incident or break-in for over five years now. As a hungry and desperate society tries to rebuild under Lord Imperius’s dictatorship, the RDL has created the Duel of Guns as a means to entertain the masses and deal with prisoners. The participants in the duels may be ordinary survivors that have spoken, or acted out against the Rhy’Din Defense League. They may be wanderers from outside bands of survivors, captured by one of the RDL’s patrols. They may be vicious murderers or caught thieves, sentenced to fight or die. They may even be willing participants, driven to fight by bloodlust in a world gone mad. Still, so long as they fight, the prisoners are treated as well as any other citizen, no matter their crimes; though, it is said that Lord Imperius keeps close tabs on those who may wish to incite uprisings, and even well-known fighters have been known to “go missing” when they cross the President of the RDL.
The Battleground itself allows for any number of duels to happen at the same time. There are no “rings”, as was commonplace in the more civilized past. The shells of burnt-out cars, metallic rubble, barrels filled with waste, and a myriad of other symbols of the new Apocalyptic age are strewn down upon the floor of the Battleground to provide cover for the fighters. The fighters themselves must hunt their target opponent while ignoring all other opponents. An attempt to injure a fighter engaged in another duel brings with it the automatic penalty of death, and the RDL guards the Battleground with dozens of heavily-armed and armored men. The fighters are all given suits of kevlar body-armor and protective helmets to help them survive fights, but accidental deaths are still frequent due to the explosive nature of the fighting. The fighters are also issued a random pistol, a random shotgun, a small number of small explosive grenades, and a portable device capable of briefly creating a protective energy shield around the fighter. Fighters are also given ammunition, based on their standing and ranking. Fighters may choose to use their own weapons as well, but must use standard armor, and their weapon must match the required specifications and be similar to the standard suit (i.e.: you need a weapon that resembles a shotgun, pistol and grenades).
When not fighting, contenders may return their weapons in the locker room, and head up to the skyboxes, where crowds gather to watch. The old skyboxes of the Arena have been interconnected so that one may travel easily between them, with the central skybox having been turned into a small bar. There is not much on tap at the bar (Badsider Ale is a rare find indeed, in these times), but the RDL does have several laborers that make moonshine and gruel. Flavored mixers are in rare order, though the RDL does maintain a sugar farm in a protected area outside of Rhy’Din. The most common drink ordered at the bar is moonshine with an ounce of dirty water and a teaspoon of sugar. This drink, commonly referred to as “Brains”, has a reputation for its potency, terrible taste, and driving people to madness due to the poor distillation process and lack of quality water. Still, spectators seem willing to drink it, and pay for it by extending their work contract with the RDL at the cost of one hour per drink. The bar also serves bowls of rat meat gruel, commonly referred to as “Ruel”, and is one of the few places in the RDL’s jurisdiction where one can go to eat for free. Spectators can be heard ordering “Ruel’n Brains” quite often at the bar. Elsewhere in the skyboxes, utilitarian bleachers have been set up for spectators to socialize and watch the action below. There are no tables, and every night in the Arena leaves quite a mess of gruel and moonshine for workers to clean up the next day, as the crowds oftentimes become incited and rowdy.
Behind the skyboxes is a motorless elevator run by strong-armed workers that will take spectators and fighters down to the locker room and armory in preparation for a fight, or much further below into the RDL controlled tunnels. The tunnels were opened to those outside of the RDL around ten years ago, and the first five years saw aggressive expansion. The sprawl of tunnels and mines where those under RDL rule live and work is often bitterly referred to as “Dust Town”, due to the low quality of air. The Rhy’Din Defense League’s official name for the catacombs is “Fort Hope”. This name is rarely spoken by its denizens, though, and despite the increased organization of the settlement of survivors – and the frequent arrival of other refugees – more people die from disease and starvation in Fort Hope than can be replaced, and the settlement has not needed to expand its tunnels in over five years now. Few enjoy rule under Lord Imperius and the RDL, but most have nowhere else to turn. At least, in Dust Town, the survivors are safe from the hungry zombies that dominate most of the world.
