This City From Above is a GMless Hexmapping game about the life of a city…
This city is a place of connection, of fractious discourse, of potential.
Each day a million different events may occur; some which go unnoticed and others that change the face of this place completely.
Sometimes the smallest of moments can have the greatest impact.
Start with a river. Going clockwise from the last person to put their feet in a river, ask each player to roll (or roll 4 times) to plot the route of the river through the city. Draw lines from the first and last points to the closest edges of the Hexmap. To locate a Landmark, Scene, or the course of The River roll a d20 and refer to the Hex numbered on the map. When this is done, give your River a name.
Factions, Schisms, Unities
Each player should come up with Factions that inhabit the city, until there is 1 Faction per player or at least 4 factions.
Next, take it in turns to pick Schisms that divide the factions and Unities that join them. Go around the group until each Faction has at least one Schism and one Unity with another Faction. These can be foundational and serious, or nonsensical and incredibly petty. Use the list below or make up your own. Expand on the Factions’ histories as a group.
Take it in turns to pick a Landmark prompt and roll a d20 to place it onto the Hexmap until each player has picked 2 or you have 8 Landmarks on the map.
Expand on the Landmark prompt to give it a name, then decide what form it takes, why it was placed there, and what it means to each Faction. You can use the same prompt more than once.
When you have placed all your Landmarks, give your City a name, then begin creating Scenes.
- A place of worship
- A place of nature
- A place of commerce
- A place of justice
- A place of memorial
- A place of solitude
- A place of industry
- A place of creation
- A place of sanctuary
- A place of laughter
- A place of performance
- A place of inspiration
- A place of honour
- A place of mercy
- A place of injustice
- A place of deliberation
- A place of healing
- A place of silence
- A place of solemnity
- A place of reprisal
Scenes are vignettes of life in The City. No matter how small or inconsequential they may seem, they can shape the course of The City’s future in ways that their participants could never imagine.
Take it in turns to generate scenes. Scenes should always involve the whole table and at members of least two Factions, drawing on Schisms and Unities and the established history of The City.
Roll a location for your Scene, then decide on a prompt – roll on the table, choose or come up with your own.
|d20||SCENE PROMPT||d20||SCENE PROMPT|
|1||A missed connection||11||A great proclamation|
|2||An illicit purchase||12||An exchange of information|
|3||A show of force||13||A moment of clarity|
|4||A conferring of wisdom||14||A betrayal of trust|
|5||An act of kindness||15||An act of faith|
|6||A meeting of minds||16||A passionate affair|
|7||An uncovering of secrets||17||A moment of revelation|
|8||An act of violence||18||A timely intervention|
|9||A valuable deal||19||An unequal trade|
|10||A declaration of love||20||An artistic collaboration|
If you’re struggling to frame scenes, then consider using these optional rules for focus. The focus of your scenes can be one of the following, or a mixture of the three as you move in closer to the action.
|TOP-DOWN||For setting the scene where we see the city as a whole before the scene begins or view an area from a long way off|
|3RD PERSON||For describing crowds groups more intimate views of locations or quickly covering events|
|1ST PERSON||For describing individual actions engaging in dialogue or discussing individual thoughts or emotions|
Sometimes, a Scene may hinge on a specific moment that needs a resolution. In this case, work out which Factions have the most control in the Scene by dividing a line from 1-20 between each Faction involved. The more of the line that a Faction takes up, the more control they have. Next, roll a d20. If the result of the roll falls in a Faction’s part of the line, then the scene resolves in their favour.
After each Scene, roll on the Impact table to see what the far reaching consequences of this small event are and the Time table to see how long these changes take to occur. Once you’ve seen the impact, take some time to talk amongst yourselves about how the scene caused these changes, the snowballing of events that led to them, and the potential ongoing effects on The City and its Factions.
|1-5||PETTY||Create or remove a Schism or Unity|
|6-10||MINOR||Create or remove up to 2 Schisms or Unities|
|11-15||MAJOR||Create or destroy a Landmark, orCreate up to 2 new Schisms/Unities|
|16-19||PRODIGIOUS||Create or destroy a Landmark, orCreate up to 2 new Schisms/Unities, orAdd or remove a Faction|
|20||MONUMENTAL||Create, destroy or replace a Landmark, orCreate up to 3 new Schisms/Unities, orAdd or remove up to 2 new Factions|
You can choose to end the story of your city at any time or use any of the following milestones to bring your game to an end:
- 1000 years pass
- All original Landmarks are destroyed or replaced
- No original Factions remain
- No more Schisms exist between Factions
- No more Unities exist between Factions
When your City’s story ends, take a moment to discuss your hopes for its future and your regrets for its past.