View Full Version : Details of locations/planets, please share your comments

10 September 2002, 09:31 PM

I'm just wondering how much time and effort people spend creating locations for their campaigns? By locations I mean a planet city, port, particular bar or hangout, etc. What I mean by detail is, how much effort do you go into?

Do you just do a name? Regular patrons? Background of the owner? Floor plans of a facility or area?

I generally would create small places like bars or such that will be used by the PCs regularly. I don't usually do floor plans or specs like that for small locations or cities or ships, though I would think it might be handy.

Do you think its worth the effort?


Reverend Strone
10 September 2002, 10:30 PM
Do you just do a name? Regular patrons? Background of the owner? Floor plans of a facility or area?

In my campaigns: all of the above, either for my own use, or that of the PCs where applicable. I generally have a rough backstory and at least a name worked out for all the patrons in the bar or whatever characters populate any other such environment with which my PCs are likely to interact. Key NPCs I obviously have stats for- others, I'll use generic template stats if a situation arises for which I'll need them. I also try and have artwork for any key characters that I hope my guys will remember as well.

I like to be prepared, and my players have commented in the past that one of the aspects of my game they enjoy is the depth of the world in which they're gaming. They don't need to know every detail, but they know that if they do dig around, there's a wealth of information there that fleshes out the NPCs and the rest of their environment. I try to avoid ever giving my players the impression I'm having to make something up on the spot because I've found in the past that tends to lead to them taking the game less seriously, but that's just my GMing style.

Is it worth the effort?

I reckon so (at least in the case of the campaign I'm running presently), but it very much depends on the style of game you run, how loose you play it, and what your players respond too.

Wedge in Red2
11 September 2002, 04:00 AM
Well, my brief reply...

It depends on how likely I think it is the PC's are going to go there :). If it's a definite lead and I think my PC's will end up there, I have a name, floorplans, key NPC's names and descriptions (although not necessarily stats...these I can fudge on the fly).

Otherwise I just tend to make it up. Quite often my PC's will say "can we find a weapons shop?", and I'll just make one up. I pick a species out of thin air to run it (Twi'leks seem to often fall into this category), give a brief description of distinctive features (colouration, height, weight, etc,) and that's about it.

Anyway, that's just my 2cr worth.


11 September 2002, 09:42 AM
Well, it depends. If I think the PCs are going to spend a lot of time there, I'll pull out all the stops. For planets, there'll be a world map, a more detailed map of a continent with large cities or vital locations. I'll also sketch out portions of cities or towns the PCs will go to on this planet, if they'll be spending a lot of time there. Politics and culture will be outlined, as well as buildings or locations of major hangouts, shops, and NPCs. This is one extreme though, and in any campaign, there is never more than two places for which I'll go to this extreme - usually just one.

For the rest of the places that I've planned for my PCs in advance, I'll make sure that I have names, and one or two colourful personalities that the PCs can interact with. These NPCs may or may not have a special set of stats, depending on how I plan to use them. If it's just RPing, for instance, I'll put more effort into developing character than stats. The spaceport gets a little bit of detail. I'll map buildings or areas that are key to the adventure only. What I'll try to focus on is the creation of atmosphere, so I'll give the world or location one or two hooks or quirks, and then ad-lib a bit around it. These may be legal, political, cultural, religious. There may be a recent defining event, such as a natural disaster, that the population is dealing with.

And then there are the times when the players surprise, and go someplace you hadn't planned on. A hyperdrive malfunction on a route off the beaten path, for instance, means the PCs need a place in range of the backup drive so they can get it fixed. A fight they never should have gotten into has them trying to seek a hiding spot in a building of some sort. What do you do?

Well, I go to my trusty file of thumbnail sketches - backups for, well not all, but quite a few contingencies. I keep 3-4 worlds on hand, and maybe 5 or 6 locations that I can drop in to cover these situations. Plug in an emergency NPC from the same set of stock, and I'm ready to go. For instance, the barkeep might be a scarred and gruff Barabel who's perpetually chewing on a cigar, popping it into and out of his mouth. Do NOT get between him and his smoke! Everything has a name and a hook of some sort, to make it distinctive. Plus, it's quick to do. 15-20 minutes for a planet, a few minutes to decide on the starport type and style, maybe 10-20 minutes on the NPC, and the same amount on a location. Creating a stock of this type doesn't take long at all, and it's proved useful to me. Inevitably, though, something will get ad-libbed.

