CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Heart of the City - Urban Adventuring

Tabletop roleplaying games like D&D and Pathfinder have traditionally been comprised of dungeon delving and wilderness survival: Rangers that spend their lives living off the land. Knights that make haste from the safety of the castle to fight an evil that threatens his kingdom. Wizards picking their way through ancient ruins, searching for forgotten spells and lost artifacts. In many, but not all cases, the heroes don’t settle down in one place for long. Even if they build their own keep they tend to stray from it.

There have always been games that take place in cities, including some fantasy games. With those not being the norm, however, newer DMs are sometimes unsure of what to put into their high fantasy urban adventure. To tell the truth I’m still kinda fuzzy on it, but I’ve been trying to lay out some ideas for myself which I will share with you. One of the first steps is finding or creating a city you’d like to play in.

I’m sure game worlds like Fearun and Krynn have had their fair share of cities. I haven’t played Ebberon much, but from what I’ve read it lends itself quite well to urban adventuring. I’ve found it easier as of late to think about urban adventuring on Golarion. With massive cities like Abaslom, Korvosa, Egorian, and Magnimar, the urban adventure seems a lot more tangible, to me at least. One of the tipping points to exploring the cityscape as adventure location for me was the book "Blood of the City." If you haven’t read it, it’s amazing.

What are some of the first steps to building a good city adventure? First off having players that are interested. Once you have that, you need to help them find character options that are geared toward this kind of adventure. Many of the Pathfinder base classes are easily adapted to city life; rogues, swashbucklers, investigators, and Alchemist all lend themselves easily to life in the city. Most of the other class can be adapted as well. Even the usual outdoor nature-based classes have archetypes, such as the urban versions of the barbarian, druid, and ranger, as well as the new alley witch archetype from Heroes of the Streets.

Now that you have the tools for your players to make characters designed for you city-bound campaign, what do you do? Although many people think Pathfinder is only geared toward combat, it can also do a lot for political intrigue. There are many rules sets for lying, bribing, diplomacy, and intimidation that may rarely see the light of day in dungeon crawls, but you can make use of in city adventures. Sense Motive, Gather Information and Knowledge skills are also useful if you are doing an investigative game.

Some plots you might try are a murder mysteries, maybe your players work for the nobility or a town guard and they are sent off to investigate a mysterious death. Political intrigue is always a fun one: Can the players figure out which side is the right one as brothers feud over the seat on the city council that was left vacant by their father’s death? 

One of my favorite stories is the mystical link people can have to the city. Is your city a living breathing organism with a mind of its own that can be touched by those who know how? And what happens when something dark begins to twist the city’s energies to its own needs?

What about the traditional dungeon crawl you may ask? Is there a way I can add some of that to my city-based adventure? Well Fearun had Undermountain in Waterdeep and Korvosa, Magnimar, and Kaer Maga are all built on the bones of far more ancient structures. In expanding an existing but not well documented city in my world building series, I have given the City of Whispering Swords an area that is in ruins and rife with places to explore. There is also the oft used ancient sewer and aqueduct system which you can be used to give your players that underground room-to-room search feel that they would get from a true dungeon.

In cities there is also religion and many divine beings can find a home where people congregate. For Golarion Abadar is the true god of cities and order but he is not the only divine being who takes cities under his purview. The Archdevil Dispater is the Lord of Cities, Prisons, and Rulership, and he can be a very strong presence in any growing town. Calistria and her brothels are also a common sight in many places. Although many of the gods see cities as a way to enforce order, she knows that where groups of people gather there is always chaos. You can find homes for many other gods and divine entities, and they can play as big a role as you need them to.

So now hopefully you have characters designed for city life, or at least willing to adventure there. You also have an idea for plot happening within your city. Maybe you’ve created some catacombs, sewers or buried ruins under the city. You’ve read up on some of the rules you’ll need as well, and you’re ready to go. But since I can’t touch on every subject and city adventures, at least in a fantasy world, are newish to me, why don’t you tell us all what other things we could find or do in a city setting. Have you run a city adventure before? If so how did it go and what did you do?

Have I sparked an interesting in an urban adventure for you? Perhaps you like to show your support for the CRB by becoming a patron. And don’t forget to follow along with the CRB by signing up for email notifications on the side bar and following us on twitter. Stay tuned Friday for the first background for a randomly rolled character of the New Year.

No comments:

Post a Comment