So, I’m starting a new series, I’m going to be talking about and kind of designing a prototype game based off of SAO, Sword Art Online. SAO is one of my favorite anime, I think that I’ve watched the first season now three times and …
Tag: World Building
We’ve already talked what Greenfang is known for and why it was built where it was. We’ve talked about how the merchant guilds run the show around Greenfang and how they have mercenaries to keep the peace, but how well do they really keep the peace?
I think that the criminal underworld is one of those things that is tricky to get right in a city. I find that it tends to go to one of two extremes. Either, there is little to none criminal activity in the city because you’re just supposed to shop there and not look for trouble or look beyond the surface of where you’re at, or everyone is involved in a conspiracy. Now, both have some issues, the main one being that it isn’t all that realistic. We know that organized crime and gangs exist in the real world, and they have throughout history, so why is a D&D town different? It shouldn’t be.
Let’s get back to Greenfang though, what sort of criminals are going to be there?
Outside of the town you’re definitely going to have a larger number of bandits than you would normally watching the roads because they are going to be trying to hit up caravans, or, more likely, they are going to try and deal with adventuring parties that come into town for the auctions on goods because they are going to be loaded with money and not yet have the gear that they want. Most likely there is going to be more organized group that is pretty specific on whom they hit. Then there will be a few who have split off from that group or who try and go it on their own from the start who end up having shorter careers as bandits.
The organized group of bandits, The Green Falcons, are going to know to avoid the merchant guild caravans because those are going to have better guards, and even if they don’t, the merchant guilds are going to hit back hard with their mercenaries if they lose a caravan. So, the Green Falcons are likely going to try and keep the random bandits down as well, like the merchant guilds would want, because the merchant guilds would crack down on all bandits if they lost a caravan. The Green Falcons would also have people in the city who are sending information back out to the bandit camp wherever that is located. It probably wouldn’t be someone in every guild, but there would probably be a couple around who are gathering information when a guild is going to send out mercenaries to crack down on the bandits.
Beyond that, I think Greenfang is going to be more focused on the white collar crimes. That’s what the guilds are going to crack down on but also what the cons that people are going to try and pull. You likely always have dirty money changers who are keeping some extra for themselves. The merchant guilds are probably going to consider that the cost of doing business and as long as it’s not too much, they won’t make a stink about it.
I think, also with so much money being in town you are going to find that there is gambling. I would suspect that there is some guild in town that all they do is run different fights, tournaments and stuff like that to keep people entertained, especially since it’s in the middle of no where. But that’s probably fairly tame and while someone might die, it probably doesn’t happen too often. So, most likely there is going to be something going on under the table, a secret gambling den either for fights, games or chance or possibly both. This is going to be ignored by the merchant guilds because it doesn’t take any money from their pockets, just the pockets of their employees.
So Greenfang is definitely going to have a criminal side to the town. There’s probably even a good amount of money to be made if you are careful about it, and at all points in time there is probably someone trying to get rich by scamming one of the guilds. In your game, that’s useful for your story because you can either have your adventuring party brought in to help stop it sometime. Your adventuring party, though, might be blamed for it if they have been in the town too long and because they are the “new” people. Also, a battle or two with bandits seems very likely since they aren’t probably going to be coming in with a caravan. Or it’s possible that the players are brought in to deal with some bandits as part of a larger crackdown and some extra bodies are needed. The thing with all of these story hooks is that they aren’t going to be your whole game, but a good bit of combat if you want something simpler and also a good way to get your players involved with the guilds if you need it for your story line.
Next, we’re going to talk about religion in the city as well as how the city might physically be laid out.
Alright, time to wrap up the city build, there is so much more that I could talk about, there is actually building out shops and places like that, but I wanted to keep this at a slightly higher level since you don’t need to see …
Alright, I was going to write something board game related today or talk about the book that I just finished, but I wanted to get back to writing about and building out my city for D&D because D&D is really on my brain. And it isn’t something that I’ve done before, spending the time to build out the city.
So let’s talk about the thing that I said was needed first, and that was a name. And the cities name is Greenfang.
Alright, the article is done, you can all go home now.
No, let’s talk a bit more about it and start to talk about where and what this city is.
Greenfang, as a name, doesn’t imply this big sprawling metropolis with a lot of rich people who want a nice and comfortable life. I would put, and I think for the city, it out into the wilderness. Probably deep in the woods on a river. The reason that there’s a city there is a little bit limited. Greenfang is probably other a hub of trade, meaning that it has several different trade routes going into and out of it, or it’s a logging community that then sends everything down the river, or both.
For my city, Greenfang was a small trading post, but things changed when ore was found in one of the nearby mountains. Now, dwarves trade ore from the mountains with humans and elves and whomever is willing to buy. While shipping the ore down the river worked to reach some of their potential customers, other peddlers and the like started creating roads through the woods, and more powerful merchant guilds from neighboring lands have hired mercenaries to watch the forest routes. The forest routes are the most dangerous, but players want the ore and the armor/weapons that the dwarves are forging.