Troy Henist
12 September 2002, 06:29 AM
How do people go about designing planetary systems, working out home many planets are in the system and what type they are?

12 September 2002, 08:25 AM
Again, it depends. How important is the world and system to your campaign. If very important, I will work out all the planets, which are habitable or have a station of some sort, the number of moons, other space stations, type of star, and the presence (yes or no) of an asteroid field. I'll work out the details of most, if not all, of these places. In a campaign, I won't do this kind of work for more than one or two places.

If it's of secondary importance - I've planeed for the characters to go there once or a few times - then I may work out some of these details. Star type, number of planets, but maybe not all the types, and as for details, there will be thumbnail sketches of the places where there is habitation, and more detail on the place or places they actually will go. If necessary, I can fill in needed details later, if the importance of the system to the campaign changes.

And as for thumbnail sketches of 'surprise' stops, I'll just do a quick thumbnail of the place the PCs need or want to go. This is when I dig into my trusty file.

Feeling a little dry for ideas? Try WoTC's Random Planet Generator (http://www.wizards.com/starwars/article.asp?x=sw20010329a_generator&c=rpg). Give it a few clicks, and I'm sure you'll come up with something that will be the beginning of a new world for you. I don't often use the names, but sometimes. It sure helps get the creative juices flowing fast.

As for other ideas, I'm a D6er, so I use Galaxy Guide 8: Scouts as a reference for systems, planets and civilizations. For other locations, I'll refer to Platt's Starport Guide (for starports of course), and Wretched Hives of Scum and Villainy for bars. I never follow the generation rules in these, but I do use a lot of the ideas and hooks, and these can inspire me to finish the necessary tailoring.

I don't know about the D20 stuff, but the sources I mentioned aren't really stats specific on these points, so they could be useful if WoTC hasn't generated equivalent products yet.

Good luck, and I hope that helped. :)

12 September 2002, 08:50 AM
I try to set most of my adventure across several worlds, but stick to those worlds. I pretty much stick to the Rimma Trade Route including the Tapani & Elrood Sectors. I'm not big on maps, but if I keep a few maps handy for when needed. I find the Shadowrun: Sprawl sites book great for on-the-fly maps.

As for charcaters, well nearly every bar has a Devronian, Duro & Twi'lek. I just stat the major NPCs.

Troy Henist
13 September 2002, 07:30 AM
Cheers for the link Darklighter

Also, whilst I was scouring the net I came across this Starsystem Generator (http://members.vip.fi/~hopeakuu/starwars/sysgen.html)

13 September 2002, 09:11 AM
Hey, that's a great link. I popped that into my favourites immediately. Thanks Troy! :)

Tannik Tulo
13 September 2002, 03:57 PM
I use the same books that Darklighter suggested they help greatly. For the looks and general imagery i usually base the world or culture on a real world one or a merger between two of them. A good example was when i had my players visit a world that was the home of a post space travel Mayan/Aztec civilization, They left the spaceport and i set the scene by useing Photo copied pictures of Mayan art and stonework. The pyramids (mayan style) were connected via walkways etc.
This worked out well because i found that some of my players sat with their eyes shut when i described a cantina. When you use this method of designing a world it is easier to keep the world/culture intact as one, i have been in to many games where every thing was a missmatch. I am at the moment working on a Spanish style culture (Buccaner/pirate era) but advancing them on 600 years or so (helps me design clothes and ships as well as personalities)
I have since found that this is roughly what George Lucas does when he creates a world for starwars.

19 September 2002, 12:28 PM
Hey there

Great links Darklighter and Troy

I found a sector generator that is rather good, it dosn't contain Star Wars related data, but it is worth a look.

it can generate a good map of a random sector, and also random single systems.

And if you like you can change the sector so it looks like one in Star Wars.

Just remember to download all available updates.

The Link :

Its Full Of Stars (http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/7472/ifosweb/index.htm)