Monday, October 18, 2010

City Generation - Thoughts

As we move through the various district that make up the City of Lives, I constantly wonder how much it veers away from what an actual city looks like. The City of Lives is a somewhat idealized and abstracted metropolis, but I want it to ring true for the players who enter it -- if the City doesn't breathe, the entire setting is dead. Thus, the question of separation. I like the idea of a spoked city, and of district defined by dominant function -- commerce, manufacturing, religion or housing. But if the districts become too narrowly defined, they lose their realism, becoming flat, 2-dimensional characters. Just as a fictional person needs multiple strengths and weaknesses to be believable as a real person, so too must a town, city -- or district.

The first step is to combine a couple districts with little personality of their own. Orhall was envisioned as "the guild district," but in reality, guilds formed around business and commerce. Thus, it has little reason to stand on its own, and should be folded into the likewise underdeveloped "financial district" Solura.

Similarly, Tradespoint, while having a wonderful name, has little character on its own, and even less verisimilitude. Where is trade gathered? Where do they put the stores? Historically, in one of two places -- near the goods or near the people. Suburban strip malls are out of character for the City, so trade should be centered where the goods enter the City -- on the river at Penelope's Wharf and by the shiftgates coming in from other Realms in the Crux. I may reappropriate the name Tradespoint for Penelope's Wharf -- I don't know which name I like better -- but the district as it stands is dead, dismembered.

The next question is if Belltown should exist as an independent district, if entertainment and prostitution should be spread out across the City, or if I should split the difference and call it a neighborhood within another, larger district. Similarly, is the university district of Sagelights big enough an idea to support 1/12 of the City? Or the manufacturing center known as the Factorium, in a society that is (mostly) pre-Industral Revolution?

Unfortunately, I don't have answers for these questions yet... more pondering must be done. I will return, with... Solura? Tradespoint? Only time and Fate will tell!