Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Fantasy Sandbox in Detail Part XIX

After a long hiatus the How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox series is going to be finished.

Part XVIII
This is the nineteenth in a series detailing the 34 steps I recommended for making a Fantasy Sandbox Campaign. Today's post will cover part of step 27.
Pick or create 6 or 12 important buildings. Write a paragraph each
One reason for the long gap in time is that my original advice boiled down to “make something up”.  I wanted to write something more concrete than that. So over the next couple of projects and campaigns, I experimented with a variety of methods that helped me to make stuff up.

One thing I found is just how useful random tables are. I said in previous posts that the amount of ideas what we have for a project is a dozen or two, the rest we have to make it up on the fly as we write. A random table can very useful as it is far easier to explain something than it is to make something up out of whole cloth.

So let’s get started. In the last post we came up with a list of 75 buildings for the castle town of Mikva. Out of that list I am going to pick the following.

chandler
finesmith
finesmith
herbalist
jeweler
jeweler
leathercrafter*
legal
merchant
ostler
religious
sailor
scholar      
scholar      
tailor*
tavern        
tavern        
tavern
weaponsmith
weaver*

The ones I marked with an asterisk I am going to make notes on the guild as well as individual NPCs. There are 10 leathercrafters, 8 tailors, and 6 weavers so those will be probably the most important and powerful of the Mikva Guilds.

Next I refine the list with what I know from the description of Mikva
0403 Mikva (castle, town) HumanThis is a small castle town of 800 humans with several dozen Dwarves and Halflings. The castle itself sits on a bluff overlooking the bay. It is the seat of the current Baron of Piall, Argus Gervon. A several trading vessels stop here every week to pick up ingots from Southpoint. Before the fall monsoon season dozens of traders put in at Mikva to attend the Piall Fair. Here the island’s grain, and more importantly wool is traded for goods and supplies needed for the next year.
Currently the King’s Sheriff Tomar Revan is staying at the one of the wealthiest merchants in Mikva; the Honorable Orlon Beras. The Sheriff is currently using offices at the Mikva Trading Hall to conduct his investigation and any other Royal business. There is considerable tension between Baron Argus and the Sheriff.

Finally I will use NBos’ Inspiration Pad Pro 3 to generate some Tavern names.

Revised List
chandler
finesmith
finesmith
herbalist
jeweler
jeweler
leathercrafter*
King’s Sheriff
Mikva Trading Hall
ostler
Temple of Veritas
sailor
scholar      
scholar      
tailor*
The Red Wench (tavern)
The House of Fish (tavern)
The Oaken House (inn)
weaponsmith
weaver

Now for some inspiration from random tables.

Next random table time, I am going to randomly roll the NPC Personality of each of the shops. The tables I found to be the most useful is a combination of the ADnD's NPC personality traits and a table on NPC personality and motivations from Paizo Gamemastery Guide. I coded up both for use with Inspiration Pad Pro which you can download from here.

Raw Results for the NPC Personalities
Chandler
Alignment: chaotic good, Possessions: above average
Age: mature, General: imposing, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: malevolent, Personality: Average: friendly, Disposition: morose,
Nature: hard-hearted, Honesty: scrupulous, Energy: energetic, Morals: immoral, Intellect: average,
Materialism: aesthetic, Bravery: cowardly, Thrift: wastrel, Piety: martyr/zealot, Interests: wines 8 spirits
Background: Military Veteran, Goal: Achieve a higher social rank, Physical: Calloused hands,
Personality: Tosses a coin to make decisions.,
Secrets: Has a secret illness, Reward: Loan you property

Finesmith
Alignment: neutral, Possessions: scant
Age: youthful, General: rough, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: opinionated/contrary, Personality: Average: well-spoken, Disposition: unfeeling/insensitive,
Nature: forgiving, Honesty: deceitful, Energy: normal, Morals: lustful, Intellect: anti-intellectual,
Materialism: greedy, Bravery: craven, Thrift: mean, Piety: reverent, Interests: drugs
Background: Killed someone in self-defense, Goal: Marry a prince/princess, Physical: Homely,
Personality: Polite bus calls attention to it with elaborate bows or other gestures.,
Secrets: Is the bastard child of a noble, Reward: Offer the hand of a relative in marriage

Finesmith
Alignment: neutral evil, Possessions: average
Age: ancient, General: immaculate, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: moody, Personality: Introverted: rude, Disposition: unfeeling/insensitive,
Nature: vengeful, Honesty: average, Energy: normal, Morals: virtuous, Intellect: average,
Materialism: greedy, Bravery: fearless, Thrift: average, Piety: reverent, Interests: politics
Background: Criminal who retired after betraying rest of gang, Goal: Find a better job, Physical: Very hairy,
Personality: Ask rude question without realizing they cause offense,
Secrets: Is a member of a secret local cult, Reward: Sabotage a bridge, road, or something equally important

