It's real important to me that games that I gm-ing have some kind of feel to them. Like you remember this city or this swamp or this cave, it's not just a part of game, there is reality to it somehow.
The game alone is not really enough to keep me interested.
I've realized this from playing playtests and some g+ games , and running a dungeon contest, when there has been not enough thematic context I've struggled to enjoy it.
So as a g.m how to do I get my kicks without taking away from what everyone else needs to get their kicks?
Like if you sit the players down through epically long descriptions when they just wanna buy a crossbow, you are being dumb and punishing.
(One common way to get people to pay attention or remember stuff is to have it try and kill them all the time. That's not always that great either. Well your mileage is going to vary on this one I think. I don't really dig at as a player, feels like there is no progression if there is no-where you get a break or you are always in the same amount of danger.)
My conclusion on this was try and put the setting on all the moving parts. The stuff that the players can immediately interact with for consequences etc.
And put as much setting on a moving part as the player ask about. So having a brief way of describing said setting on the thing and then if they ask more , give more.
THIS ALL SEEMS PRETTY OBVIOUS
ACTUALLY BUT THEN I TRIED TO APPLY THIS THINKING TO A CITY WRITEUP
A decent encounter table is a good way to bring a city to life too, hopefully the below description can be used to reskin a generic/other city encounter table )
and have descriptions , specific information, usefully adjectives , and adjectives to sprinkle in.
|Though if you have spent the time sourcing pictures all of this is freaking redundant because you can go "hey look at this"|
Day Of The Lords:
A sudden emergence of lazy curves from a wetlands but the begins of it are vague as water way and irrigation languid turn into canal and park lake. Bridges end in third story roof top markets and streets wide around into alleys and parks.
The languid sweet air seems to inform the temperament of the people, with the occasionally hint of the decaying slurry ponds of the pig eels, also mirrored in the callous decadence that is a subnote here.
Like Venice but people kept trying to build Sindbad the Sailor sets everywhere and took their time doing it.
markets, street sellers, people in cafes, private saloons, clubs.
A combination of an absurdly complicated money system (more or less like a series of tarot cards with value that shifts depend on the moon and river tides) and fondness of haggling mean you will pay 50% more for anything if you fail your choice of a wisdom/int/or charisma check.
No real shortages of conventionally goods. Fine quality . Things from everywhere find there way here. A good market for selling exotic items , especially jewellery and animal parts. Less so for conventionally weapons and armour
Garden parks with polite wandering sales people, cafes which sometimes a just a guy with a pot and a rug and other times are mostly in a building. People here tend to not really bother with clear boundrys with streets, throughfares, homes and places of business .
Every field of knowledge, interest and activity will have a multitude of clubs tending and competing in various social strata niches.
If you want to buy anything more expensive or rare than a chapbook you will need to leave a calling card at the relevant club and then come back later to see if you have been invited to someones private saloon, where they will entertain you and display their wares.
Food And Drink:
Cardamom infused coffee, ginger candys, ginger pickled eels, crabs , lobsters, especially wrapped in river grasses. Slow cooked pigeel. Often sudden bursts of flavour from pepper corns or cloves of spice.
Drugs include a variety of bitter herb based liquors with a swirl of sweet syrup, elaborate water pipes with a range of smoking herbs , sometimes more chosen for their colour of smoke and flavour than effect.
Any food , drink or drug seemingly has to be appealing on more than one level (flavour, effect, aesthetics, contrasting flavour) to be popular or even used at all here.
Day to day disputes will handled by a government arbitator, who have a small boat based office liberally drifting around the city. Sometimes these are symbolically boats in a ceremonially pond. They empowered like a judge able to set sentences , ranging from work details, poetic punishments , fines and death warrents. They will sub contract out to a "Scholars" of one of the Schools of Pragmatic Discourse (voluntary gladiators) , occasionally leading a small group of a relevant club members. (treat as a fighter level 1-3 with one combat trick , treat club members as zero level people) .
Other more specialized people maybe employed , included detective philosophy, justice poets, snipers, poisoners, impersonators or military units
The military is lightly armed skirmishers and air rifle platoons with lobotomized brutes as muscle/shock troops. Elite troops are supplied by the various competing Schools of Pragmatic Discourse.
Schools of Pragmatic Discourse are like gladiator schools or martial art schools, and compete extensively but more or less fairly , with a moderate amount of fatalitys in a variety of tournaments , games and competitions.
Who runs this place/ Factions:
"Day of the Lords" is the clan which gives the city its name. No government or high level administrator position can be held by anyone not a member, though it is possible to marry into the family, and many marriages are arranged in order to give a talented person a office. Numerous branches of the family compete , and while assassinations are rare, they are not without occurrence. The current head of the clan is the seemingly undying Moon's Moon's Lake, a old cunning spider of a great grandma. Other factions include the Schools of Pragmatic Discourse, alchemist and other clubs most needful for the cities infrastructure. The Tenders of the Slurry have considerable sway, controlling both the largest pigeel farms, the sewage system and the methane gas production which lights the city at night. No one can make a body disappear like the Tenders of The Slurry
What do these people Look like?
Dark , golden features , not given to hairyness, broad lipped and languid eyed.
Dress is seemingly casual and indifferent but with subtle details and flourishes.
Nose chains and various body piercings are common especially multiple upper ear rings. Clothing is wraps, loose shirts and saris. While which outfits are appropriate for men's and which outfit's are appropriate womens outfits is obvious to a native of the city of New Day of The Lord, an outsider will be constant figure of fun for failing to tell a mans scarf from a womans scarf.
The same goes for what parts of the body it is appropriate to expose and for what context (including time, place, social position, holiday, weather and presence of cinnamon essence) . A good rule of thumb is don't get naked just because everyone else is. They are properly wearing a formal fragrance and hairpins and it's early summers eve and forgoing the customary lace glove and sandals to be scandalous.
adjectives to use in descriptions :
languid, worn, secretly smiling, humid, intricate, haphazard, contrasting, discrete, teeming, timeless .
Okay that was pretty long and I skipped building descriptions. I caught up in describing the place. Next time I'll try doing like a dozen distinctive cities in a paragraph each or something.