So one thing that I'm finding with Dungeon Bitches is that, while the tone and themes are pretty concrete, the actual setting is never firmly pinned down. This is reflected in the games that have already happened; we've had a couple of grimdark fantasy campaigns, a biopunk post-apoc game, one in spooky 1920s america, a space-opera one, and one planned to be set in the 1990s with the PCs as a touring band. So you can take the structure to a few different places and it still works.
By way of demonstration, then, here's a little scifi setting that I'm gonna roll up. I'm fully intending this to be something I run when I next have a slot in my busy playtest schedule.
This works pretty well, I think, but I wanna update things a bit and give these different factions and factors a bit of a scifi bent to them. First up, I'm gonna swap 'gold' out for 'uranium', and have the complex be a declining uranium mine and nuclear facility.
Next up, the nobility. I wanna make these a caste slightly set above normal society. So, let's make them physically a little distinct. Perhaps they're a result of genetic engineering or selective breeding in the ancient past, perhaps its just inbreeding. Give them some distinctive traits; albinism is common, and pallor is seen as a mark of good breeding. Obsessed with parentage and lineage, and with a rather nasty patriarchal streak as a result; arranged marriages among the extended noble house are common, to cement alliances and try to produce more pure-bred offspring; think the worst of the Crusader Kings games. They're wealthy, insular and control society via proxies. Most business can only legally be conducted with a license from them, and they charge a tithe to those they grant such charters to. Let's call them House Vinculus. It seems they seem to be covertly supporting the Church In The Shadows, mostly as a political matter since it reduces the religious hegemony of the Solar Church, their main political rival.
Linked to these is our secret Vampire, or rather Vampires. I'm going to make this a pathogen, an outright supernatural viral infection. The Strigoi Virus has a number of minor strains, the most notable consistent features being pallor, a need to consume blood, and physical mutation over time. The infection doesn't spread easily between hosts, but the child of a host will invariably be infected themselves. While the infection is somewhat entrenched in the main population, it's endemic among House Vinculus, where the physical symptoms tend to match the typical traits of the house, letting it go unnoticed for a while. Among the general population, somebody infected probably relies on an underground market to get the blood they need, and resist giving in to their condition. However, the infected among House Vinculus see the virus as a blessing, and form a secretive cabal within the noble house - the Fine Drinking Society - and use their position of privilege to prey on the commoners without repercussions. Rumours likewise talk about gangs of Strigoi dwelling in the Wreckage, hunting those who venture down there.
Then our inn and scandalous theatre, which I'm gonna roll into a single entity. Call this the House Of Delights, a moulin-rouge style den of pleasure, vice and bohemianism. A release valve from the pressures of life in a dark, claustrophobic hive full of religious weirdos, and somewhere the less reputable and acceptable members of society can emerge from the shadows to express themselves.
He's not working alone, with a small group of disciples as assistants, and then using his creations as muscle to snatch more victims off the street and out of their beds. We can call him Doctor Kyrchus, and he's a total bastard.
The map looks like this:
- Built by an ancient monarch.
- Originally built as an underground palace.
- Ornamented with grotesque carvings.
- A domain of the Wounded Mother, things don't die down here despite their wounds.
Let's give our locations and powers a little bit more detail. I'm gonna roll an aesthetic or weirdness for each location, and then tie them into the setting.
First up, the lodge to the wounded mother. It gets a Weirdness, and I roll 'Nothing Rots'.
I'm gonna call it the Immaculate Fracture. It's a haven in the greater wreckage, decorated with hydroponically grown flowers, populated by a small cadre of Wounded Daughters - I'm gonna make them our mystery cult - who defend the place. At its heart, what remains of Saint Iulia, reduced to a half-awake shell of herself, mumbling prophecies and warnings in her delirium.
The mystery cult, then, I'm going to call Iulia's Little Sisters, and have them be mostly wounded daughters, or at least daughter-adjacent even if they've not gone all-in yet. They've got a religious devotion to the Wounded Mother as a preserver of life and protector of the downtrodden. Their lodge is a sanctuary for the mad, the desperate, the outcast, and the sick. Their rites are straightforward and visceral, sexual and bloody celebration of the unquenchable life that burns within them.
The Prison is, I think, a horrible place. When the Wounded Mother turned her gaze on the hive, her attention created monsters. Raw, untamed life, running riot in its many horrible forms, that cannot truly die, that always comes back adapted to each new threat. Unkillable, and sealed away. The architecture here is stark and brutalist, and the inhabitants fearsome.
