City bigger at night - looking for novels and movies to avoid duplication

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Idle brainstorming for a next homebrew campaign and thinking about an isolated (magicially? monsterously? spiritually?) fantasy metropolis with distinct districts with high (50'+) walls between then - higher than any buildings. At night the city expands, with many new districts filled with citizens of the night, monsters, and adventure opportunities. You don't want to be in one of them when dawn comes* and the city returns to it's original layout.

But I know I've seen at least one movie with a city with a different layout at night, and I'm sure there's other stories. So I'm asking you to describe the city and pertinent other information from any that you know so I can make sure that I'm not grossly duplicating and other aspects of it.

For example, I know I want to limit time spent in the Night Districts until dawn. But does everyone who isn't from there just disappear? Is it like a reverse Brigadoon and from the Night Districts perspective it only shows up once a year or something so people stuck there not likely survive?

And the origin of the City - does it predate the current inhabitants and was found empty? What's the deal with it?

So what's been written on this already, and what are the details so I can stay away from them.
 

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The scenario 'Night Floors', updated into part of 'Impossible Landscapes', has a single hotel that expands after dark. It's for Call of Cthulhu, not D&D but I found it an interesting idea. Carcosa in some Call of Cthulhu supplements is described as changing, though not with the diurnal cycle. The supplement 'Cthulhu City', while modern in time period, has some of the same feel of ordinary life going about beside eldritch horrors, though there isn't an on/off cycle.

The movie 'Dark City' has a city that changes at night (weird creatures change the layout regularly). Some have cited it as a precursor to 'The Matrix'.
 


Janx

Hero
Conceivably, the repercussions of being in the night spaces at dawn needs to be commensurate with level. Imagine 1st level party wipe simply because a quest ran long. Maybe time freezes, so it's simply continuous night because the day gap is like a blink. Or they shift back to their plane so the day time also proceeds as normal, but the "day city" is locked out/vanished, just as the night city is hidden during the day.

What keeps the night creatures from wandering into the day city (at night)?

What keeps the day people from farming the night city zones?

the answer to either might be the walls. But then, how do people change districts?
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski involves a house with a shifting internal layout.* It’s an interesting but difficult read, due largely to its idiosyncratic layout.

In Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion cycle of novel series, the city of Tanelorn is present across many realities, but never seems to be the same in any of them. But those who know it, know it.

In the aforementioned Dark City, people within the city go into a kind of stasis when the city is rearranged. When the city resumes “normal operations”, the people reawaken, usually with entirely new identities. Until the protagonist doesn’t, of course.

The Adjustment Beaureau shares some similar conceits in how there’s a group of beings manipulating the real world, unnoticed by regular people. Again, until the protagonist catches a glimpse.









* his sister, Poe, released an album called Haunted that references the novel.
 


MarkB

Legend
Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere is an early urban fantasy novel in which there are otherworldly districts within London that are hard to access or even notice. I seem to recall a lot of them doing business mainly at night, but I feel like that was more due to secrecy than being tied to a diurnal cycle.
 

Mad_Jack

Hero
Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere is an early urban fantasy novel in which there are otherworldly districts within London that are hard to access or even notice. I seem to recall a lot of them doing business mainly at night, but I feel like that was more due to secrecy than being tied to a diurnal cycle.

Simon R. Green's Nightside stories have a similar premise - The Nightside is sort of a demiplane within London where it's always night, rather than a strictly physical location. The sort of place where it's not anywhere on a regular map, but you can get there by turning the wrong corner anywhere in the city.
Despite many ways to get to the Nightside, most of the time you don't find your way into the Nightside unless you already know how to get there, and the streets in the Nightside aren't always the same because some of them can only be found by people who already know where they are. It's a kitchen-sink sort of place where vampire businessmen make back-room deals with aliens and demons, and some of the residents are from the future, the past, or a future/past that never happened. They might be stuck out of time, or just passing through. One of the characters is a zombie private detective that drives a car which is actually a techno-alien from an alternate future...

One way of handling the chronological nature of your twilight zones is to simply go the pumpkin route - at dawn, any visitors to the area simply find themselves back in the parts of town that exist during the daytime, which can lead to some interesting events when you suddenly find yourself having to explain how a fully-armored fighter ended up sharing Her Ladyship's bathwater...

Alternately, perhaps, since the city is full of high walls, the gates to certain districts only appear from sunset til dawn, and once you enter one of those night districts, regardless of how long one spends there, when the characters leave they find themselves outside the gate just as it disappears at sunrise of the next day after they entered. Or maybe a randomly determined number of days pass in the daytime world.
 

