City of Brass
When running the City of Brass, tracking time is important. I’m not talking about tracking minutes and turns. I’m talking about tracking time at the macro level.
The basic unit of time in the campaign is the day. Characters must find something to eat or spend 1 sp to buy some very basic grub.
Other things are measured in days. A day is about the length of time it takes to cross the city on foot. If a character finds a job in Ash Borough or down near the docs, they’ll spend some time travelling to and from work and they’ll spend most of their day working. Searching for free food using the Survival skill takes the better part of a day. If a character wants to search for resources to repair the Commune, that takes a day. Emptying junk out of a Commune room takes 1d6 days and repairing a broken-down room takes 2d6 days (and materials).
Upkeep and income that happens on a daily basis applies only to days that happen during game sessions. If you get paid 11 cp per day of labor and spend 10 cp every day on food, you’ll net +1 cp per day, but those days only happen during play. Between game sessions, even though days are passing, the campaign does not track them for upkeep and income purposes. It’s assumed that you break even every day, outside of play.
Since game sessions tend to occur every other week at the Windup Space in Baltimore, there’s a two-week rhythm to time in the setting, as well. Campaign time tends to match real time in that regard. If it’s been a month since I last ran a game, then a month has passed in the City of Brass, too.
The characters won’t care much about weeks, because the upkeep and income rules don’t apply between sessions. However, the GM tracks weeks because various plots are in motion and they have a calendar.
For example, the Masons Guild seems to be interested in the parcel of land that the Commune sits on. The timeline for the Masons plot might be built like this:
The Masons Guild (really, the Scrapers Guild) seeks a site for a new building as part of a larger sewer project.
Phase 1: Surveying
Week 0: Masons investigate the Kickstone neighborhood and find the Commune building, ripe for razing.
Week 2: Masons with surveying equipment cordon off one street at a time in front of the Commune to measure and map the block.
Week 6: Masons meet at the guildhouse to select a site, ultimately choosing the Kickstone site.
Phase 2: Guild Hearing
Week 0: Masons at the records hall inquire about the ownership of the Commune. Either find an old deed with no living owner or find a fake deed planted by Comrades.
Week 2: Masons investigate the authenticity of the deed.
Week 4: Masons post notices on the Commune of a hearing of eminent domain at the guild hall.
Week 6: Noble interests plant false rumors about activities at the Commune.
Week 8: Masons host a guild hall meeting about the future of the Commune property. Noble interests (servants) are present. Determine through role-play and skill checks who holds the power (Comrades or Nobles).
Phase 2A: Noble Bribes (if the Comrades hold the power)
Week 0: Noble interests offer a deal to human and elven Comrades, or to owner of deed.
Week 2: Nobles make veiled threats.
Week 4: Nobles hire dark agents to make attacks on Comrades.
Week 6: Nobles hire dark agents to burn the place down.
Phase 2B: Eminent Domain (if the Nobles hold the power)
Week 0: Masons post an eviction notice on the Commune door with a four-week warning.
Week 2: Masons post a second notice with a two-week warning.
Week 4: Masons show up to demolish the building. Equipment arrives. Masons order everyone out.
Week 6: Mason guards forcibly clear the building of all residents.
Phase 3: Clearing
Week 0: Masons demolish the building and start building the new sewer outtake plant.
It’s built in phases so that certain PC actions or Problem rolls can push the plot into another phase. The GM can advance plots naturally from week to week, or use the Problem rolls to advance things much more slowly. When the campaign reaches the last week of a phase, then the next phase starts during the next game session (whenever that is) if the GM is ready for it.
For example, if we’re in Phase 1, Week 6 (Masons choose the site) and one of the characters tells a surveyor that they own the deed to the building, the GM has three options:
- Immediately move things to Phase 2, Week 2 (Masons investigate the deed’s authenticity).
- Wait until the weeks pass for the event to come out naturally. Next session, roll into Phase 2, Week 0.
- Wait for the players to roll one of the Masons-related events on the Problem table before advancing that plot to Phase 2, Week 0.
Sometimes a Problem on the table can advance a plot to a deeper stage. Literally, most of these weekly plot points could be an entry on the Problem table.
Note that none of the plot outline is fixed in stone. It’s simply a matter of what will happen if the Comrades don’t change events. In fact, the entire 2A section was added mid-campaign because the players surprised me by forging a deed and planting a copy in the records hall.