I was looking over my City Questions after I made yesterday's post and looking at ways to give the City Questions a little more oomph. I like their openness to interpretation but I myself stalled on a few while running them. When you're already trying to handle a hundred questions from your players and trying to discretely cobble together an encounter while not breaking the flow of play, reading something like "what kind of influence do celebrities have?" can be kind of jarring and you're like "I don't know, I guess there's, uhhhh, an actor, and- sorry? Is your Blink Dog still calm? It's been about an hour so you'll probably have to drug it again to keep it docile. What was I just thinking about?"
So, anyway, I figured it might be helpful to focus the questions a little more and give specific examples of things to address when answering them. That way when I roll a 19, I'm like "Oh, describe a famous person. A cultural figure, how about. Oh, well there's the comedian Edna Greubel, she does street shows that are starting to draw large crowds. But they're quite subversive, really derisive of some of the major families. There she is now, in clown makeup doing an impression of Lady Von Hook. The people are eating it up, she's putting on an old lady voice and miming using a greatsword as a cane. Using her middle finger to mimic the Lady's eye patch. There are thuggish guards in Von Hook livery looking on, they don't look pleased." See, I just came up with that now, in like 10 seconds, from looking at the new entry. That worked much better.
Anyway without further ado, here's the new thing:
When you answer a city question, show or tell about an entry from the list below (roll 1d20 or choose).
1. The variety of races, demographics, social classes, professions, etc. that exist here - how do they coexist?
2. The daily lives of this place's inhabitants - political and economic conditions, activities, social dynamics
3. Local culture, such as food, entertainment, social codes and taboos, superstition
4. The layout of the city - architecture, topology, zoning, public spaces, green spaces, institutional spaces, etc.
5. The local government - institutions, families, armed forces
6. The day-to-day presence of the law and law-enforcement
7. The city's quirks and unique characteristics
8. The place of magic and magicians in public life, business, institutions, government, etc.
9. The presence and character of local crime - its organizations, perpetrators, modes of operation
10. The city's strange and special goods, merchandise, crafts
11. Tensions social, political, economic, etc. that threaten the city from within
12. The place of physical violence, or lack thereof, in daily life
13. Threats to the city from without - wars, trade, the weather, nature, starvation, etc.
14. The city's secrets - places, societies, cults, etc.
15. The structure of power, official and/or otherwise - how power is established, maintained, enforced, subverted
16. Religious authority - clergy, processions, rituals, holidays, sacred spaces, competing cults
17. The local religions - beliefs, codes, practices, personal worship, cults popular, secret and/or new
18. Local history - historic buildings, famous events, local legends
19. Celebrities, local and distant - warriors, rulers, figures political, religious, intellectual, cultural, etc.
20. Popular culture - who and what is fashionable, trends, styles, books, plays