This may be a position you've found yourself in: you're going to run a city-based adventure or campaign, but you don't have a starting neighborhood or "home base" fully detailed ready to go. I recently found myself in this position; I had planned to run a game set in the magical city of Scarabae, but I was feeling lazy and didn't want to create the characters' neighborhood, so I outsourced that part of game like this:
- Make this part of the character generation: go around the table, asking each player one of the thirteen questions below in turn.
- Write down their answers.
- Keep at it until each of the thirteen question has been answered.
- Riff on the answers given, making changes to suit the game world if necessary.
- Now you have a neighborhood that is fleshed-out for the kind of things that are likely to come up in play. You're ready to go.
Alternatively, post the thirteen questions below on your blog or the social media of your choice and let people answer. I posted them on G+ and got other people to do the heavy lifting. Bask in the feeling that you are Tom Sawyer as others whitewash your fence.
(Note: with a little tweaking these questions can also get you a decent town or village if you aren't running an urban setting.)
The Thirteen Questions
- Tell me about a church, temple, ashram, etc. in this neighborhood
- Tell me about a shop that sells standard equipment and one of the shopkeeper's quirks
- Tell me about someone who sells something illicit in this neighborhood
- Tell me about a powerful wizard, sorcerer, or warlock in this neighborhood
- Tell me about a feared warrior who lives in this neighborhood
- Tell me about someone who is wealthy in this neighborhood
- Tell me about someone you can go to for help in this neighborhood
- Tell me about someone you can go to for information in this neighborhood
- Tell me about a gang or criminal organization operating in this neighborhood
- Tell me about a pub, club, cabaret, gymnasium, bathhouse, etc. where adventurers hang out
- Tell me about an ongoing problem in this neighborhood
- Tell me about a popular form of entertainment or a popular entertainer in this neighborhood
- Tell me about a food or drink that is popular in this neighborhood