Hidden City Mechanics

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The Hidden City is divided geographically into two outer rings and an inner circle. Additionally, the Jade district extends from the center out to the edge, raised above the rest of the city on large stone arches (so the districts underneath connect).


To travel around in a given district or do things in that district requires either a key of that color, or a single-use pass issued by an appropriate keyholder. A keyholder may travel with retainers who do not have keys or passes, up to one retainer per point of status that the keyholder has. Passes are obtained when buying or paying upkeep on a key, for 1 li per pass, up to one per point of status the keyholder has.

Guards will tend to stop people and check their keys/passes once per trip, but are not perfectly efficient.

It is (usually) possible to leave a district for a lower district towards the exit of the city. Otherwise, people caught without a key or pass are subject to arrest.

There also exist iron keys (which cost 6 li), which are for guards and soldiers only - an iron key allows the holder to carry out their assigned duty. This includes soldiers stationed in the city, as well as mercenaries and bodyguards. For a bodyguard, such duty includes accompanying the person they are assigned to guard, or going to the person they are assigned to guard. Switching from guarding one person to another should only be done when both parties are present - a soldier with an iron key cannot wander all around the city by picking arbitrary people to guard.

To Fen-Xi's descriptions of the district follows, with successes needed to do something successfully in the district, and the price (in li) of a key or upkeep on a key.

District Description Roll Key price
Pewter Unsavory people and malingerers 6 6
Brass Servants 8 32
Bronze Workmen and guards 8 72
Copper Artists and student housing 10 160
Silver Merchants 10 250
Gold Nobles 12 432
Obsidian Regents and high nobles live here 13 637
Ivory Regents and high nobles work here 14 896
Jade Imperial palace and park 15 1215

While most of the districts are difficult to do things in, there are also extra ways to add dice:

  • You can spend a point of status to get +1 die to a roll
  • You can spend a point of status of the person you are in the entourage of (that is, your keyholder) to get +1 die to a roll
  • You can throw in a bribe after a roll is made, to buy successes at N^2 li for N successes.