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Creating Towns

Started by lumpley, November 19, 2004, 03:11:32 PM

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In another thread, DannyK wrote:
QuoteIs it just me, or is town creation a lot tricker than it looks? I can create a whole pocket universe in Nobilis in a fraction of the time it took me to create this little town.
I'm disturbed by this.

Let's free-associate for a bit about towns and how long it takes to create them. Many of you have created towns - please tell your experiences!


Eric Provost

Well, my first attempt to create a town, start to finish following only the resources in the book took me a bit under an hour.  I was probably thinking about it too hard.

I spent probably another hour re-working sections 6a and 6b to be more pro-active, and to include my 5-Minute Hook.  So, all in all, less than 2 hours.  

Not too bad, considering the serious change of technique that it's required for me.



Admittedly not following the book, just example and my memory of how it works, Colorady City Branch (ii) took me about 20 minutes, most of that typing.  To turn it into a real, playable town would probably take as much again, to inject some names and specific personalities/wants into the various archtypes.

I write games. My games don't have much in common with each other, except that I wrote them.


Babel Flats. Begun at 6:52 PM.

Pride: Babel Flats was a good-sized town up until a year ago. At that time, a council of men (councillors) were needed to assist the aging Steward Noah in his duties. Since the town has shrunk, however, the Councillors have refused to disband and return to their daily duties, or to hand the power of the town back to Steward Noah – creating Injustice in their Roles.

Sin: Disunity. The Councillors actually promote a united front, but in so doing they have sown disunity within Babel Flats. Steward Noah is being kept from doing his job correctly, and those who favor a return of the single Steward are now being punished by the Councillors.

Demonic Attacks: The demons can attack all those citizens who truly line up and take sides. Their attacks manifest as supernatural arson, theft, and disruption of sleep. By doing this they drive a greater wedge between the Councillors and Steward Noah, as both camps believe the other to be responsible for the damage being done. The townsfolk are led by Brother Job, the blacksmith on Steward Noah's side; and Brother Shem, the sutler on the Councillor's side.

False Doctrine: The Councillors have developed a doctrine which states that laws and rules must be made by committee rather than by faith – by a body of men rather than a single man. This belief in a hydra-like system undermines the One True King of Life, for it infers (though does not state) that a body of spirits is more capable than a fountainhead of faith; a theory which Brother Shem is beginning to form in his mind.

Corrupt Worship: The Council of Life now gathers its faithful in one of the abandoned buildings to discuss and explain the tenets of faith, rather than handing them down to the people as the Word of the King. This opens the floor to more and more false doctrine as questions are answered not by the proper Steward and the Temple, but by the townsfolk themselves acting without a single leader.

False Priesthood: The Councillors have abandoned their proper status and become as unto false prophets, leading the townsfolk astray and into heresy. The cult "leader" is Brother Jeroboam, though he is careful to guide the other councillors carefully so as not to undermine their multi-headed authority.

Sorcery: Brother Jeroboam is using his newfound control over the demons to destroy the livelihood of Brother Job. This is taking place by rusting iron in the blacksmith's shop, continual outbreaks of fire, sabotaged safety gear, etc. Brother Job is now moving against Brother Shem in the belief that it is a rival gang of Council supporters doing so much damage to his trade, shop, and home.


Steward Noah: The Councillors to be put in their place and sent from the town.
Brother Job: To kill Brother Shem and punish everyone on the Council's side.
Brother Shem: To reprimand and banish Steward Noah in favor of the Council.
Brother Jeroboam: To recognize him as the proper replacement for Steward Noah.
Council of Life: To remove Steward Noah in favor of the Council.


In general: To provoke the murder of Brother Shem and therefore spark a civil war.
From the Dogs: To ride away, or failing that, to remove Steward Noah.
What they do: Rust metal (like guns), steal items, and set fires.


Brother Job kills Shem. Shem's friends retaliate by burning down the smithy and hanging Job. The town is placed under martial law by the Council of Life and holdouts are terrified into silence. The false priesthood strangles Brother Noah and Babel Flats falls into a fearsome heresy.

