Let’s face it I think too many of us are kind of getting lazy when it comes to fluff. There really isn’t that much deviation from the standard fantasy world formula.
I know that there are certain built in expectations and that as DM the more time you spend on fluff the greater the chance that your players will ignore it. But after this many decades, it’s ok to bend or break the mold. Take a world, ditch elves and dwarves. Make some of the iconic “baddies” into allies and not villains. Mix and match ideas. Make new and interesting monsters. Make races and places that are new. Not Ancient Evil Lost & Forgotten Temple Number 37. Don’t be afraid to add a little spark and gonzo to a game. Different characters and different campaigns can still start to run together after a while.
And that is my bitchy rant for the day.
If you haven’t gotten your grubby little hands on a copy of a href=”http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_reviews.php?products_id=91110″Vornheim/a then what are you waiting for? It’s the best city building supplement out there.
But this isn’t just about Vornheim, it’s also about a href=”http://www.faterpg.com/”FATE/a. Yes, I know FATE is not en OSR game. It’s story based game that places a lot of narrative control in the players’ hands. But I’m one of those folks who enjoy tweaking and twisting game rules and concepts. In this case I’m talking about a href=”http://www.faterpg.com/dl/df/citycreation.html”city creation/a for FATE as seen in the Dresden Files RPG. The basic concept is that players and the GM sit around and build the city in a collaborative brainstorming session. You use the Aspects and Themes Threats from FATE (just short descriptive phrases) to describe sections or districts within a city. You also assign an NPC who is the “Face” of that area. The Face is basically the primary character who represents that area of the city from a narrative standpoint. So when you’re done, you have a nice tidy pile of notes describing your city. These concepts are pretty simple and can easily be used with the tools from Vornheim. You don’t have to populate each and every house in a city. The city map doesn’t need to look like a mega-dungeon. (Unless you’re really into that sort of thing). The GM could quickly scribble a small village on 3 x 5 index card in matter of minutes.
You don’t even have to do it collaboratively. The GM can just sit down create the city on his own. You don’t even need to use the FATE game mechanics. Just use the Aspects as springboards for adventure ideas and descriptions. You don’t even have to limit yourself to a city. Hell, you could design a nice little sandbox type area for the characters to explore.
The thing is that it’s OK to grab up any tool you can get your hands on that’s makes your job as GM easier and the game fun for the players.
Anything that can make your life as DM easier is good. Sometimes you need to pull a last minute thing out of your ass and this little idea popped into my head a few days. Maybe you need a map of lost continent or you just need a quick map for that campaign you promised to run and forgot that it starts tomorrow. And I’ll go ahead and admit that yeah Zak S’s work with drop charts is an inspiration. This little system doesn’t do everything for you. You’ll need to use a bit of your own creativity but it can give a springboard to start.
Step One: Take a blank piece of paper. Roll 5d12. Trace around the dice like you are connecting the dots. This is the coastline of your main land mass.
Step Two: Pick up your 5d12 and roll them again. This is for your major terrain types. The dice that have the highest number are mountains. The lowest; swamps and moors. The dice with numbers in between are filled out from lowest to highest numbers with deserts, plains, forests/jungles and hills. Just use your judgment and imagination. If any dice land off of your main land mass, these are islands with the appropriate terrain type.
Step Three: Re-roll those 5d12 again. These are cities. The dice with highest number(s) are the major metropolises, lowest ruins or legendary places. The numbers in between are other major cities. If any dice land off your major land mass, these are more islands off the coast. It’s just that they have a city or something on them. If any dice roll 1 or 12, re-roll them and the appropriate sized city/ruin. Repeat this last step if any of those dice roll a 1 or 12.
Step Four: Roll those 5d12 again. This is for conspicuous features. These are locations that are legendary or important. Something that should stand out on the map. What the die rolls determines what is there.
1-Natural Feature: lake, crater, Valley, volcano, odd mountain
2-Man Made Feature: mysterious structures or monuments, altars, deserted mines, burial mounds
3-Magical Places: haunted places, evil places, corrupted places, you get the idea.
12-Roll all five dice again for more features