Likewise the Halls of the Unquiet Dead. Here, the grief and pain of the dead is palpable. You bleed, from the eyes, nose, between your legs. It hurts to be here. The ghosts that linger are blind, mad, lashing out at intruders.
Lastly, the treasure-vault. Here, the greatest wealth gathered by House Vinculus in the distant past is kept, inaccessible to the nobles now dwelling in the hive, guarded by horrible defensive systems and vicious security measures. Here can be found fabulous treasure and terrible weapons. This is the prize that many Bitches seek, delving through the rest of the wreckage in search of the power hidden in the depths.
This, I think, is what the Church in the Shadows worships, although they're only dimly aware of its true nature. Mostly, the two covens use the Church in the Shadows as useful patsies, a distraction to keep attention away from their work.
This, then, is the state of the setting. What of the specific PCs? Let's handle each archetype one at a time:
Amazons can stay pretty much the same. The place is horrible, and some women respond to their oppression by lashing out, and get good at it.
The Beast (formerly Lilim, Spider, etc) gets renamed again for this setting, becoming the Strigoi. Whilst you can carry the strigoi virus and not be a member of this class, those who have particularly potent strains, that come to be dominated by them, fit in here. Of particular note, the move Horrid Form lets you represent a Strigoi who's been dramatically mutated into something gruesome-looking by the virus, and the move Beseech The Mother Of Monsters lets you tap into the virus's collective mind, drawing on the oldest of the Strigoi for advice.
A more standard Beast might be a monstrous resident of the Prison, now escaped, or perhaps somebody who allowed the Confluence of Nerves to metamorphose them.
Corpse Dolls are pretty easy to fit in here. Girls resurrected by magic or science don't need tweaking. Tying them in as escaped victims of Dr Kyrchus perhaps, or maybe they're allied with the Beautiful Dead.
Firebrands, like Amazons, fit right in. You're pissed off at the state of the things, and that revolutionary zeal has made you enemies. Perhaps you're roughly aligned with the Church In The Shadows, but equally you might be part of a more dispersed radical underground.
Banshees get renamed Psychics, and work just like you'd expect. Think unsanctioned psykers from 40k, or Carrie. Most are isolated individuals.
Runaway Nuns have a few options. Maybe you got driven from the Solar Church (they are, after all, utter bastards), or got burned by the Church In The Shadows, and left out in the cold as the Solar Church's inquisitors came for you. Or maybe you have a Wounded Daughter move or two, and are one of Iulia's Little Sisters, not so much 'run away' as merely away from home.
Lantern Girls likewise fit into the setting without too much change. It is, however, worth noting that the Solar Cult imbues religious meaning into light, so a Lantern Girl's choice to carry a light might carry some subtext there; is she still clinging to a faith that rejected her, or does she view it as subversion or reclamation of the forces that oppressed her? There's room for some overlap with Runaway Nuns here.
Witches continue to be witches. Witchcraft is practiced in hidden covens, condemned by both churches. Perhaps you're aligned with the Confluence of Nerves, perhaps you commune with the massed dead, or perhaps you're part of the criminal underground with the Society Of A Thousand Fingers.
Disgraced Princesses are likely fleeing from the horrible rape-culture that is House Vinculus. It's pretty cut and dried, really.
Lastly, Wounded Daughters work exactly like you'd expect, and are pretty key to the setting. A wounded daughter might be one of Iulia's Little Sisters, but a setting this dismal and horrible will produce plenty of others. You might be a victim of Dr Kyrchus or the Fine Drinking Society, a member of the petty gangs that lurk in the wreckage, or a survivor of a smaller and more personal tragedy.
In terms of rules hacks? I'd let anybody take one of their two starting moves as a Wounded Daughter move, just because those girls are so prevalent here. Likewise, I'd let any character who wanted to be a carrier of the Strigoi Virus have their second move be one from the Beast.
I'd make it so being Broken doesn't make you *die* while you're in the wreckage. Instead, your mind shatters irreparably, and your flesh warps into something monstrous. You are no longer who you once were, now merely a thing of unkillable roiling flesh and insanity. The best you can hope for is for the Gorgon Sisters to take you home to the prison, but the person you were is gone forever.
The presence of radiation sickness also makes you more fragile: reduce your maximum Hurt from Four to Three.
The Steal move can be used to cover covert, subtle hacking etc. Likewise, you can Lash Out to brute-force technology in some situations.