The Living City

When you sit down to play, you'll want to know the setting—which is to say, you'll want to come up with and flesh out the city in which your game takes place. Since it mostly takes place in today's urban jungles, this doesn't have to take a long time, as you're already pretty familiar with the way our world works.

(For crazy stuff like games taking place in the supernatural world or the like, read on—we've got you covered, too. We have a loose definition of "city.")

There's a lot of stuff in this chapter. Our purpose is to give you lots of ideas and options. If you don't really want to immerse yourself in the process we lay out here, it's no big deal. While we still encourage you to read through the chapter so you see what we're going for, toward the tail end we provide an on-the-fly city creation technique that highlights the really critical parts, letting you get to the gaming faster. (If you do the full city creation process a few times, your own process will probably move toward that anyway as you learn which parts are the most useful for your group.) You should feel free to pick and choose the parts that look fun as you go along.

A city is much more than just a collection of streets and buildings—it's a world filled with people, including the players' characters and all the characters they might encounter. Creating your city includes mapping out both some of the physical locations and the relationships the people who live and work there have with the places and with each other. Once you're done with city creation, you should be ready to sit down and play.

So What Do We Do?

Below is an overview of the process (which, aside from whatever time you decide to spend on research, will take around an hour or so for an experienced group, but probably most of your first session if this is your first time).

First, you'll choose your city. Everyone'll agree on some basic facts about it, the sorts of problems (which we call themes and threats) the city is facing, and how the supernatural intersects with the city.

Second, you'll come up with the various locations within the city. Everyone will get to make at least one, where individual problems are fleshed out and the faces for those locations—the people who represent them—are noted down.

Third, you'll make the player characters.

Finally, you'll finish up the city, where you'll turn those themes and some of your threats into aspects.

Remember: if this seems like too much, and you want to get to playing sooner, we have some tips for you at the end of the chapter in On-The-Fly City Creation.

The Golden Rule of City Creation

When you're stumped, skip that part and let the GM figure it out later.

Really, it's as simple as that. Maybe when the GM comes back to it, you'll all join in and collaborate. Maybe the GM will use whatever you've skipped as a mystery during play. In any case, the point of city creation is to get your game going and going strong, not to make you sit around for hours as you try to figure out a specific piece of the setting.

What If I Want to Create the City on My Own?

That's a pretty fair question for any GM to ask. Maybe you have a really neat idea, or you have players who aren't interested in any sort of setting creation. But you might want to at least think about our collaborative approach.

GMs can certainly take all of this work on themselves. Heck, in many roleplaying games, the job of building the setting is exclusively the GM's responsibility. So if that's the way you want to play it, go for it. Still, even if you do most of the work, consider making it something that everyone contributes to—say, with each player writing up a neighborhood or a particular point of interest. It'll give them a sense of ownership and—here's the clincher—it'll be one less thing you have to do as a GM. Laziness can be a virtue if you apply it the right way.

Working collaboratively to build a city allows all the players to get their agendas into the mix. If one guy really wants to tangle with some vampires, this will be a chance for him to bake it into the setting right from the get-go. Not to mention that, due to the collective effort, everyone will have a chance to feel like they have a little bit of expertise and ownership. That's a powerful tool for the GM in terms of building interest (and investment) in the upcoming story, and we can't encourage its use enough.

So, while you might still create the city on your own, at least consider gathering some input from your players.

Getting Ready to Make Your City

As you're getting started, you'll need some copies of the city sheets. There are three sheets to help organize your ideas as you come up with your city: a high-level sheet, a locations sheet, and a faces sheet. We'll talk more about these as we encounter them in the process. (Of course, you can also do all this with a few blank sheets of paper, if you don't have copies of the city sheets available.)

If your group prefers to have one person write down ideas as everyone talks, the sheets are set up for you. We recommend this method for most people, as it helps get everyone on the same page by talking about ideas before they get written down on separate sheets.

On the other hand, if your group prefers to write ideas down first and present them all together, like writers in a bull pen, then you'll either need to print up multiple copies of the location and faces sheets, or cut them up and hand parts out. They're also ready-made for that use. At the end of the process, be sure to consolidate all the ideas onto one copy.

No matter how you do it, make sure everyone who wants a copy of your city has one. These aren't just notes for the GM—the players have quite a bit at stake in this city as well!

What About Inventing a City?

You could go the "Metropolis" or "Gotham" route and just make up a city, but you might run into more problems than you anticipated. You'll have to work hard to come up with every detail—where the seedy neighborhood is compared to the ritzy downtown center, which neighbors have easy access to the riverfront, etc. Furthermore, you'll have to take copious notes to be consistent—not a problem for some people, but if it is for you, you might want to pick a real city. Plus, you may have a sense of disconnection as you come up with facts about locations and people that don't make much "sense" (even though, if you look at it, cities rarely do make a strict, logical sense).

In short, it's easier and often more fun to use real cities; someone else has written copious notes on them and they've been "playtested."

Choose Your City

The first step is an easy one, but it may be the most important: choose the city. There are a few different directions you can go when choosing a city:

Your city: This is obvious, but well worth stating. You probably know your city well, if you've been living there for a bit. Even if you don't, it's easy to be inspired by walking or driving around your city until you see some sights that just scream to you "Hey, I might be a little bit magical! Add me to your game!" Seriously, once you start incorporating your city into your game, you won't be able to help but notice places or people around town that would make for something fun.

A city everyone is personally familiar with: Think about nearby cities, places you all have visited, or hometowns. This familiarity will give your game traction, something to build your game around. Of course, you don't have to restrict yourself to nearby cities if everyone is familiar with some more distant locale, like a common hometown or place everyone went to school.

A city that everyone is used to seeing on TV: Here, your familiarity will go into more of a caricature of a city than the real nature of it, but that's not necessarily a bad starting point—even a caricature is a little right. Plus, this process isn't about making a travel guide. Your group's conception of the city is more important than the reality.

Familiarize and Discuss

Picking a city is one thing, but making the leap from an interesting city to the ideas that will propel your game forward is not always easy. Once you know where you're going to set your scene, the next step is to take the location you've chosen and use it to create concrete, practical ideas which you can use in your game.

Researching Your City

If the people in your group feel like they don't have enough information in their heads to make the city feel alive or feel like something more than a quickly hashed-out caricature, we recommend doing some research. If your group would have fun doing this, turn it into a group activity. Everyone, or at least the players with enough spare time, can take a method and have at it.

Don't feel pressure to do this if research doesn't interest you (see The Vancouver Method, below). We want you to have fun with this game. For some people, that means talking about your city and surfing Wikipedia for a few minutes; for others, that means an afternoon at the library or even a day trip to the city, if it's nearby or if you need a good excuse for a little vacation.

Hitting the Books

Modern research tools being what they are, lots of people tend to forget how useful the humble book can be. Some people love that musty smell of paper and binder's glue with a hint of mildew—if that's you, here's your excuse for a day in the stacks of your local library.

Talk to the librarian, explain that you're trying to assemble a guide to your city with an emphasis on the weird. Librarians are mighty, and spending just ten minutes with one can yield amazing results. Don't forget that they wield the awesome power of Interlibrary Loans—if there's an obscure title out there, chances are your friendly neighborhood librarian can conjure it up for you.

Don't discount the usefulness of a bookstore, either, especially if you find a title that you really fall in love with. Travel and tourism guidebooks are extremely useful—we'd almost call a good travel guide on your city an essential buy for the GM. If there are novels written about your city, it might be worth reading one or two.


If your city is close by, consider finding a day when most of the group is available and doing a day trip. Stop by a visitor's center, grab a bunch of the pamphlets they always have at those places. Pair off, split up, and see what grabs peoples' attention—self-guided walking tours are great for this.

If there's a college in your city, spend an hour on campus. See where the important buildings are—athletic facilities, labs, libraries, dorms, the student union, student bars and hangouts, that sort of thing. Pick up a copy of the college paper.

Drop in a coffee shop or diner (a mom & pop joint, not a chain) and listen to the way the locals talk. Is there a unique local accent? Local idioms and figures of speech? Grab an armload of the free weekly newspapers that are published in every town—coffee shops are usually littered with these.

Electronic Media

For many people, the Internet is the first destination for research. There's a good reason for that—it gets you a boatload of good information right the heck now. It's definitely something you should do for your city. We highly recommend starting with Wikipedia. It's about the best brief overview you're going to find anywhere, especially if you're not overly concerned with consistent truthfulness—you're looking for story-fuel here more than rock-solid, verified facts.

Most locally published periodicals—i.e. newspapers and magazines—have a free web presence these days. Local news broadcasts, both radio and TV, frequently stream to the web—these are a gold mine of local flavor.

Of course, your best tool might simply be your favorite search engine. Here are a few search terms you might find fruitful:

Use your city's name, plus:

Cherry pick the stuff that strikes you as interesting. You're also going to want to get a feel for how your city looks, which services like Flickr, Google Images, and Google Earth will help you with. Also check out for entries that use your city's name as a tag.

Finding out About the Seedier Side of your City

Your group may want to have a sense of what the crime is like in your chosen city, since bad guys—both mortal and supernatural—are often behind such things. With that in mind, we have a few specific tips for you. If crime isn't something you want to play with in your city, or is something you want to completely make up, feel free to ignore this sidebar.

Some local TV news producers love crime stories—the more sensationalized, the better. And that's exactly what you're looking for. These stories are frequently available via streaming video on the web, and they're fantastic sources of local information (and inspiration!). Most are only a few minutes long, and they're well worth the time spent.

After your Internet search for jokes and stories, try a grittier approach. Plug the term "prostitution" plus the name of your city into a search engine, and you should immediately locate the red light district. Every city has one. You don't need to go there, but you definitely want to be able to name it. Similarly, try "homicide" or "drug bust" or "robbery" or pretty much any other specific crime, plus your city's name.

Don't be afraid to make stuff up (see Intentional Inaccuracies and The Vancouver Method, below). It's not going to strain anyone's suspension of disbelief if your group decides that a neighborhood called "The Waterfront" is a dangerous place after dark.

The Vancouver Method

This is your alternative to doing research, and it's pretty simple: just make stuff up. Really. We talk quite a bit about research, partly because research can be fun in its own right—the weird stuff you discover is amazing. (Keep in mind the old saying, "Truth is stranger than fiction.") But, you can have a lot of fun by just working with a few base ideas and not worrying if you get the details wrong.

The name we've given this method, "Vancouver," comes from an element of television production—it's expensive to shoot television shows in New York or Los Angeles, so most television programs just take skyline shots of the city they're supposed to be in, then do the actual filming in someplace less expensive, like Vancouver or Toronto. It's a handy trick, and for the bulk of scenes it's hardly a real problem. Similarly, if you aren't that interested in the backdrop of your city, just pick a handful of landmarks and signatures and leave it at that—you have everything you need.

Coming to a Consensus

Regardless of how you do (or choose not to do) your research, this next part is vitally important: talk about the city you've chosen and come to a consensus about what you actually want to play with. Every city in the world is a vast sandbox of ideas, and your game will be much more successful if it only tries to focus in on one or two at a time. That means making sure everyone at the table talks about what toys they want to play with in the sandbox.

Start with asking everyone, including the GM, the things they want to play with in this city. It might be a reputation the city has (such as organized crime), a public figure (such as a governor or wealthy businessman), a prominent building (such as the Empire State Building in New York City), geographical feature (Alcatraz in San Francisco), neighborhood (such as London's East End), subculture (such as the music scene in Seattle), recurring event (such as Mardi Gras in New Orleans) or whatever springs to mind. It's perfectly fine to have the same or different answers—the same answer means that more of you definitely want to see something in the game, and different answers give you a bit of variety to build off of. Talk a bit about each suggestion. (Someone might want to take a few notes during this discussion—the cool idea now is the idea you'll be struggling to remember later.)

Here are some discussion prompts to get the conversation rolling:

Don't overthink this stuff or spend too long on it; just get a feel for what people might want to do with this bit of the city (if anything). Come up with a handful of ideas—the sweet spot is a dozen or so for a group of four or five, but you can get away with fewer. You probably won't incorporate all of those features into your game initially, but it gives you a wide variety of toys to play with.

What If Our Ideas Don't Mesh?

If you just can't come to some sort of consensus on where this is going, consider that you might have a play style disconnect. Is one player looking for a kick-in-the-door action game while another wants to explore characterization and intrigue? Does one player want to delve into what it means to be human and demi-human characters struggling to avoid becoming monsters, while another wants to play with the notion of mortal humans struggling to survive among much stronger predators?

If it turns out that there's an incompatibility in assumptions about play style, keep in mind that the game may run for several story arcs, and that the focus of each one can be very different. Maybe try to agree to start with one style, then move toward the other for the second story arc.

If your issue isn't related to incompatible play styles, perhaps a change of scenery would help. If you decided to go with a different city, would that help resolve the disagreement?

Intentional Inaccuracies

One thing you might want to play with as a group is the idea of changing a piece of your city, making an intentional inaccuracy. This could be as simple as tossing in a convenient feature to make the city more manageable or make a location work out better (for example, perhaps your city's baseball park suddenly acquires a huge parking lot where in reality it doesn't have one), or it could be as far-reaching as working with a version of the city that lives in an alternate history (perhaps the Golden Gate Bridge was destroyed in a war between vampire factions that occurred prior to the start of your campaign).

A City Full of Problems

Themes & Threats

Once you've picked out your city and you have some idea of what looks like fun, you get to fill it with all sorts of problems that the PCs will have to contend with.

We've broken down those issues into two types: themes and threats. Themes are problems that have been around for a long time, long enough that people almost take them for granted. Threats, on the other hand, are problems new to the city—sometimes so new that hardly anyone knows about them.

At this stage, you're going to come up with about three of these problems for the city overall. You'll also do this a bit more with each location in the city.

While working on your city, we recommend using some scrap paper for your initial ideas, or maybe even a set of index cards so the information can be passed around the table while everyone works on it.

Themes of a City

A city's theme is a statement about something that recurs in the stories we tell about a city. It could be something that the mortal population tells about themselves and their city, or it might be something that the supernatural denizens talk about behind the scenes.

You'll probably notice that each of these themes is a little dark, a little troublesome. There are two reasons for this: first, your heroes need something to struggle against. Mobbed-up politicians and cruel dilettantes are the sort of stories that happen, but people don't want to have happen. Perfect for your heroes. Second, there's a real sense of accomplishment that happens when, at the end of a story, one of these themes gets turned into something positive.

Themes should feel firm and hard to get rid of. If a single person is the mastermind behind some theme, and defeating that person would change the city overnight, it's probably not strong enough to be a theme. Someone else should always be around to fill a vacuum of power left by the PCs—thus, dealing with a theme is about something bigger than any single conflict.

Threats to a City

On the other hand, a city's threat is a person, monster, group, or even a condition or circumstance that makes (or wants to make) life in the city worse for the occupants. Sometimes this threat comes from outside, like a monster from the supernatural world. Sometimes it comes from inside, like a vengeful father who has decided to dabble in magic.

Threats should feel like someone is behind them that the PCs can get to, either right away or over time. Maybe the way they deal with the problem is to talk and use diplomacy, or fight and use force, but in any case there should be someone or some group of people responsible. That said, you don't need to flesh out every little bit about them or their motivation right now. Stick with a single sentence, like we did above, and the GM will come back to this later to fill in the rest of the details.

Making Themes and Threats for Your City

Aim to come up with one to three themes and threats (total, so don't go over three). Don't take too long to brainstorm these—you'll be revising these ideas as you progress through city creation. You just want an idea of what the PCs will have to deal with. If you're starting to talk about different ways in which the theme or threat will come into the story and how different people might work against it, stop there. You have a juicy problem, but don't start obsessing about those details before you've even started playing.

It's important to keep in mind the intended play style, at least of the first story arc. If your group wants a relatively straightforward monster stomp, or even a mystery-oriented game, strongly consider keeping your themes, and especially threats, immediate and highly endangering. Once you start creating locations and faces, it should be obvious how they link in with the city's themes and threats—more on this later. On the other hand, if the group is more interested in a game involving lots of politics and intrigue, some subtlety and ambiguity in how the locations and faces tie into threats and themes is more useful.

Once you have a set of themes and threats, write a sentence or two for each one on the High Level City Sheet. "The Idea" is the place for this—we'll get to the aspect and faces later.

Getting the High-Level View

Before you go much further, it's a good idea to take a moment to get a handle on who's in the city, in terms of supernatural critters, factions, and mundane organizations.

This is fairly simple for games centered around mystery or action, and a lot of this section's advice can be skimmed—although it's still important that the city's important characters and factions, especially the opposition, map to the themes and threats.

Games with lots of intrigue tend to require a bit more forethought about who and what is present in the city. In order to create a good web of influence, dependence, rivalry, and such, the GM and players need to think hard about who's in town, why, and what it is they want, from a bird's eye view.

In either case, here are some ideas for coming up with those ideas and tying them into the city's established tone and flavor through its themes and threats. Don't worry about detailing specific individuals or locations yet; that will come later.

Someone Cares About the City

The first thing to think about is what supernatural creatures or factions care about your city. Taking a look at your city's themes and threats ought to give you some strong hints about what sort of supernatural population would be attracted to the place. Who cares about your city enough to have a presence there?

Some are really straightforward—themes dealing with corruption lead to mercenaries, decay leads to vampires, desperation suggests magical lawbreakers in hiding from the magical authorities.

The trick here is combining your themes and threats with any previously stated preferences for things people want to examine in the city, even where they might not obviously match up. This requires a little creative thinking, but it's not that hard to apply a theme in a way that wasn't expected ahead of time.

When you populate the city, think about what each organization or faction wants. Try not to fall back on simple survival, unless that organization or faction is up against the wall for some reason. Think about something more short-term—what are they trying to get when the game comes out of the gate?

Someone Cares About the Status Quo

Consider what the status quo looks like, and who benefits from it (and hence would want to protect it). The mortal cops might, powerful supernatural factions might, criminal organizations might. This could involve attempting to keep the peace—the police, supernatural authorities, or a band of plucky vigilantes might fit this bill. Or, it might involve maintaining an existing arrangement providing a ready supply of easy prey to the city's predators—any vampires might be interested in the status quo for that.

Think about how to apply parts of the city that were mentioned in your city sketch. Did anyone mention supernatural entities? Organizations like the police or the city government? See if any of those would work here. Again, think about how each organization, faction, or powerful individual your group introduces to the city fits in with its existing themes and threats. Everything should tie to a theme or threat somehow, even if tangentially.

Someone Wants to Rock the Boat

On the other hand, there are entities, organizations, and factions that want to upset the apple cart. Maybe they're on the outs in the current state of things, maybe they want more power, maybe they're just out for revenge or simply want to cause mayhem. In any event, it's these people (or things!) who are going to initiate conflicts.

Who are these boat rockers? A predator looking for hunting ground? A vampire clan looking to strike a decisive blow in the supernatural war? The cops, trying to solve a series of grisly murders? The magical authorities, attempting to take down a powerful sorcerer who keeps the city's supernatural community in fear?

Like those protecting the status quo, think about how to tie in parts of the city from your city sketch.

Looking Forward: What We're Going to Do with Themes and Threats

The themes and threats aren't just notes for the GM on what to bring in. Themes (and some threats) will become setting aspects. We're going to talk a lot more about this idea when you're making characters, and even more in the Aspects chapter, so don't worry about it too much right now. After you've made characters, you'll come back to all of these and develop the aspects for your city (see "Finalize Your City").

Alongside that, threats (and some themes) will also generate some faces—NPCs that the PCs will have to deal with. That will also be addressed in the "Finalize Your City" section.

If you've played this or another Fate game before, you may have already made these into aspects. That's great! But if not, don't worry. Later we'll tell you how to turn these ideas you have into juicy aspects and faces.

Getting Ideas

If you're having trouble coming up with interesting and flavorful supernatural denizens of your city, take a look at the research you did early in the process.

The most obvious place to start is with ghost stories and urban legends. There's no need to make them all true, but they provide useful inspirations for things that are overtly magical. Local hauntings are probably real, witches and warlocks of folklore existed (and may still be around), and the man dressed in a bunny suit killing people with an axe in the woods of Virginia? More real than you know.

This magical significance can be subtle or overt. A given haunting might be a powerful, named ghost which would be fairly overt. A neighborhood, however, might have more hauntings than most of the rest of the city, and that's just part of its character.

Once you get beyond the obvious plug-ins, there may also be some places to insert some magical history. If your city has a historical hero or boogeyman, consider keeping him in the past rather than having him still be around today. This opens questions about how he died and what sort of legacy he left behind. A legacy can be incredibly powerful in helping your group sink roots into the setting, as it allows them to tie their own history into it.

One last subtle but potent vector is knowledge. The world of magic is mostly secret and what is known tends to be in broken pieces. Putting some small amount of knowledge in the hands of the most mundane people or groups can put a spin on them that can get very interesting indeed. Police departments are a great example of this, but even something as simple as a bar or bookshop with some awareness of the magical world is going to feel different than one without.

Your group may come up with a lot of ideas, perhaps resulting in extensive notes. You can summarize those ideas on the High Level City Sheet. Write a couple of sentences in each of the Status Quo boxes, describing who the big players are and how they relate to one another. A summary is fine—your notes should contain the rest.

In the Movers and Shakers section, list the major players you've come up with so far. That section is split between two axes—those looking to hold the line vs. rock the boat, and those in the know about the supernatural vs. those not. You could use that as four boxes to write in. Or you could use that as a chart, placing little dots to show how much people or organizations want to change the status quo and how much they know about the supernatural.

Sometimes you'll come up with an idea that straddles that line—a group, for instance, that is partly in the know, partly not. Write those in the middle.

Mortal Response to the Supernatural

It's entirely possible the mortal population of your city is almost completely in the dark—easy pickings, save for the handful who know enough of the old ways that they stay out of the way. On the other hand, some communities (especially small ones) may follow certain protective habits or traditions—possibly muddled or disguised as anything from local variations of religious practice to homeowner's association rules; others may be knowingly clued in or even have some sort of organized response. Of course, organized groups are pretty rare: they tend to fall to the extremes of either failure (wiped out by bad guys) or irrelevant success (getting ignored or encouraging the bad guys to pick up shop and move elsewhere, making the group unnecessary).

A lot of cities will have a particular part of the police force which gets handed the oddball cases. You're never going to have a "magical" unit on the books. They're usually hidden behind euphemisms like "Special Crime," "Special Unit," "At-Large Issues," or the like or may even be entirely informal. The effectiveness of these groups runs the gamut—some work hard to make a difference but others just look for ways to hide the statistics.

Crime, especially organized crime, has a more nuanced relationship with the supernatural. Most petty criminals are no different from any other mortal when experiencing the supernatural. However, a few insightful criminals have learned to turn magic to their advantage, by learning a bit of magic themselves, employing a wizard as an "advisor," or forming an alliance with a supernatural entity or faction.

Churches may also have some window into the supernatural, but how much varies from church to church. Most churches are already more than busy enough with temporal matters, and even those who are aware of the dangers tend to be very reactive and defensive, acting only for the immediate protection of their flock's souls (which is not an insignificant task.)

Consider the mundane mortals that deal with the supernatural in your city. Cops? Religious? Nobody?

Local Supernatural Community

In every town, there are people in the know—people who bridge the gap between the mundane world of mortals and the supernatural. A lot of the time, especially in bigger towns and cities, the core of the community is wizards, people genuinely touched by the supernatural to some degree. Around them are family, believers, poseurs, people who've seen too much, hangers-on, and the like. It's an eclectic mix, and not everyone is necessarily on the same page. Differences in belief or education abound, but they share one piece of common ground. They understand that there is something more to the world than most people accept.

Like any other community, they have places where they can go and perhaps feel safe—bars, shops, clubs, and the like. These places and the people found there are usually highly reflective of the city's themes, which is something to consider as you think about your city's community of people in the know. Locations and potential characters will probably come to mind at this point—make sure you note these down; you'll detail them soon.

Locations in Your City

At this point, you should have a pretty good high-level view of the supernatural—and supernaturally aware—population of your city, and how it ties together with the city's themes and threats. But a city is a lot more than a high concept and a few threats. No one is just "in New York City;" they're "in Central Park" or "on the observation deck of Empire State Building" or a thousand other places. While a city is more than just the sum of its parts, we still have to think about those parts—that's where the stories really take place.

There are two general types of locations: neighborhoods and points of interest. Neighborhoods are where people live or work, and points of interest are where people go to do or experience something specific. When coming up with these locations, here are some bits of advice to keep in mind:

That said, don't try to catalog every single neighborhood or point of interest. Doing one or two per player (including the GM) is a good ballpark. If you find the story goes to a new neighborhood or point of interest in the middle of play, and seems to return there fairly often, then flesh out that location some more.

As you kick around location ideas, use the Locations City Sheet to record your work.

Getting Ideas

There are all sorts of fun ways to come up with ideas for locations, even if you're not familiar with the city. The Internet is your friend. Google Earth rocks—zoom in and look for cool-looking buildings, streets or other structures that all meet at a nexus, or other eye-catching artifacts of the town. It has attached street-perspective photos of a lot of interesting-looking places, so at the very least it should give you an idea of places to think about. Wikipedia is another great resource, as are social networking websites and web forums where you can talk to people who live in your chosen city. Of course, maybe you prefer dead trees. In that case, hit the library or a bookstore and check out encyclopedias and travel books—these are great ways to get location ideas.

And of course, the research you did earlier in the city creation process probably turned up a wealth of potentially flavorful locations.

Once you have your list of locations, you'll come up with two pieces of information for each: the location's theme or threat (only one, not both) and its face.

Conceptual Locations

In some cases, there might be a concept for your city that needs representation—it's probable that such a concept was called out in your city sketch. For Hollywood, California, for example, the entertainment industry is a strong concept that should be reflected in the city. Take a moment to look at your city's themes and locations; if none of them can be said to represent your city's important concepts, decide on a physical location that will work as an anchor in your game for that concept—a place where it's on display and where the characters can interact with it. In the Hollywood example, you might create a film studio location to represent the entertainment industry's presence.

Recurring Locations

Recurring locations are a great feature of TV shows and novels. In a lot of stories, they're a vitally important component because they provide a sense of predictability that helps control the story's pacing—they can do the same thing in your game. These locations tend to come in two very broad flavors, categorized based on what the location does to the player characters' (and players') sense of comfort.

The characters need a place to call home, someplace where they can drop their wards, get comfortable, and crack open a beer. The players know what to expect here. Of course, once established, the GM can play with this expectation by threatening these zones of safety and comfort. Handled well, this can introduce an intense sense of danger, outrage, or horror in the players. Be careful, though; do it too much or too early and it can get pretty old, or even lead to players feeling like their trust has been violated.

The other type is the place that's predictably uncomfortable—the bastion of a faerie lord the PCs visit frequently, a particular section of the supernatural world, or a loud and pulsing dance club run by vampires. The players know what to expect here, too, and it's never good. They have to be on their guard all the time, never accept a gift, never dance with the beautiful succubus no matter how seductive she is… As with the comforting locations, once these expectations have been established a GM can play with the expectations a bit to keep the players on their toes.

Recurring locations are extremely useful—strongly consider having a few. They may end up being strongly connected to your characters, though, so you might want to come back to this when you're making characters and sketch out a new location based on what you make up there.

Don't Constrain Yourself!

We're spending a lot of time talking about making the city for your game, but don't be afraid to branch out on occasion. There's a whole wide world out there—sometimes your stories take you to the outskirts of your city and further (even outside of our plane of existence!) in order to deal with problems.

Locations and the Supernatural

Making the Connection

Whatever locations you choose, make certain that some have potential for entanglement with the supernatural, one way or another.

Imagine how your city looks, purely from the perspective of magical beings with no real interest in the workings of mankind. An ancient being—wizard, vampire, fae, demon, or other—is not going to take any real interest in the politics and economics of the day, and one pile of humanity is much like any other. From their perspective, things need to last a certain amount of time before they're worth noticing, so the things that they find interesting in a city are more likely to be places of power, powerful residents, and other Big Matters. So when such beings look at your city, what do they think of?

To that end, think about things that may be unique to your city. If you have some geography on hand that can obviously be made significant, then that's easy. Having the Empire State Building as the focusing point for New York City's ley lines is a good, obvious use of this sort of thing. Perhaps the St. Louis Arch is a gateway to something deep in the supernatural world. Maybe the top of the Eiffel Tower is a portal to Hell, or something. You get the idea. Tombs, graveyards, mountains, battlefields, and monuments of almost any kind may be of use for this. If you can find some sort of signature landmark, at least consider making it magical.

If you don't have specific geography to work with, then no problem; it's easy enough to make something up. Gateways and potential gateways are a great hook. One or more doors to the supernatural world provide plots aplenty, depending on where they go and who might want to go through them. Ley lines—lines of mystical force that crisscross the earth like an invisible highway of magic—are another great excuse. Wherever they cross is a place of power, and if a bunch of them cross in one place, like your city, that can easily be of interest.

It's also worth considering types of places that you might find in more than one city. Some cities might have a neighborhood that's built in existing underground tunnels but is a bit closer to the supernatural world, so the boundary can be thin enough to pass through accidentally. Mortals seldom visit such places, but they're the first stop for magical beings, often because they double as the points of entry.

Any place can be of interest, magically. It might have power to draw on, the boundary between our world and the supernatural world might be thin in that spot at particular times of the year, it might be sacred or profane, skewed to some flavor of magic, or important to some manner of creature. All that means is that if a place is interesting to you and your group, making it significant is not hard to do.

Themes and Threats of Locations

Now, for each location, make either a theme or threat. A location's theme or threat is much like a city's overall theme or threat, but specific to this one part of the city. A lot of the same considerations you used to create your city's themes and threats hold true here, too: What's going to make for a great story? Why is this location interesting? What's going to happen there? A location that will serve as a hotbed of intrigue, like a club that serves as a vampire hangout, might have a theme like "lies, deception, and backstabbing." A locale that you think is just begging for a fight scene, such as an abandoned building, might have a threat to make the fight more interesting, like "dry as a tinderbox." Especially for threats, don't be afraid to call out transient situations—you can change threats and themes for locations as their characteristics change. Some of these themes and threats eventually will be turned into aspects or faces—but we'll talk about that later.

Locations Sharing Themes and Threats

As you start making up locations, you might decide that some of them have the same or very similar themes or threats. That's excellent! You don't need to constantly invent new problems for every neighborhood or point of interest. But you'll want to make sure that each place still feels different, so consider different sides of the issue. A theme like "the bad part of town" might mean that one location is notorious for violent crime, while another's take on that is rampant prostitution. A supernatural threat may be well established and hard to uproot in one location and just beginning to take over in another.

You could even leave the feel of the theme or threat similar if the face of each of those locations has a different take on dealing with the threat. As long as there's something different about the situation, sharing problems among places is a great way to tie those places (and the people involved) together.

Bringing It Together

Write a sentence or three describing the location on the Locations City Sheet, and record its theme or threat (don't worry about the aspect yet, we'll do that in the final step of city creation). Briefly describe a major feature or two ("The lower deck of the bridge is a maze of structural steel, rivets, and concrete with a low ceiling, and the sides are open to the weather."), and maybe call out if people have to overcome any obstacles to even get there ("The basement door has been blocked off for years; you can only get in through the trap door under the desk in the office.")

This seems obvious, but it's worth mentioning: once you've chosen locations in this phase of game preparation, it might be tempting to railroad the action to end up there. Resist that temptation. The action will get there when it gets there, and if a location turns out to be a lot cooler in theory than in actual play conditions, don't worry about it. If the face for that location is important, the action will get there eventually. If it doesn't, then that location, and the face associated with it, isn't really as important as you thought it would be. And that's okay—file away any cool ideas associated with it for future use and let it go. New locations, ones you didn't think of during city creation, will arise during play; if they feel important, stat them out and add them to the list. And you never know—that spurned location might become important down the road.

People in Your City

The Faces

Once your set pieces are up, you'll need people in them. After all, a city is nothing if no one inhabits it.

There are two ways to approach populating your city. The process presented here designs a world full of complicated situations and relationships which the PCs will be thrown into once they're created. On the other hand, you could move onto character creation first, then design the rest of the characters based on how the PCs turn out. Both ways are great; it's your choice which way you want to do it.

In this section, you'll be coming up with various characters that embody your locations and the city's themes and threats. These faces personify the setting and interact with the PCs. You'll need to figure out a couple of things for each character—namely, a high concept and a motivation—though it shouldn't take more than a couple minutes to come up with these few details. If it does, remember the golden rule of city creation: come up with the easy stuff and move on—you can leave the rest for the GM to figure out later, after the game's started.

As you go through each step of creating faces, summarize your ideas on the Faces sheet. Again, the GM and players might keep extra notes elsewhere, but the City Sheet is the quick reference guide.

High Concept

All characters—PCs and NPCs alike—have a high concept. We talk more about that in Character Creation, but in short it's a quick phrase (and aspect) that summarizes that character's role in the world, usually reflecting the character template in some way. The vampire that runs a nightclub might be an Entrepreneur; a police detective in the know might be Monster Hunting Cop; a corrupt real estate investor might be Heartless Slumlord; and the ritual sorceress operating under the radar of the magical authorities might be Dabbling Sorceress. High concepts are explained in a lot more detail in Character Creation; if you haven't looked at that chapter yet, you might want to jot down the base idea and come back to it once you've gone through the process of creating PCs.


The faces in your city should also have some motivation—there's something each one wants that he can't easily get. What is it? The vampire might want to end the police investigation of prostitution at his nightclub, while the detective is determined to end the human trafficking ring he suspects is happening there. The investor might want to quiet the spirits of the burial ground he's building on, while the sorceress might want to conjure a demon, using the nearby ley line to power her containment circle.

One of these basic formulas might help you come up with motivations:

The basic idea here is that these motivations involve other potential characters and have some conflict built-in. Since the most interesting conflicts may very well involve the PCs, it might make sense to delay this step until after character creation.

Play Style and NPC Motivations

When creating the motivations of your faces, consider what style of game your group wants to play. Specifically, how secret should these motivations and relationships be from the players? (Note that we're saying "players" very deliberately here—this is distinct from "player characters.") There are two distinct styles that should inform this decision:

Mystery: The details of the setting around the PCs is a mystery for the players to unravel. This means that (most of) the true motivations of and relationships among NPCs should begin the game as secrets from the players (and, consequently, the PCs). In this style of game, the GM will need to invent most of these details about the important NPCs—possibly with suggestions from the players, but mostly on her own.

Intrigue/Politics: The players are aware of the relationships among the NPCs, as well as their motivations, even if the player characters may not be fully aware of them. This makes it much easier for the players to engineer intrigue, play NPCs (and perhaps other PCs) against one another, and engage in general skulduggery. To create this style of game, the GM and players should work together to generate the NPCs' high concepts, motivations, and other details.

Of course, many games will end up being a combination of both. Even if your game has aspects of both styles, it will probably lean more one way or the other. It's a good plan for the GM to take the pulse of the table and see what players want to do—both styles can be accommodated with a bit of creativity.

