March 30, 2008

A Detailed Explanation About The City Descriptor Macro

In this post, I will cover a few more details that were not mentioned in the City Descriptor Macro post. I will talk about what led me to seek a system for generating random information about a town, as well as an in-depth look at the final modified system that is used by the macro to generate the results.

In my games, I always try to give the players a dynamic, consistent, and interactive environment for their adventures. I think it is pretty boring to play a game were every town is the same, none of the NPCs have names, or when a player has a great idea, it cannot be implemented because nothing in the environment is interactive.

The problem is that defining everything, every single little detail, is a huge task. So the GM has to use several tools to help speed up that process. One of them is the campaign setting. The setting usually has the background of an entire region already defined. That background includes names of the most important personas, detailed descriptions of nations, the important races, and other such details.

But not everything gets detailed even in a 200 pages long campaign setting. There are still a lot of smaller details that have to be supplied by the GM. And even those small details can take a lot of time to be defined.

To save time, most GMs look for a system that would randomly generate small details. As I searched for a system to help me better define a city, I came across the City-State random generation charts available in the book Maze Masters Guide.

I was taken away by the quality of the whole system. The city-state charts defined several aspects of a city that I had never thought to define myself, but once I started using them, I could not play another game without having those qualities defined in the cities.

I have made several modifications to the system. Some of them were due to the game system that I normally use, others were due to the type of campaign world I normally employ. Lastly, I had in mind to implement the system in a OpenOffice Calc spreadsheet, so not all of those changes can be used outside the spreadsheet.

The information presented below can be compared to the original in the book “Maze Masters Guide” pages 31 to 33.

 

1. City Chart
Please choose the city size:
City Type Population City Size
Hamlet 81-400 Small
Village 401-900
Small Town 901-2000 Average
Large Town 2001-5000
Small City 5001-12000 Large
Large City 12001-25000
Metropolis 25001 or more Huge

 

2. Renown Chart
The macro rolls a D30, if any results repeat themselves, it rolls again and disregards the previous results. For a small city, it roll once; for an average city, twice; for a large city, three times; for a huge city, four times.
Dice Number Renown For
1 A special temple
2 A sacred place that is not a temple
3 An oracle
4 A sorcerer or other magician
5 A famous noble
6 A famous non-noble warrior
7 A famous artisan, sage or philosopher
8 A monument/public work of art
9 Local games / arena
10 A curse from the gods
11 A blessing from the gods
12 A prophecy of doom for the settlement
13 A prophecy of a great deliverance for the people
14 A haunting
15 A spirit guardian
16 Plagued by local disease
17 Plagued by monsters
18 Plagued by non-violent thieves
19 A local dish / wine/ specialty
20 A non-local minority
21 All the streets are paved with flag stones
22 Known for its ancient obelisk
23 Known for its decadent culture
24 Known to being very accepting of foreigners
25 Children usually run around naked
26 Young women pluck their hairline giving them a higher forehead
27 Most locals have bad teeth
28 Known for its decline in birth rate
29 Once had a famous library
30 The locals love to boast about their quality of life

 

3. Regime Chart:
The macro rolls a D6, and changes the results according to the characteristics bellow:
Dice Number Modifier Characteristics
-1 Small Cities
+1 Large Cities
+2 Huge Cities

 

Based on the final dice number, the government type is determined by the chart below:
Dice Number Government Type
< = 2

Democracy: Only free men of property can participate on the city council

3 - 4

Monarchy: "A hereditary King (or Noble house) rules the city.

> = 5

Oligarchy: A council of Noble houses rules the city.

 

Than a D10 is rolled, if the roll is of 10, another D10 is rolled and the regime is modified.
Dice Number Special Conditions Modifications
< = 2 Matriarchy if Democracy = "Only free women of property can participate on the city council"
if Monarchy = "The ruler is always a female."
if Oligarchy = "The Noble houses are led by females."
3 - 4 Arcane Magic if Democracy = "Only people with arcane magical ability can participate on the city council"
if Monarchy = "The ruler is a arcane caster of some kind."
if Oligarchy = "The heads of the ruling houses are all skilled in arcane magic."
5 - 6 Divine Magic if Democracy = "All temples rule the city together by a council of its priests"
if Monarchy = "The ruler is chosen by the divine patron of the settlement to rule"
if Oligarchy = "A council of priests serving the divine patron of the city rules it."
7 - 8 Allegiance if Democracy = "This place is a colony or client of another, more powerful city."
if Monarchy = "This place is a colony or client of another, more powerful city."
if Oligarchy = "This place is a colony or client of another, more powerful city."
> = 9 Barbarian Rule if Democracy = "A ruling caste of barbarian tribesmen rule the city"
if Monarchy = "All rulers descend from a barbarian warlord."
if Oligarchy = "The nobles of the state are descended from barbarians."

