Session 12 – Designing Athesa
So, you may have already read my post on where we built out the Carnival using Spectacular Settlements, so if you wish, you can just skip to the next adventure story post by clicking here. However, if you’re interested in reading how I used it to create the city of Athesa, then carry on!
Advice to the reader
In order to interpret the structure of my gaming session posts effectively, it is strongly suggested that you peruse A Readers Guide to Play Sessions on The Old Bard, if you haven’t already.
To better grasp what I mean when I bring up Fate questions, you might find it useful to keep the Mythic Fate Chart accessible, potentially in a new window or tab in your browser.
The Story So Far
The party has returned to Dreadmere and rested for the evening They are about to set out to the city north of Dreadmere.
The first thing we need to do here is actually build out the city that the party will visit. That means, of course, that I turn to one of my favorite resources Spectacular Settlements by Nord Games. You can click here to read my Investigation Check for Spectacular Settlements.
First of all, I needed a name for this city, so I used this Fantasy City Name Generator, and re-generated a list of names until I saw something that piqued my interest and settled on Athesa.
I copied the fillable Cities sheet for Spectacular Settlements and named it “Settlement – City – Athesa.pdf”
We used the Trading Post chapter in Spectactular Settlements to build out Dreadmere and The Carnival in Session 8. For a Trading Post that consisted of 3 steps, starting with Basic Information then leading to Community, Points of Interest and an optional step called Extra Intrigue. For a city however, you still begin with Basic Information and Community, but instead of Points of Interest you have Districts and then the optional step of Extra Intrigue.
Step 1: Basic Information.
For Origin, we need to roll 1d10. My result is 2 so that means this city started as a Tribal Home, originally built by a group of natives in the region.
Next, we need to roll 1d6 for Priority. My result was 6 so this means its Faith. It is a nexus for the faithful. There is a note, that when we get to rolling districts, we need to choose Temple District as one of them. I note this on the settlement sheet.
Note: I would really like to paste the entire description for the result in my sheet. It helps to not have to refer back directly to the book for an understanding, however the fillable fields do not support the length necessary, so I add a note to see book for more details.
Next, we need to determine the Age of the city using 1d10. My result is 5 so that means it’s Mature and we have a +0 to the population density roll. I note +0 to the Age box next to Population Density in Step 2: Community on my settlement sheet.
For Size, we need to roll 1d20, my result is 7. Our city size is Medium, so we have a +0 to that we need to note in the Size box for the Number of Districts in Step 3: Districts.
There is an optional Population Capacity value you can roll for, so we will go ahead and do that and see if that comes into play at another time. We need to roll 1d20 and my result is 7 once again. Since the size of our city is Medium that means the structures for it supports 24,000 people, but since our Population Capacity is 7 that means we need to double that to 48,000! This is a VERY dense city that could support a large number of people, however, don’t confuse this this the actual Population Density, that we’ll get to in Step 2: Community.
Now to determine how much of the city’s infrastructure locations are outside the city itself. Since our city Size is Medium, that means we need to perform 3 outside the city rolls and we need to roll 1d20 for each. My results are 15, 18 and 1. So we have a Family Estate, and a Makeshift Settlement. The 1 means that we don’t note anything for that, however one of the outside locations listed in the table is a Prison. I like that idea and decide that will be my third Outside the city location.
Now we need to determine the Stewardship of the city with a 1d20 roll, for which I get 18 which means the stewardship is Managed. Whoever is in charge here is doing a fairly spectacular job. We need to note the following attributes for future rolls: +1 to general condition roll, +3 to population wealth roll and +4 to law enforcement roll so I find those locations on the sheet and put the modifiers there.
Moving on to General Condition, the result of my 1d20 roll for this table is 14, however I need to apply a +1 modifier to it based on Stewardship. This results in determining that the condition of the city is Impressive. It’s well taken care of and cleanliness is a priority. We need to apply a +1 modifier to district condition rolls in Step 3: Districts.
For Environment, I just choose River as we already know the map location of the city from our previous map.
