Parts of a City

Over the weekend, I had a non-digital day, turned off all my tech and only used my phone as a cooking timer when I made a very late dinner.

I got a LOT of reading done.

And I also did some brainstorming.


So, here’s a few location ideas I listed for parts and places of a city, in a fantasy or sci-fi setting, I don’t think it really matters. You could drop these in as locations during character building, or in a shared FATE location construction, and draw some descriptions, plot hooks or Aspects out from them.

They’re a pretty mixed bag, but they sort of got bunched into groups as I was coming up with them.


The Grand Promenade, Arcades, the Avenues, Oldtown, the New Quarter, the Zocalo

The Estates, Villas, the Tenements, Outwall

The Barracks, Guildhalls, the Senate, the Conclave, Palaces

The Great Temple, Ecclesiarch’s Palace, the Pantheon, Synod

The Souk, Night Market, the Floating Market, the Goblin Market, Caravaners’ Bazaar

Wharves and Dockside, the Docklands, Moorings, Ferries, Underbridge, Rialto, Longbridge, Riverdown

The Rooftops, Birdtown, the Nest, Highperch, Towers, Hightown

The Maze, Warrens, the Spider’s Nest, Witches’ Den, Alleys, the Broken

The Pits, Night Quarter, Vice Houses, the Dens, Red Street, Flops


City takeover

The other day, I ended up having a scroll through some old blog posts and one caught my eye that I’d completely forgotten about.

Since I’ve written that post, new novels about that hinted-at history have begun rolling out, but I’m ignoring those until I get my hands on a copy!


Anyway, the point being, I’m now thinking about how this could be pulled off in an RPG. How best to apply the rules, and what rules? Taking over a city is basically the main goal in any Vampire: the Masquerade game for any half-decent coterie, so I might ignore that.

What then? FATE, D&D, Cortex, Savage Worlds all give potential, as does just homebrewing or mashing a few of them together. D&D would be easy to pick up for most of my players, but FATE might give me the god-like messiness that gives them the chance to really take on a city.

I may have been playing too much Saints Row and falling back on my love of the Authority comics in brainstorming this. And then I remembered the post I made before my original city takeover and thought about connecting the players to an old forgotten temple or something like that.


Anyway, we’ll see. So far, my options for a new RPG are either this, Space Viking D&D, or an intro Vampire game that people might be interested in. We’ll see. It’s been far too long since I rolled some dice!

The Tao of Bill Murray – for gamers

For my birthday last year, I got given a copy of the Tao of Bill Murray by Gavin Edwards. It’s a great book filled with a lot of stories and short anecdotes about people meeting Bill Murray, compiled from lots of different sources, and basically spanning most of his career. It’s a really great read.

The book is broken down into to main sections. The first is a list of ten guiding principles of the Tao of Bill Murray, and the second section is a synopsis of Bill’s film work in chronological order, more focussed on the Bill stories that occurred during filming.


It occurred to me that the ten principles of the Tao (or the Ten Bill Commandments as I like to think of them) offer some great advice to people playing or running games, so I’m going to boil down the principles outlined in there and how I’d apply them to the hobby.


The First Principle: Objects are opportunities

I think this is a pretty easy one to come up with in game terms. Flesh out your stories and games with red herrings, with plot hooks tied to objects, and with cool fun stuff in general. Have a fun magic item hidden in a treasure hoard, even if it’s nothing too special. Now have a contact see the item and recognise it. Add more story. Sideplot sideplot sideplot.

Even if the object only lasts a couple of sessions, if that thing can get brought up by someone telling a cool roleplay story, it’s worth it. “This one time, the party found a magic hat that kept the rain off like an invisible umbrella. Then I’m wearing it in town one day and a passing wizard says…” etc etc.


The Second Principle: Surprise is golden. Randomness is lobster

OK, so maybe this could be tied into that odd item I mentioned just now, or maybe it has the potential to derail a game session, but random fun adds plenty to game sessions.

