Friday, 29 September 2017

City Generator - Work example

Let’s roll up a city and see what stories we can get out of this.

While you should never be afraid to roll again, if you get a result you don’t like, for the purpose of this exercise, all rolls will be kept as it.

Step 1 is to roll up some Factions. 
We’ll go with 3 for a modest sized city that has to entertain a short campaign.

We get: 
  • Merchant or Craft Guild
  • Secret society
  • Merchant or Craft Guild.

An extra roll tells us that the two guilds are not splinter groups of each other.

Okay, so for the guilds, we’ll go with the gem cutters guild and the gold smiths guild. 
That lets me run a game with a lot of money on the line (and suggests that the city is obviously located somewhere with a lot of valuables to be mined).

The secret society, I want something a bit more magical, so we’ll say they are up to some sort of lengthy magical research. Maybe something about opening up dimensions ?
We’ll cross that bridge along the way, but I want to have a way for the players to be hired to find strange substances.

Faction capabilities:
For each Faction, I’ll roll 3D10+20 to find each of their capabilities.

The gem cutters get 41 Influence, 35 Resilience, 37 Support and 38 Covert. 
Applying the modifiers for a guild brings these to 51 Influence, 40 Resilience, 47 Support and 38 Covert.

The guild is obviously quite wealthy, giving them extensive ability to simply buy anything they need (high Support and Influence scores).

The gold smiths guild get final scores of 45 Influence, 40 Resilience, 40 Support and 33 Covert.
Why are they more resilient and influential? I decide that their guild is a bit older, meaning they hold more prestige in the city, though it’s also beginning to wane a bit (lower support).
This also means they can’t quite get away with playing as dirty (lower Covert score).

With a bit of thought, even though these are just simple percentile scores to roll for behind the scenes, we’re already establishing a picture.

Our secret society, after modifiers, sits at 33 Influence, 39 Resilience, 48 Support and 50 Covert.
I suppose we’d expect a secret society to be good at sneaking about.

Faction characteristics:
We’re going to add one characteristic to each of the factions.

The Gem guild is Struggling (which reduces all their capabilities by 5).
Okay, so how does that work if we already decided they are rich? Well, the easiest answer is that things have taken a turn for the worse in the past couple of years.
That also gives our players some obvious reasons to be hired on to do jobs.
(adjusted capabilities then are 36 Influence, 30 Resilience, 32 Support and 33 Covert).

The Gold guild is Meritocratic. Despite being an older organization, they promote and advance members based on their skill and talent, not just who’s who. 
Is that a recent development? I decide that it is, because that gives me a chance to add a young, energetic “reformer” to their organization later.
This ups their Influence to a healthy 50.

The secret society is Populous. I’m going to interpret that as “populous for a secret society” so instead of consisting of 20-30 people, they have a few hundred at their disposal with many operating outside the city itself.
It does raise their Resilience to 44.

This is basically the entire reason for the factions to exist.

We’ll generate two.

First, we determine that two factions are long-time rivals.
Well, this one is obviously the two guilds, this just cements that it’s been that day since day 1.

This does raise the Covert score of both factions by 5, bringing them both to 38 Covert.

For our second conflict, we learn that the leader of the Secret society is insane.
Oh dear. 
What does that mean for their extra-dimensional plan? Probably nothing good at all!

I’ll have to think about it. A tempting option is to have the plan involve something pretty benign (get the addition of the god of harvests to solve hunger forever) and the leader is subtly twisting the rituals (summon the god of artistry to turn the fields to glass).
We reduce their Covert rating by 5 and their Stability by 10.

I’ll add 4 personalities for the players to run into. 
Personalities have a 30% chance of being affiliated with a faction and with my dice being weird today, I get 3 faction characters. Fair enough, one each then.

For the names, I used a random name generator online.

Richard Grinda
The first character is an unaffiliated Scholar of the regions primary species (human for my campaign).
His motivation is an admiration for worldly pleasures. 
I decide he’s an old sage that happens to take a philosophical approach to his over-eating and boozing. 
This should be a fun enough character to roleplay if the players go hunting for information. He may even pay them to find particularly rare or ancient wines for him, which sounds like a fun side quest.
His Quirk is a secret motivation. I decide to play ahead a bit: If the players establish a personal enemy in the city, this NPC will turn out to secretly hate that character as well, giving the players a convenient ally.

Lambert Carbonneua
This is the character that will be associated with the Gem guild. 
He’s a priest, so I take it he’s actually a sympathizer rather than actually working for them.
He’s of an uncommon species, so how does a French Elf sound? 

His motivation is a yearning for romance. Oh boy.
I sense a potential comic relief character here, especially if the players end up having to bail him out of trouble.
Now it makes sense why he likes the Gem guild. What better way to win a lady’s heart than some rocks?

Unfortunately, he also has a Dark Secret. What is that? I decide he has family that he betrayed. 
That may come back to haunt him. Maybe literally.

Violette Bittencourt
Our Gold guild character is a crafts man (or in this case craftslady) so that fits just fine.
Another human, Violette’s motivation is that she is ambivalent about knowledge. Huh?
I’m going to spin that off into a bit of fluff for the guild: They have an on-going debate about whether theory or practice is the more valuable.

Violette is undecided on the matter. For that to actually ever come up, she’ll need to be someone rather high up in the guild.
As a quirk, she’s truthful. 
That could make her a reliable employer at least.

Lucille Lagarde
Our secret society character appropriately turns out to be an Agent of an uncommon species. We’ll say a halfling. 

Since it’s a secret society with a scholarly bent, I’ll assume their agents are used to acquire and retrieve items (and persons) of interest, so this is someone the players will almost certainly run into.
She has a love for reputation and glory, which must rankle someone that works mostly from the shadows. Probably an easily exploitable weakness down the line.
She also has an odd personality. I decide that she tends to monologue her actions, even when others are around. 

Okay, we have factions that aren’t getting along and we have characters to interact with.

I’ll roll up a few quick contacts but I opt not to detail them any further.

If any player character is street-wise, I’ll give them the list and let them go from there.

We get contacts for:

Mystical or magical aid (small-time wizard no doubt) - Affiliated with the Gem Cutters guild but secretly working for the Gold guild. 

A guide to the area - Independent.

A friendly inn-keep - Affiliated with the Gem Cutters guild.

I’m not going to generate relationships between Lucille and the other characters, since they wouldn’t really know about her.

Richard and Lambert are Neutral towards each other. Makes sense, they don’t have a lot of reason to mingle.

Richard and Violette have an ambivalent relationship. I imagine their personalties don’t quite mesh.

Violette and Lambert have a severe dislike for each other, no doubt due to their factional disagreements.

I’ll add two opportunities to the city.

The first is Strong social division and the second is a Gang Feud.

Okay, so in my mind’s eye, the city was quite wealthy, this suggests that the wealth really isn’t benefiting many outside of the guilds themselves.
Gangs suggests to me that there’s large-scale criminal activity going on, likely smuggling.

That’s obvious plot fodder for a number of potential adventures.

Finally, two mysteries that I’ll keep hidden but I can use them later on if we need a distraction.
There’s been a recent influx of cloaked travellers (possible rival of the secret society?).
And a mysterious stranger has been seen around the city (I’d like to work that into one of the NPC back stories we have).

This got a bit longer because we used everything but I can already see 7 or 8 different plot threads that could come out of this. 
That’s before we factor in whatever the players happen to get their eyes on too.

I hope this helps you with how to use the City Generator to set up story lines for your games.

If this got your attention, you can of course grab it right here: