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Anvil Of War Jul 22 '12 5:57pm

Free roam city.
Hello there.
I have had an idea in my head for a little while about running a game set in a fantasy city of quite large proportions and having many players being able to roam freely about the city. The setting would be DND homebrew and the system would either be dnd or the window {my favorite at the moment}.

I have seen games like this on here before but the last few I looked at had every player in his own thread. I am running a game where every player has a one on one game and it can kind of get rough to run so many little games at once. This also presents the problem of characters meeting. New threads? double postings? GM passing on info? I don't know. So I thought of a idea.

What if instead of every player having his or her own thread the entire city was presented in thread form.
A thread for the

guard tower
archery range
assassins guild
thief's den
flower shop
east walls
north walls
south walls
west walls
mage's tower
warlock sanctuary
dark ally
kings court
guild house
and so on

Each player can go anywhere they can get to in the city {some places are hard to get to, some you dont want to be in} and can interact with each other as long as they are in the same place. To keep everything in order I think there would need to be a real life time overlay so like every 24 hours in the real world would be one hour in the game. That way if someone dose not post for a day they could be said to just be standing there watching the birds for a while.

What are some of your thoughts or advice on this. Would you be interested in playing a game like this? Are there reasons you would not want to run or play in one like this? What are some of the problems one could expect?

Any thoughts would be a great help.
Anvil of war.

NikitaDarkstar Jul 22 '12 8:54pm

While I sort of like the layout idea I fear it can get pretty cluttered if you run a big city, and you'll loose the chance of having stuff happen when someone moves from point A to point B. Another issue would be people being in multiple places at once by mistake and general travel times. You'll also have people posting in the same place but NOT interacting with each other.

So while the idea itself isn't bad it does present some problems of it's own, which sadly the "One thread per player" thing seems avoid. And yes if you have two people who start to interact together for an extended period of time just create a new thread for them. (Personally I'd run it with an "archive" subforum so I could move old threads out of the way to not clutter the main IC forum.)

Dramacydle Jul 22 '12 9:17pm

While this is a great idea, I also have an urbanesque type game where the players are free to roam around the city if they feel that is what they would want to do. I have had at one time nine players all within two non linnear stories and they have seperated once and have regrouped. I have seen and players do this before with placing a place thread style before and the games I have seen, the players did not utilize the GM's plan as they should have. I think it would be worth a try but instead of seperating each thread for each player, group them in pairs of two or three and then give them several hooks within the thread that will lead them to choice making. Usually they will pair up because of strength in group effort and it will lead to anothe part of the city being explored. I was always taught to start small in a game and rightly so, you might want to spend some time on fleshing out descriptions of the city, envisioning so that the fluff is balanced with mechanics. Throw in some skill checks, chases, and npc interactions. If your familiar with Shackled City, I think they do the best to offer a Urban game to the DM and players. I incorporate Districts in my Urban games. I got the idea from the Pathfinder Absalom release and from the Ashes of Middenheim release. Spires of Altdorf does really well with also decribing a city. I also would find dedicated players who will stick with your game. I think keeping the game moving will also help your game immensly. In your notes or on your computer, you could come up with the name of your city, then the districts, then what is located in each district. Make a mental note or write down a story or two relating to the location and what npcs are located in that area. I would also incorporate a government or ruling class in your game. Include city watch, guards and or milita. If you wanted to make things more random, a random npc encounter chart could help. Even offer a sewer encounter if you want such as Waterdeep or the underbelly of Middenheim.

Anvil Of War Jul 22 '12 9:19pm

@ NikitaDarkstarYa there would have to be a rule where unless you where spit in two magically or something you could only post in one location at a time. Also when two people where in the same location they would not NEED to interact.

Marsus the mage has been hired by a lord of the city to aid his soldiers is escorting a dangerous and intelligent sorcerer out of the stockade and to the gallows to hang for his crime against the city.