Time: 7:19 PM. No ideas to begin with. Now, it's a pretty basic scenario, and it could be polished up with another half hour's work – but the ease of creating scenarios and towns is what got me to buy the game, in all honesty.


Heh - that's what I thought of doing too :)
Start time 11:42
High Temple

High Temple is a prosperous town, but the people have lost faith.

Pride - Several members of the townsfolk have begun believing that their accomplishments are their own, and they needn't give thanks to the King of Life for their good fortune.  Brother James is a representative of people who feel this way.  Brother James arrived from back East about 10 years ago - he brought high quality equipment and tools with him, and his farm has prospered.  He is a friendly man, and gets along well with his neighbors.

Injustive - They are disregarding their rightful Steward, viewing his role more as a social director than as a leader of the community.  Brother Simon is the steward.  He senses that some of his congregation aren't taking their religious duties seriously, but as they still go to church and tithe appropriately he hasn't been able to find a specific fault.

Sin - They are neglecting their religious duties, not by abandoning them, but by viewing them as a social event.  While Brother James has been attending church, he views it more as an opportunity to get together with his neighbors than as a spiritual duty.  He has taken to organizing social events after church (he brought equipment for baseball with him from back East).

Demonic attack - Demons have begun attacking the townsfolk who aren't taking their religious duties seriously.  Nothing particularly bad has happened to Brother James, but Brother Andrew's barn burned down about a month ago (everyone thinks it was an accident).

False Doctrine - Brother Clement has been helping the townsfolk with their misfortunes.  He is a devoutly religious man, but he does have a tendency to preach at people.  He has been explaining that their misfortunes are punishments sent by the King of Life for their lack of faith.

False Doctrine II - Samuel is Brother Andrew's eldest son - most townsfolk believe that his father's barn burned because of his carelessness.  He has begun to believe that religion is just a front that people use to persecute each other

Corrupt Worship - Brother Clement has begun praying to the King of Life to punish those who he feels don't take their religious duties seriously (This includes most of the town - Brother Clement has high standards :).  The demons are of course only too happy to oblige.  Brother Clement has observed at least one 'sinner' get his comeuppance, and is now convinced that the King of Life is answering his prayers.

Corrupt Worship II - After church Samuel has been holding forth on the Stewards hypocrisy to his friends.  Most of them are uncomfortable with his rants, but he has some followers.  The Steward has talked to his father about punishing him, but his father hasn't been taking the Steward seriously, and only imposes token punishments.

False Priesthood - Samuel, and his more ardent supporters have recently started punishing those who they feel are abusing the authority of the church.  They have broken a fence of Brother Clements, and let his livestock out (some of which are still missing).  Brother Clement suspects that they did this, and has been praying for their punishment.

What people want:
Brother James - feels that the dogs are just intruding where they're not needed.  There's some issue with rebellious youngsters, but that's just boys being boys.
Brother Andrew - wouldn't mind if they sat down and gave Samuel a talking to (not that that would be enough).
Brother Simon - Is worried that he's not getting through to people, but doesn't know how the dogs can help.
Brother Clement - Has a list of people he feels should be stringently punished.  Wants at least 3 people to be killed, including Samuel.
Samuel - Thinks the dogs should denounce the people who he feels are persecuting him - especially Brother Clement.

What do the demons want - best would be if the dogs took a side, and punished the other side - the demons don't really care who the dogs support, so long as they can still be around to take advantage of the 'winners'.

What if the dogs didn't come - escalations would continue - eventually Brother Clement would shoot someone in Samuels gang.  Samuel would retaliate , and the town would descend into violence.

Time 12:38

I think it could stand some more detail, and I'm not sure if I've pegged exactly the sin I was aiming for, but I wouldn't mind running this town.



Cool, but Danny can't be the only one. Anybody else having town creation probs?


Jason Morningstar

Little Valley branch probably took an hour to get down on paper, but I'd been ruminating on it all day.

