Author Topic: Locations - Could city building use an intermediary sheet?  (Read 1027 times)

Offline theDwarf

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Locations - Could city building use an intermediary sheet?
« on: January 24, 2012, 05:20:16 PM »
Hello.  I was working on designing my own city and I noticed something.  There are two city sheets in the game, the High Level sheet and the Locations sheet.  That's it.

That may be sufficient for some, possibly even most, but I an into real estate and thus I also identify neighborhoods.  Therefore I created an intermediary sheet that allows for the grouping of locations into neighborhoods, districts (wards, community areas, whatever), municipalities, and townships.  The reason is that most sufficiently large metropolitan areas are actually made up of a sequence of other areas that are often grouped together, each having unique features, threats and so forth.  By adding an extra layer I feel I have a better view of locations, NPCs and how they tie together.  I will start with an example of why I think and added sheet is useful ...  and given most have read Dresden Files I will use Chicago as an example:
  • In the book Harry mentions "The Loop" community area (aka official designated community area 32), which is the main business district and includes locations such as the Art Institute, Carson Pirie Scott, Chicago Board of Trade, McCormick Place, Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower, which had its own zip code), Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park etc, and is actually a collection of 5 neighborhoods, including the main area known as "the Loop".
  • The Field Museum is also referenced, but that is just one location in the 57 acre Museum Campus (aka, the SE corner of Grant Park), which also includes the Shedd Aquarium and the Alder Planetarium ... so is it one location, three separate locations, or four?
  • Rush Street ... it isn't just one location, but in a way it is.

I could go on with many more examples (I used to work in Chicago) but I think people get the picture.  Most Locations are conceived as a single place:  Harry's Apartment, Harry's Office, the Field Museum, Buckingham Fountain, etc. But some areas are also collections of other areas (Museum Campus, Grant Park and The Loop being great examples as Grant Park is east of The Loop and contains Museum Campus as well as other named parks and areas it is considered part of the Loop Community Area (Community Area 32) said community area does NOT include Museum Campus).

Due to such areas like that existing in real life I felt the Locations sheet did not capture the essence of a city as a collection of districts that in turn are collections of neighborhoods which are collections of locations.  Each level has different people (neighborhood watch captains, aldermen, police & fire stations and their personnel etc.) that the players may need to interact with.  By limiting it to just Locations and High Level all that layering of the middle ground is either lost or more easily overlooked, IMHO, thus allowing for a disconnect for players.  Yeah, I am a structure type of GM.

  I have attached a JPG image of the PDF I created.
I hope people find it useful and if Jim's people or the DF RPG people want a copy of the PDF feel free to contact me.
-D.M.Zwerg
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Offline Becq

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Re: Locations - Could city building use an intermediary sheet?
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2012, 01:28:41 AM »
For purposes of the city sheets, you might want to broaden your definition of 'location'.  Here's how YS37 describes it: "There are two general types of locations: neighborhoods and points of interest."  I think you are focusing on locations as "points of interest".  So in DFRPG terms (or at least, my perception thereof), a location could potentially be anything from a hot dog vendor's push cart (which might not even be in the same place the next time the characters visit it) all the way up to a large swath of the city that shares a common theme (or themes).  And there's no reason why locations can't be contained geographically within other locations if there is something interesting about each.

Of course if if feels more 'right' to use a more 'organized' tiering, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing so...

Offline theDwarf

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Re: Locations - Could city building use an intermediary sheet?
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2012, 06:37:14 AM »
For purposes of the city sheets, you might want to broaden your definition of 'location'.  Here's how YS37 describes it: "There are two general types of locations: neighborhoods and points of interest."  I think you are focusing on locations as "points of interest"

That is what it states about locations, but the Location sheet itself has little if any space to actually note the connections (three description lines only, for a description and list).  That is not a lot of space as some NBHDs may start to hit 7+ locations (look at Grant Park in Chicago as an example, then include Soldier Field) in which case the standard sheet will quickly become overwhelmed.  By separating the concepts of location & neighborhood and creating custom sheets more space can be provided to allow for better definition of neighborhoods (possibly even only 1 entry per column for NBHDs rather than the 3x3 locations has, allowing for a rough map or such).

Another idea for Locations would be 3x5 cards.

Just thoughts to try to make city building a little easier :)
-D.M.Zwerg
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Offline Sanctaphrax

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Re: Locations - Could city building use an intermediary sheet?
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2012, 09:37:32 PM »
I like what I see, though I don't expect to use it. I generally don't need or want such strong structure.

However, I plan to steal that "threat rating" thing.

Offline Becq

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Re: Locations - Could city building use an intermediary sheet?
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2012, 10:15:15 PM »
That is what it states about locations, but the Location sheet itself has little if any space to actually note the connections (three description lines only, for a description and list).  That is not a lot of space as some NBHDs may start to hit 7+ locations (look at Grant Park in Chicago as an example, then include Soldier Field) in which case the standard sheet will quickly become overwhelmed.  By separating the concepts of location & neighborhood and creating custom sheets more space can be provided to allow for better definition of neighborhoods (possibly even only 1 entry per column for NBHDs rather than the 3x3 locations has, allowing for a rough map or such).

Another idea for Locations would be 3x5 cards.

Just thoughts to try to make city building a little easier :)
All of which work.  Another option would be to have paper write-ups of all of the extra details you'd like to keep track off, then have the location sheet refer to your 'master document'.  And if you'd like to have a stronger geographical link between locations, you might want to consider going out a buying a street map (or nab a Thomas Brothers for your city, or spend a lot of quality time with GoogleMaps -- which adds another dimension with the aerial photos!), then drawing out your locations on it.  For example, you could mark out rough neighborhood boundaries with a marker and put dots where points of interest are (ie, McAnally's Pub) -- including a 'location ID' refering back to your location card and/or document.  That way your group can get a better feel for how close two gang's turfs are, or how long a drive it is between McAnally's and Billy Borden's place.  And it answers your need for connectedness, too.

I think that the reason this isn't suggested by default in the rules for city creation is that its a lot more detail than most games feel the need for (and might make city creation look more than a little intimidating).  A few sentences on the location card are enough to get a game going, but you definitely shouldn't feel as though you have to stop there!