Still, whispers of dread things cause most to fear Lord Imperius. Some say that he is a God hell-bent on punishing those that serve him. Others claim that the RDL is a cult that worships some dark God who has long hated Rhy’Din. Some even believe that in the forbidden areas of the fortress that once was the Red Dragon Inn, the impossible is happening: Lord Imperius has found a way to use magic again, something that no one has seen in over thirty years. Along with these, and numerous other rumors, come the whispers of a force of rebels fighting a war with RDL elsewhere in the city. Some claim to have seen the fighting first-hand, but none claim to be a part of such a rebellion; to do so would certainly be to entreat death, as the RDL has ears everywhere, and Lord Imperius acts as Dust Town’s sole judge of criminal activity.
Every citizen in Fort Hope must be assigned a job. Gunsmithing is a very sought after profession, due to the high need for the RDI to keep a stock of weaponry and ammunition to protect itself, fight with outside war-bands and provide entertainment to the masses. Other common jobs include mining, rat-farming, or joining the RDI’s military force. Less popular, but still necessary jobs oftentimes take workers away from the safety of Fort Hope and to the dangerous world outside; the RDL needs water-collectors, farmers, scavengers and patrol-men. Those with families to feed oftentimes volunteer for these jobs despite the low rate of survival, because they pay triple of the “safer” professions. Those few duelists who achieve the rank of Pariah in the Duel of Guns are treated to five-times the pay of regular workers, making the dangerous profession of gun-dueling a dream for those who are starving.
Last Updated – 2/12/2015 (added Sky Giant histories, and new season preparation)
This is a very general timeline, mostly focused on the city of Rhy’Din. If you want to write a story that takes place elsewhere in the world (during anytime within this alternate timeline), or add to the Timeline to speak towards a setting that you’ve created (Adennia, etc), PM me the details so that we can work to build a better and more consistent timeline. If you want to write a story that takes place in this setting (I’ve mostly only detailed the events that take place in the city of Rhy’Din), use this Timeline as a guide and go for it! Duel of Guns is an open-ended storyline.
532 Rhy’Din Calendar (Current Day for Duel of Swords and Red Dragon Inn Live-Play)
Technology continues to become more integrated into the every day lives of Rhy’Din citizens, largely brought in from other worlds. The dueling venues continue to thrive and provide the most popular and common form of entertainment in the city. A cult worshipping Drakhar, a God of Fire and Shadow, begins to grow more popular in the poor sections of the city, particularly among children and young adults. The cult is taken over from its unknown founder by Lord Bile. Under his leadership, the religion grows quickly.
534 Rhy’Din Calendar / 0 A.N.
An event occurs that forever changes the future of Rhy’Din and the Nexus. A band of adventurers learn that Lord Bile and the cult of Drakhar intend to enact a powerful ritual to bring about the end of the world. They find the hidden Temple of Drakhar, but are unable to stop the ritual from being completed. Rhy’Din and the rest of the world are violently torn from the Nexus and thrown an isolated pocket dimension, effectively removing Rhy’Din from all of the other worlds. This has an unexpected side-effect: magic ceases to be in Rhy’Din. Many magic-based beings and deities lose their powers, or die, in the event later referred to as The Great Culling.
A few days after The Great Culling, a genetically-modified virus goes airborne in Rhy’Din’s Old Temple District, killing many within. The virus quickly mutates to a non-lethal status before it spreads rapidly and a world-wide epidemic of a mild flu begins. After only an hour, the worst is thought to be over as the City Watch scramble to understand what happened. And then, the dead begin to rise again. The zombies are slow upon reanimation, but true to their heritage; they attack and devour the living. Those bitten almost always succumb to infection, and even those that die from non-zombie related causes rise again due to being infected with the airborne virus.
Without the use of magic, panic sets in within the city. The City Watch and other militant groups begin to set up defensive perimeters to quarantine and cull the quickly growing horde of undead within Rhy’Din. However, the inevitability of reanimation, epidemic of sickness, and a number of surprise terrorist bombings (assumed to be executed by the Cult of Drakhar) turn the early attempts at stopping the threat into a massacre. The horde spreads throughout the city by the time the Government or other forces begin to consider more drastic measures to contain the threat.