Herbalist
Alignment: neutral, Possessions: scant
Age: youthful, General: imposing, Sanity: unstable
General Tendencies: malevolent, Personality: Average  Disposition: compassionate/sensitive,
Nature: vengeful, Honesty: very honorable, Energy: normal, Morals: virtuous, Intellect: dull,
Materialism: covetous, Bravery: normal, Thrift: mean, Piety: reverent, Interests: athletics
Background: Pious member of a notorious family, Goal: Find a better job, Physical: Scarred from pox,
Personality: Compulsively wipes or cleans things.,
Secrets: Is secretly related to another NPC, Reward: Take the blame (and punishment) for a minor crime

Jeweler
Alignment: neutral, Possessions: scant
Age: mature, General: dirty, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: altruist, Personality: Extroverted: blustering, Disposition: morose,
Nature: forgiving, Honesty: liar, Energy: energetic, Morals: lustful, Intellect: scheming,
Materialism: avaricious, Bravery: normal, Thrift: spendthrift, Piety: average, Interests: none
Background: Criminal who retired after betraying rest of gang, Goal: Become the recipient of a actual miracle, Physical: Different colored eyes,
Personality: Blames trolls for every trouble he encounters,
Secrets: Has some orc blood in their family, Reward: Look after your home while you are away

Jeweler
Alignment: chaotic good, Possessions: above average
Age: ancient, General: rough, Sanity: unstable
General Tendencies: helpful/kindly, Personality: Extroverted: blustering, Disposition: proudlhaughty,
Nature: soft-hearted, Honesty: deceitful, Energy: lazy, Morals: amoral, Intellect: average,
Materialism: avaricious, Bravery: normal, Thrift: miserly, Piety: average, Interests: gambling
Background: Refugee from land overrun by evil, Goal: Move out of parents' house, Physical: Crack knuckles,
Personality: Give people nicknames or uses terms of endearment,
Secrets: Is an assassin, Reward: Offer the hand of a relative in marriage

leathercrafter*
Alignment: chaotic neutral, Possessions: scant
Age: young, General: rough, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: precise/exacting, Personality: Average: well-spoken, Disposition: even tempered,
Nature: vengeful, Honesty: very honorable, Energy: lazy, Morals: virtuous, Intellect: active,
Materialism: intellectualist, Bravery: normal, Thrift: wastrel, Piety: average, Interests: handicrafts
Background: Outwitted a powerful monster, Goal: Become a hero, Physical: Jolly looking,
Personality: Acts like someone from a lower social class as a sing of solidarity but comes across offensive instead.,
Secrets: Knows how to placate an angry ghost, Reward: Follow someone for you

King’s Sheriff
Alignment: neutral evil, Possessions: superabundant
Age: young, General: dandyish, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: altruist, Personality: Average: friendly, Disposition: even tempered,
Nature: jealous, Honesty: deceitful, Energy: lazy, Morals: aesthetic, Intellect: active,
Materialism: intellectualist, Bravery: fearless, Thrift: mean, Piety: average, Interests: none
Background: Practiced magic before a traumatizing accident, Goal: Find a new home for a mistreated animal, Physical: Double chinned,
Personality: Asks for advice or opinions about very unlikely situations,
Secrets: Is being blackmailed, Reward: Pay for your lodgings

Mikva Trading Hall
Alignment: neutral evil, Possessions: exceptional
Age: mature, General: foppish, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: trusting, Personality: Average: aloof, Disposition: easy going,
Nature: hard-hearted, Honesty: average, Energy: energetic, Morals: normal, Intellect: active,
Materialism: avaricious, Bravery: cowardly, Thrift: wastrel, Piety: average, Interests: armor
Background: Criminal who retired after betraying rest of gang, Goal: Get cured of a disease of affliction, Physical: Pierced ears,
Personality: Delighted by puns and other sorts of work games,
Secrets: Has a secret stash of funds, Reward: Loan you property

Ostler
Alignment: lawful evil, Possessions: scant
Age: mature, General: immaculate, Sanity: unstable
General Tendencies: helpful/kindly, Personality: Average: diplomatic, Disposition: humble,
Nature: jealous, Honesty: very honorable, Energy: energetic, Morals: immoral, Intellect: ponderous,
Materialism: greedy, Bravery: brave, Thrift: spendthrift, Piety: reverent, Interests: athletics
Background: Left at the altar, Goal: Erase past failure with a single dramatic act, Physical: Sneezes a lot,
Personality: Question others about their background in order to determine if they are "suitable",
Secrets: Is a member of a secret local cult, Reward: Organize a festival or other public event

