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Jürgen Hubert's LiveJournal

November 11th, 2005

07:15 pm - Finally, another update...
Being swamped at work shouldn't be an excuse for neglecting Urbis. I've finally decided to upload some stuff I have written several months ago, but forgot to put on the site.

There is new material in the Desert of Thunder, Distant Shores, Gawaris Desert, Gol Algor, Gol Grungor, Great Southern Chaos, Lake of Dreams, Lands of the Dead, Malundi, Norfjell Wastes, and Parginian Rim sections. I hope you enjoy them!

And as always, any feedback is very much welcome.

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June 9th, 2005

11:45 am - Some more general thoughts...
I've asked for opinions on Urbis on a German-language RPG message board, and the general consensus was that, as it is presented now, Urbis is too much "more of the same" - it is not yet distinctive enough from other fantasy worlds out there. I'll need to come up with some more ideas on how to empathize the more unique elements of Urbis...

Apart from that, they also suggested writing a short story for the setting, which strikes me as a good idea. I haven't come up with a specific story yet, but I will probably set it in Dartmouth, of the Flannish Cities - a city which I plan to present in greater detail as the default "home base" for campaigns, and where the introductory adventure will take place...

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June 4th, 2005

01:27 pm - Urbis Artists' Guidelines
Since opening up my DeviantArt Gallery, I have been contacted by a few people who are interested in creating art for Urbis. In response to this, I have created an "Artists' Guidelines" section on the website, and here is what it says there:

Read more...Collapse )

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May 31st, 2005

10:39 am - Musing about the "Core Story" of Urbis
A recent post by mearls about the Core Story of D&D got me thinking...

I think I have this great setting with lots of interesting things to do and see, but there is no "default" assumption about the typical party of player characters yet - who they are, what they are supposed to do, and how the campaign will change as they increase in power. But Mike Mearls makes the point that such a core story is part of what makes many campaign settings attractive. Forgotten Realms has one (they even have "professional adventuring companies"), the Star Wars RPGs have one (rebels fighting the Evil Empire), the Midnight Campaign setting has one (resistance fighters versus the minions of the evil god Izrador), Warhammer has one (average people getting caught up in intrigues by chaos cultists), and Dark Sun had one until the novels ruined it.

So far, Urbis doesn't have one, and this bothers me a bit. I feel that I need to bring the setting into a tighter focus, and some sort of "default assumption" about the typical party would help here.

So, my question to all of you: What do you think the "Core Story of Urbis" should be?

Note that I don't assume that all campaigns should follow this scheme - Urbis should be flexible enough to support all sorts of campaigns. But some sort of starting point for new DMs would be nice, and it would also help coming up with an appropriate introductory adventure which I plan on including with it...

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May 15th, 2005

06:36 pm - I'm back!
Long overdue, I admit, but here are finally some new updates:

- A few new deities. I think I'm slowly approaching a "full pantheon", but there are still empty slots to fill. If you can think of any obvious types of deities I have missed, please tell me!

- Updates of various sizes to the Flannish Cities, Gol Murak, Lake of Dreams, Lands of the Dead, League of Armach, Norfjell Wastes, Parginian Rim, and Thenares.

- Some new Groups and Societies! You can't have an urban setting without revolutionaries, after all...

- More Stock NPCs. I've started working on the Special Branches - elite guard units tasked with defending the cities against powerful threats, such as high-level adventurers...

I hope that I will be able to add more stuff soon.

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February 3rd, 2005

06:04 pm - Latest Updates
  • The Gnomes of... well Gellingen, anyway. After I introduced a version of Switzerland to Urbis, it was only natural that I introduced a local variant of the Gnomes of Zürich. A rich family of gnomes that owns the Geminschaftsbank, the most powerful bank in the Known Lands, and whose influence reaches far and wide, these are some gnomes that your PCs are unlikely to laugh at... twice.

  • New locations in the Alliance of the Pantheon, Gawaris Desert, Malundi, Parginian Rim and the Siebenbund.

  • A new stock NPC - a guard mage. This completes the ordinary city guards - the people who deal with ordinary disturbances and small crime.

    The law enforcement people who deal with extraordinary disturbances, such as rampaging monsters - or high-level PCs who are making a scene - will come later...

As always, feel free to ask any questions or add any comments you might have.

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January 8th, 2005

09:25 pm - Latest Updates
A few more additions:

  • More details on the League of Armach. These are the premier "bad guys" of the setting, and running adventures for good-aligned parties there should have all the excitement of playing spies or partisans in Nazi-occupied Europe or Sovjet Russia. The various secret police and spy agencies were also loosely inspired by various Sovjet agencies…

  • I’ve added a new country that’s off the map – the local equivalent of India. And again, the elves are at the top of the local social structure. Notice a pattern here? ;-)

    I don’t want to give this country too much detail – I want to concentrate on a "core area" that contains the equivalents of Europe, Northern Africa, and Western Asia. That’s a wide enough geographic are for many campaigns, and I have to start somewhere. Still, if I ever write any supplements, this might change…

  • I’ve added a history section, and started with the beginning – with creation myths. And of course, civilization began with a legendary city (what else?), though the various races and cultures differ a bit on what exactly happened there…

  • A new location for the Eternal Storm region, which should feel a lot like a wild west frontier town during the gold rush…

  • Magic Items! One-shot enhancements are a boon to any assassin (when used offensively) or public figure (when used defensively – great for surviving assassination attempts). Bloodstones are an important tool to control access to powerful magic items, like golems.