MarkB

Legend
One possibility would be that the Night districts of the city actually exist across multiple cities, shifting from one to another to follow the planet's day/night cycle so that they are perpetually in the dark. So the penalty for staying beyond dawn is that you don't know which city you may emerge in.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Conceivably, the repercussions of being in the night spaces at dawn needs to be commensurate with level. Imagine 1st level party wipe simply because a quest ran long.
This is intentional - I want that each foray is against the clock, and since likely running this using D&D 5e have that there is not time for a long rest during a trip to the Night Districts. There will be faction and other issues thatr happen purely on the "daylight city" (which is there full time) that will allow adventures of varying length.

What keeps the night creatures from wandering into the day city (at night)?
Interesting and undefined. Can the residents of the Night Districts cross the gates to a day district? Can they survive sunlight? I was already planning that some districts kept the gatges locks and guarded during the night (so leaving them or going to them at night requires dealing with that) and others have a freer interface. I picture some inhabitants as tricksey and fey in the mythical and not-so-nice term, like the Goblin Market of Christina Rossetti's poem of the same name, but still able to be bargained and deals made.

What keeps the day people from farming the night city zones?
For about the same reason we don't send a squad of knights into a fairie ring.

the answer to either might be the walls. But then, how do people change districts?
There are tall walls, with gates between the day districts, so then they will be between the day districts and the Night Districts. (I keep tripping on the term "day districts" - they are actually full time districts, available at day or night. Hmm, I wonder if one of the secrets of the city is that there actually is also a hidden Day District, that only exists during the day.
 


The night districts could be part of their own city that exists in a different dimension/universe. Don't leave before the dawn and you're stuck there until the next night comes around. The environment in this other place could be quite hostile to peoples from the day side. Food isn't edible, water makes you sick, healing and regeneration don't work, etc.

I'm also a fan of Neverwhere and think Spirited Away could give some inspiration as well.
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Perhaps the city is unstuck in time. The shifting walls, layout and size are its manifestations from other times. That means if you know “when” the city is, you can navigate it more easily.

In a sense, the city’s denizens are living in a temporal CT scan of a city.

If so, who is flipping through the layers…and why?
 

MarkB

Legend
Perhaps the city is unstuck in time. The shifting walls, layout and size are its manifestations from other times. That means if you know “when” the city is, you can navigate it more easily.

In a sense, the city’s denizens are living in a temporal CT scan of a city.

If so, who is flipping through the layers…and why?
Whatever the mechanism, the idea that it becomes easier to navigate as you learn more seems like a good one.

So, at low levels, you have to abide by the out-by-dawn rule or you're lost, maybe ending up owing a big favour to someone more experienced to get you back home. Then at mid levels you understand it just enough that you can get back home with only some minor misadventures. And at high levels you're navigating those paths with confidence to reach other places / times / planes.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Whatever the mechanism, the idea that it becomes easier to navigate as you learn more seems like a good one.

So, at low levels, you have to abide by the out-by-dawn rule or you're lost, maybe ending up owing a big favour to someone more experienced to get you back home. Then at mid levels you understand it just enough that you can get back home with only some minor misadventures. And at high levels you're navigating those paths with confidence to reach other places / times / planes.
I think this is a good one. Common knowledge is that those who stay beyond are lost, so players plan around that. Later they find out methods, usually expensive (in some term, likely not gold) and one shot. And at highest levels they may even intentionally want to stay there to get access to things that aren't accessible when the Night Districts are present in the city - perhaps at that point it is co-terminous with an even darker place.
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
um, isn't this exactly why we send a squad of knights? It's the core of D&D. :)
Nah. An adventuring party, sure. But a squad of non-PCs being sent by the local lord are not going to clear up a deep issue like a portal to the feywild. And if they do and take the adventure away from the PCs,that's pretty much the opposite of D&D.

Heck, it's the premise of a TV series with 10 seasons, plus spin-off and made for TV movies, all based on the original film.
Not sure which you are referring to, but I have to bet that it's a bunch of individual characters with quirks and their own skills that you care about, e.g. PCs, and not a generic squad of interchangeable people.
 

Mad_Jack

Hero
Not sure which you are referring to, but I have to bet that it's a bunch of individual characters with quirks and their own skills that you care about, e.g. PCs, and not a generic squad of interchangeable people.

Pretty sure that's a Star gate reference...
 

Janx

Hero
Nah. An adventuring party, sure. But a squad of non-PCs being sent by the local lord are not going to clear up a deep issue like a portal to the feywild. And if they do and take the adventure away from the PCs,that's pretty much the opposite of D&D.


Not sure which you are referring to, but I have to bet that it's a bunch of individual characters with quirks and their own skills that you care about, e.g. PCs, and not a generic squad of interchangeable people.
Star Gate.

My point is, somebody in power is gonna send teams in to explore.
 

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