In order to create my Accessible Mega-Dungeon with Roleplay as a focus and have it possible for Blind Game Masters to run it without any prep, I need the City it is set in to be Abandoned.
In a living city the Peasant has grown the grain, which the miller grinds to flour, which the baker bakes to bread, which the merchant sells at market.
In an Abandoned City the Peasant is held up in his hovel as the fields lay dead, the miller has been ground and haunts the windmill, the baker’s Shoppe burned down from a curse and the merchant barely escaped town with his life.
Living Cities are held together by a series of complex social mechanisms with more moving parts than a Perkins Brailler. Abandoned Cities lack that larger community, allowing encounters to be written as isolated instances which require less (if any) preparation due to locations being mostly deserted.
We as people adapt and overcome quickly. So in order to vaporise the societal glue that holds the City inhabitant’s relationships together I need the City to be abandoned swiftly and recently, this will inhibit remaining NPC’s from having time to establish new norms in the wake of it’s abandonment.
In addition this Abandoned City needs a good catalyst for all of this transpiring, as well as a reason for it’s abandoment, the inciting abandonment event also needs to give it’s fleeing refugees incentive not to return.
NPC’s in this Abandoned City should have as much knowledge as the Game Master as to why this place is abandoned. This stops the Game Master from finding themselves looking up what is known or unknown, it should have a shared reason between all inhabitants. The catalyst should also be vague enough that the Game Master can pull additional clues from their imagination as the situation presents itself.
Why Is It Abandoned?
I’m a big fan of Mordheim, but I’m not going to steal a giant comet wiping out the City; Drakkenheim already did that. Instead I’m going to go with the classic: A dark Curse suddenly fell upon this City drawing every evil, every curse, every monster, every foul thing! Where did the curse come from? Who created it?
I’ll create tables for different causations and clues, for folks that want to prep an outline for an adventure, but Game Masters running a one shot should be able to arrive to the table with the idea “This is an unknown Curse” as the only plot hook at the back of their mind as enough to go on. Then you can either make your own story or roll for it..
A Game Master picking up this Mega-Dungeon and running it without prep won’t know why the City was abandoned. They’ll make it up. The same way they’ll make their own social glue for factions through play. I’ll certainly have Oracle Tables for all of that, but ultimately a big goal is to have it run without any of that big picture prep. None. Not even reading the introduction to the book. Just flip it open to a Room and read. Done.
In the next blog I’m going to step back to mapping things.
How do you know what connects to where without a Map? How will Encounters work?