Though many brilliant attempts at cutting down the zombies and fighting against insurgency slow the initial death tolls, continued sabotage and in-fighting between desperate citizens and refugees eventually tip the scale towards the direction of a full blown Apocalypse.
In-fighting, war, disease and terrorism have become commonplace across the face of the planet, no matter how remote the location. And of course, every death brings the threat of a potential zombie outbreak.
Rhy’Din, as a city, is no more. Bands of survivors are led by warlords, humanitarians, soldiers, or more uncommon heroes within the city. However, no ruling bodies exist, and organized military groups are no more. It is around this time that the Cult of Drakhar, having spent years in hiding, make themselves known. With an incredible stockpile of weapons and extremely organized techniques, they begin to send hunting parties throughout the city. These hunters do little more than necessary to contain the hordes of undead that roam the city, looking for food; instead, they begin to hunt down other, smaller bands of survivors, either assimilating them or executing them. Without electricity, forms of communication are limited. Messages painted on walls to plan meetings between bands of survivors for trade and other purposes are common, but are also used by the Cult of Drakhar to to set traps for their enemies. It is not long before Rhy’Din is left with nearly no survivors, save for the members of the cult and a few crafty bands that manage to hide from them.
As quickly as they came, the Cult of Drakhar disappears once again. They are seen rarely by those few who stay in Rhy’Din. At this point, few remain, however. Most survivors have fled to neighboring lands. Many nations and towns have been overrun in a similar way by the undead, though some still manage to fight against the inevitable tide. The arrival of refugees to the most well-defended havens often turns violent, as food supplies, water supplies, and the constant threat of disease makes refugees dangerous. Several well-defended havens had managed to hold off the outside threats of war and zombies, allowing refugees into their borders. These, the most open-handed of nations and most popular destinations for Rhy’Din refugees, were the first to see their civilizations destroyed from within. A few such strongholds now remain as nothing more than a Necropolis; the dead cannot leave their walls any easier than they could have breached them.
In the northern wastelands, most of the world’s dragons unite under the inspired leadership of Horamangier, the self-proclaimed King of the Dragons. Unaffected by the plague that turn other sentient races into zombies when they die, King Horamangier has come to believe that dragons, and dragons alone, are fit to rule the planet and bring its chaos into order. Disparate civilizations, doing what they can to hide from roving hordes of undead and scavenge out a bare existence, come under attack. Naming the new dragon nation Charrrr, Horamangier begins to aggressively expand his domain through conquest. Many come to serve him willingly, believing the dragons capable of protecting them against the unholy plague. Others refuse, and blood flows freely in the vast wilderness and fallen kingdoms north of Rhy’Din.
United by veteran heroes, the free people gather their might in an organized front, the likes of which has not been seen in a decade, to stop King Horamangier. War is met, and though it seems that the dragons will prove to be an impossible foe to overcome, they eventually are. Weapons of Mass Destruction and great sacrifices turn the tide of the war, and much of the northern wilderness is left an atomic wasteland. In the end, King Horamangier is slain and the kingdom of Charrrr scattered. Though the other races’ alliance will not last long, their hunt for surviving dragons proves relentless for several years, to the point where the elder lizard kings are left nearly extinct.
The world continues to slowly die. Meanwhile, what would eventually become the Rhy’Din Defense League exacts a dangerous mission to seal off the Kingdom of Sky Giants, Haerfrust, before the undead plague can fully take hold there and unleash an army of zombie giants upon the world at large. They are successful in trapping the giants in their kingdom, and only one known giant babe survives — Gethmog is taken from his people and subjected to experimentation by the Rhy’Din Defense League for the next twenty years.
Ten years after the defeat of the dragon nation of Charrrr, dead King Horamangier’s son yet lives. Having hidden himself in the nuclear wasteland north of Rhy’Din, surviving through unspeakable means, the mutant dragon called Badtooth appears out of nowhere, his existence believed by most to be but a myth. He hunts other sentient races relentlessly in his quest for revenge, and drives Lord Imperius and the mercenaries who have set up some semblance of domination in the northern wilderness further and further away from their home. The mercenaries fight skirmishes again Badtooth’s mindless rampages for the next several years, until they eventually flee to the ruined city of Rhy’Din, looking for reprieve from the dragon’s brutality.
