Lazy building Icon City
There’s a fine art to being a LazyGM. It takes hard work & dedication – and throws them out the window. The true LazyGM instead uses that most limitless and potent of resources: the players. Our ICONS beer ‘n’ pretzels game has reached a point where it needs a place to call home. It needs a city through which our heroes can fly, web-sling and drive their rocket cars. And the players are going to build it.
But first, we need a ten second pitch. Shamelessly stealing from ideas and plot points I’ve used before, we get this:
Earth’s greatest (indeed, only true) superhero was dead. UltraMegaMan’s body was blasted into a myriad atoms, consumed by the explosion which also destroyed his arch-foe Captain Nemesis. The world was safe at last, yet it mourned.
On the site of his demise they built a statue in his honour, a modern Colossus thousands of feet tall. It stood as a beacon of hope in a world with no more super-powered heroes. To many it was a symbol, the Icon for the modern age. People came to gaze at it, and people stayed. The camp around the statue’s base became a town, and in time that town became a city.
Welcome to Icon City, where hope is born and dreams might truly fly.
Icon City is situated someplace central in the US. As the Greatest New City in America ™, none of the buildings are more than 40 years old, and the hippie culture that gave it life has ever quite left. The overall attitude is closer to San Francisco that New York in that a total stranger is more likely to give you a flower than a punch in the face. Of course, there are exceptions….
Icon City is unusual because of the high number of superheroes (and villains) it has produced. Some theorize this is due to the death of UltraMegaMan – perhaps his atoms have affected the land in some way. (I’ll let you into a secret. They’re partly right.)
That’s it. My work as GM is done.
Now, it’s over to my players. I’m going to give each hero a district they can flesh out however they want, in as much detail as they care to give. I know Brickbat will take Dirtside, Icon City’s slum district, while his partner Gunfire has claimed the as-yet-unnamed Entertainment (bars, clubs, movies and musicals) zone. Vince Cable’s player has the Science Block. The other heroes will pick up districts as the game develops. My own new character, Toxic, will likely pick one of the industrial zones. In the best tradition of story-writing, nothing exists until it exists.
By handing development of the city to the players, I’m letting them inject something of their hero’s personality into the game. Just like Gotham is Batman and Metropolis is Superman drawn in stone, the districts of Icon City are a reflection of our superheroes. The area they choose may be where they were born, grew up, currently live or work. Above all, these are the places they care about.
Which means when I, as GM, send a Giant Rampaging Alien Robot through the Dirtside, Brickbat is going to be really pissed. Likewise, when I announce that Mister Media, uber-showman (and egomaniac mega-villain) is hosting a show in the Entertainment zone, you can guarantee that Gunfire will be on the scene.
See, that’s how this works. I give them control, and in turn that gives me control. Only one area is off-limits to the players’ imagination: The Icon itself. I’m saving that for something special down the line.
I’ll let you know how we get on.