Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Devil is in the details

One of the joys and dangers of creating a setting is the desire to just KEEP creating. As I finished up my major NPCs, each one seemed to call out for a host of others—enemies, childer, sires, rivals, allies, etc. But, I'm trying to keep to the “ don't create more than I have to” mantra, and so I'm putting the brakes on creating any more NPCs for now.

But, in the process of creating them, new facets of the city started to come to light. As such, I've gone back over my initial notes and ideas for the city and began bringing them together with both more detail and in a way that will help make it easier to run the game.

Much like the major NPCs, I've gone back and given each of the major areas of the city a one page write up. The reason why I try to keep each thing to one page, and each having their own page, is for ease of use in the game. I'm not really a huge fan of having a computer or a tablet at the gaming table, so keeping things on the blog or a wiki won’t do me any good. I’ve been in some games where the GM had all his notes online and they were…ok. But it did take me out of the game much more when he had to look to his computer than it did when he flipped through a book or a pile of notes.

So, when it comes to neighborhoods, I’m looking for extremely broad things. Each one gets the following write up:

Map (one of the virtues of picking a real city is all the neat maps you can find online)
Overview: a generic summary of the place. Most of these are what I posted about them in the first place
Major Locations: both named areas like specific clubs or havens, as well as generic or “iconic” places.
Significant NPCs: whose there, and what are they probably doing?
Notes: random ideas, odd details, adventure ideas, etc.
As the game progresses, I'll be adding more to these sheets and possibly subtracting information that is no longer useful or interesting. Of course, these are really broad categories. Depending on how the game goes, I can see myself doing similar write ups for more specific neighborhoods in each area, as well as for specific locations. In a previous game I ran, I wrote up a short sheet for each of the players “territories”—the various clubs they controlled, their havens, and other places. At this level, I felt comfortable to not only provide general information, but also to provide specific mechanics.

For example, if a player controller a particularly popular club, he might have an effective "herd" rating while in the club, while others would hunt and a reduced difficulty. Since the club was known as "belonging" to that particular vampire, other kindred had a penalty to their social rolls and disciplines while they were there—it was his “turf” after all. Another player controlled the local university, so she not only had bonuses to her hunting roll while feeding there, but also received a bonus/reduced difficulty for “research” rolls (languages, occult, etc.).

Of course, all this will have to wait until  the PC’s are actually created and the game begins, but I'm looking forward to finding ways to make the players backgrounds come to life, both dramatically and mechanically. 

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