Krull the Half-Orc fighter got caught up in a bar fight and was sent to the stockade for the destruction of three buildings and the beating of a nobleman's son. His friend jace the elf rouge owes the fighter a debt and intends to pay it off by releasing him.

Jace travels under guise of a Soldier in Marsus's entourage {Who he saw entering the stocks} until he gets to Krulls cell where he uses his skills as a lock smith to free his comrade.

Three players in one thread playing together for a short time.

When Marsus gets his man out of the stock he post Leaving the stocks in bold so that no one will try and interact with a man who his long gone.

@ DramacydleI love creating worlds and settings so thats where I got the idea. When I make a setting I write it down is zones. So I thought~ what it each zone was its own thread that people could arive in and leave as they please and interact with as they see fit.

Xaviien Sep 3 '12 9:09am

I love this idea, and when I first started free form RP, on an MMO forum, this is the approach I took.
One change though, I would use links in the following example, instead of just bold writing. Every time a character leaves a thread, the last thing in their last post should be a link to the new post they are entering, and likewike the first thing in the first post in the new thread they join should be a link showing where they have just come from.

Xaviien follows Yizzimindi from Siren's Dive, into Meluan's Archives.

Have you done much more on this project?

L0g41n Sep 3 '12 4:34pm

This looks like it could be a lot of fun, although it would be a hassle to keep the threads updated and running.

You could just leave the threads as-is, allowing nosy players to read about what's been going on; once you get to three or more pages, I think people will just read what happened directly before they got there, rather than three pages of what happened here hours/years ago.

You could archive all the threads on a regular basis, and start over fresh, say, every week. So there's a particularly challenging night: there's a festival in town and a bunch of gypsys try and steal a jewel from the magistrate's safe, while the thieves guild attempts to stop them- only having learned of the plot at the last minute, and while all of this is going on, there's a power grab in the assassin's guild as one of the junior members uses his connections to 'make room' on the senior council.

Once the dust settles from that hectic few hours of night, everyone is nursing wounds and keeping their heads down, and so a few weeks (of world time) pass uneventfully. Then you pop in with another set of circumstances, et cetera.

Just a couple thoughts about how to keep it manageable.

- Logain

impfireball Sep 5 '12 10:34am

One idea I had was running combat encounters in instant messaging. Leave the well thought out roleplaying to the forum!

And if players are traveling out of combat, the GM can timestamp 'time of arrival/time of leave', and just go by whatever calendar system the game world upholds (and however educated the players wanna be about that; though even middle earth uses earth months and days).

So when the combat encounter arrives, the GM gives the player a time in which to chat (based on what he knows about that player's schedule, etc.).

Just an extra idea, even if it doesn't particularly help or apply to this situation.

AugustusGloop Sep 5 '12 3:10pm

I'm a big fan of the rp by chat system, particularly in IRC where you can easily set up temporary channels for whatever location you want. Not everyone can use IRC though, and the inability to coordinate schedules is what makes pbp so powerful in the first place.

Will Caleb Sep 6 '12 12:43am

Neat idea.

I was thinking how a map would be tedious to do, but very helpful. Then thought - you might put grid coordinates next to each location so people could have a quick idea of where they are. Comparative to other locations. There are some cities where the streets are numbered - like Main running East to West through the middle of town, then North 1st, North 2nd, and so on. Cross Streets could be "Cross" running North to South in the middle of the city (intersects in the middle of Main) and then West 1st, West 2nd, and so on. And so Blacksmith could simply have a N8W8 in front or behind it. Large locations could be N1-3W4-6. Or something to that effect. Just a thought. Feel free to ignore or use in some completely different format.

impfireball Sep 6 '12 12:47am

RP via IM chat is very good for back and forth conversations (more than just the 'question/answer/awesome intro and tavern entrance theme/will buy or sell/follow other player' of PbP) and people that want their characters to be engaged in dynamic realism, with all the awkwardness that it entails. However, it's easy to lose out on the sweeping narration without some dead centered persistance on the part of the GM.

