Saturday, April 20, 2019

Movers and Shakers

The City of Brass by stephengarrett1019
The City of Brass, by stephengarrett1019 on deviantart

Cities, towns, and villages all should be in perpetual motion, with more going on than just a few shops and quest-giving NPCs. Entire campaigns could never leave a single sprawling metropolis, and I've always wanted to run a game that meshes citywide intrigue with more classic dungeon-crawling through forgotten urban areas. This is the first of hopefully many posts that set up resources and rules for a citycrawl campaign, where thieves and scholars and butchers rub shoulders with mad scientists and snooty nobles, in the vein of New Crobuzon, or Sigil, or the City of Brass, or Ankh-Morpork. These tables are for faction generation, to create an ecosystem of power players who will pursue their own goals and catch the PCs in the middle of their schemes.

A village may have two or three of these as power players; perhaps they are individuals, or emissaries from larger nearby organizations. A town may have four or five, many of whom are their own local talent. Cities have entire social ecologies, five to eight or even all of the below in the greatest ecumenopoli of the empire.

Who are they?
1. Guards
2. Church
3. A Noble Family
4. Witches
5. Thieves
6. Scholars
7. Adventurers
8. Diplomats
9. Outcasts
10. Mages
11. Soldiers
12. Entertainers
13. Downtrodden
14. A Political Party
15. Laborers
16. Bureaucrats
17. Merchants
18. Artisans
19. Farmers
20. Cult

1. keep the peace in the area
2. have a deep-seated propensity for violence
3. run a school in the area that trains people in their craft
4. are knee-deep in the supernatural; that may mean everyone is a demihuman, or a vampire, or perhaps they all know at least a little magic
5. are the de-facto spokespeople for the public, whether the public likes it or not
6. are closely allied with another faction, to the point where many of their members are part of both organizations
7. are trying to advance a surprisingly progressive agenda, to the chagrin of established powers
8. follow an obscure and binding code of ethics that's more important to them than personal power and riches
9. secretly call the shots from behind the scenes. While the public knows of their existence, they're assumed to be a minor group that doesn't do much of anything
10. are busy falling from grace with incredible speed, with nothing left to lose. They'll try anything for a last gasp at relevance
11. are a criminal enterprise with no moral scruples and the everlasting enmity of the authorities
12. are the pride of the area, and the common-folk sing their praises. Getting on their bad side will make you a persona-non-grata among all who don't share your grudge
13. are led by a powerful being like a dragon or a beholder, and while this is not yet common knowledge they will make it known when the time is right
14. are part of the government of the area
15. are actually secretly a group of [who they are]. This is known to mid-level members of the faction and up, but not initiates or the public
16. are new to the area and making waves, pissing off the existing power players by their mere existence
17. are ancient and proud, and can trace their roots to the founding of the area. They have elaborate rituals and codes, the purposes of which are only half-remembered
18. know about a coming crisis and are using all their resources to prepare for it
19. want to be left alone and become a self-sufficient power in their own right
20. have a grand plan that is about to come to fruition, at the expense of every other faction in the area. The others know this, and are looking for any opportunity to stop it.

They want.../They have... (roll a d20 for each)
1. a large private base of operations, either well-defended or secret
2. a disproportionate amount of members
3. the key to survival in the face of a clear and present threat
4. debts of the other factions, that they will use for leverage and blackmail
5. removed powerful opposing individuals and have proof that they can do it again
6. exclusive access to locations and individuals that have personal value to the faction
7. connections with similar organizations across the region
8. the ears of rich and powerful unaffiliated individuals in the region
9. a truly fantastic amount of riches
10. ubiquity; everyone interacts with this faction on a daily or weekly basis
11. secrets that they can use to blackmail others, or advance their cause through unconventional avenues
12. magic or technology that is not fully understood in the current era, that they use with reckless impunity
13. a cache of rare resources that they need for their public duties, and makes them far more effective
14. prestige and esteem, the respect of the public and other factions
15. a monopoly on a local utility, service, or resource
16. local allies who they can trust to come to their side in coming times of crisis
17. undercover agents in other factions to report on their activities and sabotage their plans
18. a charismatic leader totally committed to their cause
19. progress towards their leader's world-changing goals
20. your personal allegiance, by threat or by choice, whether you like it or not


  1. Nice! All the results I've generated so far all sounded like real fun hooks.

  2. Great stuff! I linked some people here on my blog this week. Keep up the great work!


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