Temple of Veritas
Alignment: neutral, Possessions: average
Age: youthful, General: ragged, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: optimist, Personality: Extroverted: overbearing, Disposition: morose,
Nature: soft-hearted, Honesty: truthful, Energy: normal, Morals: aesthetic, Intellect: brilliant,
Materialism: covetous, Bravery: foolhardy, Thrift: wastrel, Piety: martyr/zealot, Interests: husbandry
Background: Ran for office and suffered a humiliating defeat, Goal: Earn enough money to retire, Physical: Covered in tattoos,
Personality: Name drops constantly,
Secrets: Knows how to get the oracle to answer truthfully, Reward: Boycott one of you rivals or enemies

Sailor
Alignment: lawful evil, Possessions: average
Age: young, General: imposing, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: fanatical/obsessive, Personality: Average: abrasive, Disposition: humble,
Nature: vengeful, Honesty: average, Energy: normal, Morals: lustful, Intellect: average,
Materialism: intellectualist, Bravery: normal, Thrift: spendthrift, Piety: impious, Interests: hunting
Background: Killed someone in self-defense, Goal: Solve a mystery no one else really cares about, Physical: Tall,
Personality: Ask a kobold glove puppet it's opinion at inopportune moments.,
Secrets: Murdered spouse, Reward: Call in an important favor and use it one your behalf

scholar  
Alignment: neutral good, Possessions: superabundant
Age: mature, General: imposing, Sanity: maniacal
General Tendencies: studious, Personality: Introverted: taciturn, Disposition: even tempered,
Nature: forgiving, Honesty: average, Energy: slothful, Morals: normal, Intellect: active,
Materialism: greedy, Bravery: craven, Thrift: wastrel, Piety: iconoclastic, Interests: handicrafts
Background: Once owned an inn that was burnt down by bandits, Goal: Impress a disapproving parent, Physical: Many tattoos,
Personality: Always has a reason why something won't work,
Secrets: has a secret identity, Reward: Pay for your meals
   
scholar 
Alignment: neutral good, Possessions: superabundant
Age: young, General: ragged, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: careless, Personality: Average: hostile, Disposition: compassionate/sensitive,
Nature: hard-hearted, Honesty: truthful, Energy: normal, Morals: virtuous, Intellect: scheming,
Materialism: covetous, Bravery: cowardly, Thrift: miserly, Piety: average, Interests: history
Background: Ran away as a youth and joined the circus., Goal: Travel, Physical: Terrible facial disease,
Personality: Always has a reason why something won't work,
Secrets: Has some orc blood in their family, Reward: Wash or mend your clothes and equipment
     
tailor*
Alignment: neutral good, Possessions: none
Age: mature, General: dandyish, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: foul/barbaric, Personality: Average: abrasive, Disposition: humble,
Nature: soft-hearted, Honesty: scrupulous, Energy: driven, Morals: immoral, Intellect: ponderous,
Materialism: avaricious, Bravery: brave, Thrift: miserly, Piety: average, Interests: legends
Background: Comes from a long line of tanners, Goal: Become a monster, Physical: Winks a lot,
Personality: Refers to self in third person,
Secrets: Knows why no one in the village eats meat anymore., Reward: Sell you goods at a discount

The Red Wench (tavern)
Alignment: lawful neutral, Possessions: average
Age: mature, General: foppish, Sanity: unstable
General Tendencies: precise/exacting, Personality: Average: diplomatic, Disposition: compassionate/sensitive,
Nature: vengeful, Honesty: average, Energy: lazy, Morals: normal, Intellect: average,
Materialism: avaricious, Bravery: brave, Thrift: average, Piety: average, Interests: none
Background: Falsely convicted and escaped from jail., Goal: Get in better shape and learn to fight, Physical: Twitches,
Personality: Give people nicknames or uses terms of endearment,
Secrets: Is an obsessive collector hoarder, Reward: Bury or high something dangerous
   
The House of Fish (tavern)
Alignment: lawful neutral, Possessions: average
Age: mature, General: imposing, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: malevolent, Personality: Average: friendly, Disposition: morose,
Nature: hard-hearted, Honesty: average, Energy: normal, Morals: amoral, Intellect: anti-intellectual,
Materialism: intellectualist, Bravery: normal, Thrift: average, Piety: impious, Interests: books & scrolls
Background: Wanted for serious crime, Goal: Visit the next village, Physical: Covered in pustules,
Personality: Collects small, relatively worthless objects like spoons, salt shaker, or win corks; enthusiastically inspects any encountered and extols their "unique" qualities,
Secrets: Knows command word for a magic item, Reward: Follow someone for you
     
