Untitled Solo RP project, Session 1 and the wrong scale

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...

Rules

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

    Roll your city
  • 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

    Spread out the dice a little
  • 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

    Draw interdistrict boundaries
  • Remove the dice and write their face number in their place (right under the die)

    Remove dice and record numbers
  • 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

    Draw district lines
  • 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
    Letter districts
  • 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

    Score 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
    Clean up map
  • 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

World Catalog

Setting: Steampunk Noir set in an alternate History USA, starting in a single metropolitan city

Character
Purpose: Detective / Inventor

City 1

  1. (1r)
  2. (3c)
  3. (5i)
  4. (8r)
  5. (11c)
  6. (16i) (home)
  7. (22r)
  8. (29c)
  9. (37i)
  10. (46r)
  11. (56x)

Log

Roll 3D6 for home district: 15 -> district F (16i)

Choose purpose: detective / inventor

Design Ideas

District values correlates to wealth? 0-10 = slum, 11-20 = blue collar, 20-30 = white collar, and up...