A huge project for work that has taken up all my time for the past few months finally went live last Friday. I haven't had a proper role playing session since before that project started. Last night, I floated the idea of starting up a new champaign of some sort. After thinking on it, I decided a classic World of Darkness game is the way to go. The 20th anniversary has me really thinking World of Darkness lately. Folks seemed to react pretty positively to the idea, so now it's time to develop a setting for the game. I love the open development process White Wolf has started taking with the new classic World of Darkness books. I'm going to try an experiment to see how well it works for a local troupe. I have a feeling it will help the players feel more invested in the setting if they have a significant hand in building it. Before I get the setting though, I need to share my initial notes about the game setup for the players:
( Notes for the PlayersCollapse )Now, on to the setting itself! In any World of Darkness chronicle, the city it's set in is as much of a character as any of the NPCs. I'm hoping the players in the Changeling game could see that about Wells Crossing and Hughs High School, even though we went an entire chronicle before they were actually named. That was actually somewhat deliberate since I wanted it to feel like any extremely rural town in America.
This chronicle's city needs to be a classical World of Darkness decaying metropolis. I thought about setting it in Chicago since that is the most iconic cWoD city and this is a 20th anniversary game. I decided against that for two reasons. First, I don't know the city well enough to do it justice, and second, we've never set a game there so it wouldn't have any special resonance with the players. With that in mind, I decided it needs to be a fictional city. I briefly considered setting it in New Bremen, but that name has entirely too much baggage associated with it. This chronicle's city will be Pikesburg.
Pikesburg was founded a little over two hundred years ago as a missionary outpost. It gradually grew in stature as a minor shipping hub thanks to the river and roads leading west that intersect in it. When the industrial revolution hit, the little town exploded almost over night. It was in the perfect location to receive raw materials and ship out finished goods. The river provided a seemingly limitless supply of power and the means to dispose of industrial waste. Money was plentiful for anyone with capital. For the working class, the city was a hell with nightmarish working conditions for minimum pay, exorbitant rent to pack far too many people into far too little space, and virtually no way to break free. Still, workers flocked to the city with tales of easy money and no way to find out the truth until it was too late. Organized crime and corruption became rampant.
Eventually, things got better as workers organized and the unions gave rise to a middle class. The situation settled into an equilibrium of sorts that lasted for most of the 20th century. It was during this time that the city modernized and underwent a more healthy expansion. Enrollment in the private university originally founded for the children of the wealthy industry barons expanded as Pikesburg offered tuition assistance for residents. Local businesses diversified the city's economy, but manufacturing remained the engine that drove Pikesburg. Unfortunately, what seemed to be a limitless foundation proved to be unsustainable.
In the 1970's, the factories began shutting down as manufacturing fled the nation. Nothing moved in to take the factories' place since nearly a century of industrial pollution made the land unusable for anything else. Economic hardship gradually spread throughout the city like a cancer. The only area that seemed immune was the financial sector. Over the next few decades, the financial and banking district became a forest of glittering skyscrapers while the rest of the city rotted. In 2008, even they began to crack as economic downturn gripped the global economy.
Today, Pikesburg is once again a city of extreme wealth and abject poverty. Unemployment officially stands at close to 20%, but those in the know suspect the actual number is higher. Crime and corruption are once again rampant. At night, people flock to the clubs and bars as an all too brief escape from the insurmountable problems of the day.
Notable locations include the city's university. It needs a name - something evocative of its founding as an exclusive, private school. There are two centers of the city - the current, ultramodern downtown with its high rises, trendy night clubs, modern art galleries, and the like and the old city with its decaying gothic architecture from a bygone era. The oldest building in Pikesburg is a giant Catholic cathedral that dates back to the days of being a simple missionary outpost. The old graveyard attached to the cathedral's grounds is still in use to this day. The city's slums are growing a little more every day as one by one houses from the better neighborhoods get foreclosed on. The old industrial district on the river front is filled rotting factories and abandoned shipping centers. Gangs rule this area. Only the extremely brave (or stupid) venture into this area. There is a relatively large nature park that was donated to the city by wealthy philanthropist to give the working class someplace where they could escape the tenements. Unfortunately, those old tenements are an extension of the industrial district, so the park rarely sees use now days. Recently, there has been a push from the hipster movement to reclaim a part of the old city. Coffee and tea shops, loft apartments, used book stores, vintage curio shops, and indie art galleries line this street.
So now for the players, what else does Pikesburg need? What state is it in? What's the name of the river? Is there something else that would make its history more interesting? Let's expand it and make Pikesburg really come alive!