The Oaken House (tavern)
Alignment: lawful good, Possessions: above average
Age: mature, General: non-descript, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: pessimist, Personality: Average: , Disposition: ,
Nature: hard-hearted, Honesty: deceitful, Energy: normal, Morals: lustful, Intellect: scheming,
Materialism: average, Bravery: normal, Thrift: spendthrift, Piety: pious, Interests: community service
Background: Left at the altar, Goal: Solve a murder, Physical: Moustache,
Personality: Says everything in a profound way,
Secrets: Knows why no one in the village eats meat anymore., Reward: Spy on your behalf

Weaponsmith
Alignment: neutral, Possessions: none
Age: young, General: clean, Sanity: unstable
General Tendencies: trusting, Personality: Extroverted: friendly, Disposition: proud/haughty,
Nature: jealous, Honesty: scrupulous, Energy: slothful, Morals: lusty, Intellect: dull,
Materialism: covetous, Bravery: brave, Thrift: miserly, Piety: irreverent, Interests: husbandry
Background: Pledged to keep a fantastic secret, Goal: Learn to gamble, Physical: Bald,
Personality: Complains about smells no one else notices,
Secrets: Knows where a magic item is buried, Reward: Tend your mount

Weaver*
Alignment: neutral, Possessions: scant
Age: ancient, General: ragged, Sanity: normal
General Tendencies: sober, Personality: Average: aloof, Disposition: hot tempered,
Nature: forgiving, Honesty: deceitful, Energy: slothful, Morals: aesthetic, Intellect: anti-intellectual,
Materialism: avaricious, Bravery: fearless, Thrift: mean, Piety: saintly, Interests: none
Background: Killed someone in self-defense, Goal: Find a better job, Physical: One eye,
Personality: Makes up seemingly arbitrary rules etiquette.,
Secrets: Is a paladin working undercover, Reward: Compose a poem praising your prowess

That it for part XIX next is Part XX where I translate the raw work above into actual details.

5 comments:

Charles Saeger said...

First of all, welcome back to this series! It's weird to see something that I used in making my own sandbox at last get an update, but it's welcome and will always help refine things further.

Is there anything you've learnt in the last six years that has clarified or changed your thinking on the first 26 steps?

Rob Conley said...

What changed the most that now I pay attention to how I make the elements that go in to each step. If you asked me then most of my replies would have been a variation of "It comes to me in a dream" or "I sit back, zen out, and then it comes to me."

The main reason the series stalled out was that I realized that people to get more use out of my series that I will need to give them a better tool. Well I think I have a tool that works as a starting point. Which boil down "Use the dozen or so ideas you have first, and a good random set of tables as idea generators." Which leads to "OK what is a good set of random tables."

This is particularly important because the next couple of steps deal with NPCs i.e. people.

Scott Anderson said...

How long, do you think, did it take you to come up with those NPCs and guilds? Do you have random tables for them or some other way of determining their characteristics?

And I'm totally not a robot

AnarchyDice said...

Glad to see the series make a return! When I was getting my first sandbox off the ground, your series was a major resource. I'll have to go back and reread the series now that I'm going to be starting up a new one...

Looking forward to you expanding on this city, as cities are still tough for me to create. How do you balance a respectable number of options against player agency? How do you present these locations to the players so they can make meaningful choices?

Rob Conley said...

@Scott Anderson, I use the random tables that I linked too in the article. There is a zip file you can download that has files compatible with inspiration pad pro from nbos.

@Anarchy Dice, not sure what you mean by the first question. If I understand it correctly, what I do is try to look at two things about the character that I think the player would be interested in do work on and weave them that into the campaign. Like the A plot, B plot that many Star Trek episodes have. If you mean how much stuff should go into a city? I would work towards a dozen or so locations/factions/groups. Make sure half of them cover the bases like the local inn, local shop, healing, guard, rules, etc. The other half do whatever make sense for your campaign.

As for your second question that is straightforward. You have a player version of the city map in the center of the table. When the players go somewhere, I point to what street they are on, then point to various building and call out the shops they see along the way.

"OK you turn onto Haggle Street, and pass the Sailfish Bar, A smithy, a brothel, a fruit market, and a guard barrack before turning onto Regal Street."

I use random encounters so that would go like.

"OK you turn onto Haggle Street, and pass the Sailfish Bar, A smithy, a brothel. OK you see a scribe moving quickly across the street and a piece of paper slips out of his arm."

IF they ignore that then I would continue with "You move on and see a fruit market, and a guard barrack before turning to Regal Street."

Granted it not quite as fast just saying you get there. But it way faster then sketching anything.

Some players at first try to take careful notes but realize they should treat it like they would if they were actually visiting and only note things that are interesting to them.