So my next Dungeon World Campaign is going to be set in a strange city.

So my next Dungeon World Campaign is going to be set in a strange city.

So my next Dungeon World Campaign is going to be set in a strange city. I was wondering, how would you keep a singular location like that fresh over many different sessions and a whole campaign?

How do you make the districts that the players are going to go to often constantly giving you dangers and adventure each time?

25 thoughts on “So my next Dungeon World Campaign is going to be set in a strange city.”

  1. You can do anything you like!

    The city is built on a volcano!

    There is a eruption cult!

    There are dwarves below the main city that want to rule it all, but they’d never tell you that!

    The city is run on demon blood!

    Each district is based on colour + race + class: yellow+halfling+wizard, blue+elf+fighter. Easy to navigate.

    The city is the ruins of a fallen alien UFO!

    The city is the head of a sleeping god, buried vertically.

    The city is on the back of a giant dragon-turtle on a slow journey to meet his mate.

    The city was once owned by sorcerers that went mad- the architecture likes to change. You never go down the same street twice.

    The city is pretty normal, it was just built on the exact point between nine petty warring kingdoms, and there are orcs and goblins invading every minute. Even the old ladies carry axes.

  2. Another train of thought is the city is just a city, and it’s the intrigues of those within (and below) that keeps each session interesting – especially since those fronts should intersect with the players constantly!

  3. There are some thoughts on a few blog posts I’ve read that might be of interest to you.

    The Blog of Holding had an article about making cities more interesting by not having a central authority:

    The Alexandrian has a whole series of posts about “urbancrawls”; this one introduces the idea of having multiple (semi-)independent layers coexisting in the same space:

  4. What if the Entire City was a Dump site for criminals and worst? Except the problem is, a small amount of innocent people (Your Player Party Mostly, Some Can still be Bad and some innocent Npc). Are caught up in this crazy city that is really more like a prison. The Problem is, every few days the goverment opens the lid to this city to make drops. Some of the drops are supplies. The other drop, usually some form of trap or extremely dangerous monster or monsters to keep the numbers in check.

  5. Cal the city something crazy like The Rapture. Yeah the big monsters, insane traps, and various minor creatures they release may come from drops; but those drops are your suplies, food, and more so cant really ignore them. Not to mention even without The dangerous drops; your in a city of Criminals; life is dangerous and there is no law, but yes there are some regular establishments like bars and stuff; they just relocate alot because they dont last long in one place.

  6. Make the PCs residents of the city. This is where their family and friends live. Also instead of being “adventurers” give them a purpose for being together in the city. They could be members of the same Guild, Cult, or perhaps the City Guard.

    My last DW game to place in one town and the outskirts. I used a lot of the Funnel World supplement at the start to make 0-level townspeople. It’s has good random tables of starting profession and character flaws.

    We had an Elvish fisherman who was slimy, a charismatic fishmonger with rotten teeth, an antisocial farmer, and a Dwarven Cobbler with spade hands.

    But I like a weird light hearted game.

    The bonus of running DW in a city is make sure your starting questions develop some NPCs and family.

    Also maybe give a gander at the Fate game for Dresden Files it starts by collaboratively building the city the group plays in.

  7. I agree they should be part of the city. Maybe give every class an associated group.

    Fighter = night watchmen

    Thief = a respected guild of locksmiths with the obvious hidden truth

    Elf = emissaries and advisors with diplomatic immunity

    Spider = message runners guild


  8. Joshua C. Ooo never thought about family or friends in the city. Good idea! What kind of questions should I ask to get this info?

    Patrick O’Leary A lot of this city is inspired by China Mievilee and Jeff Vandermeer and I even will re-read my copy of City Of Saints and Madmen to truly get the setting right.

  9. One suggested rule change for you james day : change the trigger on the move for entering a steading. Instead treat each district of the city as a steading. That made a big difference in my Ptolus campaign.

  10. james day

     Hooray I had a good idea! First I want to bring up an old D&D supplement Lankhmar City of Adventure. It’s pretty good and it maps itself kind perfectly for DW. Meaning there are a lot of blank spaces. You had mentioned laying out districts I think this is probably the best way. Come up with some you have ideas for but leave yourself some room to add in whatever district you may end up needing later.

    Now back to the other thing.

    Give yourself a couple of npcs you have ideas for like you could ask the

    Thief how it is that their best friend is the Captain of the watch?

    Paladin how does you father feel about you leaving the family business for a God the family doesn’t worship?

    I asked a player why do you always have to help your neighbor with his crop? The player gave me a reason. I got a plot hook and a flavor to the NPC.

    Another thing might be to keep some questions back. Wait until there is an issue in a district or perhaps just moving through an unsavory neighborhood and you could ask a Player where on the street there family lives?

    Just remember to stick to leading questions and wait until you have an idea for it.

  11. So reading a few things, I definitely will make the different districts into Steadings.

    Reading Planarch Codex and thinking about it I definitely want these Districts to feel unique and have their own atmosphere. So I was thinking of making some Steading moves for when the players are in the Steadings, also maybe instincts and of course Fronts for each one.

    So for one example just on the top of my head:

    Rich District Moves: Disorient the group, attack unexpectedly, obscure with mist, Dazzle with opulence, hint at bizarre rituals, reveal a secret soceity, lose them in maze like streets. Etc.

    What do you think?

  12. james day

     I like the move perhaps you were already thinking of the Rich District in this way, but the move reminded me of a Bazaar. Very cinematic for character to get turned around in the hustle and bustle.

  13. Hmm interesting. I don’t know why but I like the idea of the rich district to be almost this horror like diastrict where unless you are rich you will be lost, hounded and probably sacrificed in a bizzare ritual made by the many secret soceities in the place.

  14. I think it’d be fun if all the nobles were vampires, demons, sorcerers, disguised dragons, and evil elves. Nobles have a lot of time on their hands, and money, of course they’ve bought a few necromantic tomes and learnt a few death curses. I mean, it really is all the fashion, and one must keep up with the Von Dreads!

  15. It’s good if there are many authorities in the city, the city rife for ethnic and cultural unrest. The poor are revolting, the rich are divided between different families at the brink of war and perhaps a Game of Thrones, immigrants with foreign religions are rising and native religions are angry about it, and in the countryside, monsters and comets have been sighted.

    Some of the temples on the Street of 100,000 gods are not real temples, like 50% of them, or fake temples set up for money, like the other 49% of them, but actually the homes of evil cultists who sacrifice children.

    Also, there is a psychotic murderer with supernatural powers attacking people who look like and wererats living in the opulent palaces in the sewers constructed of stolen wealth, who are worried that cannibalistic kobolds are getting into the undertunnels. This will eventually worry the population above too, as the kobolds don’t steal jewelry and pans, they steal babies and dogs for dinner.

    Meanwhile, a young priestess with accurately true visions is sought by the secret societies to bring about or prevent the rise of an external planar force into the world.

    And, to make the misery complete,

    a fascist style movement of Paladins is gaining power who promises to ‘clean up’ the city and it’s decadence and return the country to ‘the golden age of greatness’ but will instead bring death and destruction and the murder of 50% of the population for being ‘evil’.

  16. A large city has multiple districts: The poor section, the merchant’s circle, the wizard school, the Dwarven quarter, etc. It also has organizations fighting for control: The thieve’s guild, the city guard, the secret druid cult, The morlocks, the aristocracy, etc. Each district and organization has an agenda that plays out on the streets, and in the city council. Once you know what the factions are, you can pit one against the other and create fronts that draw the PCs in.

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