This past week, I’ve been thinking hard about streamlining the 69 Villages project. My initial goal was to get village creation down to about 20 minutes, but it’s taken me almost an hour for each of the last two. Way too long.
Then I realised that I’m an idiot, and the answer became clear.
My process was to make all the random rolls for the village and knit the results together into some narrative background. That’s the idiot part. Not only is this unnecessary, but it defeats the purpose of the exercise, and it’s a disservice to any GM who might want to use it.
Put it this way: I’d probably only have enough prep time for the random rolls anyway, so I’d show up to a game with the notion of fleshing them out during play. Which is actually better than a narrative, chiefly because now I get to create the village with the players’ input.
This is how my best sessions come about—starting with a basic concept and using the players’ questions, comments, and assumptions to fill in the gaps. To me, this is just more fun—there’s more interest, everyone’s participating, and we’re all working off of each other’s ideas.
Which not only lets you to come to the table with less material, it actually encourages it. If this is your style, including a narrative is more of a constraint than an aid.
Going forward, then, each village will include only the random results, basically straight from the tables. I leave you to stitch them together as you see fit. And we’ll start right now with the third entry in the project: the village of Macha
Population 200; Neutral with reasonable laws (walled)
Ruled by House Granien
Patriarch is middle-aged and cautious (AL Neutral)
Small household of 11 members
Significant influence with appreciable holdings (20 regional hexes)
Recently participated in a duel (family member lost)
Currently marrying into a particular family for lust
Secretly afflicted with lycanthropy (or similar disease)
People here tend to use force when dealing with others
Crime Rate: 2d10 [roll each week: every "1" indicates a crime; PCs are victims if the 2d10 roll exceeds total party level]
Spending Limit: 16.67gp (1.67gp + 2.0gp + 13gp)
Recent Events: Popular leader heralds prosperity
Worth Checking Out: Last reported location of angelic guardian
It took me longer to explain my new process than to actually make the random rolls and village map above.
I’m also transferring the various tables into Inspiration Pad Pro. This takes some time, as some of the “intelligence” behind the tables is hard to reproduce programatically (or, more accurately, I haven’t figured out all the ins and outs yet). Anyway, when these tables are done, I’ll make them available.
In the meantime, I’m interested in hearing what you have to say about this approach. Is less narrative better for you, or do you feel like the format above is too scant?