Sunday, July 8, 2012

Urban Swords & Sorcery

Kotor Circa 1600

I have been thinking about the setting for my upcoming G+ DCC game. The main requirements are that there needs to be lots of opportunity for weird adventure in a small space.  The more I think about it, an a city fits all of my needs. I don't like bookkeeping in the ACKS sandbox rules sense, but I do want things to make a certain amount of sense. If the setting is too small, it is implausible to have access to things like armorsmiths, apothecaries, and sages. In a small town, it may even be difficult to find basic supplies for sale. A city solves this problem.

Krakow circa 1500
A city is also a plausible location for a megadungeon. Mines, caves, catacombs, sewers,  buried ruins.

Map of the Odessa Catacombs
In fact, in ancient city is wouldn't be implausible for their to be many layers of such things built upon one another.

For low-fantasy DCC it is important that the city be more like Vornheim, and less like Waterdeep. That means that the place is strange and magical, but the economy is mundane. There are no magic item shops, or wizard schools. Magic is strange and shocking, but yes, you can buy a horse or a suit of plate-mail.

I think if I am going to go for a city, it needs to be dense. Going halfway will make things too ordinary.

Cross-section of Kowloon

A city also explains professions like elven falconers. It's hard to imagine the more esoteric professions showing up in a tiny hamlet all at once.

Istanbul, 1638

A city gives plenty of options for adventure if it is large enough. Ancient ruins, dark under-cities, strange temples and laboratories; and there can always be outlying areas for wilderness adventure and other locations. Small towns will tend to cluster around the city providing a wealth of options.
There are more options still if it is a weird city. Portals to distant lands and other planes. Monstrous inhabitants. Shifting roads.
Istanbul, 1730

No comments: