See an example based on the show Black Spot (no big spoilers)
Whether you're designing an entirely fictional city or putting your own spin on a neighborhood, you need a place to start working. And if you're going to keep track of all the details that develop over time, you'll also need a way to record everything and stay organized. There are many books and sites out there which cover inspiring ideas for worldbuilding, but I have yet to find a source that helps gather the information into an easy, orderly format that can be quickly updated. That's why I created a set of Google Worksheets to give a basic layout that can be used for nearly any place in your game. You can make a copy in your Google Drive and begin filling in as much or as little of it as you wish. You can also fully edit your copy, adding or deleting fields, moving sections around, or changing the color scheme.
There are 4 levels provided for your creations currently: city, neighborhood, building, or simplified. The sheets are not specialized for any particular supernatural group but can easily be adjusted to reflect vampires, changelings, or other groups that are important in your game. They do not include game mechanics, although you can add modifiers from Damnation City, if you'd like. If you want to create your own city as the setting for your game, you can cover a lot of ground in the worksheet. Even if you want to use a city that exists, you can take notes on how your version of it is different. If you are a player whose character is in control of a building or neighborhood, you can fill in some of the ideas you have about the location and send the workbook to your Storyteller for collaboration. Or you could simply use the sheets to develop locations for your fictional writing.
I filled out a sample sheet based on the Netflix Show Black Spot because it inspired me as a WoD setting; it is a good example of how the worksheets can look (yes, you can even add pictures, as the example above shows). Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think of all this, particularly if you have used any of the worksheets. I am always open to constructive feedback.
The basic worksheet starts with Names because most places have them, even if it's just a street address, and may gather more monikers as time goes by. It's normal for people to refer to Atlanta, but could seem strange indeed when a local vampire refers to that city as Terminus, its old nickname, or Marthasville, its very first name.
While it might seem odd to have a Genre field for a city, neighborhood, or building, consider how different places can be, even in close proximity. A secret laboratory could have a sci fi bent, since it is full of futuristic equipment and designs, even in the midst of a modern city. There could be a historic neighborhoods where citizens fight to save and restore old buildings to their former glory, turning homes into tourist attractions and unwittingly preserving bygone secrets. The next neighborhood over, however, might be dedicated to the latest in entertainment: huge cinema complexes, rows of sleek eateries, and nightclubs with the best lighting. It could have the comedy genre to reflect the focus on fun.
Era and Age help to define when your location is being visited and how much of a history it has. Your game might start in 1986, for instance, but if the vampire PCs fall into torpor, they could emerge in 2001 or some other year. You might have to recreate the city to reflect how time has passed and how things have shifted. If you are starting your own city from scratch, you do not need to know all of its history right away; picking an age category can give you a rough idea of how long it has been around.
Reputation is a quick measure of how other areas feel about the one you're defining. And when you think about it, you'll realize that places have reputations like people do. Locals know where the dangerous parts of town are; they also probably find a neighborhood to be stuck up, not all that, or absolutely amazing. Finally, Virtue and Vice can serve as guidelines for everything else. They might be hidden or displayed proudly, but Virtue and Vice can color everything from what the place offers to the types of people who live and work there. As such, I have placed them at the top, early on in the creation process.
The next section sets up History and Mystery, beginning with Recent Events. These are occurrences in local memories and are likely to still affect the residents; they can be for good or for iill. It can also be a good idea to figure out some basic things that the place Desires. Yes, a place can have needs that go beyond material supplies, and those who dwell within it will feel the pressure of those Desires.
I have a section to cover a place's Inhabitants, starting with Population density. This is given in descriptive terms rather than hard numbers, but Storytellers can enter estimates, as needed. You can add racial or ethnic breakdowns, as well as supernatural types and their numbers. It's not always a big deal to talk about the local Government, but if you're running a political game, or if the real power structure varies from what's on the surface, then government becomes key. The overall level of Security not only affects how people act or feel in the area, but can serve as a guide to bonuses or penalties to Larceny and related rolls.
The next major section of my worksheet deals with the place as a physical thing. The Access field covers how often outsiders find their way to the area, and Repair is a quick measure of how nice the environs are. The Impression of a place is a broad idea of how its inhabitants come across; after all, rude locals can take the shine out of gorgeous buildings. Sanitation can play into how the location is described, while Lighting, Water, and Streets might matter for tracking rolls and chases. Many places have at least one man-made Landmark, and the District Type is good to know. Climate, Terrain, and Natural Features set the scene for the larger geographical picture.
Since there are many types of Buildings that can be present and useful, I have provided lists of them to give quick ideas. The same follows for Interior Areas, which can range from one Room to enough rooms to fill a mansion.
For the larger view, you can figure out the major Industries in the area as well as its Shortages. Deciding the basic Technology Level can help establish how present and expensive tech is in plain sight. Mass Transit and Area Services can make living there considerably easier or worse, depending on how widespread and reliable they are.
Every place, like each person, can be menaced by Threats from within or without. Natural Disasters are easy to forget about in a roleplaying game but can provide great detours and difficulties. Downturns, either older or starting to brew, will color conversations, motivations, and stories in the location. More specialized threats are given, as well, since they are bound to come up in a game.
Locally based groups round out the worksheet. Church organizations, gangs, and cults can become allies or enemies of the player characters who stick around. Some groups have a lot of Age and Influence; others have little Power and a laughable Reputation. Virtue, Vice, and Goal can quickly help you determine how a group will act (or refuse to act), and Key NPCs have space so that these groups have faces that can be interacted with.
Every major section ends with a space for your Notes because it's likely that you'll want to add specifics, reminders, or other things.
Whichever sheet you use is open to becoming what you need it to be. You can leave some fields blank, rewrite them, or write your own answers instead of picking from the supplied drop-down menus. The menus can help you generate descriptions or measures swiflty, and might offer possibilities you haven't considered. The different lists the menus use are stored in and accessed from the Data sheet; please do not delete the Data sheet, or none of the lists will work. You can add, change, or remove any of the lists or individual choices inside the Data sheet to your heart's content, however. Each sheet has minimal formatting for easy printing and altering.
A note of warning: You can cut and paste information from one sheet to another in the same workbook in Google Sheets but the information in the drop-down lists will not transfer between different workbooks. You can make another copy of the whole thing and begin anew, or download it as an Excel file, which will retain the lists.