Step 1: The Random City Generator
I've really grown fond of this random city generator by Watabou. You can have it give random parts of city, choose a size for the city, and let it go. I tend to not use the names for the city preferring to go with one of my own creation, or from something like Donjon's Random Town/City Generator.
Once you have a map and a name though, you're ready to go on to step 2.
Step 2: Six Facts About The Setting
To start off we're going to define six facts about the setting. We are only defining six facts, and we are defining six facts. However, since we're defining only six facts, you want to focus them on things that make the city unique, or that are otherwise needed to ground yourself in the setting.
Also remember, these are facts about the setting and not about what is going on in it. So your city has a King that is chosen by lottery goes on here, but not the plot to assassinate the current king to have another lottery. That comes later.
Step 3: Six Truths About What Is Going On
In fact, it comes now.
Once you have the six facts about the setting, it is time to define six things about what is going on. These can be anything, but they should be basic enough to be public knowledge. The six things don't have to be, and in fact shouldn't be related to each other. Try to hit a breadth of topics. They should be strange happenings, things people might comment on. More to the point, they should be tied to potential adventures - and multiple truths even if they appear different can be tied to the same adventure.
Once you have that, you're more or less all set. You have a setting, you have some interesting facts about it to ground you in the world, and you have events to build adventures off of. The rest is just fleshing some of those ideas out and seeing what your players go for.
Six Facts About The City
- Aguila City is named for “The Aguila”, a pirate ship that sought safety from a terrible storm on the coast. The captain started a settlement (more of a hideaway) and over the course of a century it grew into a city.
- Aguila City has a proud history of being a “City of Crime” or a “City for Criminals” but while its early days were quite chaotic, things are much more civilized these days. At least, on the surface.
- Aguila City is ruled/led by a group known as The Silent Council. It is not public knowledge who is on the council, but it is said to be a council of 5, 7, 11, or 13 powerful people in the city.
- The city sits in the shadow of two colossal statues that were there when The Aguila first came ashore. They are both of male warriors and are referred to as “The Brothers” or “The Left Brother” and “The Right Brother.” Time is told by saying where the sun/moon is in relation to the brothers (i.e. an early morning gathering could happen before the sun reaches the right brother’s spear.)
- Aguila City has three large temples, one to Oma (NE Goddess of the Sea), one to Mannan mac Lir (LN God of the Ocean), and one to Huros & Tempos (CN, Twin Gods/Goddesses of Storms.) It is customary for captains to make donations to all three before setting out on a voyage.
- The city guard are known as The Staves for the 6’ staves they carry while on duty. They further identify themselves with blue tunics, helmets, and/or armbands while on duty. There is also the Silver Masks who have a higher authority and serve directly under the Silent Council.
Six Truths From The City
- Several factions - identified by colored arm bands - are vying for control of the city. So far fighting has been restricted to shadows and alleyways.
- The past month has been incredibly hot and humid, even for the summer
- The ‘Twin Swords Adventuring Guild’ has opened in Aguila, offering training, tools, supplies, and job opportunities for anyone willing to put it all on the line for the sake of adventure!
- Goblins, bugbears, oozes, and other monsters have been reported in the city but not by reputable sources.
- A circle of magi erected a tower off the docks and declared themselves the Council of Tides
- Everyone is excited for the upcoming Mid-Summer Festival and the Balls and Parties that will happen during it.