Mark D. Eddy

My problem with town creation is perhaps a strange one. I get quick ideas, then I fill them in, and it's hard to keep track of the decisions I make even when I write them down. Sometimes, I'll get off track because of an interesting idea, and need to reign myself in. I need to keep the guidelines in front of me, because I want to complicate things, over and over. One sin per town is a tough thing for me to hold to, but it *does* help to keep me from having the players running around in figurative circles trying to figure things out.

Alfred's Junction took me well over an hour (but not quite two hours) of work, about a third of which was editing down to size and making things consistant beginning to end.
Mark Eddy
Chemist, Monotheist, History buff

"The valiant man may survive
if wyrd is not against him."


Well, I can't speak as to the difficulty DannyK's having with his town, being as I'm one of his players and hence am studiously avoiding his thread.

But I will note that in writing up my own town, South Hill, I'm having a hard time deciding "how much bait do my story hooks need?". How much detail does a town need to have before the characters will bite? That's taking me forever to decide, and I seem to be very much erring on the side of completely over-the-top: Fitcher's Bird in the Vineyard.

Then again, for our very first game of DitV, that mightn't be such a problem.


I have found myself doing them by the book and they work great.

I start with the moment of pride that led to the town's fall from grace, that very moment when it started to head towards hades.  Then I have build it, based on the PC's and their experiences in previous towns, so we do something different and explore different facets of their Doggage and the setting.


Actually, for me, town creation fell together really quickly.  It was like a narrative landslide, each element falling into the next in a smooth and easy manner.

Problem I'm having is getting started.  The way I do things, it seems like I never really know where a town is headed when I start out.  I get a pride in my head and let it roll out without an end goal in mind.

Maybe I'll try making a town backwards next.

Jason Morningstar

I've really enjoyed the town creation process.  

My difficulty is subtlety - I've found in each of the towns that I wrote that the easy and logical progression from step one to step six herded me into towns with full-on cults, sorcerers, and demons.  I have not been able to stop after, say, step two and say "that'll do - that's interesting and challenging enough to keep my players occupied for an evening."

My concern is that if the problem is too minor, or too straightforward, the Dogs will handily resolve it in an hour and a half of play.


I've plugged through town creation a couple of times, usually it takes an hour to 90 minutes.  A lot of that time is trying to figure out solid personalities and what people want.  A big part of town creation now is trying to make sure that the sin isn't over-- that given time, sin is going to continue.

That's actually a big one, for me, because otherwise everyone is too reasonable.  If I lead with enough time to share my town here, I wind up with a stronger branch than I can come up with in any amount of time, or so it seems.
-- Scott
Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.


Saw something of Mark Eddy's problem in town creation—I had to cull the herd a fair bit.

Two difficult hours spent on my first town, Broken Wagon.  Prides were easy.  In fact, I had too easy a time with Prides, and had to cull them or retarget them (by retargeting I mean I would see an NPC who would likely be affected by someone's Pride, realize the town could do without yet another NPC, and retarget the resultant injustice onto another, already well-integrated NPC).

Getting past Pride and Injustice was where I bogged down the most.

Now just because the process was difficult doesn't mean it wasn't enjoyable.  I had a great time throughout, even despite some frustrations, as the more I worked, the more this web of sin and vice seemed to magically spring into creation.  This despite knowing full well that it was through my efforts that this web was being woven!  I've never had an experience like that before in game preparation.  There's so much potential kinetic energy in the town, just waiting to explode in the face of swift Dog judgment!

Will the next town be as difficult, now that I have this experience and the resulting game experience?  I can't say, but I'll be sure to let you know.
- kit

Lisa Provost

Town creation for me was actually pretty quick.  But I did find that I had missed a good bit because I did not have the 'town creation step by step' in front of me when I was making my town.  I was at work, covering the receptionist's desk while she was at lunch and it took me about 45 minutes to make my town.  

Once I had gotten all settled in and really took a peak at what I had, it probably took me about another half hour to make some revisions.  I think my biggest problem is that I am a noob GM so I'm sure it took me longer than most.  But now that I have run my town, played in Technocrat13's town and talked with a few other folks about creating a town, I can tell you that if you have the 'town creation step by step' in front of you, it shouldn't take you more than an hour at most.