- ...History lasts day to day in the city, and it keeps its secrets close.-Garrett
The City (aka The Eternal City) is the primary setting of the Thief series.
The City stretches across a large land area known as 'The Island' as well as the surrounding coastline known as The Mainland, with the Great River flowing in-between and is connected by a number of bridges. The City is an autonomous city-state composed of six districts alongside a large port and docks located to the south of the main island which helps drive a large part of the City’s economy. The City was once a maritime power and thus has been the staging ground of several conflicts and wars both civil or otherwise, where its merchant fleet dominated the South Seas for many years, although its power has waned considerably.
For centuries, having endured countless disasters, burning riots and wars, The City has always appeared to rise again from the ruins with each iteration built upon the bones of the last, with a total of seven city layers. Which in-turn has created a massive network of subterranean passages, rooms and anti-chambers which is known as The Hidden City located beneath the Old Cathedral, where the deeper one ventures, the further back in history one goes.
The origins of The City are a common source of speculation which circulate throughout the streets and alehouses, with several theories suggesting The City was created by the Old Gods whom were aided by magical forces and mysterious energies controlled by a secretive organisation known as The Keepers.
While there appear to be no surviving historical records of the earliest origins of The City, the available evidence provided led several scholars to theorise that the founders originated from the South Seas with the first landing marker positioned in The City’s docks where they supposedly landed to colonise the area. It is believed that the small colony’s initial goal was to establish a simple trading outpost, upon where they soon realized the richness of the surrounding lands which provided them with great agriculture and a variety of natural resources, which ultimately led the small outpost to expand into a large trading city.
Throughout the eras, subsequent lords, leaders and kings imposed various political and ruling systems ranging from monarchy to feudalism to theocracy and even merchant conglomerates. Eventually Lord Laurence of House Black, second of his generation became the first Baron to rule over The City, who ushered in an age of stabilization. For over 800 years, The City was always ruled by a Baron elected from one of the Great Family Houses.
Most of the City's new architecture is the work of Eastwick built on top of the older Cities (and has been built since about NRy830 during the age of industry).
- South Quarter
- Old Quarter
- Old Town
- Wayside Docks
- The Hidden City (TEMP)
- The City in the Reboot has more of a Charles Dickens-esque Victorian or Edwardian feel to it (mid-1800s to early 1900s) (compared to the more medieval/renaissance & mechanist art deco influence of the old). The technology is less fantastical for its period (but looks like what the city in the old might look like through three or four hundred years of progress).
- There are electric fans (c. 1920-1930's in style), electric lights, and other technology one would expect from the industrial revolution going on just before and during the 20th century.
- Many people wear top hats and bowlers. General Victorian era men's wear and women's wear. Whereas in the old series men and women tended to wear general medieval to renaissance style clothing.
- The mechanical security cameras look like 1890s box cameras.
- The Baron's government is decidedly 20th century fascist in styling with lots of red and black.
- Guards however still lean towards the medieval. With the elite guards wearing something closer to the Puritan Solomon Kane. There are no firearms to be found.
- Buildings lean to a mix of late 1800s to 1930s wooden/plaster/brick architecture with the mix of old medieval stone fortresses here or there (but many of these look like they were foundations of an older city which the newer wooden city is built on top of).
- Opium and opium byproducts are a big thing, much like they were shortly before the turn of the twentieth century.
- In the Reboot universe, the City is set after 842 of the NRy calendar, it exists in a time of new industrial revolution, certain elements of the old games appear to exist as part of the history of this City.
- The BRy dating system appears to be a reference to Baron Bresling's reign.
- The Hammerites/Mechanists, Keepers, and Pagans represent old religions that were outlawed three times (but not consecutively), and are no longer practiced at least openly for several generations. Trickster was also worshiped in the distant past.
- The marsh-dwellers appear to be a nod to the Pagans.
- Mechanical Hammer appears to be a reference to both Hammerites and Mechanists.
- The war with Blackbrook (from Thief 2) occurred in the distant past.
- The Shalebridge fire (possibly a reference to the Shalebridge Cradle orphanage/asylum fire occurred a couple of generations ago, although this timeline appears to place events of original series much further back into Bresling dynasty)
- There were old plagues in the distant past (perhaps references to the undead plague mentioned in the old series).
- The clock tower appears to be built on the location of the old clock tower destroyed in Thief 3 (newspapers suggest that there have been many problems trying to rebuild it for many many years, some think the site is haunted or cursed), scaffolding still surrounds portions of the tower.
- The Watch are the new City Watch set up by the current Baron, and its said they are not like the old City Watch (a nod to the watch from the old games).
- The Crippled Burrick was moved from its Original Site (near Shalebridge) after the fires in 662 of the NRy calendar. This is a nod to the Crippled Burrick Pub's location in the original series.
- Moira Asylum appears to be in the location of the Moira Mansion in Thief: Deadly Shadows named after the widow Edwina Moira.
- The Forgotten Ruins appear to be the same Keeper Library and Compound as in Thief:Deadly Shadows just after several centuries of abandonment (only upper portions of the library are used by the The House of Blossoms). The rest of the city is built on top of it layer by layer over the centuries. Oddly enough the new Garrett finds aspects of the long dead Ancient religion to be 'strangely familiar' (implying reincarnation or genetic memory?). Or simply noting he has seen the same designs in The Old Chapel in Mourninside.
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