Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Under Portown: Placing Urban Main Features

After seeing the sheer variety of creature and costume that crawl through this stinking labyrinth of a city, I am beginning to put credence to the rumors that those I seek can be found here.
— The Journal of Sho Zo-ton from Afar
After mapping out the general layout of Portown, it is now time to start placing the Main Features of each hex. What I really like about this approach is that it can accommodate both concrete and abstract ideas. For example, take a look at the Main Features of hexes 1 and 2:

The Port

  1. Port Master (3 in 6)
  2. Northbound Ship (3 in 6)*
  3. Southbound Ship (2 in 6)*
  4. Guard Towers (2 in 6)‡
  5. Smuggler’s Alley (1 in 6)
  6. Lost
* 2 in 6 chance that the ship has a non-human crew; roll a d6: 1-3 = elf, 4-5 = dwarf, 6 = humanoid
‡ Roll a d6; 1-3 = West Tower, 4-6 = East Tower

Olde Town

  1. The Insurance House (3 in 6) — a meeting place where merchants can buy insurance on their shipments north in case of loss due to pirates, monsters or natural disaster.
  2. The Inklings Club & Collectibles (3 in 6) — a high-end gentlemen’s club where culture from around the world is discussed and experienced. Membership requires a donation of a rare and valuable object that then becomes part of the club’s collection.
  3. The Bathhouse (2 in 6) — a remnant from when the Classical Civilization dominated the area. It is a spa with both salt and fresh water baths and servants that are paid not only for their massages, but for their silence. Many a political, business and criminal agreement is rumored to have been brokered within its walls.
  4. The Ancient Corner Stone (2 in 6) — this strange stone is covered in runes from a long lost language, believed to have been used by the ancients. Scholars agree that it simply states the founding of a small colony. Rumors speak of something far more sinister.
  5. Nor’Ar the Alchemist (1 in 6) — Nor’Ar is a famed alchemist capable of creating rare and wondrous potions; however, he is very exclusive and expensive.
  6. Lost

As is plain, exploring the Port is a far more abstract and dynamic experience than exploring Olde Town. This, of course, is accomplished by placing abstract Main Features in The Port hex and very concrete Main Features in the Olde Town hex. Thus, not only does each area have its own unique feel, but the character of the entire city begins to take shape.

Note how easy this all is: I merely need a small Random Table with five entries with the sixth option of “Lost” to get to a roll of d6.

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