One of the best things about Wraith: the Oblivion is that it's set in a sub-reality that is parallel to our own: the Shadowlands, where all memories go to die, and take a long, long time to do so in some cases.
It's the sort of place where things from untold ages ago are up and about, walking alongside things that just fell down yesterday, or the day before. Wraiths who have seen the changing of the ages may work alongside, command, or work for wraiths who just showed up, relatively speaking. It is a strange, alien jumble of times, places, ideas and architecture, where the only sure thing is that death is not always the end of the story.
As such, one of the greatest thrills of the game is getting to sit down in front of one's writing tools, crack open the old brain and make a new setting for folks to enjoy. The mixture of history, ruin, decay and hope that is Wraith adds a new dimension to worldbuilding: much along the same lines as creating the Vampiric or Magely history of a place, only taken at least one step further given the nature of the game, itself.
I have had the pleasure of making a few Necropoli, now, and I have played in those of others as well. And as I have, I have noticed that, for whatever reason, mine always seem to be just that much better than those of others. And while - splendid egotist that I am - I like to think this is partially because of excellent writing skills on my behalf, I think there is something else that should be said concerning the actual creation of the Necropolis, itself-
Okay, you can shut up, now.
I beg your pardon?
No. You can shut up. Now.
But we had a deal?
Yeah, you got to write the first part of the introduction. It's my turn, now.
Ah... there we go. Sorry about that. You let him go on for too long and before you know it everyone's handing us a shovel and telling us to dig up. I think that's enough nonsense for one day.
Heh. You'd know all about that, wouldn't you? ; )
Anyway: Necropoli. Where were we?
I've seen good Necropoli, and I've seen bad Necropoli. I've seen what could have been good ones get saddled down in one stage or another, and go nowhere. And I've seen ones that should have been bad - at least by popular consensus - but went amazingly well for some strange reason.
There are no guarantees in life, much less roleplaying. But if you're going to have a decent game of Wraith, it's best to start out with a decent setting.
And that's what I'd like to talk about in this collection of essays: making the Necropolis, from the ground on up. I want to give you concrete advice on how to go about the setting, itself. I want to talk about the nuts and bolts of the whole shebang, from the foundation up to weather vane. And I want to make it a fun read so you don't fall asleep on me.
A constant danger, or so I am told...
Now, some people won't need this, because they're the kind of person who jumps right into the job task with all the gusto in the world. But for everyone else who might not know what they're in for, this is a guide for navigating the path written by someone who's already been down that way. I hope it will be of at least some use, and even if it isn't then I hope you can use it as a guide of what not to do.
Failing that, I am certain your parakeet could stand some lining for its cage...
...and that's why you wear a hat, smarty-pants.
Now - why me?
Well, besides being a Wraith fan since time out of mind, I've played and Storytold Wraith on a number of World of Darkness chat sites. Some of the sites were good, and some were bad, but I had good and bad experiences on all of them, and learned along the way.
Why is online gaming so important, here? Because in the online environment, you have to have the Necropolis' background up online for players to get their hands on. You also have to get it up there fairly swiftly, too, so folks won't get bored and go somewhere else. Hell hath no fury like a player who waits and waits and waits... and waits... and then leaves before finding out something fairly simple.
As you can see, fast-paced and effective worldbuilding quickly becomes a major part of the job, and I'm very proud of the work I did on WOD: Seattle and WOD: Las Vegas. I'm also proud of my quick and dirty Necropolis in Tarrytown (aka Sleepy Hollow) in the Wraith Scenario What Fearful Shapes and Shadows that ran on Ex Libris Nocturnis in October of 2000, especially when you consider I wrote that damn thing in a month...
Is that your backbone snapping from so much self-promotion?
Yes indeed it is : )
Now... before you all spit and tune this out, let me tell you what this isn't going to be:
* This isn't going to be some high-handed lecture about this all being an art form instead of a game. You're Storytelling Wraith: the Oblivion, so you're at least two cuts above the rest of the worldbuilders out there. You deserve a medal, not a dressing-down from some self-important, pompous schmuck who thinks you're committing a sin worth excommunication from the kitchen table for quoting movie lines during a game. Fuck that noise.
* This also isn't going to be a writing workshop, per se. If you can't make a good alternate persona to save your life, the later installments of the essay aren't going to perform miracles and make your NPCs sing like angels from their character sheets. And this also isn't going to help you make good history if your idea of a thrilling backstory includes stuff that could have been cribbed from the latest Slayer CD's lyrics. You gotta learn all that fine craftsmanship on your own, baby.
* And this definitely isn't a going to be a primer on actually running the game, either. That's a whole other essay I really don't feel like writing, mostly because I go all Old Warhorse, and relive the halcyon days of wanting to fly to foreign countries, meet up with other STs in the flesh and make them eat their keyboards, one fistful of crushed, electronic junk at a time...
No, this is not a bitter man before you. Not one jot.
*cough* No, this is just the worldbuilding aspect of things. Every Storyteller has his or her own style of actually making the thing go after it's all made. I just want to help out with the making, itself.
And, in case you haven't guessed, this essay is me in Dirty Uncle J. mode. It'll be profane, rude and snarly at times. It might also mention some tales out of school, here and there, too, depending on whether an example calls for it or not. We'll all use big kid words, here.
And not suffer fools - or the guilty - gladly at all.
Well said, my friend.