"...but there is a price to be paid for all good places,
and a price that all good places have to pay."
-- Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere
Once upon a time, I fell in love with Damnation City. The book provides ideas for setting design from the ground up, and I spent a lot of time pouring over its pages. But I encountered two major problems that got in the way of using it: first, there was no way to quickly reference all of the options; and secondly, there was no guidance on how to organize details as you chose them.
To that end, I've created two different resources that share the same location-building information: a Google Sheets file and random generator files that can be used at RPGChartMaker, a free resource for gamers. If you use any of these tools, I'd love to hear how they worked for you or any problems you encountered; I'm always open to constructive feedback and happy to fix any errors.
This workbook provides character sheets that can be filled out for cities, neighborhoods, and buildings. There's also a generic, simplified sheet to use on the fly and sheet full of suggestions, in case you get stuck. They reflect the modern era but can be edited for others. There are no game mechanics, so they can be used for WoD and other games. The entire workbook can be downloaded in Google Sheets (save a copy to your Google Drive or download it from the File menu). This is also a handy way to record the results you get from my RPG ChartMaker generators.
Below is a preview of the worksheets. If you find errors, want to suggest additions, or have other feedback to help me make the worksheets even better, please feel free to contact me.
I've also taken all of the data from the worksheets and made three random generator files that you can load and use at the RPGChartMaker website. The first generator covers the basics of a location, such as age, reputation, and population. The second file covers extras that can be nice to know about a place, such as historic events, climate, and important buildings. The last one allows you to generate NPC groups (local organizations, cults, and so on).
Here's an example of what the generator looks like:
The Location Basics Generator starts with genre, age, reputation, and personality traits (Virtue and Vice). Reputation and specialty establish how people generally feel about the area and what it's known for. Genre, strength, and weakness are fun ways to make a place distinctive. Genre is likely to affect what the area looks like and common interests of the people who live there. You can also generate population size and wealth, government, security, law enforcement, and general crime level. Access, repair, impression, sanitation, lighting, water source, and streets round out the options.
The Location Extras Generator digs a little deeper. You can learn about the place's origin and recent events. Develop a city or neighborhood further by spinning up a landmark, notable district, and important buildings. Notable rooms and shops develop buildings. A city's major industry and shortage, technology level, and mass transit can lead to many plots. The extras generator includes climate, terrain, and natural feature as well.
There's also a Generator for NPC Groups. Why? Because many locations have organizations tied to them, and knowing which gatherings exist can help you figure out who's likely to be around.
When you randomly generate a whole bunch of aspects at once, you may get some results you don't like or that don't make sense together. When that happens, you can ignore the results and figure them out later, choose another result in the same category, or you can challenge yourself to explain why the outlier exists. The choice is up to you!
Generally, the more unique a place is, the more the people in it will reflect its Virtue and Vice in their attitudes and responses. You don't have to worry about the personality of the city, neighborhood, and building at the same time, however. Highlight the city's traits in one scene and the neighborhood's in another. Every now and then, show how they interact, such as building vs. neighborhood or city vs. character.
You may not need these generators right now, but don't forget about them. You never know when you'll be strapped for time or when you'll have trouble getting your creative juices flowing. Trying something different, like a random generator, can spark your imagination and get you moving again.
Resources are free for personal use; please do not offer them for sale or claim them as your own work.
Please do not repost material elsewhere; link to this site instead. Thank you, and happy gaming!