Now that I’ve picked the city, it’s time to work out some general details. At this point, I'm going to be focusing on the very broad strokes—grossly generalized neighborhoods and regions, with only a handful of prominent locations. Naturally, any given city will have a lot of nuance and a lot of variance in any given area. At this stage though, I'm painting in broad strokes.
Part of this is due to the maxim of “ don't create more than you need to.” I could spend days working on just the downtown and details all the clubs and galleries and bars and the like. The other is that I want the broad strokes to help the players get oriented. When I was a bit younger, I would scoff at a movie like Star Wars with its “Desert Planets” and “Forest Moons” and the like. But now I realize the virtue of that— Tatooine is immediately and obviously different than Hoth or Endor, and the broad generic characterizations helps the audience understand where they are without the need for exposition or other tricks. The movies wouldn't have worked nearly as well if every planet looked the same.
I'm basing most of my information from the real world Charleston, despite my horrible changes to the city. I generally use a variety of sources to get information when I’m creating a city—things like Wikipedia, the official city site, real estate sites, and the police department site, as well as tourist and “moving to” sites. I also use various basic google searches like “<city name> nightlife or “bachelor parties” or “crime.” Obviously, any local will find my creations to be laughably off the mark, but screw them. They're not the ones running this game.
Anyway, here are some of the links I used:
So, moving on with my outline, I’m now on section 2.2. “what makes the city unique, and what are its iconic images and look?
- Divided between multiple islands and peninsulas
- Holy city, with numerous churches, and their spires dotting the skyline
- Decaying industrial base
- Water, boats, and harbor
I could go on, but I fear I would just list a number of “World of Darkness” tropes. The big thing is the first two—the divided city and the holy city. Charleston is rather famous for its numerous churches, particularly in downtown. Despite my “expansive growth” of the city, I want to keep this element. The downtown maintains its colonial and historical roots, with few tall buildings, but numerous churches. Of course, many of these churches are boarded up and now used by the homeless and addicts, but they sure look pretty from a distance.
Ok, so here are the neighborhoods and their general things:
Downtown: Historic area, and the heart of the city. It is full of classic architecture, night clubs, bars, galleries, and theaters—the ideal playground for the undead. Despite all the changes in the city, it has always kept its old town feel and vibe. Away from the classic areas, though, most of the churches and crumbling mansions have been turned into refuges for the homeless, the gangs, and addicts.
The Neck: lying north of Downtown, the Neck is the center of commerce and business. If Downtown remains a low city, full of quirky and classic buildings, the Neck is the gleaming modern city. Or it was, back in the 70’s. Now the dated architecture and crumbling infrastructure gives lie to the promise of the Neck. It is nearly abandoned at night.
North Charleston: lying north of the Neck, North Charleston is a sprawling industrial waste land. Technically an independent city, to Vampires it is merely “the Barrens.” While still home to the airport and air force base, only a few of the cities decaying factories still function, processing oil and other toxic chemicals, and creating massive hulls for ships and planes. The rest are slowly collapsing. Those mortals that are stuck here are crowded into tenements and collapsing apartments.
Daniel Island: The gleaming suburb of the future, all neat lawns and McMansions, and pretty children jumping rope in unison. If it weren’t for the perversions that take place behind closed doors, this land would have no interest to the undead, as they care little for strip malls, chain restaurants, and soccer practice.
Mount Pleasant: if Daniel Island is the hell of the planned community, Mount Pleasant is the nightmare of the sprawl—all roads and neighborhoods in a bewildering array of styles. Oddly, this is a favorite location for many of the kindred, as there are enough local neighborhoods to provide some degree of variety.
James Island: the wilder, more hedonistic home of the “holy city.” Many of the wilder nightclubs and bars can be found on James Island, especially along the harbor where “casino cruises” operate—of course, these ships never leave port. On the north side of the islands is The Citadel, a military college. It is also the center of the new industry that has come to Charleston—mainly tech and biomedical companies.
West Ashley: residential area, full of homes, office parks, and golf courses. To the north and west lay a number of US Government research. Is also the home of the College of Charleston.
Johns Island: sparsely inhabited, still dotted with plantations and wildlife preserves.
Marion Park: To the north of the city is the sprawling Francis Marion National Park. It is known to contain feral packs of Lupines, making it a dangerous home for the undead, but a few solitary kindred do seem to manage to survive here.
Finally, I need to have a handful of set locations—major areas of vampire life.
Trio Club Live music
Pantheon DJ’s, drag shows, and dancing
Torch Lounge “it” place
Light harder rock club
St. Philip's Episcopal Church
St. Andrews Episcopal Church
Gibbes Museum of Art
Charleston Museum of Art
Town Hall Charleston actually has two “Town Halls.” Once is St. Phillips, where important ceremonies (such as presentation and “trials”) takes place. The second is Torch—on any given night there is likely to be SOMEONE here. Might not be who you want, but it’s the main location of social interaction—one can find both elders and anarchs here.
Next up, I start creating NPC's.