A couple nights ago, I started my first playtest session for my new, as yet untitled, solo rpg. By the end of the attempt, I hadn't managed much in the way of play but I had gotten some worldbuilding in and I had a rather good time. I learned some useful things about scale of game and where to start.
The goal at the outset was to make an initial city, set out a PC in the city, introduce an NPC, and have one interaction. Too ambitious, maybe, but being unambitious is a recipe for failure.
I had figured a city was a good starting layer but it ended up being too hard to fill out all of the details or figure out where to start. I managed to establish a concept of districts, so my plan for my next session is to work out a system for generating small towns and play a game that operates on the layer of a town or a series of towns. Once I've tested that a bit, I'll step up to the city layer and use the town generation system to generate districts within a city.
I noted down my session through a series of Google Drive documents and photos of drawings arranged in four groups: Rules, World Catalog, Log, and Notes.
Session notes below the fold...
Start with a blank slate (we do not know our character), 3 core attributes all at rank 3:
- Physique (can be specialized as Strength, Speed, Resistance)
- Intellect (can be specialized as Education, Fortitude, Judgement)
- Culture (can be specialized as Charisma, Standing, Resources)
All standard skills at 0, special skills at X (blank slate, we will fill in with lifepath flashbacks later)
Choose a setting: write this in your world catalog
- For run 1, we are going to go with a sort of Steampunk Noir set in an alternate History USA
- Set (or at least starting) in a single metropolitan city
Roll up a city:
We use a system derived from: https://www.lastgaspgrimoire.com/in-corpathium/
Cities will probably vary in scale in the future (somehow) but for now, let’s take: 1d4, 3d6, 1d8, 2d10, 1d12, 3d20
Roll them all on a piece of paper at the same time; if any fall off, roll them back on; these will be your neighborhoods/boroughs/districts/what have you
Spread the dice out a little, being careful not to their face or relative position; if you can, try to maintain their orientation; try to center them on the paper
Draw lines between nearby, adjacent dice; if you aren’t sure where to draw lines, look at the face of the dice and draw lines vaguely perpendicular to a corner of the face
Remove the dice and write their face number in their place (right under the die)
Draw polygons around each, making sure polygons only touch where you have previously drawn lines between them; this is your city’s connectedness; gaps will be parks or other natural features
Find the lowest numbered district and mark it as district “A”
- Resolve ties randomly (by rolling dice or whatever)
Find the next lowest numbered district and mark it “B”
- In the event of a tie, the winner is the closest by center-to-center die position to district A; if there’s still a tie, determine randomly
Repeat for all remaining districts “C”, “D”, “E”, …
- Ties always go to the closest to A
District “A” receives a district value equal to the rolled die face; mark this next to the letter and cross out the rolled die number (to avoid confusion)
District “B” receives a district value equal to the value of district “A” plus the rolled die face; mark this next to the letter and cross out the rolled die number
District “C” receives a district value equal to the value of district “B” plus the rolled die face; mark this next to the letter and cross out the rolled die number
And so on for the remaining districts
At this point, you may want to clean up or redraw your map; make sure to maintain connections, gaps, district labels and district values
- You may consider the map to be geographic or abstract, as long as connections and gaps are maintained
Record your city in your World catalog
Zone your city
- Mark your highest district as “x” to denote the civic center
- Starting with “A” and moving up, mark districts as “r”, “c”, “i” to denote residential, commercial, industrial; repeat until you reach x
Find your home district:
- Roll 3D6, your home district is the lowest valued district >= your role, mark your roll in the log and mark it as home in the catalog
Choose your purpose:
- Select from setting purposes and mark it in your catalog character section
Setting: Steampunk Noir set in an alternate History USA, starting in a single metropolitan city
- Purpose: Detective / Inventor
- (16i) (home)
Roll 3D6 for home district: 15 -> district F (16i)
Choose purpose: detective / inventor
District values correlates to wealth? 0-10 = slum, 11-20 = blue collar, 20-30 = white collar, and up...