Saturday, 9 January 2021

More Neolithic Settlements—City of Ghosts/PARIAH

 A confluence of currents, including but not limited to...

...has lead me back to this idea that cities and settlements could do more (or at least could feel more interesting) in the implied PARIAH setting.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this 9,000 year old Neolithic dwelling is better than my house.

So: using (and augmenting) the tables in this post:
....I've assembled a generator for four different types of settlement: RURAL (the kind that should number in the dozens-per-agricultural-hex), MAJOR SETTLEMENT (the home of a chieftain or regional leader) SACRED SITE (what it says on the tin) and the CITY.

At time of posting MAJOR RURAL SETTLEMENT and SACRED SITES are pretty sketchy, but I think CITY and RURAL SETTLEMENT give plenty of flavour and a few hooks, especially with the "barbarian" invasion or the rebellion against the alien ruler scenarios built into some of the city content.

The Feel of an Urban Adventure

In my non-rpg related work I spend a lot of time thinking about how the elements of the built environment (particular hard and soft landscape elements) contribute to the experience of urban space. In spite of this (or perhaps because of this) I really struggle to create authentic feeling urban scenarios.

To be absolutely clear this has nothing to do with authenticity in the sense of historical accuracy or verisimilitude in that respect: I believe history is a fantastic resource for our fantasy adventure games, but I have no real interest in recreating it. What I am interested in creating an urban experience that feels different to other typical game procedures, in the same way that wilderness exploration is different to dungeon exploration.

I have a few ideas but at its core is the idea of an encounter matrix modulated by the rhythms of the city. Also in my head is the notion that to a hunter-gatherer, the city would appear very much like a dungeon, albeit an open-topped one... but all these thoughts are nebulous and it's really rather late here. so I'm going to say good night for the time being.


  1. This is a great generator, thanks for sharing! Could be useful for any type of sword & sorcery world, too.

    "Though the strongman likes to think he runs things, nothing happens without the consent of a hungry ghoul trapped in the settlement's spirit-house." ---- mmmmm awesome hook

  2. Sword & Sorcery is always a touchstone, I think even in the real world those ancient cities would have been super weird and intense places. Pariah grew out of the idea of "stranger in a strange land", and I couldn't think of anything stranger than someone from a foraging background introduced to a world of rigid social hierarchy and monumental architecture!