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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Using Urban Geomorphs

Here are some designer notes on the new urban geomorphs and future plans.

Urban Geomorph Types
I kind of addressed this briefly in a couple posts, but should address it formally, so that people can see what I have planned. I divide urban geomorphs into three basic types:
  1. Residential. Mainly meant as background for parts of impromptu adventures: thieves planning a robbery, fugitives looking for a place to hide, locals for crime scenes, or just adventurers wandering around knocking on random doors.
  2. Commercial. Can be used the same way, but mainly meant to be destinations for PCs to purchase goods, services, and lodging. The keys provide background for NPCs the adventurers will deal with regularly. This will also include temples (basically, shops where you buy holy water, blessings, and healing,) guildhalls (where you hire experts,) and government offices like the captain of the guard (probable “quest givers”.)
  3. Special. Meant to be actual mini (or major) adventures, or at least something to entertain the players for a while.
Geomorph Practices
I mention on the back of the pamphlets “If rows/columns are wider or taller than 40 paces (100 feet)…” without really explaining those measurements. Each geomorph is a 100 foot by 100 foot city block, the same measurements as what has become the standard dungeon geomorph. This makes the blocks smaller than most modern city blocks and even some ancient city blocks (I believe I’ve read somewhere that classical Roman blocks were 300 feet in at least one dimension.)

This is why the pamphlet directions talk about rows and columns wider or taller than that measurement. One of my intentions is that you can use other people’s city maps, such as the ones Dyson Logos makes, replacing a cluster of buildings with a 100x100 urban geomorph. Other people might not be using blocks of that size, or might have some irregular blocks.

The indexing process described on the back of the pamphlets is meant to allow replacing buildings on a map regardless of the size of the target block. Start with one corner of the map as (0, 0). Number the top of the map from 0 to 9, dividing it into ten equal width columns. Do the same to the side of the map to divide it into ten equal width rows. You now have 100 “city blocks” numbered 00 to 99 that can potentially be replaced. If these resulting blocks are larger than 100x100 feet, mentally divide each block into quarters or into a tic tac toe pattern and number those 1-4 or 1-9 so that you can use three digit numbers to identify a specific block. Reserve the 0 as the final digit for general description of the larger area (the “superblock” that contains the other blocks.)

Other Potential Urban Geomorph Projects
Aside from continuing the pamphlet series or possibly compiling them into a more traditional book form at some point, one of my plans was to create at least one “geomorph-ready” city map. Not necessarily a full-color map, like the one for Lankhmar, but definitely something with empty square for geomorphs. But I also had a discussion with Scott Anderson in the comments about unlabeled geomorphs, for example page-size geomorphs to be used as visual aids for players. I also mention 3x3 inch geomorphs, printed six-up in a book. My idea there is that these could be cut out and attached to index cards with encounter notes on the card, so that a GM could pull a card at random.

Future Posts
I still owe Andreas Davour a post about running city adventures. I have different ideas on how to approach that, so it will take a week or so to write it up.

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