If we’re not talking about the Half-Orc cleric of the god of love (“Why you run from Grod? Grod just want give you big hug!”), maybe we’re talking about the cursed 1d2 damage dagger that bonds to a host and is now forever the first weapon drawn without fail (with potential for abuse – door stop to slow a chasing mob down at every door, can’t be disarmed, ‘did I mention I have infinite throwing knives now?’).

(And yes, those are both stories from games played at my old gaming society at university.)


The Third Principle: Invite yourself to the party

Get involved! Go to the market and engage with NPCs to make a scene more of an event than ‘I go buy Full Plate in the market’.

Tell the rest of the party how you got the gnarly scar on your face, don’t be afraid to show off that cool combo of combat abilities you worked out, don’t always let the ‘face’ do all the talking (but maybe let them do most of it?).



The Fourth Principle: Make sure everyone else is invited to the party

Join the new player on their errands. Help them out. Join the wizard scouring the marketplace even if your characters don’t get on. Especially if they don’t get on.

If you’re not progressing the main story or a sideplot, help someone else out with their own.

Make the game fun for everyone, as much as possible, as often as possible. Play in every scene that makes sense, but don’t hog the spotlight. Offer pointers after sessions about when you liked how others were playing, and don’t just criticise with ‘I wouldn’t have done that’. If you must, suggest alternatives the player might not have thought about in the moment, that would incorporate well with their play style in the future.


The Fifth Principle: Music makes the people come together

OK, this might be the hardest one to pull off but bear with me.

If you’re playing in a cool Legend of the Five Rings game but feel something is lacking, find some cool music on Youtube or Spotify and suggest it get played in the background whilst you play. If we’re being less literal, maybe organise getting together for sushi before the game, or after, or instead of pizza during play, or at another time altogether. Jump into the culture to make your play experience deeper.


The Sixth Principle: Drop coin on the world

This is a hobby that can be expensive – if you want to keep up to date with all the different books and games and settings anyway.

Thing is, if you really enjoy a particular game, spend your money on it. Don’t just grab the free torrent online.

And don’t forget to do you research. If you play a big brand game and like some of the design, maybe look around at what the designers have done since, or before. If you’re really enjoying your FATE game but want something different, scour the internet for different flavours and rules tweaks, see what else is out there.


The Seventh Principle: Be persistent, be persistent, be persistent

Have goals. Follow them.

Know your character backstory, and know when a bad decision is what will drive the game forward better than a good one. Or when a painful decision will help out. Or when it will have consequences.

Your character might be driven by vengeance until he finds out his enemy is really his dad, and then that the party’s cleric is actually his twin sister that he never knew existed, which is totally going to make that kiss they shared a while back awkward, right?

(Ba-dum, tish, screenwipe.)


The Eighth Principle: Know your pleasures and their parameters

Know when to call it quits on a dud of a game. We’ve all played in them, but you know when you aren’t gelling with the rest of the group or you’re having issues making the pre-written module fun for everyone. So when you know, work it out.

Alternatively, know when you’ve had too much of a good thing. An eight-hour marathon megadungeon is a great idea, but only when you know you can handle it. If you’re all set up and ready to go, but then you have a hard week or one of your players does, you know when that eight-hour session is a good or a bad idea.


The Ninth Principle: Your spirit will follow your body

The above being said, if you think you might benefit from an epic session when you’ve had a hard week, go for it. If you’re physically able but maybe mentally drained, as the saying goes, “a change is as good as a rest”. And what’s more different to a hard day in the office than running around a dungeon throwing fireballs at Beholders?

The book made a point of Bill acting way before he thought about what he was doing, so by all means, act before you think top hard about a decision. If you’re invested in a character, maybe don’t leap to your death, but at least you can jump into these decisions headlong easier.


The Tenth Principle: While the earth spins, make yourself useful

Know when to show up to play, know who’s bringing snacks, know who can do what in-game and out to make the whole thing more fun.

Help prevent GM burnout. If you can help stop it happening, do. If you can offer to take over to prevent it or to switch up and run a game in place to help avoid the onset, do. Be the person that volunteers to help do these things, or know that if its not your strength to point it out to the group to find an alternative.

Be the best gamer you can be.

