New Dunhaven is the fantasy city that serves as the backdrop for capers, heists, and other thievery in Dusk City Outlaws. The digest-sized book that comes with the game, The Traveler's Guide to New Dunhaven, goes into detail about the city's locales, inhabitants, quirks, and dangers in detail, but we thought it might be a good idea to summarize some of the basic information about the setting here, so you can get an idea of what the city is like.
New Dunhaven is a sprawling urban environment covering a landmass about the size of modern-day New York City. It is home to over 3 million people, and is a center of culture, commerce, and crime for the entire world. Its technology is comparable to that of Renaissance Europe, though the prominence of alchemy in the city has allowed those with wealth to make some exceptional leaps forward. The City Watch and certain criminals have access to black powder weapons, though most violence in the city happens at knifepoint or with bare knuckles. A network of deep canals crosses back and forth through the city, serving as a convenient way to carry large amounts of cargo or people from one side of the city to the other.
Though the city's laws are largely egalitarian, there is still a stark class division between nobles and commoners. The city is a democratic oligarchy, with a citizen-elected Senate balancing the powers of the royal family and the city's monarch, the Regent. The upshot is that the nobility is a protected class (crimes against nobles are punished more severely, and the nobility receives far more lenient sentences for nonviolent crimes), causing a deep divide between many of the people of the city. Between them sit the merchants, wealthy commoners who have amassed enough money and power to be able to rub elbows with the nobility, even if they do not have the birthright to call themselves nobles in truth. Of course, with enough money and influence, the line between nobility and commoner becomes invisibly thin.
The city's criminal underworld is ruled over by eight major cartels. These cartels have a loose peace agreement, known as the Arrangement, that keeps the cartels from doing more than bickering occasionally over small patches of turf. In order to make sure that the Arrangement is kept, when one of the cartels wants to pull off a major crime, they bring together a crew consisting of members from multiple other cartels and put them on the job. When the job is done, the cartel gets a cut, as does each member of the crew, and everyone goes on their way until the next job.
Of course, things aren't that easy. The southern reaches of the city's underworld are controlled by a group known as the Blooded, a band of criminals that refuse to abide by the Arrangement and prey upon the eight cartels as much as they do on law-abiding citizens. Then, of course, there are the Spiders, the city's secret police force composed of criminals that have turned Crown, offering their services and knowledge of the cartels to the city in exchange for a pardon for their crimes. Sometimes the Crown turns to freelancers, bounty hunters or members of the Dredgers, a tenacious and savvy company of private investigators that are the bane of the Right Kind of People. Then there's the City Watch itself, always vigilant and looking to snap up cartel members and prosecute them for their crimes. Those found guilty are often imprisoned in the Castle, a huge, fortress-like prison overlooking cliffs dropping off to the ocean, a despairing place where prisoners and guards alike take out their frustrations on one another.
The people of the city come from lands the world over, and people of hundreds of cultures, creeds, identities, and origins live side by side. Long ago in the city's past, a tragic fire nearly wiped the settlement out, and it was only by putting aside all petty differences that the city was rebuilt. Now it has risen to prominence on the strength of its peoples' unity, and for the most part the Crown has welcomed people from the world over into the city, encouraging them to add to the city's culture. The citizens of New Dunhaven pride their city on being the only place where anyone can regularly have access to the art, fashion, food, learnings, and ideas of dozens, if not hundreds, of different cultures.
The city's size and population guarantees a wealth of possibilities for enterprising criminals. Despite the dense, urban environment, the city is so large that there are plenty of dark alleys, remote warehouses, and nearly abandoned neighborhoods that skullduggery can take place away from probing eyes. The prime targets, though, are in the more populated areas; the counting houses, noble estates, and gambling halls, all flush with the wealth of nobles and merchants, are simultaneously heavily guarded and in areas where skulking criminals would be conspicuous.
New Dunhaven is big, sprawling, and full of possibilities. It has wealth, yes, but is also has the poor, the downtrodden, the ignored, and the unscrupulous. It's a place where you can make your fortune or lose your life all in the span of a single night. The pickings are prime, the risks high, and the rewards for the bold, the audacious, and the daring enough to fulfill the dreams of any would-be criminal.