Something a little different today. My original plan was to use an extra Story Engine draw for #horror23 and these are the cards I got.

  • Region: Scree
  • Landmark: Clearing
  • Namesake: Of Pods
  • Origin: Abandoned when trade routes changed
  • Attribute: Black Market Hub
  • Advent: A world record is about to be broken

I took these and wrapped them around the Corn Exchange in Leeds, which is an irrationally beautiful building I worked in for a while. A friend once described it as looking like the hangar for a Victorian fleet of flying saucers and he is notr wrong.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

So, here are five different takes on the Corn Exchange as an RPG setting. Ghosts, bargains, information, coffee. It’s all here.

The Day Exchange

There are two markets at the Corn Exchange. The first is the bright collection of independent vendors that have settled into each location in the huge Victorian roundel. You can buy a coffee on the ground floor and a graphic novel on the third. You can buy flowers on the second floor and give them to your sweetie at the garden on the top floor. It’s not ideal, what is, but it’s a defiantly sunny piece of independent retail in a city renowned for nothing of the sort.

Version 1: The True Exchange

Every one of those purchases powers the True Exchange. Every step taken into and around the building is felt by what sleeps one atom to the left. The conversations of customers echo in the idea of stores. The ghosts of sales wait patiently in line for the idea of commerce. The True Exchange is every exchange that has ever taken place on this piece of land. Blood, sweat, death, fear, commerce. Every dark bargain. Every embrace. Every promise. Every lie, all at once, forever. The Corn Exchange is an archive of bargains, a battery powered by agreement and the paying of tithes. But what is it powering up? What will the True Exchange be?

Ghost King’s Hall by Erik Nykvist

Version 2: Cursed

A thousand years ago, the first murder on the land that would become the Corn Exchange changed everything. The victim’s family were so desperate to get them back they tried to resurrect their lost loved one. Instead, the effect mis-fired and now nothing dies on this land, ever. No plants, animals, shops, items, nothing deteriorates until it’s taken off the land. Contained immortality or death.

Version 3: The Stone Receipt

Much like the Quatermass Institute discovered during their investigation of the Stone Tape incident, the walls of the Corn Exchange record everything that goes on within them. If certain conditions are met (time of year, climate etc) those events will re-play. This process is ongoing and everything that happens within the Corn Exchange is affected by it.

Medieval Market by Terraform Studios

Version 4: The Ghost Market

The shattered remains of the Corn Exchange have been abandoned along with the city. But they aren’t empty. The black market vendors who set up here will sell you body parts, water, salvage, anything they can get their hands on. The really smart ones though, they talk to the Ghosts of the place and risk it all digging in the rubble for the treasures of an unknown past. Or, perhaps, to lay exhausted ghosts to rest.

Post-Apocalypse Marketplace by Luci Scolari

Version 5: RETAIL-A-THON 2088!

Sure London may have the bright lights, one half of Parliament, mostly breathable air and over 60% of the country’s remaining trees but you know what it doesn’t have? The eternal shopping of the Corn Exchange! For the last twenty years the best retailers in the UK have been on call 24/7 in the heart of Leeds. Thanks to our patented SLEEPFAST technology they get by on just five minutes sleep, in shifts, so you can always get what you need! Come by, anytime! WE NEVER CLOSE! EVER!

In fact, why not visit this week to see the legend that is Sandy Parker break the world record for wakefulness! Sandy’s on course to be the longest serving retail worker in history so why not come by and say thank you! Just don’t interrupt her break!

Five different versions of retail hell, or at least hell adjacent. If you like this sort of content, I do a draw for #facility23 every week day and I’ll be shifting the breakdowns of that into one thread in February. I do a bunch of other stuff so why not start here and get in touch if you want a chat or have any questions.

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