Late last year Sean McCoy proposed a daily project for 2023 of creating bits of a megadungeon each day and coined the hashtag #dungeon23. Lots of tools, tables, documents and other related things popped up. Similar concepts spun out of the dungeon one, including setting23, city23 and worldbuilding23. Boiled down, it’s a way to structure working on small bits each day for a year to create something.
Here are some resources I’ve found that can be helpful:
- Dungeon Year Design Journal
- Preparing for a mega dungeon: Dungeon23 templates and principles
- Dungeon23 Roundup #2: Go!
- Dungeon23 Helper
- Gnomedic’s Dungeon23 Prompts
- Dungeon23 Is Happening
I found a summary of the approach in Dungeon Year Design Journal to encapsulate things nicely:
“When you’re done, perhaps you’ll have a massive interstellar spaceship, a new world to explore, a community of people and their relationships, a city, and yes, even a dungeon. Create anything you want.”Dungeon Year Design Journal
I decided to do City23 this year, to create a city that I’ll maybe build a game around. As much as I love D&D, fantasy and dungeons, I felt like doing something a bit different.
I’ve started the work of piecing together an urban fantasy city populated mostly by goblins (because I love goblins) and each day I flesh out some aspect of it. I brainstormed for a couple weeks, so I had ideas for where it’s headed, but already I’ve found surprises.
I decided on a few constraints for myself that will be evident as I post things. I have ideas for how I will use the final city.
I began using Dungeon Year Design Journal on paper but I’ve found it easier to compose as text so far. Each day I post what I create on my Mastodon account at https://seizemeans.com/@apollo/tagged/city23 .
About once a week or when I hit a good stopping point I’ll share my progress here.
Any newcomer arriving at the ‘port of the goblin city will be greeted by the sight of the Cell Tower before reaching the city gate. Built in a Martello style, it nevertheless has automatic doors opening into a large inner space lined with shelves that can be climbed with ladders or mobile lifts. Here is where phones of various types (see the Table of Phones) and SIM cards can be obtained.
The host Lari-Ny is usually present to help folks match up with their perfect phone or get the correct SIM for one they already love.
Lari-Ny greets visitors to Cell Tower with a big smile and an even bigger floppy-brimmed black hat from behind a circular desk. This goblin will leap into action and ask what the visitor needs, seeking to carefully suss out a perfect phone for each person that enters. If all the visitor needs is to be connected to the cell network, they will make sure to get the right SIM and settings in place.
Lari dresses in black jeans, a black and red t-shirt and a black jean jacket and always carries a large tablet for looking up and sharing information.
Table of Phones
- All-Rounder – a typical phone that performs well for most tasks
- Slider – a phone with a slide out keyboard
- Lens – a photography-first phone for photographers
- Modular – a modular phone that can have parts swapped to adapt to the situation
- Wrist – a smartwatch with voice and tactile interactivity
- Book – a foldable with an e-ink display for reading
- Deck – a phone the shape and size of a Tarot deck and with divination features
- Scanner – a phone with every imaginable sensor
- Dice – a phone made to facilitate the playing of various games
- Touch – a phone with a primarily tactile interface
- Theatre – a phone with speaker and projector features
- Focus – a phone made to channel the magical energies of a magic user
It once had a defensive purpose, but the gate to the goblin city now is open wide day and night.
The sprawling stone walls to each side of the gate are covered with vibrant murals, and it’s not uncommon to see muralists at work creating new pieces. A persuasive visitor might get a patch of the wall to decorate as they wish, but plans and collaborations are typically behind the painting and repainting of the walls.
A group of guides and facilitators are waiting to help any visitors with mobility, navigational or informational needs.
Beyond the gate is a large open area, The Commons.
The Commons is a large open area beyond the goblin city gate that acts as a hub for accessing transportation and the streets that will take visitors to other parts of the city. Signs are in place to direct travelers to their destinations. It’s also a gathering spot for buskers who attract crowds with performances of many kinds. City guides can be found at prominent guide poles and are willing to take newcomers across the city.
Table of Goblin City Guides
- Oisba – She is a goblin with an extraordinarily large umbrella she uses to either shelter visitors or point out landmarks. She specializes in finding clothing and personal aesthetics services.
- Wreehi – She always carries an elaborate photography kit and is the guide with the best advice for sightseeing.
- Et – Et is known to be able to find the best food in the city, and they’ll go to great lengths to ensure visitors are having the time of their lives.
- Brix – He’s the guide to know to seek out the best parts of the entertainment district and he’ll often be found chatting with buskers for new leads.
- Stribs – Stribs knows the history of the city and can talk from sunrise to sunset about every major event and the people who shaped the city. He can guide visitors to lesser-known sites with stories that will thrill.