Don’t call it a comeback

Because that would be far too premature!

It’s been about 18 months since I’ve posted anything to this blog, and maybe a year since I feel like I’ve written anything meaningful. But there’s still the constant buzz in my head of ideas, I’m just a bit crap at bothering to write them down anywhere!


So, why the sudden post now? Well, it’s January in a new year, and therefore as good a time as any to try and get back into my writing habit. I managed it a few years ago (at least the start of it), so hopefully I can push myself on a bit further this time. Maybe even fail to stop posting, and carry on going! Who knows?


What’s the plan going forward? Pretty much the same as before. I have a few ideas to riff on, an A-Z list for a few ideas ready to go, but I don’t have them written up and ready just yet (despite good intentions).

The settings I have going haven’t changed so much either.

I still have the world of the Old Crown, although a few bits and pieces have changed around. More on that at some point.

FATEpunk is still active in my head, though less thought out on that.

The mythic space opera D&D setting involving lasers and vikings and spaceships and giants is still bubbling away in my head. I have an adventure path planned, but I’m not happy at all with the start of it. The ending I think is great. If I actually sit down and refine it properly, I’ll post it all up here.


New ideas?

I’ve been playing a lot of Magic the Gathering, so I might throw up some decklists of things I’m tinkering with. Nothing too set in stone with that yet.

I’ve been looking at different writing prompts and trying a few things. Nothing really further than a few paragraphs so far, but hoping that’s just my lack of practice slowing me up, and I’ll get going again soon.

I haven’t kept too up to date with stuff going on in RPG land, new rules and settings and stuff. I might have to sit down and read a bunch of stuff, see if that can help me. I might do a few book reviews. I’ve finally started reading the M20 book, years after I meant to support the Kickstarter for it. So far It’s really good, but I’m still not that far in (under page 50). More to follow.


I might try and throw some stuff together about other books I’ve read, if I remember to. I’ve just finished the Pratchett/Baxter Long Earth series, so maybe a post or two about them.


Anyway, that’s all for now. Hopefully a post or two before February!

For lack of a better post

I had hoped I would be able to keep updating to this new blog without slowing down or missing opportunities, or not having much to say. Sadly, it seems I’m not in the most creative mood recently.

I’m moving house in the next couple of weeks, so maybe the fresh scenery will encourage me. Hopefully it will.

I’ve got the L5R game going finally, so I’m happy with that. I’ll see if I can keep the momentum up enough that I can run an actual homebrew adventure after the Topaz Championship. I have a few key elements planned out, and some characters done in my head if not in notes. Should be one hell of a wedding!

The Old Crown setting moves on slowly. I’ve been using any spare moments I have at work to brainstorm the magic system, or at least flavour, and how it interacts with everything. In the last week, the flavour of witches and seawitches has changed a little, as have arcanists, but I think for the better. Makes them much more separate and understandable in my head anyway.
Partly this was inspired by sitting down with the elemental nature L5R again, and partly from looking over old blog posts on my Sands of Fate setting when I moved them over to WordPress.
The original purpose of the arcanists was in emulating the benders in Nickelodeon’s Aang/Korra Avatar series’ and to a certain extent the magic users of the Malazan world of Erikson and Esslemont. The witches were more heavily inspired by the Malazan world again, and the various shaman and spirit-talkers in the setting.

I should really finish reading those books soon.

I finally got onto the last book in the Dresden Files, but after reading the previous six or seven in a row, Skin Game just didn’t grab me so much. I’m a little under a hundred pages in, about the time I usually start to get more caught up, but I felt myself drifting.
I went back to the John Carter/Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I’ve got .epub editions of the series in collected volumes, and only finished the first volume of the first three books. Now I’m on to Carthoris’ life and loves, and it’s pulling me back into adventure/swashbuckling mode a bit.

Actually, that would probably help get me back on track with the Old Crown too.

And that’s a quick update on what I’m doing and where I’m at. I have an idea that I want to try, but it might have to wait until later in the year, October or November when I know I’m less busy and more capable of carrying it through. More details on that closer to the time!