Greenfang, since it wasn’t much of a town until there was ore, so the name hasn’t been made fancy, and it’s probably more of a rough and tumble town. And it’s probably something where the city has spread out into the forest and to both sides of the river. I think that it’s more of a sprawling city, versus something that gets built up with tall buildings. These buildings are a bit more rustic and rough looking, most of them wood buildings with a few of the larger buildings being a combination of stone and wood, but there are no pure stone buildings or any buildings that stand more than two levels in height.
You can see what the name is able to imply. I’ll dig into some of the ideas that I’ve talked about here and how they are going to continue to to shape the idea for the city in the next article. In fact, the next article is going to dig into the trade aspect to see how the city might be set-up and spread out and how a city building up because of ore will look differently than other cities.
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Oh boy, we’re talking about everyone’s hot button issue, the economy and it’s best friend politics. Fortunately, it’s the economy of a fictional D&D town, so that should be less of a sticking point and how it’s important for creating your fictional city and make …
At this point in time Greenfang is getting close to being built. We’ve talked about the economy, the politics, the criminal aspect of the town. All of these things are really going to drive the plots that you can surrounding Greenfang. But, they don’t really …
Alright, I said I was going to talk about town building, but I am going to wrap that into what I would then do to plan session one. I think that a fair amount of my work is already taken care of when it comes to the hook, but depending on how you wanted to go, that might just be a little bit of game play for everyone to introduce their characters at the end of session 0.
But I tend to split up character creation and some of the planning that goes into a campaign that the group can do together into a session 0, and then in session 1 is when the game play actually starts.
So what was our hook again?
Our Fighter, Cleric, and Wizard who all know the Paladin were helping defend the temple after the powerful Wizard in the town demanded that everyone gives him all their gems in order to prevent some unknown future disaster. The temple has several gems of great value, and now there is a mob outside the door that is fighting, some trying to break in and get the gems, and some trying to stop the other side from stealing things.
Okay, so what do I need to set-up for session 1 with the hook?
You might think about picking my monsters who will play the mob, and giving them hit points and weapons. But for me, I don’t think that’s extremely important. I tend to think that the mob will have a few key players and whatever side the players decide to go with, they will face off against the other sides keys. So I might go through and quickly grab a couple of bad guys, but that’s less important than other things to me.
What does the temple look like and where are the gems, that’s more important. The gems are likely kept in a back room, probably attached to some ancient relic. If the players want to protect it, they are going to have to go outside of the temple or deal with the people as they come crashing through the door. The main area of the temple has some chandeliers and some pews as well as an altar in the front.
Outside of the temple is the town square where there are a couple of other temples in other parts of the square. There are also some of the nicer and fancier shops, the best blacksmith in town, or the one who advertises himself as that. There’s also a “the best” woodworker and other such businesses. In the middle of what is generally a fairly open square there’s a stand where the local noble will give speeches.
You can start to see how the town is coming together for what the players need to know. The temples, while frequented by most of the people in the town are also in the nicer section or more expensive section of the town. In fact, it’s probably a mob of more commoners up against the city watch at this point, with some people who are worried about their businesses also with the watch.
The mob is going to be coming from off in the direction of the city bazaar where most of the common people shop to get their wares as compared to the town center. The mob will definitely have picked up some looters as well with the group who are going to be causing the city watch to have to split their attention which is why they aren’t driving back the common folk.
If the players want, they can probably turn the mob aside to a jewelry merchant, which might seem like a better place to go, but the jewelry shop is better secured, and the common people know more about the temple than they do about that shop.
At this point in time, I don’t know that I would flesh out too much more about the town or for session one. If things go quickly as they fight against the mob and try and get it turned, which it won’t because the players will spend some time planning, then I would have to move onto the next part of the story.
That would be skipping ahead a day and either having the Wizard or Grima Wormtongue character coming and thanking the players if they helped the jewels get stolen, or the noble for helping turn the tide of the mob, or the noble complaining about them not turning the tide of the mob. But whatever it would be, it would be some role playing for the players to do.
That’s a bit more free form and requires less planning. Just know what stat block you’re planning on using for the noble, wizard, and Wormtongue, just in case the players decide to attack. And if they do that, have the person do non-lethal damage to the characters. Unless you decide to have the players all play the B-Team.
And what’s how I’d create my first session and start building out the town. You can see that I left a lot of the town building blank. I’d start asking the players, if they start wondering, for shop ideas that the rich would want in the town center. The players can help you fill out the town and even come up with some of the physical characteristics of what the city watch might look like, what the noble or wizard could even look like as well. It means that you have to be ready to improvise and work with it on the fly, but it will give the players even more buy-in to the world and story.
What do you think of that session 1? Would you have planned out more of it in your game, or maybe less of it? How much input do the players have in world building?
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