- Dort – Dort will often be seen performing parkour and she’s the expert in how to get around the city in unusual ways. Shortcuts, hidden paths and hazardous methods are all at her disposal.
- Krosb – He’s unassuming and always in plain clothes, but Krosb’s ability to blend in with the crowd allows him to learn from the residents of the city about the most mundane things. From office supplies to server racks, he knows how to get the pieces that make things happen. He’ll get guests where they need to be to conduct any business.
- Zags – Books are Zags’ specialty and he knows the city’s libraries like the back of his hand, even the smallest library box.
- Freliosi – Freliosi knows more people in the city than just about anyone else. Her gregarious nature means she’s always bouncing between conversations and catching up on the lives of the people of the city. She can be counted on to know how to find anyone and might have an idea about what they had for breakfast.
- Ruk – The minotaur Ruk has been a sports star across multiple sports in the city, most recently as a professional wrestler. In his retirement, he guides visitors to activities and sporting events, while regaling them with stories from his career.
- Cit – Cit is a polyglot and specializes in interpreting for visitors who are not fluent in the common language. Their use of sign language is especially well-regarded and their ongoing sign language video series is used in local schools and shared frequently online.
- Suku – Suku dresses in eye-catching outfits and can’t be missed when she is in The Commons. She knows the arts scenes in the city and has a mural tour that receives rave reviews.
Table of Daytime Buskers
- Hacry – She’s a contortionist, acrobat and walker of a giant wheel, but she’s also known to bring the crowd to laughing tears with her banter.
- Rin – He’s a living statue and his giant frame looms over The Commons when he’s present. Photo ops and ridiculous poses are his signature draw.
- Jind and Rani – This drumming birdfolk duo can command a crowd like no one else. Their rhythms animate the space and seem to be part of the life of The Commons.
- Girk – Dwarves aren’t known for their love of heights but Girk’s stilt work is fearless.
- Lis – Lis’ hoop performances are larger than life, wowing crowds with their dexterity and flamboyant displays of misdirection.
- The Masked Trio – Three performers carry more mystery than any others in The Commons. Always masked, never speaking and continuously dancing around with outstretched hats, they still are able to communicate intricate stories of high drama.
- Rillnearia – A wizard of elven heritage, Rillnearia is renouned for her illusion magic that entertains audiences in The Commons.
- The Trenchcoat – Three halflings in a trenchcoat put on an uncanny performance. Their 6 arms manipulate the trenchcoat in surprising ways and their playful pickpocket work startles passersby before their goodnatured jokes lighten the mood.
- Psst – A turtlefolk gymnast of great renoun, Psst is gifted at many forms of dance in addition to her gymnastic feats.
- Isdepe – Juggling stunning numbers of objects evokes cheers from this centaur’s transfixed crowds, and her light hoofwork makes it all the more impressive.
- Gnort – Gnort’s singing is virtuosic, moving and marks this Kobold as a true wonder of the city.
- Eun – Taking on the form of visitors to The Commons and sometimes merging groups’ features allows Eun to evoke laughter throughout the space, and their changeling abilities make it all seem effortless.
Table of Nighttime Buskers
- Morlis – This firebreating, fire-obsessed goblin sorceror stuns his audiences with elemental mastery. What might be more surprising is that he’s also the safest of performers.
- Slip – This slimeperson dazzles with bioluminescence and her acrobatic displays always receive cheers.
- Yexis Tosslespark – Yexis is a gnome tinkerer who is obsessed with showy electrical performances. His Theremin playing paired with experimental lighting has a cult following.
- Jam – This catfolk comedic magician keeps audiences in stitches. What Jam pulls from their hat always surprises.
- Click Click – This automaton provides divination services from a wide range of disciplines and is known to attract couples and plucules for a traditional goblin card spread to predict compatibility in relationships.
- Zama – Zama performs elaborate rituals involving costumes that allow her to portray deities.
- Saty – Bawdy humour is Saty’s calling card. They lean in to satyr stereotypes and subvert them to challenge audiences and poke fun at prudishness.
- Iss – Iss’ traditional snakefolk dancing draws large crowds and leaves them transfixed.
- Honx and Swyz – This goblin duo juggle an increasingly hazardous assortment of objects and draw huge cheers from crowds when they’re inevitably successful.
- Captain Capy – Captain Capy is harefolk clown that takes on the mannerisms of a pirate and acts out high seas adventures full of pratfalls and physical comedy.
- The Five Puppets – This group of giant puppets stroll into The Commons carrying lamps and act out historical dramas with exagerated performances.
- Big Dewdin – This opera singer with the lungs and body of a giant produces vocals that have to be experienced to be believed.