However, not all RP need be done in chat - if two people come online on the same channel, for example, then it's perfectly fine for something that's spontaneous and by the moment. If the characters aren't supposed to meet each other, the GM can divide them between channels. Players might also be aware that hanging around in the channel might provoke the GM to put a random encounter on their character ("Oh, you said you were in the streets? Okay, an urchin attacks you." "Seriously? I could one shot him. And aren't their guards everywhere?" "No, actually, you notice that he just made off with your magic boots. Also, the guards don't care. You hear them complaining of bad hips." "WTF, I am so catching him."), because there's 'not much else to do' (among other GM excuses to discourage players from non-optimal usage of his time). xD

PbP is the perfect place to co-ordinate schedules as well as plan meetings for IM. If a game features IM combat, it's perfectly fine to put down GM's preferred player timezones - something that's easy to forget, considering the sheer friggin' scope of the internet (even though myth-weaver's population is only 80,000 - god knows how divided that is among nationality).

About IRC: IRC is pretty easy to get. MIRC has an 80 day trial but it's sort of possible to go beyond the trial period (it just spams you with registration alerts, from what I recall), and some googling could probably get you a freeware, such as IceChat (if I still have that program).


I was thinking how a map would be tedious to do, but very helpful. Then thought - you might put grid coordinates next to each location so people could have a quick idea of where they are. Comparative to other locations. There are some cities where the streets are numbered - like Main running East to West through the middle of town, then North 1st, North 2nd, and so on. Cross Streets could be "Cross" running North to South in the middle of the city (intersects in the middle of Main) and then West 1st, West 2nd, and so on. And so Blacksmith could simply have a N8W8 in front or behind it. Large locations could be N1-3W4-6. Or something to that effect. Just a thought. Feel free to ignore or use in some completely different format.
Take a city map and label each location. The first step is already done if the OP pointed out every location he wants to cover.

A co-ordinated code would complicate things, since it entails a very big map and forces players to constantly referance a location that has more than just a name. Think of navigating in an RPG video game like skyrim.

Just entitle each location. If your covering streets, you can give each street a unique name (preferrably ending in St. or 'of X landmark' so 'Yellow Cobble of Pewter Cemetary', because off to the side of the road is an inner-city cemetary with pewter grave stones, or 'Yellow Cobble St.'). Streets are as far as I'd go regarding codes.

Unlabeled locations would be wilderness - down trodden areas that the guards don't patrol as often, and you may only start up a productive conversation with an NPC if you're really lucky (or have that reputation and the player, themselves, are really good with words). That sorta thing. Because it's a city, it's easy to alert the guards. Guard response times and accessing guards depends on how much law enforcement there is and how much it cares, regarding where you are and your character's status. Yadda, yadda, yadda...

Finally, each location could have a movement grid, for the purpose of running any combat encounters and providing players the exact lay out of the location. If a location has no movement grid, then the GM simply has to wing it - which is something I've done before and the players never argued against - however, it also eliminates the concept of tactics until the players start running into blind danger and the GM has to let the players survive so that they can adjust and navigate via memory, ie. 'moving to X location is dangerous'.

Problem: Creating a movement grid for every place might be the most work intensive part of this idea the OP has going. There doesn't need to be any 'you are here' though, and running combat doesn't mean the GM needs to update each grid for each player's movement during IM chat either - because the time that takes will slow things down considerably, unless the players somehow have control over their own tokens; which I wouldn't recommend running for logistical reasons (everyone needs maptool for one, it's easier to mess up the map than it would be if the map were on an actual table in real life, etc.).

Have I outlined everything for yah?

Oh yeah, for movement: Start with small locations, such as the black smith and then move out to progressively larger - barracks, then guild house and keep (probably about the same size), then something really large like the sewer. If the adventures are kicking off already, just try to keep the players where you want them or have them stumble into wilderness if they're feeling explore happy (have NPCs approach them and tell them what kind of supplies they'd need for such a venture, etc.).

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