For Fortification, I get 6 for my 1d20 roll, so this means the city is Lightly Fortified and we need to add a +1 modifier for our Disposition roll down in Step 2: Community.
All cities have a non-district Market Square where typical goods can be found, though by no means is this all it has to offer. For this we need to roll 1d6, and my result is 4 so there is Ample room for a fair number of vendor stalls.
Next up is Vendor Stall Acquisition which requires 1d4 for which my result is 4 which is Bid. Another 1d4 for Merchant Overflow which I also get a 4 which means vendors are Encouraged. Excess vendors are encouraged to set up stalls outside the city, if they are unable to get a spot in the square. There are maintained areas available for use, and are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. When in use by vendors, this area is regularly patrolled, if law enforcement personnel can be spared.
Next is Underground Passages which requires a 1d20 roll and my result is 19, so we have Tunnels in this city. A series of tunnels exist beneath the city. This could be for maintenance, defensive, or clandestine purposes and may, or may not, have been purpose-built for the current settlement They could potentially have been dug by enemy forces, either recently or long ago.
And with that, we have completed step 1.
Step 2: Community
Now we move on to the second step for the city, Community.
The first stage here is to roll a 1d20 for Population Density, in which for this case my result is 1, so the density is Skeleton. The city only has enough people to function at its most basic level. Which is very interesting considering the capacity is 48,000 people. Where did they all go, I wonder? With the result of Skeleton, we need to add a -2 modifier to our night activity roll.
We need to roll another 1d20 for Demographics in which my result is 12. This is a Normal Distribution which is 50% primary race, 25% secondary race, 15% tertiary race, and lastly 10% other.
For Population Wealth, we need to roll 1d20 and add +3 based on our Stewardship modifier which results in a total of 5 for me. This means Impoverished. Around half of the city struggles to carve out even a meager existence. We also need to add a -1 modifier for the general crime roll, so I mark that down on the settlement sheet.
Next up is Visitor Traffic. What’s interesting is that I notice on the Settlement Sheet, there is a box for a modifier based on Age. Of course, there wasn’t any specific call outs for Age modifiers when we determined the age of the city. For now, I’m not going to worry about that, but will need to see if there is some errata for the book to clarify this. Perhaps it shouldn’t be on the sheet, or the contents of the book are wrong. Regardless, 1d20 gives me a result of 11 which means the traffic is Crowds which make it congested. We also need to add a +2 modifier to our Night Activity roll.
For Disposition my 1d20 roll for this table resulted in 10 and then adding my +1 modifier for Fortification lands us on Neutral. Locals are standoffish, or perhaps hard on the outside, but can be friendly if you get to know them.
For Night Activity, we have a couple of modifiers here. A -2 for Population Density and a +2 for Visitor Traffic, so they negate each other out so we’ll just use the result of a 1d20 which is 1 for me. This means that Night Activity is Dark. By the time the sun goes down, the streets are nearly empty, and the city closes up. All is quiet and peaceful. If the city has a gate, it is closed and barred. Guards may, or may not, allow night travelers inside.
I think it’s because of that Common Enemy that Dreadmere has, those damned Goblins to the west. This also probably explains why the Population Density is so low.
Now on to Leadership. This one requires a 1d100 roll in which my result is 40 which means Hereditary. A non-elected leader is in power, by virtue of their bloodline. I really like this, as I had in my head that the party would have to meet someone of Royalty when Moody, the soothsayer at the carnival told them in Session 10 that “There you will find a lovely soul who would be helpful in aiding you to find the sorcerer should you provide protection against a common enemy.” That common enemy is of course the Goblins to the west, so this is working out pretty well in my opinion.
For Law Enforcement a 1d20 results in 16, but we have a +4 modifier from Stewardship, which means we have an Extensive City Watch. We also need to add +2 to general crime roll.
Now we need to roll 1d20 for General Crime. Based on a -1 modifier for Population Wealth and a +2 modifier for Law Enforcement, our overall modifier is +1. My result of 18+1 gives us 19 which lands us on Infrequent. Most don’t believe there is any crime,
and certainly, haven’t experienced any. Hmmm, so the Common Enemy is the goblins… Then this must mean that the City is well protected from the goblins, but how much you want to bet they are giving the city grief along the trade routes. That’s it, that will be the reason the Goblins are a common enemy. They are affecting trade more between Athesa and Dreadmere. We also need to add a +1 modifier to our urban encounter rolls.
Since we didn’t have anything for our General Crime result to warrant a roll on the Organized Crime table, so we skip that and now we’ve completed Step 2: Community for our city.
Step 3: Districts
Spectacular Settlements notes that “Districts develop within a city for a myriad of reasons, but foremost among them is simple commonality. Businesses and establishments of a similar or unifying nature begin to cluster together, often in an effort to either aid and complement one another, or to take advantage of a prime location (such as close proximity to resources or materials, or, simply, foot traffic to another place). They can also develop due to the coalescing of groups, such as those with little or great wealth, or people who all do the same kind of work.“
The first thing we need to determine, is the Number of Districts in our city by rolling 1d20. My result is 10 which means the city will have 3 districts. There is a modifier based on the size of the city, but that was zero for this city.
Next, we need to roll 1d12 per district to determine its type. We’ll only do this twice however, because we need to choose Temple District as one of them since the city’s priority of Faith dictates that we do. The result of my other rolls are 1 and 5. So we have an Administration district and a Docks . However, I’m going to re-roll for that because we’re not adjacent to any large body of water. (We are near a river, and it could be large, but we’ll re-roll anyways). This time we get 8, which is Merchant.
For District Condition, we need to roll 1d20 for each and apply +1 to each due to the cities General Condition. I roll 8, 4 and 1, so that’s 9, 5 and 2 as a result. I’ll apply these in order for each district already listed. We also have to refer back to the General Condition table in Step 1 to determine the districts actual condition.
For the Temple, that’s Equal. Same as general condition level., +0 to quality rolls for locations in this district. So, the temple is in Impressive condition. We need to add a +1 modifier to the district crime roll. Note: In the book itself, it notes -1, however it also notes -1 for a Dilapidated district. I think this is an error in the book, and it should be +1 for an Impressive district and +2 for a Magnificent crime roll.
Administration is Worse. 1 step worse than general condition level, therefore -1 to quality rolls for locations in this district. For the Administration District, that means it’s in Decent condition. We need to add +0 to the district crime roll.
And finally, the Merchant district is Far Worse. 2 steps worse than general condition
level, so -2 to quality rolls for locations in this district. This means that this district is Dilapidated. We need to add -1 to the district crime roll.
Now we roll 1d12 for each district entry. My results are 8, 10 and 4. So Guarded for the Temple, Guarded for the Administration district and Open for the Merchant district.
For District Crime, we have to do the same as we did for District Condition. First rolling 1d20 for each. I get 7, 16 and 13.
For the Temple, we need to add a +2 to the roll of 7 since it’s Guarded. District Crime is Equal then. which means Crime is Infrequent in this district.
With the Administration district, its entry is Open, so no modifier. 16 results in Better. 1 step better than the city’s general crime level. Since that’s Infrequent, this district is also Infrequent.
And with the Merchant District, again its entry is Open, so no modifier which means 13 lands it on the Equal crime level, so it’s Infrequent as well.
For the Housing section of each district, we need to roll 1d12 again. I get 6, 9 and 12. A value of 6-9 on the Housing table means Limited. Only a few live here; the district may be predominantly a place of business or functionality, or perhaps people avoid living here for another, less innocent reason. and for the value of 12 that’s Extensive. A significant amount of the district’s buildings are housing for residents.
So, both the Temple and Administration district have Limited housing while the Merchant district has Extensive housing.
