This will be the first of a series of instalments detailing the ongoing development of The City. The City is an urban role playing environment designed to be used with the new World of Darkness game published by White Wolf Publishing.
All of the various games playable within this system are designed predominantly to be played within an urban environment. I know from experience that you have two options when deciding on a setting: pick an existing city or design your own. If you pick an existing city, and have players anything like mine (players who love to do their homework) then you will almost immediately run into someone who knows exactly how big Central Park is (which is invariably smaller/bigger/different-shaped than you want it to be) or has some other irritating and game-breaking titbit of trivia tucked away to sabotage you.
This leaves you with the option of designing your own city. This is truly a daunting piece of work. You need a fully functioning city, with a map and all of the necessary bits and pieces, like mayors, police chiefs, gang-lords and businessmen as well as good, creepy locations for encounters to occur in.
This is what The City attempts to address. I will be releasing modular neighbourhoods that can be inserted into any existing city. Finally, all of the modules should (crossing thumbs here) fit together to form a fully functioning city. The City is located somewhere in the USA*. I have chosen the USA for one simple reason: It is the most widely known setting in the world. Everyone who watches a Hollywood movie gets to see a little slice of America. It is a large city with a variety of neighbourhoods, ghettos and surrounding lands for characters to wreak havoc and weave schemes.
Well, we all like to visit the Park. You can park a car by the lake, have a few beers, and maybe even get lucky with your girlfriend. Just don’t stay too late. No, no, I’m not gonna tell you some stupid slasher story. Its just … well, its just that it feels like there is something out there. Gives me the creeps sometimes. And then there are all the tourists that “get lost” out there. Something isn’t right, I’m telling you. Just don’t stay out on your own is all I’m saying.
Outside the city lies a huge National Park. The edges of the forest lap greedily at the edges of the city, seeming almost ready to swallow it the first chance they get. The parts of the park that abut the city are fenced, barely, but anyone with a will and pair of wire-clippers can make it into the park without difficulty. Surprisingly few that get into the park penetrate any deeper than the edges near the city. There is something … hungry … about the dark trees and shadowy caves. Something that reminds people of the darkness just outside the firelight, where something predatory stalks.
This isn’t to say that no-one enters the park. There are a variety of beautiful hiking trails and campsites, carefully tended by employees of the National Parks Board. It is a glorious monument to nature, wild and free. It’s just that sometimes people forget exactly how violent nature can be…
Marshall Tom Masterton
Hey there, folks. There’s nothing to see here. Just a little accident is all. Please, move along, move along.
Mental: Intelligence 3, Wits 3, Resolve 2
Physical: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 3
Social: Presence 3, Manipulation 1, Composure 4
Mental Skills: Medicine 2, Science 2 (Biology), Investigation 1
Physical Skills: Athletics 4, Firearms 3, Stealth 2 (Stalking), Survival 4
Social Skills: Animal Ken 3, Empathy 3, Socialize 2, Expression 2 (Story telling)
Merits: Common Sense, Iron Stamina 3, Strong Back, Iron Stomach, Status (Rangers) 3, Contacts 2 (Rangers, Regulars at the Bar)
Marshall Tom Masterton has been a forest ranger for nearly twenty years now. His hair is graying, his skin is lined and he looks like everyone’s picture perfect idea of a park ranger. Tom can be seen all around the town of Rocky Peaks, though he is usually in the Moose Head, catching up with the regulars over a couple of beers. He can also be found driving and hiking around the Parklands.
Tom carries with him a well hidden concern, however. Over the last five years he has uncovered six brutal deaths in the Parklands. The bodies have been torn to pieces, reminiscent of an animal attack, but with none of the other hallmarks of one aside from the gruesome wounds. Tom is carrying a large load of guilt on his back and spends a great deal of time trying to track the “bear”, it must be a bear, that attacked these people. At the same time, he knows something is wrong, and his instincts tell him that there is something deeper going on here.
Blue Rock is a large, weathered rock protruding from the peak of a hill deep in the confines of the Parklands. The hill leading up to Blue Rock is curiously bare of scrub, with only a covering of short grass, slippery with the steepness of the hill.
For years, youngsters from the City have been coming to Blue Rock. It’s a short hike from a nearby picnic area close to a lake, through some dense woods with a winding path. Rumor’s say if you put your spit and blood and a hair of the one you love (or want to get into the sack) on Blue Rock at some special time, you will get your wish. Normally nothing more comes of it, but everyone once in a while some does get their wish. Problem is, good fortune sometimes comes to collect her debt and interest is a bitch. Death, lunacy and ill-luck come back to haunt those that the rock gifts.
Description: Park rangers wear neat uniforms, with hiking boots and backpacks. Tanned skin, short hair and a pair of aviator sunglasses complete the look. Most park rangers are helpful and informative but there are very few of them and a lot of park to keep an eye on. Sometimes they have a harried look as the sheer amount of work on their shoulders makes its presence felt.
Storytelling Hints: Park rangers run the gamut from friendly, education oriented busybodies to taciturn backwoodsmen that seem more suited for the last century. They are there to help and spend their time patrolling the park when they aren’t responding to emergency calls. Park rangers will help anyone in the park but take a very dim view on criminal activities and anything that might lead to forest fires.
Survival (dice pool 5) – Park rangers are very knowledgeable about the natural world around them.
Firearms (dice pool 6) – Park rangers receiving training in firearms and are required to spend a certain amount of time on the firing range.
Description: Most hunters are good old boys, the salt of the earth out of the city for a weekend away from the wives, with their checked shirts, orange warning jackets and six packs. They all bear some form of hunting rifle as well as a knife (worn either to help with skinning or to feel more manly depending on the wearer).
Storytelling Hints: Hunters are not necessarily sober, but are generally friendly so long as they don’t think you are scaring the game away. The greatest danger a hunter represents is the chance of mistaking you for a deer.
Socialise (dice pool 6) – Most hunters are out of town more for the chance to have a good time than for the chance to shoot any game.
Survival (dice pool 3) – Despite how rugged they feel, most hunters would be a little lost without their tents and comfortable sleeping bags.
*As a disclaimer, I do not live in the United States and have never visited there. Everything I know about that wonderful nation I have learnt from television, movies and the internet. I realise this may lead to some factual inaccuracy, but considering I will also be referring to the complicated politics of vampires and the inter-relation between various werewolf tribes, a large part of what I am writing is already going to be fiction. I am sure my American readers can forgive me.