Designing a City for Supers - is my sandbox big enough?





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  1. #1
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    Designing a City for Supers - is my sandbox big enough?

    I've always wanted to design my own fictional city for use with a supers campaign. Now that I'm predominately running Icons, I've started to consolidate my collection of notes and ideas on the setting, locales, NPCs, history etc. I'm even thinking of starting a blog to pull it all together and force me to do the work on a regular schedule. I'm now at the point where I want a basic map that I can use and expand as I put it all together.

    I started a map in Campaign Cartographer 3 (CC3), and I'm now wondering if it will be big enough. I'm thinking of something similar in size to Green Ronin's Freedom City or Hero Games' Hudson City. At the same time, I don't want to make something as large as Manhattan/NYC. I guess a medium sized city is what I'm shooting for. There would also be suburbs that would theoretically stretch beyond the borders of the attached map outline.

    I've attached the (very) basic landscape map for my setting, Grimm City. The area inside the border is 22,000 ft x 18,000 ft and I've included a 1 mile long black and white scale bar. For reference, the Brooklyn Bridge is a little over a mile long.

    Also for reference I've included a to scale drawing of the footprints of the World Trade Center towers (280' a side, 140' apart) and a simple outline (roughly to scale) of the USS Intrepid.

    Do you think this will be sufficient for what I want to accomplish? Any thoughts, suggestions or advice would be most welcome!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails grimmtest00001b.PNG  
    Last edited by jaerdaph; Thursday, 11th August, 2011 at 10:43 PM.
    jaerdaph's JUST ADD HEROES ICONS Blog: http://justaddheroes.blogspot.com

 

  • #2
    I think its plenty big enough for your purposes. Remember that being supers you have at least four dimensions to work with including aerial/space and subterranean/submarine levels as well as temporal and sub space dimensions (that allows a single space to hold multiple locations - a building that also serves as a gate to another dimension, or the same street 10 years after the apocalypse)
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaerdaph View Post
    Do you think this will be sufficient for what I want to accomplish? Any thoughts, suggestions or advice would be most welcome!
    That looks like it would be fine so long as your players aren't speedsters or teleporters As long as they understand that "the action is here, guys" and not all over the place it should be more than fine. The key is to develop interesting locals that make them want to stick around.

    Please post any further map work you do. I'm always interested in that sort of thing.
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    Thanks for the input guys!

    I was looking at a map of lower Manhattan and I'm starting to feel more confident with the dimensions, especially as I envision this city having some suburbs spreading out similar to Los Angeles. I also drew myself a little sailing ship with the approximate dimensions of Henry Hudson's ship the Half Moon (80' x 20'). It was pretty dwarfed compared to the USS Intrepid.

    I'll definitely keep sharing the map as a WIP. Next up, I'll probably add some main thoroughfares and landmarks so I can define some boundaries for the various neighborhoods, then work on the details from there. And I have to start that blog...

    If anyone is interested, I'm using CC3 to map this with this add-on issue from the 2011 Cartographers Annual. Here's a detailed sample from the Profantasy gallery:

    Last edited by jaerdaph; Friday, 12th August, 2011 at 03:15 AM.
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    I added a little bit more detail today after setting up the map coordinate system. I have this brainstormed list of things I think my city should have - some of them I've developed and some are just seeds. I have an app on my DroidX called InkPad I like to use to make lists like this when I'm working on a project.

    • Public library
    • City Hall
    • Police headquarters
    • Police precinct houses/stations
    • Correctional facility
    • Mayor's mansion
    • Art Museum
    • Natural history museum
    • Opera house
    • Theater/playhouse
    • Hospital
    • City jail/prison
    • Insane asylum @ Ravenswood Island
    • Sports Arena/Colosseum/stadium
    • The docks/piers/harbor
    • Slips and basins
    • Warehouse district
    • Factories
    • Parks
    • Squares
    • Chinatown
    • Bus depot
    • Train station
    • Airport
    • Subway
    • Sewers
    • Steam tunnels
    • Hotels - 5 star and fleabag
    • Restaurants/diners/cafes
    • Bars and dives
    • Cathedral
    • Churches
    • Mansions and Manors
    • Townhouses/brownstones
    • Luxury high rises
    • Slums/ghettos
    • Tenement houses
    • Cemetery
    • Cotham Yards ballpark
    • Fort Triton
    • Fort Charles
    • Naval yards
    • Old Ivy University
    • Schools public/private/academies
    • Fairground
    • Amusement park
    • Boardwalk
    • Reservoirs
    • Abandoned buildings/anything
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails grimmtest00002c.PNG  
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaerdaph View Post
    I've attached the (very) basic landscape map for my setting, Grimm City. The area inside the border is 22,000 ft x 18,000 ft and I've included a 1 mile long black and white scale bar.
    So, it is about 4 miles by 3.5 miles or so. A person could walk across that in an hour, and a marathon runner could get across it in about 15 minutes (not counting traffic and such).

    The thing to note in your sandbox is that there's nowhere in it that cannot be reached in fairly short order by a person on foot. There are no remote places you can't get to quickly. Vehicle chase scenes will be over quickly, or run off your map.

    If I say it has a population density of something between a dense Boston suburb and Manhattan, we are talking a quarter to a third of a million people or so - so, maybe like Cincinnati or Pittsburgh. Less, if that square isn't all so densely populated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Umbran View Post
    So, it is about 4 miles by 3.5 miles or so. A person could walk across that in an hour, and a marathon runner could get across it in about 15 minutes (not counting traffic and such).

    The thing to note in your sandbox is that there's nowhere in it that cannot be reached in fairly short order by a person on foot. There are no remote places you can't get to quickly. Vehicle chase scenes will be over quickly, or run off your map.

    If I say it has a population density of something between a dense Boston suburb and Manhattan, we are talking a quarter to a third of a million people or so - so, maybe like Cincinnati or Pittsburgh. Less, if that square isn't all so densely populated.
    Thanks for the insight - that really helps me to visualize and put it into perspective. I found this map online of Green Ronin's Freedom City - I hadn't realized how big it really was until I found this map.

    I've rescaled my map by a factor of two - it's now 40,000 ft x 32,000 ft. I've added the to-scale World Trade Center footprints back as well for some perspective up near Fort Triton. So it covers an area of roughly 7.5 miles x 6 miles now...

    I'll probably take the parks where the historical forts are located down in area as well.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails grimmtest00003a.PNG  
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    FYI: As a New Year's resolution, I finally got around to launching my ICONS blog, Just Add Heroes. I'll be continuing to develop the Grimm City campaign and maps from now on over there. Thanks again everyone for your interest!
    jaerdaph's JUST ADD HEROES ICONS Blog: http://justaddheroes.blogspot.com

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    Nice start.

    Sandbox cities have always been difficult for me to do (when it comes to mapping). For this reason, I have a tendency to do alternate reality overlays of the Los Angeles Basin, San Francisco, or real cities that don't exist (ie Salton City which is a 22sq mile ghost town populated by 3k people). Unfortunately, I can't really give a good estimate of city size since living in a suburb of LA your entire life tends to effect your judgement when it comes to settlement sizes (since everything here meshes together to form colossal stretches of beige, grey, and white).

    However, for me, things tend to end up as being a list of places and descriptions.
    Last edited by Relique du Madde; Tuesday, 3rd January, 2012 at 10:52 PM.

  • #10
    The good thing about a city is that you can steal from real world cities, like Grand Central Station (Termial now), just search for images on it or look at its history or having Paris' sewer system.

    Also, think of a timeline for construction, big cities always have work taking place and then because of that work, an underground of forgotten places, subway lines & stations to even streets.
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