 

4. Crime Rate Chart:
The macro rolls a D6, and changes the results according to the characteristics bellow:
Dice Number Modifier Characteristics
-1 Small Cities
Regime = "Only free women of property can participate on the city council"
Regime = "Only free men of property can participate on the city council"
+1 Large Cities
Regime = "A ruling caste of barbarian tribesmen rule the city"
Regime = "The nobles of the state are descended from barbarians."
Regime = "All rulers descend from a barbarian warlord."
+2 Huge Cities

 

Based on the final dice number, the crime rate is determined by the chart below:
Dice Number Crime Rate
< = 1 "Crimeless: Public Watch and Guards keep the place very peaceful"
2 "Peaceful: There are a few crimes but the streets are closely watched by guards"
3 - 4 "Average: There are crimes but most are unviolent"
5 "Corrupt: There are lots of crime but they are mostly unorganized"
> = 6 "Very Corrupt: The criminal element runs the city from the inside"

 

5. Prosperity Chart:
The macro rolls 2D6's and makes the following changes based on the characteristics below:
Dice Number Modifier Characteristics
-1 Small Cities
Crime Rate = "Crimeless: Public Watch and Guards keep the place very peaceful"
Crime Rate = "Very Corrupt: The criminal element runs the city from the inside"
+1 Large Cities
Crime Rate = "Peaceful: There are a few crimes but the streets are closely watched by guards"
Crime Rate = "Corrupt: There are lots of crime but they are mostly unorganized"
+2 Huge Cities

 

Based on the final dice number, the prosperity is determined by the chart below:
Dice Number Prosperity
< = 2 "Very Poor: Only mundane items are available. Disregard settlement GP Limit"
3 - 5 "Poor: No magical equipment is available for purchase. Disregard settlement GP Limit"
6 - 8 "Normal: As per settlement GP Limit"
9 - 11 "Rich: Minor and Medium magical and wondrous items are available. In addition to settlement GP Limit"
> = 12 "Very Rich: All wondrous and magical items are available. In addition to settlement GP Limit"

 

6. Happiness Chart:
The macro rolls 2D6's and makes the following changes based on the characteristics below:
Dice Number Modifier Characteristics
-2 Prosperity = "Very Poor: Only mundane items are available for purchase"
Crime Rate = "Very Corrupt: The criminal element runs the city from the inside"
-1 Prosperity = "Poor: No magical equipment is available for purchase"
Crime Rate = "Corrupt: There are lots of crime but they are mostly unorganized"
+1 Prosperity = "Minor and Medium magical and wondrous items are available. In addition to settlement GP Limit"
Crime Rate = "Peaceful: There are a few crimes but the streets are closely watched by guards"
+2 Prosperity = "Very Rich: All wondrous and magical items are available. In addition to settlement GP Limit"
Crime Rate = "Crimeless: Public Watch and Guards keep the place very peaceful"

 

Based on the final dice number, the happiness is determined by the chart below:
Dice Number Happiness
< = 4 "Very Unhappy"
5 - 6 "Unhappy"
7 - 8 "Indifferent"
9 - 10 "Happy"
> = 11 "Very Happy"

 

7. Justice Chart:
The macro rolls 2D6's and makes the following changes based on the characteristics below:
Dice Number Modifier Characteristics
-4 Crime Rate = "Very Corrupt: The criminal element runs the city from the inside"
-2 Crime Rate = "Corrupt: There are lots of crime but they are mostly unorganized"
+2 Crime Rate = "Average: There are crimes but most are unviolent"
+4 Crime Rate = "Peaceful: There are a few crimes but the streets are closely watched by guards"
+8 Crime Rate = "Crimeless: Public Watch and Guards keep the place very peaceful"

 

Based on the final dice number, justice is determined by the chart below:
Dice Number Justice
< = 2 "No Justice: Courts and officials are actively corrupt. They expect to be bribed."
3 - 4 "Weak Justice: Courts and officials are easily bribed."
5 - 9 "Indifferent Justice: Some officials may be corrupt. They can be bribed"
10 - 11 "Strong Justice: Courts and officials are very hard to bribe."
> = 12 "Adamant Justice: Courts and officials are absolutely impossible to bribe"

 

Click HERE to download from 4shared.com the ListOfChanges.txt file with the list of changes I made to the system

Click HERE to download from 4shared.com the CityDescriptor.ods file with the macro

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