Now we need to determine each districts number of Notable Locations with a 1d10 for each. My results are 3, 7 and 4. Results 2-5 from the District Notable Locations table is One. The first additional location in the district is notable. Therefore, both the Temple and Merchant district each have their first additional location as notable while the Administration district (with the result of 7) is Two. Up to the first 2 additional locations in the district are notable. All this may be a bit confusing, and it was for me too until I got down into the Individual Districts section in the book.
Now we move on to the locations for each district. Using the table at the beginning of the Individual Districts section of Spectacular Settlements we have to determine the overall Additional Location Rolls based on the city size. Since our city is Medium, we need to perform 3 rolls per district. Therefore, we need to place the number 3 in the Number of Additional Locations box at the beginning of page 5 on our City Settlement sheet.
Since the Administration District Additional Locations table is first in the book, we’re going to take care of that district first. It’s included locations are a Courthouse, a Chancery, a Town Hall, and a Treasury. All of these do not have a guild associated with them. Additionally, it has a service Hired Help: Scribes and Clerks. I list these as the Included Locations for this district on my settlement sheet.
Now we need to roll 1d20 3 times for additional locations. My results are 4, 9 and 17. So we have an Alchemist (shop), a Bathhouse (service), and finally an Academy/University (non-commercial).
Now we’ll move on to the Merchant District, It’s Included Loctions are the following shops: a Bank & Exchange, a Tailor, an Artist, a Cobbler, and finally a Magic Shop – Miscellaneous & Curiosities. For the additional locations, my 1d20 rolls for this district are 1, 4 and 6. For 1, the description is Roll again, but consider the next location to be a step. My reroll is 10 so that’s Rare Trade Goods (shop), 4 is an Alchemist (shop), and 6 is a Bank & Exchange (shop). We already have a Bank & Exchange location, but Spectacular Settlements notes earlier that “If you roll more than one of a location, treat it as another location.” so we just keep that.
Now we’ll tackle the Temple District. For its Included Locations we need to roll 1d6 for which I get 5 which is Great Temple; Archives/Library. It also has the following services: a Hired Help: Scribes, a Hired Help: Priestly Guidance, and finally a Hired Help: Hands of the Divine. For the additional locations, my 1d20 rolls for this district are 12, 10 and 18 which are a Barber (service), a Rare Libations & Fare (shop), and a Schoolhouse (non-commercial).
Next, we’ll determine why each notable location is, well… notable!
For the Temple District its first additional location is notable it’s a Barber (service), so rolling a 1d20 on the Location Notability table on page 166 results in 2 which is Top-Notch Marketing. All around the city you can see signage, or hear people mentioning, the location. That’s one impressive barber.
For the Administration District we have 2 notable locations. The first is the Alchemist (shop), a 1d20 results in 11 so its reason is Superstition. Those who frequent this location do so out of the belief that if they don’t, something will (or won’t) happen. The next notable location is Bathhouse (service), and it’s 1d20 result is 19 so its reason is Organization Affiliation. Association with certain people has generated traffic to this location.
Finally for the Merchant District we have 1 notable location which is Rare Trade Goods (shop). A 1d20 results in 16 so its reason is Nearby Curiosity. There is something in very close proximity that draws attention, thereby increasing foot traffic.
For now, I’m not going to worry about Optional: Quality or Optional: Place of Worship Tables but we may come back to this at another time.
For the shops and services locations recorded, I rolled 1d6 per location to determine if there was a Guild associated with the location per instructions on page 168 in Spectacular Settlements.
And with that we are done with Districts!
I’m not going to worry about Extra Intrigue as of now. We’ll revisit that once our party gets to the city and anything comes up noteworthy. We already know the Goblins are wreaking havoc on the roads leading to the city, so we need to keep that in mind as we travel there!
This was a pretty lengthy build out, but we got the core of our Settlement Sheet for the new city the party needs to visit done. Along the way, I did find some quirkyness to building out a city in Spectacular Settlements, so I need to take some time and build out a test city once again at some point and re-note those findings. I’m sure there is probably an errata for that I need to get to update the book with.
Regardless, we’re ready to get back to our story!
Till next time!