City of Brass
Navigate: Back up to GMing the City of Brass
- Meet new comrades and vet them.
- Understand the state of the Commune.
- Introduce Problems for comrades to solve.
- Play to find out what happens
These are described in detail, below.
Vet new comrades
“Hello! Welcome to the Commune. Tell us your name, a little about yourself, and how you ended up here.”
I start each game with these words. The goal is to introduce new players to the concept of the game and introduce all the characters. Each player must give suitable answers to the following:
- What’s your character’s name? I haven’t enforced any kind of setting-appropriate naming convention, despite some really silly names like “Pete” and “Keg’Alog” and “Grog.”
- What’s your gender, race, and class? Basic D&D stuff, so we know what you’re playing. It’s my opportunity as GM to remind you that elves only live to age 20, or that half orcs are really half-ant creatures, in case you didn’t know.
- What’s your profession? Every character should have a side Profession or skill that isn’t super useful. Basket-weaving or snake charming, not healing or assassin.
- Why are you stuck in the Commune? How did you end up here, squatting in the crappiest building in the crappiest part of the City? You have to be stuck—Unable to Leave. If you could just pick up and go, then the Commune won’t let you stay there (and you won’t get to play). Show me why you’re desperate.
The state of the Commune
Once everyone does their meet and greet, describe the Commune in physical terms.
- It’s a bunch of run-down, boarded-up buildings in a rough square shape.
- There’s a sandy courtyard in the middle, overgrown with weeds. Sometimes with a fire there or a junk pile.
- It’s a two-story building. Most of the upper floor is ruined. The roof is a wreck.
- Most of the rooms are full of debris, rot, or other hazards.
- A couple rooms are cleaned out but dirty. This is where people sleep.
- One or two rooms have “shops” in them, run by other comrades. You could build one of these, too, with time.
If you have a map of the Commune, show them. Mark which rooms are improved or even just empty, and which are full of junk or outright dangerous. If they’re interested, describe the process of finding Resources and Improving the Commune.
Problems make the City of Brass campaign work. Pull out your handy Random Problem Chart and roll 2-3 times on it. Write each problem on an index card and put it in the middle of the table. Add the unresolved problems from previous sessions, too.
From the point-of-view of the members of the Commune, describe each problem to the players. Try to name the comrades who are speaking.
Jonita, the black-haired woman who tends the pottery kiln, says, “I’m worred about Esven. He didn’t return home last night.”
Find out what happens
Then ask the players what they want to do. Don’t have an outcome in mind. This is a sandbox.
It’s fine to improvise and add stuff that comes up. Whenever possible, use random charts and die rolls to make important decisions, though. If the party meets a new NPC, roll a d20 to determine how that NPC is predisposed towards the characters (low=terrible, high=great).
Follow the players’ lead but keep play moving. If they delay too much, use a random encounter to spur them into action.