Before I get started on creating the setting for my upcoming Vampire game, I need to spend a little bit of time figuring out what I need to work on, and coming up with an “outline” for me to follow. In my previous world creation I had the benefit of the AD&D World Builder’s Guidebook. While Vampire has numerous Storyteller resources which I plan on using and taking inspiration from (particularly the Vampire: The Masquerade 2nd Edition Core book, 1st Edition’s The Storytellers Handbook, and Requiem’s Damnation City and Chroniclers Guide) none of these provide a neat “step-by-step” approach.
In theory, I could just start coming up with ideas and concepts and see where things go. I've created various settings like this in the past, but I've also run into numerous problems that way. Either I create way too much, or believe I need to create a whole lot, and I get bogged down in details. Or, I create too little, and it causes problems in the game when the players go even slightly outside my preconceived notions of where they should be. The worst is when I just give up on a setting, since I don't have any pre-arranged end point or a defined goal I'm trying to reach.
First thing to note is that I'm actually combining two elements of Storyteller creations in the process. Vampire splits the creation into two separate concepts—the City, and the Chronicle. Chronicle is merely their term for Campaign, while City is obviously just the local setting. And this, of course, is fair. Any given city could, in theory, provide host to a number of Chronicles, while any given Chronicle might travel between various cities, as well as numerous other locations.
For the sake of getting this game ready though, I’m going to treat setting and “plot” (for lack of a better term) as one and the same.
Anyway, back to my road map.
1 General Overview
1.1 Theme—what is the game about?
1.2 Concepts—who are the players, why are they a coterie (group), and what are they going to be doing?
2.1 Real world city, or created one?
2.2 Details—what makes the city unique, what are its iconic images and look?
2.3.1 Major neighborhoods and areas
2.3.2 Specific or nifty locations
2.3.3 Unique Vampire areas—Elysium (meeting places where violence is verboten), Rack (public hunting areas), “Town Hall” (where they gather for major meetings or where you can go to find others)
3.1.1 Who is the Prince
3.1.2 How does maintain control/how is the city organized
3.1.3 Who are his key supporters/followers/enforcers
3.2 Additional NPC’s (who may or may not be Vampires)
3.2.1 Based on theme/concept
3.2.3 Other neat ideas
4 First Story
4.1 Develop a basic first story to kick the game off
4.2 Keep it flexible enough to handle a variety of PC types, as the PC’s are not yet created
4.3 Story Outline
4.3.4 Plot Summary
4.3.5 Key NPC’s—some from the general City pool and some created for the Story
4.3.6 Rewards for completing the story
4.3.7 Conditions for Success and Failure
4.3.8 Rough idea for consequences based on players actions
5 First Session
5.1 Create PC’s
5.2 Modify the story based on the characters—this may necessitate throwing the entire story out and doing something else
5.4 Have fun!
6 Final Details
6.1 Based on the PC’s, create additional NPC’s
6.1.1 Sires/Mentors/other clan members
6.1.2 Create “mirrors” of the characters
6.1.3 Ghouls/Allies/Contacts/Family/Friends that the players have
6.2 Create addition settings/locations based on the players and initial events of the game
6.3 Come up with additional plots and potential Stories based on the characters
Whew! Well, that sure seems like more than enough to keep me busy for the next few weeks. I’m sure as I go through it, I’ll see that what I’ve listed above is hopelessly inadequate. But, that’s all right. The outline above will help to keep me focused.
One of the reasons why I bothered creating the outline is that I’m torn between two potentially contradictory desires. On one hand, I don't want to create more than I absolutely need to run the game—the sooner I'm done and ready to play, the happier I'll be. On the other, though, is the desire to create as “three dimensional” of a city as possible, and allow the players to be proactive and take charge of the story. I think the list above will help me do that, but I'll need to keep my “ don't create more than I need to” dictum in mind throughout.
Next time I actually start the process of creating the setting.