Eventually, the inevitably of the end of the world comes to pass. There are no great nations left. Small bands of survivors have formed many new outposts, forts and towns over the years, but nothing remains permanently. The undead out-number the living one thousand to one. Animal life is endangered, and much of it extinct, as zombies will feast on them as well. Water is contaminated and a constant threat for the few small groups of survivors. Technology, natural resources, old and efficient weaponry – these are stories that the old survivors tell their young.
In Rhy’Din, a surprisingly well-organized band of survivors calling itself the Rhy’Din Defense League emerges. They sweep through the city, well-armed, control the hordes of undead where necessary, and help bring refugees back to their home. The scouting parties even leave the city behind and spread the word of Fort Hope to neighboring bands. Soon, Fort Hope becomes a beacon across the globe for remaining survivors, and many die making the exodus to Rhy’Din in hopes of finding it.
At this time, Fort Hope is a modest underground “city” of tunnels that the Rhy’Din Defense League claims to have built. New citizens live under the rule of the RDL’s President, Lord Imperius, and most are given the task to help dig and expand the city. Many die from poor living conditions during this time, but the RDL’s armed guards ensure that they do not return to life. Still, during this time of expansion, close calls with the ever-present threat of the zombie plague are frequent, and Fort Hope is not the safe haven that its citizens wished it would be.
Fort Hope has expanded rapidly over the past five years. Though many of its workers and early citizens died, the number of arriving refugees far exceeds the casualties. The last “breach” of Fort Hope’s security comes early this year, when a band of rebels led by original survivors Claire Farron and Shadow breach one of its tunnels. In the resulting conflict, the rebels are defeated, but the deaths from the conflict create a two-week long battle for Fort Hope between the reanimated and the RDL. Eventually, the RDL cleans the tunnels and further secures the underground outpost. They send bands of hunters out to find the remaining rebels, and skirmishes within the city become frequent. Claire Farron and Shadow are not apprehended.
Refugees continue to make the exodus to Rhy’Din to become part of the safe, but totalitarian society within Fort Hope. By now, its citizens refer to it ironically, as “Dust Town”. The rebellion from four years prior has been defeated, largely, but skirmishes are still rumored to happen. It’s at this point that the RDL re-takes and fortifies the old Red Dragon Inn, including the Arena. The Inn becomes a palace-like stronghold for the most “important” members of the RDL. The Red Dragon Inn is connected by means of manual elevator to Dust Town Below.
An incident occurs, referred to by the RDL as a ‘terrorist attack’ led by wanted outlaws Shadow, Claire Farron and Oll One-Arm. The outlaws sneak into the Red Dragon Inn for an unknown purpose. The RDL announces that the three leaders of the rebellion were all caught and executed, but their bodies are never displayed in the same way as other dead criminals, leading to many rumors of what actually happened in the attack.
Refugees continue to come to Dust Town, which is largely safe from the zombie threat, but remains a difficult place to live despite the efficient organization of the RDL. At this point, the RDL claims that the majority of survivors in the world live inside Dust Town, and that the world beyond is almost void of life entirely.
To appeal to its citizens, the RDL announces the re-opening of Rhy’Din’s Arena, and the founding of the Duel of Guns. For the first time in many years, the citizens of Dust Town find a reason to become excited. While the Duel of Guns provides an entertaining escape for the people, it also delivers them hope in the form of veteran would-be heroes and gunmen. This proves to be their saving grace not once, but twice in one year, as duelists work together with the Rhy’Din Defense League to slay two dangerous threats: the radioactive slag-dragon, Badtooth, and the escaped cyborg giant Gethmog, who planned on unleashing the seal on the undead giant-infested Sky Kingdom. A higher than normal number of RDL soldiers die, and much of the Duel of Guns Arena is destroyed by Gethmog when he escapes, but Lord Imperius promises that the Battleground will open up for its second season in the following year.
36 A.N. (Current Day for Duel of Guns Live-Play)
And so, with its first year having past, both spectators, and would-be fame-hunters and gunmen prepare themselves for the bloody return of the Duel of Guns, not knowing yet what horrors the world would unleash on them and Dust Town during the brutal competition.