Created at
16 May 2024
Last modified
16 May 2024

Setting notes for a Blades in the Dark game set in the Fall of Magic city of Istallia.


The Gilded District: the centre of Istallia, hidden behind the Wall of Gold. This district contains the official residence of the Gilded One, offices for their retinue, guest quarters for particularly notable visitors, numerous banquet halls, reception halls, an extensive garden, and facilities for support staff. Exclusive, high-security, and risky beyond compare. Aesthetics: marble and gold, high walls, manicured topiary, the faint smell of cinnamon, a pair of robed figures conversing quietly.

The Inner City

Surrounding the Gilded District, Istallia’s Inner City is contained within the Old Wall. It’s the fancier part of the city.

Starfall: nestled south-east of the Gilded District, this suburb is home to the revered Starfall Academy, as well as a number of affluent neighbourhoods populated by the faculty of that university and their hangers-on. The rolling hills also host the green oasis of Alder Park, the affluent magical shopping district of Covelan Square, and the somewhat seedier student walk-ups that line Torchbook Row. Aesthetics: tall brick and brownstone buildings, packed trams trundling down wide boulevards, robed students arguing theory.

Three Raven Hill: occupying the east of the Inner City, Three Raven Hill has some of the fanciest residences in Istallia. High walls surround estates where the rich can stroll through gardens, relax on their lawns, or drink cocktails while admiring the view down to Tethnell Bay. Three Raven Hill also hosts the luxury shopping district of Whistmill. Aesthetics: high walls covered in ivy, afternoon sun filtering into courtyards, garden parties.

The inner city place where most live + artisan district

The fancy station + surrounds

Monument: directly south and south-west of the Gilded District sits the suburb of Monument. Upper Monument is home to the main administrative apparatus of Istallia - the City Hall, the Hall of Records, and the Academy (not to be confused with Starfall Academy, sometimes referred to as “City Academy” if needs be, although true Istallians will know which you’re talking about regardless) - while Lower Monument consists of a combination of high-end stores, museums, consulates, classy apartments, and small parks. Lots of people work here, but fewer live here - the vibe of the suburb changes drastically outside of business hours. Aesthetics: well-maintained row-houses, tired bureaucrats drinking coffee at a hole-in-the-wall cafe, two well-dressed women discussing business in a tiny but well-manicured park, imposing facades surrounding cobbled plazas.

The Outer City

  • The docks
  • Crab cove (fishing spots)
  • Badwater
  • Marketplace of Magic
  • Na'zahd station
  • Probably one or two others


Humans are the most common inhabitants of Istallia. Given its size, its prominence as a trading hub, and the presence of Starfall Academy, many cultures of humanity mingle in Istallia’s streets. As well as native Istallians, you will likely spot folks from the Near Islands, from Stormguard, and from the edges of Mistwood.

Golems are sentient creatures constructed and given life through magic. They may be made of anything from wood to stone to precious metals to the sea itself. While often born into servitude, their long lifespans and tendancy towards independent thought means many are now free of their previous masters. Some folks feel Golems are no worse than anyone else in the city, but plenty are still superstitious - hosting a golem under your roof for the night is considered bad luck for many, although not nearly as bad as breaking your word to one.

Jatte (pronounced “YATT-eh”, both singular and plural) are eight-foot-tall humanoids who originated from the the South Coast. Since the Ice Rail opened up around forty years back, many of the Jatte have found employment as engineers, mechanics, and the like, and either through this method or by others have found themselves moving to Istallia. Even though the climate of Istallia is far warmer than their native land, the Jatte don’t seem to mind. Plenty of Istallian children’s stories feature Jatte as the main antagonist, so plenty of people seem scared of them, even though most Jatte seem to be pretty calm and stoic about everything.

Foxes shape-changing forest folk who originate from Mistwood. Most of the time they just look like people, generally with red hair, but at the full moon they turn into foxes. Foxes face discrimination in Mistwood, where locals believe they are anything from mischievous spirits to sub-human, and a number have emigrated to Istalia where they’ve formed their own communities. Some foxes do their best to integrate with the wider community, while others have decided to use their cat-burgling skills in less legal careers.


  • The Gilded one + retinue
  • The Council
  • The bureaucracy
  • One or two foreign factions
  • One or two large oragnised crime families who focus on the Inner City
  • A bunch of small gangs
  • Police?
  • Someone out of Starfall
  • Dockworker’s union
  • Factory worker’s union
  • Demon worshippers?


Magic comes from:

  • the land around us
    • from Umbra, and across the sea
    • this magic can be concentrated in items when fashioned correctly - they collect it like a solar panel soaking up the sun, and let the user use it. Often single-use (break it to use).
    • some people can channel the magic - academics at Starfall tend to use this method
    • some exception people are also sources of magic - the magus, for example?
  • gods and demons
    • extraplanar entities who can, if given a channel, force magic into the world or enact magical things.
    • the difference between religion and demon-worship is honestly fuzzy, but basically religions rely on quantity of devotees, while demon-worship is normally people devoting themselves a lot or performing sacrifice.