Faces of Locations

A location's face is someone who embodies a place or is somehow strongly tied to it, either in a mundane or supernatural sense. Every location needs a face—someone who cares about the location.

When you create a location's face, it's important to know the face's connection to the location. Is the location the face's hangout (a vampire owns a nightclub and can be found there regularly, while a police detective is frequently at Precinct Station House 4)? Is the connection financial (the location is a construction site, and the face is the investor who owns it)? Is it supernatural (the face is a sorceress performing rituals at the location due to its proximity to a ley line)?

The face's motivation for the location is also useful to think about. Is there something about the location he wants to change? Something he wants to preserve? No one is perfectly happy with his home (or home away from home, in some cases). How does this face's motivation intersect with the city or location's themes and threats (if at all)?

Faces of Themes and Threats

Themes and threats—especially threats—also need faces that embody or represent them in some way. It's boring for PCs to interact directly with disembodied forces or ideological concepts.

Some of your location faces will also work well as faces for themes or threats. Or you may end up revising a location's face based on a similar NPC you'll come up with here. Either way, this is a good point to look over your NPCs to see how they could intersect with the themes and threats you've come up with.

Like every other part of creating faces, as you figure this part out for each face, be sure to record it on the Faces City Sheet—but don't forget to record it on the High Level City Sheet as well.

Themes and Faces

To come up with faces for the city's themes, consider how each theme is exemplified in one (or more) of the NPCs. Consider the "If the Beta Alpha Chis want it, they get it" theme that we discussed before—a face could be a member of that fraternity. If that's one of your city's themes, chances are you have a member in mind as an NPC (or even a PC), so that character could be one of the theme's faces.

You can use a face to subvert a theme, too, or to call attention to it by providing the counterexample. Think about the theme "If he's a politician, he's mobbed up" from before. Sure, you could make the face a local kingpin of corruption and graft, but what if you chose the one honest, idealistic politician left in the city?

Finally, you can hold off on associating a theme with a face if you need to. Consider the theme "If a pretty girl wanders alone at night, don't expect to see her again." If nothing leaps out at you immediately, let your play reveal who is involved. This is particularly handy if you want to run this idea as a mystery. (Alternately, in this situation you could go the Twin Peaks route and make the face a murder victim—maybe have some scenes occur in flashback.)

Threats and Faces

It's fairly easy to come up with faces for city threats. Just tie a threat directly to the face's motivation, and presto. In the example "A new wizard is breaking the rules of the magical authorities," it's pretty simple to figure out the high concept. But for motivation, you'll have to ask why—maybe this wizard is looking for respect from the magical authorities, or perhaps he just wants to use magic to punish people who have hurt him.

On the other hand, the face for such threats can be less direct. Maybe the face of this threat is a member of the magical authorities who suspects one of the PCs is responsible for the crimes the wizard is committing. If the face's motivation is "The suspect must confess," this provides a face to this threat that the PCs can't easily solve through judicious use of magic and firearms.

Tying Characters Together

Faces do not exist in separate vacuums. They should have some sort of connection to each other. If that connection ties into their motivation, so much the better. The sorcerer has been hired by the investor to drive out the restless spirits, but is in over her head. The vampire and the detective are in direct conflict with one another.

Other connections could come in the form of rivalries, cross-purpose motivations, personal grudges or alliances, etc.

However, only note ideas down if they seem obvious at this step. By now, you've done a lot of work coming up with ideas, and are probably really eager to move on to making your own characters. If there are some characters that don't seem to be tied together, or perhaps aren't tied to anyone, that's fine at this point. During play, you'll come up with so many more amazing ideas; the things the PCs do and the way the GM reacts will inspire you in ways you couldn't come up with right now, even if they seem obvious in hindsight.

Multiple Faces

Sometimes a location, theme or threat might suggest multiple faces, like with the example threat of "Faeries are using this city in their machinations." When that happens, come up with multiple faces.

That said, this is generally only appropriate if the faces are somehow at odds, either openly or covertly. If they have the same agenda, and one is really a lieutenant for another or something similar, then you really only have one face to worry about at the moment (though whether the boss or the lieutenant is the one you're focusing on is entirely up to you).

The Protagonists

The Player Characters

Once you've cleaned up the location list and created faces, it's time to sit down and do character creation (if you haven't already). You have enough information about the city now that someone at the table can probably answer any questions that come up. In play, the group is sure to come up with new ideas and elements that you'll want to incorporate into the city. As the group goes through character creation, stay alert for this sort of thing and take down a new list of city details based on the players' ideas. The player characters' aspects may suggest new themes, locations, places, and people, but don't limit yourself just to those.

Picking a Power Level

Now that you've made a big chunk of your city, you'll have an idea of what sort of threats are looming and what sort of threats the PCs will have to contend with. The important thing is that everyone should be at the same power level. If you haven't chosen a power level, now is the time to do so. Details on the different power levels are in Character Creation.

Should Faces Be PCs?

As you begin character creation, consider that you might have already created the basic idea of some, if not all, of your PCs—the faces. They already have hooks into the city's locations, themes, and threats. They have at least implied relationships to other characters. If some of them look like fun to play, grab ‘em as PCs!

Can they can still serve as faces? Well, the answer to that is "Sometimes." Think about the other characters—both PCs and NPCs—and how they will interact with the location, theme, or threat that the face-turned-PC represents. Will those other characters still see the PC as a face for that concept? If the concept is an extension of that character, chances are you don't need a new face. However, if the character is just a cog in the wheel of a much larger institution, you might want to create a new face.

But most of all, don't over-think this. Just make a quick judgment call and move on—99% of the time it's not earth-shatteringly vital that this decision is made one way or the other.

Arranging the Details

As a GM, look at each character's best skills and ask: Who else in the city is that good? Do they know the character? Do they have some sort of relationship? Are they rivals, friends, or both? What do they do with the skill that the character doesn't?

The same thinking applies equally well to stunts and powers. Who else can do these things? Who wants to be able to? Who knows? Who cares? Everything on the character sheet may suggest an idea for expanding the city details. So, while the players are shifting their focus over to their characters, it's time for the GM to truly take ownership of the city and make it come alive and, more importantly, shape it so it is relevant and responsive to the lives of the PCs.

When you're done, run through your new list of details and decide on how to position them in the city. If they go into existing locations or fit existing themes, then great—just write them down as details. Otherwise, create new locations and themes and so forth, turning them into aspects and characters as needed (see "Finalize Your City"). At the end of this, you should have a list of thematic aspects and a cast of NPCs, as well as a list full of things which caught your interest.

Finalize Your City

You're almost there now. It's time to turn all those ideas into game mechanics.

Turn Themes and Threats into Aspects

Now that you've been through character creation and understand what aspects are and how to use them, go back to your city details and turn city and location themes and threats into proper aspects. Revisit Aspects if you need some extra help. The main thing to keep in mind is that each aspect you make has to be able to affect at least one of the PCs. Remember that the aspect doesn't have to complicate the PC directly; if it complicates the life of someone he cares about, that works. If an aspect doesn't touch any of your PCs, directly or indirectly, then it's a wasted aspect.

Once you come up with aspects, make sure that everyone around the table understands the intent behind each aspect. One fun way to do this is to go around the table and have people come up with examples of how an aspect would be invoked or compelled. Of course, the GM might want to keep some aspects to herself for now; that's okay, too.