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January 6th, 2005

10:29 pm - Latest Updates
I'm on a roll! Some of the latest updates include:

  • Several new locations for the Alliance of the Pantheon, in keeping with the general "one deity for each city" idea for the region. More cities will have to wait until I can think of a few new deities... Any suggestions?

  • I put some halflings into the Lands of the Dead. Again, the general idea is that halflings aren't half as harmless as they appear...

  • Some further exploration of the Eternal Storm region. What's life like when you work in a region where vast elemental flares might rage across the land at a moment's notice?

  • A few thoughts on life, society, and adventuring in the elven kingdom of Avareen. Visiting this forest kingdom should be a very scary experience for any non-elves, and I hope I have been able to convey why. These are elves from the darker sort of faery tale...

  • And finally, I have vastly expanded on the Desert of Thunder. Have you wondered how it came to pass that a family of blue dragons openly rules millions of humans? Well, now you can read it up. And as an added bonus, I've managed to put another space-travelling faction into the setting...</a>

Have fun reading! As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated.

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January 4th, 2005

02:39 pm - It is done!
I've been busy those past few days, and thus I can present you with another update:

  • I've finally gone through all the files and eliminated all traces of unnecessary code left over from the days when I used the Mozilla Editor - or even Microsoft Word - for designing the website. Now the layout for all pages is determined by CSS files, which allow me much more flexibility when altering the design of the website as a whole.

    Now all I have to do is come up with a good design...

  • After it was pointed out to me that I am legally required to do so, I've added Open Gaming License information to all sections that use them. All appropriate text now uses a different font from the portions of the text that isn't OGL.

  • I've made a couple of minor additions to the texts. Apart from a nod to events in my short playtest campaign in the Flannish Cities section (look under "Dartmouth"), the biggest additions are to Gol Grungor. So far, Gol Grungor was nothing more in my mind than an extremely conservative dwarven kingdom. But now I've given some thought how this can be exploited for conflicts within that society - after all, adventures and campaigns thrive on conflict.

    As with Narevoreen, the inspiration came from the history of Japan. Japan also had an extremely stratified society, and merchants had among the least social esteem of all professions, since they were neither warriors, nor produced something - but thanks to their profession, they became very rich despite that lack of esteem. So Gol Grungor has a rich merchant class that all other clans look down to - and the merchants return the favor by bribing officials, smuggling forbidden wares, and otherwise making trouble for the conservatives. And this should provide plenty of plot hooks to get adventurers involved...

  • Finally, I plan to start all sections with quotes from fictitious people who live in the setting. So far, I've only come up with one, but I think this one nicely helps summarize the general attitude of the setting, so I will share it here:

    "Where are all the heroes of old who would ride forth to vanquish all Evil? The gallant knights have turned into mercenaries selling their swords for the highest bidder. Instead of inspiring others through example and a pious and humble life, today's priests spend most of their time directing hate speeches against other religions while living luxurious lives supported by the donations of the urban poor. And the archmages do no longer spend their times contemplating arcane mysteries in isolated towers, only venturing forth when their knowledge and wisdom is needed - now they use their intellects to figure out how to harvest the last bit of life energy from those living in our slums.
    So, where have our saviors vanished to? Will we ever see their likes again? Or were they nothing more than a myth in the first place?"

    - Krond Gjerten, Revolutionary

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December 22nd, 2004

05:58 pm
jhubert, I've got a few questions for you to solve in your Urbis setting. I've got a new campaign starting up, and I was going to use a large bit of the premise of Urbis for it. While thinking about it today, though, I had a few things come to mind that I beg you respond to.

Firstly, how "big" is the Urbis 'city'? How much of the world is actually emcompassed by this civilization, and how dense really is it? Is it a series of cities that happen to be close together around Nexus towers, or is it more of a series of Nexus towers that blend together into one city with occasional park/wildlands left free for whatever reason?

One of the primary reasons I ask is resources. Cities consume resources quite a lot, particularly building materials. If wood is the primary building material, where does it come from? Rock? Brick? Metal? You've already answered the food dilema with the Nexus towers, which is a great source of power. However, if material resources, especially raw materials, also come about in the same way, there's even more of a huge skew introduced to the distribution of the classes. Mages would almost become deities in their areas and their subject around as mere playthings (think the PC game "Black & White" actually) to send and use as they choose. A certain dynamic could be introduced if there are instead regions (possibly of less population density) that have raw materials, particularly metal mining to infinite depths via portals to elemental planes, and don't necessarily support Nexus towers. Trade and conflict would be created.

Urbis, or at least the image I've formed from reading your material, is a world of a few entities (those who can utilize the Nexus towers and do practically anything within their reach) who do their best to farm commoners merely as a source of energy and perhaps occasionally worker drones. This, to me, doesn't leave a lot of room for roleplaying.

(My apologies if you'd rather I'd not posted to the community.)

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