Maybe my friend is in town and I want to play one of those tabletop role-playing games or maybe some friends were supposed to stream tonight but the GM is feeling poorly. Into the Odd is on my mind but for the sake of this blog post I don’t want to use the setting in the book. Doesn’t matter why. And for some reason, Running Out of Time, where you spend your last days as currency, where time is actually money in a grim cyberpunk world isn’t what I want, nor is the picaresque Swords and Sorcery of Weird North.
I’m in a difficult mood.
I’ve got this old blog post with fantasy cities. I’ve got 12 cities. That is too many. You choose your six favorites: Asmodeen, Bahamudad, Pentacle, Ulula, Big Shire and Labyrinth. Characters are going to start with d6 Hit Protection (though I like the term, Guard from Mythic Bastionland better). So you’ll need 6 character ideas for each city. That isn’t so hard.
You ask your friend to choose a city and then roll a d6 for their Hit Points and their character comes from that. Let them know what equipment they start with and maybe read the corresponding question or just chat about what that character might be up to, what kind of trouble they might be in the process of getting into.
Asmodeen: former capital of the Tiefling empire, back when there was an empire. Made to honor the God-Tyrant, Asmodeus but was never officially recognized as His unholy capital city. The city is guarded by the 13 Altar-Fortresses, each commanded by a warlock-commander.
Exports: goats, obsidian, indentured devil tutors
- How’d your thief lose their soul?
- Is your Warlock without a Patron because they ditched their old one, or did they break rules and get tossed or are they young, fresh faced and ready to choose a Patron?
- Why haven’t you sworn a binding oath to one of the 13 local crimelords?
- Who is your Patron and what dangerous chore did they just ask of you?
- You are starting with some gold, the knife you used to carve out your territory and the clothes on your back – what happened to your crew?
- Before the war with the Dragonborn begins, who do you want to see one last time before shipping out?
Bahamudad: holy city of the Dragonborn, where it is said that Bahamut and Tiamat’s high priests and priestesses made a peace accord and gathered to create the species after the first Dragon War.
Exports: lumber, ancient coins, accountants
- What did you just catch in your trap?
- Your knight has been sullen; will you attempt to cheer them up or find out what is causing this mood?
- You just got back into the city but your pay was gambled away; will you seek work here or hire out to another departing caravan?
- As you are walked into a dragon’s lair, what will you say to the dragon to convince them that the spell you want to create would be a help to all under the Dragon banner?
- The books are not balancing; will you wake the dragon up from its slumber?
- Someone is in the lair while your Dragonlord slumbers; what will you do?
Pentacle: a new and growing metropolis made by a cabal of five mages who have built a merchant house from their money made from stolen dragon’s hoards and looted lich’s tombs, surrounded by five towers that are still under construction and stout walls.
Exports: vellum, ink, map-makers
- Your wizard and teacher has just made a dangerous political enemy; do you tell them?
- You are a barbarian in a city of wizards; what will you seek to do for a living in order to support your spouse?
- Pentacle doesn’t have a unified crime ring; where will you begin?
- You know they can smell the county on you but you also know your prophecy is dire; who do you go to first for maximum impact?
- The Mage you guard is walking into a trap but the captain of the guard refuses to believe it; how do you disarm the danger ahead?
- You’ve been granted your own Tower; you are one of the Five. How do you want to change Pentacle for the better?
Big Shire: a sprawling series of hills inter-connected with hobbit holes, weed dens and sabbatical hostels for over-stressed wizards. The Big Shire is governed by a complicated morass of mayors and sheriffs.
Exports: pipe weed, cabbage, fireworks, burglars
- What is causing you to leave the comfort of your home?
- What danger are you hiding from in Big Shire, in hopes that it won’t follow you here?
- Now that you know your Shrriff is on the take, what will you do about it?
- Elections are in three weeks. Who do you talk to first to shore up support?
- You’ve caught an elf troublemaker trying to Incite Adventure amongst some impressionable youths; what do you say to the no-good adventurer?
- You have a third of a map to a dragon’s lair, who has the other two pieces?
Ulula: the city that clings to the fortress built by the owl god is known for its giant owl steeds and the city’s knights who ride them – delivering messages and slaying monsters that haunt the night.
Exports: wool, flying steeds and astonishingly recent news from afar
- Your final test is to be locked in the necropolis until daybreak. What do you seek to take with you to keep you safe?
- Your teacher was just locked in an iron tomb and they will either die or emerge a lich; what will you do for the 33 days while they transform?
- You’ve woken up in your grave with the White King’s hunger; how will you sate this terrible curse?
- The High Priest has just sent you away on a quest that will take you out of the Holy City for more than a year because they know you disagree with their upcoming heresy; will you follow the orders or face Holy Sanction at the very least?
- The city is mired in unrest; you can feel it. Whose mail will you deliver first so that you can better understand these tensions?
- You’ve tracked a beast into the very holiest of seats in Ulula; who can you trust with the news that the High Priest is a vampire?
Labyrinth: an urban maze created by and constantly kept up and altered by minotaur architects and masons. The city is a philosophical statement about choice and free will and is said to be slowly dying along with the minotaur species.
Exports: bricks, architects, book-binders
- This is your first pilgrimage to the City of Choices; what holy site do you wish to see first?
- Your parents are divine builders but you are not sure where your path will take you; whose guidance do you seek to make a choice your family will be proud of?
- A beast is making its way towards the city; where will you set up to ambush it before your people are hurt?
- You are one death-match away from leaving this life behind but the only gladiators left are friends; whose blood will you spill?
- Where will you seek work now that your patron died in their sleep?
- What cities do you plan to visit during your journey to see the world before building your contribution to Labyrinth?
Tell the what equipment their character has.
What about spells?
We’ll make ’em up. Ask the player to name them and I’ll say what they do. Someone will write it down.
What about levels?
Talk about the trouble that character is in or what they are doing and we’ll come up with a good thing that’ll have to happen before they reach their next level. If not we’ll adapt the Into the Odd system, which is nifty and demands forays into dangerous places and apprentices.
Maybe they have to seek out tutors to train and increase stats.
If they die, we’ll roll up another character in the same world but from an entirely different point of view. Maybe rolling up a next character doesn’t make sense because the character they should be playing is obvious based on what happened in the game and how the first character died – cool, we’ll go with that.
If you try this before I do, let me know how it goes.
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