Don't be afraid to reword or rewrite a theme or threat to turn it into a good aspect, but try not to change its basic meaning or replace it with something totally new. If you absolutely have to do that, make sure that all the bits—faces, relationships, etc.—that rely on that aspect still work.

This also represents the final bit of work you'll do on your city sheets. The Locations City Sheet and the High Level City Sheet both have room for recording these aspects.

Theme Aspects

Turning themes into aspects is sometimes straightforward, but they'll usually need some rewording to focus in a particular direction. The "If he's a politician, he's mobbed up" example from earlier could become There's No Honest Politician (if the point is about the politicians themselves) or Can't Trust Anyone in City Hall (if the point is about trust)—an aspect that's punchy and to the point.

Some themes are a bit more work to turn into aspects that the GM can use to compel and drive the story, like "If the Beta Alpha Chis want it, they get it." With these, you'll have to make a decision about the role the theme has with respect to the PCs and the anticipated story you're going to play in. One way to focus the theme for an aspect would be Beta's Influence Felt Everywhere (for a more conspiratorial vibe), and another would be No One Says No to the Betas (for more of a street-level fear vibe). Both of those should suggest more ways to use that theme to influence the story than the initial idea does.

Our third example above, "If a pretty girl wanders alone at night, don't expect to see her again," is another case where the aspect is challenging to use as-is. It's hard to see how to use that aspect to compel the PCs, or how they could invoke the aspect for their benefit. If you're going for a sense of fear and defeatism, an aspect like Devoid of Hope encapsulates the right feeling. It doesn't explicitly address the theme described; but thanks to the collaborative process, everyone knows where that aspect came from and the context for it. On the other hand, if you're going for a bit more action in your game, something more in-your-face like Nowhere Is Safe When the Sun Is Down is a great aspect—and it covers the theme in a very different way.

Threat Aspects

Making aspects out of threats is a tricky exercise—aspects made out of threats are often, frankly, kind of lousy aspects. Luckily, you won't need to worry about this if you've used the threats to create great NPC adversaries ready to cause trouble for the PCs. And remember that not every threat needs to be an aspect—if you're stumped, pass and move on.

Let's explore ways to turn some of the examples from earlier into things you can use in your game.

With the threat "A new wizard is breaking the rules of the magical authorities," you might get aspects from the motivation of that threat and how the threat is starting to impact the city's supernatural community. Everyone Is a Suspect might be a good aspect if the identity of the threat is unknown. Or maybe there's an aspect the wizard seems to constantly benefit from, like A Season of Raging Storms.

Overarching threats like "The vampires are expanding their territory into this city" can be turned into aspects by looking at how that threat has started impacting the city or location. No One Crosses Madame Raquel would be a good aspect for either a more political or more fear-themed story. If you're looking to play up the specific impact rather than the cause, perhaps they're expanding their territory through the drug market, thus giving us Overwhelming Drug Epidemic. As an added bonus, a face suggests itself here—a vampire, like this Madame Raquel, or maybe a mortal middleman dealer.

Then we get to the really weird threats, like "Faeries are using this city in their machinations." Hopefully, when you come up with a threat like this, you have a sense of how to use it. At minimum, the local supernatural community will likely help us out with Supernatural Community on Edge and Suspicious. Or an event has already happened that's heralded this threat, like a heat wave that is more than the mortal inhabitants can cope with (for Sparks Fly During This Heat Wave).

But again, if a threat has a good face that will provide plenty of opposition for the PCs, you don't also need to make it an aspect.

Stat Your NPCs

It's also time to generate stat blocks for your NPCs. You can do a full stat block for them if you wish, or you can jot down some general notes and use the quick character generation rules from Character Creation. It's not vital that they're all detailed out to the last point of refresh, but at least have enough that when the PCs meet them the GM won't have to hold up play for five minutes while she generates stats for them. Sometimes all that's needed is a couple of aspects and a few relevant skill levels.

Fill In Your City Sheets

Once you have all of this done, you can fill out the city's sheets properly, making enough copies for everyone who wants one.

Wrapping It Up

Your city might be finalized in the sense that you're about ready to play with it, but nothing is carved in stone. A static city is a city where nothing happens—the city, as well as its locations and NPCs, will advance just like the PCs do.

This is another one of those obvious things that's worth mentioning often anyway: don't be constrained by the city sheet you have right now. It's a guide to building a great story, not a straightjacket. You should not feel for one second like you need to live with a bad decision you made during city creation. If something just isn't working, change it. If altering a detail will create an awesome situation or plot hook, alter it. However, remember that details the group created collaboratively should be changed collaboratively, too—once the players feel ownership over some detail, the GM should be careful about arbitrarily altering it.

Speaking of the GM, it's a very good idea for her to keep any notes she came up with during city creation, even the stuff that didn't make it onto the sheet. It's very likely that there are some real gems in there—hold onto these for use in immediate tweaks, future plot arcs, and city advancement.

Once you have a city, a stable of NPCs and locations to house them, and an intrepid band of PCs, it's time to start telling a story.

Non-City Games

You might have a really neat idea for a game that doesn't revolve around a city—such as a ragtag alliance of supernaturals who fix imbalances in the world, a group of friends taking a road-trip across America to help out people in need, or perhaps a globetrotting wizard strike force. In those cases, it might seem like this method of city creation won't help you, but fear not! We have you covered.

To make this chapter work for you, just scale it up. Start by thinking about where your game will take place—that's your "city." The supernatural world is a vast space, but if your whole game pretty much takes place there, then that's your starting point. The same thing goes for a game centered on globetrotting (where your "city" is the world) or something a bit more regional (such as "along Interstate 80" for our road-trip idea).

Once you've decided where your game will take place, briefly discuss it using the "Vancouver Method." Come up with three threats and themes, just like you would with a city. Since the game doesn't entirely take place in the PC's backyards and favorite haunts, the themes and threats should focus more strongly on the PC group. A threat is either hunting the PCs or is why the PCs are traveling. Themes focus on issues like why the PCs continue this life of traveling around, when most people would prefer to settle down.

Once you have your themes and threats, look over the various sections in "Getting a High-Level View," replacing "the city" with your setting concept. For some concepts, figuring out things like who cares about this place and who wants to rock the boat will make sense. But there will likely be some sections that just don't apply to your concept. Talk it over with the group; if everyone in the group feels like one doesn't work for your concept, skip that part and move on. Try not to skip more than one or two if you can help it, as those answers provide great material for the GM.

Next come locations. Just as you scaled up the idea of "city" to cover a large area, you'll want to scale the idea of "location" to something larger than just a neighborhood or point of interest. What constitutes a location will greatly depend again on your concept. Talk about where you want to set the action and intrigue in your game. A game in the supernatural world could talk about very general locations ("The World of Faerie," maybe some places of your own creation, like "The Demonic Marches") or specific places (The Capital of Faerie).

A road-trip game could have all sorts of stops on the way—big cities to small towns to barren landmarks—and would probably benefit from more locations than normal, since the PCs are unlikely to revisit one after leaving. Map out your trip and pick some places that look promising. It's fine to have the occasional long stretch of empty road—many an adventure has started because someone has run out of gas…

The thing to keep in mind with these locations is that, like with scaling up cities, your troubles and themes need to fit much more closely to what the PCs are doing. Themes and threats that don't directly tie into the PCs still work in a city-based game because the PCs live and work around the effects of those themes and threats—they can't avoid them forever. With a larger-scope game, the PCs can very easily just move on to a new place. So, the threats and themes you come up with for the locations should tie into some reason why the group is there and why they wouldn't just pack up and leave.

Just remember The Golden Rule of City Creation: if you get stumped, move on and let the GM deal with it later. If coming up with a theme, trouble or face for a location seems particularly difficult, skip it. The scale of your concept is much broader than a city, so don't work too hard in trying to fit all the ideas in. Just run with what works.

On-The-Fly City Creation

So, if all that above seems like a lot of work—and for some people, it will—we have another way to go about this. However, it's going to be a bit more work during play for the GM, as she'll have to make up all sorts of stuff in the moment that you would have otherwise come up with beforehand. Still, it's an option, and a pretty useful one if you want to try playing this game in one evening.

First, come up with your city. Talk about it for a few minutes, as we mention in "Choose Your City." You may also want to refer to "The Vancouver Method."

Second, pick a single theme or threat for the city. Just one—that'll be the focus of the first session of play. You'll need to make that an aspect, as mentioned in "Finalize Your City". If you're having some difficulty here, we have a few generic examples on the following page to get you started.

Third, stop! You're done with making your city, for now. Go and make characters, if you haven't already, and get to playing!

Later, after you're done playing and if you're going to continue this campaign in the future, maybe you'll want to sit down and do the rest of city creation. If you don't feel it's necessary, don't bother! But we recommend it, because it'll give you more things to play with, more directions to take the game, and more points where the player characters (and thus the players) can feel a sense of accomplishment and change in the world.

Depending on the play environment, the GM may come completely prepared with a city and initial aspect, and just pitch that idea to the group rather than built it collaboratively. That's fine, but we hope you'll take time together as a group to build the city later.

13   OPEN GAME LICENSE Version 1.0a

The following text is the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. and is Copyright 2000 Wizards of the Coast, Inc (“Wizards”). All Rights Reserved.

  1. Definitions: (a)”Contributors” means the copyright and/or trademark owners who have contributed Open Game Content; (b)”Derivative Material” means copyrighted material including derivative works and translations (including into other computer languages), potation, modification, correction, addition, extension, upgrade, improvement, compilation, abridgment or other form in which an existing work may be recast, transformed or adapted; (c) “Distribute” means to reproduce, license, rent, lease, sell, broadcast, publicly display, transmit or otherwise distribute; (d)”Open Game Content” means the game mechanic and includes the methods, procedures, processes and routines to the extent such content does not embody the Product Identity and is an enhancement over the prior art and any additional content clearly identified as Open Game Content by the Contributor, and means any work covered by this License, including translations and derivative works under copyright law, but specifically excludes Product Identity. (e) “Product Identity” means product and product line names, logos and identifying marks including trade dress; artifacts; creatures characters; stories, storylines, plots, thematic elements, dialogue, incidents, language, artwork, symbols, designs, depictions, likenesses, formats, poses, concepts, themes and graphic, photographic and other visual or audio representations; names and descriptions of characters, spells, enchantments, personalities, teams, personas, likenesses and special abilities; places, locations, environments, creatures, equipment, magical or supernatural abilities or effects, logos, symbols, or graphic designs; and any other trademark or registered trademark clearly identified as Product identity by the owner of the Product Identity, and which specifically excludes the Open Game Content; (f) “Trademark” means the logos, names, mark, sign, motto, designs that are used by a Contributor to identify itself or its products or the associated products contributed to the Open Game License by the Contributor (g) “Use”, “Used” or “Using” means to use, Distribute, copy, edit, format, modify, translate and otherwise create Derivative Material of Open Game Content. (h) “You” or “Your” means the licensee in terms of this agreement.
  2. The License: This License applies to any Open Game Content that contains a notice indicating that the Open Game Content may only be Used under and in terms of this License. You must affix such a notice to any Open Game Content that you Use. No terms may be added to or subtracted from this License except as described by the License itself. No other terms or conditions may be applied to any Open Game Content distributed using this License.
  3. Offer and Acceptance: By Using the Open Game Content You indicate Your acceptance of the terms of this License.
  4. Grant and Consideration: In consideration for agreeing to use this License, the Contributors grant You a perpetual, worldwide, royalty- free, non-exclusive license with the exact terms of this License to Use, the Open Game Content.
  5. Representation of Authority to Contribute: If You are contributing original material as Open Game Content, You represent that Your Contributions are Your original creation and/or You have sufficient rights to grant the rights conveyed by this License.
  6. Notice of License Copyright: You must update the COPYRIGHT NOTICE portion of this License to include the exact text of the COPYRIGHT NOTICE of any Open Game Content You are copying, modifying or distributing, and You must add the title, the copy- right date, and the copyright holder’s name to the COPYRIGHT NOTICE of any original Open Game Content you Distribute.
  7. Use of Product Identity: You agree not to Use any Product Identity, including as an indication as to compatibility, except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of each element of that Product Identity. You agree not to indicate compatibility or co-adaptability with any Trademark or Registered Trademark in conjunction with a work containing Open Game Content except as expressly licensed in another, independent Agreement with the owner of such Trademark or Registered Trademark. The use of any Product Identity in Open Game Content does not constitute a challenge to the ownership of that Product Identity. The owner of any Product Identity used in Open Game Content shall retain all rights, title and interest in and to that Product Identity.
  8. Identification: If you distribute Open Game Content You must clearly indicate which portions of the work that you are distrib- uting are Open Game Content.
  9. Updating the License: Wizards or its designated Agents may publish updated versions of this License. You may use any autho- rized version of this License to copy, modify and distribute any Open Game Content originally distributed under any version of this License.
  10. Copy of this License: You MUST include a copy of this License with every copy of the Open Game Content You Distribute.
  11. Use of Contributor Credits: You may not market or advertise the Open Game Content using the name of any Contributor unless You have written permission from the Contributor to do so.
  12. Inability to Comply: If it is impossible for You to comply with any of the terms of this License with respect to some or all of the Open Game Content due to statute, judicial order, or governmental regulation then You may not Use any Open Game Material so affected.
  13. Termination: This License will terminate automatically if You fail to comply with all terms herein and fail to cure such breach within 30 days of becoming aware of the breach. All sublicenses shall survive the termination of this License.
  14. Reformation: If any provision of this License is held to be unenforceable, such provision shall be reformed only to the extent necessary to make it enforceable.

Open Game License v 1.0 © 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

Fudge System 1995 version © 1992-1995 by Steffan O’Sullivan, © 2005 by Grey Ghost Press, Inc.; Author Steffan O’Sullivan.

FATE (Fantastic Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment) © 2003 by Evil Hat Productions LLC; Authors Robert Donoghue and Fred Hicks.

Spirit of the Century © 2006, Evil Hat Productions LLC. Authors Robert Donoghue, Fred Hicks, and Leonard Balsera.

The Living City © 2011, Evil Hat Productions LLC.