Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 105: Cities More than Just Silent Backdrops

Main Topic

The City with a capital C is it just a placeholder or can and should it be more in your games? If you are designing your city from scratch then it is usually more than just a placeholder. Or if you are using a real life city as the backdrop then it is a living thing. A great example of a city that was more than just a backdrop is the 90’s movie Dark City. It was a prop as well as a constantly changing place. Is this how your city should be? Not usually. 

Thing is that we, as humans, often personify the inanimate.  Ever gotten into a negotiation session with a toilet that is almost overflowing?  Insulted your computer for crashing?   Yelled at the trees for spring pollen?  We inherently ascribe a personality to the world we live in.  But it’s the things that are affecting us that we notice.  The jerk pothole that just jacked up the car..  The sweet yet impish water fountain that occasionally sprays your face.  It’s usually parts of the world you experience directly that defines it’s personality.  So think about what your world would to your characters, how they would feel about it, and see if you can find words that would convey that personality.

There are a lot of things you can do to make the city be more than just the backdrop. A huge one is to have districts in the city or neighborhoods if you will. When you have different feels for them start doing other things like celebrations and festivals. If those things are important to the areas.

Some places could even be these bright sterile locations and why is that? Have answers to the questions and some of these ideas when described to your players might unnerve them and get them to ask why is this happening here. Let them dig into it and before you know it the characters in a place will be more than just a gun dealer maybe and he is the guy that helps to kick off a revolution. Ideas will come from the players as well. Steal them out right and maybe twist them to fit what you have going on in the area. 

Stat Blocks


Dreamlings of Sorrow

The feel of tears running down your face are almost the only thing that you can feel. The sound of the pen scraping across the paper is the only sound you can hear. The breaking of a heart is a painful and powerful thing that can drive the fire of creation. Does it matter what is created? Not as long as there is emotion and powerful emotion called forth by it. 

The act of breaking a heart is a thing that when done by the Dreamlings when and how they want. Do they think like the rest of us? No, I don’t believe so. They pull power and life from the act of a loss. They are able to drive the broken to create things of wonder and beauty and power. Sometimes the broken create things that are so powerful that it can become stuck in the heart and souls of some of the people that witness the outpouring of these emotions. If enough people can feel the truth of the creation that can be the creation of a new dreamling. 

How to Use Dreamlings of Sorrow in Game:

They can be the force that helps to create works of wonder and power in your world. As well they can be a force of destruction that brings about the end of things. Dreamlings can come in various forms that are pulled from a myriad of human emotions. 


The Glow

Beaten and bloody. Exhausted and wretched. Each breath brings the echo of pain.  With raspy breath, you slump down against the wall, the tendrils of despair omnipresent.  Thinking back to your quest, your promise, your solemn oath. The obstacles seem insurmountable, now.  Harsh, unyielding reality has set in and with it, the despondence. It is fate. It is inescapable. You will fail. 

The path of retreat is barred.  Whether by magic or by your own misguided force of will, you do not know.  All that is assured is oblivion.

Yet in that moment, your soul screams out in mutinous aggression. It resonates. Building upon itself, wave upon wave. Calling out to others who have felt the same.

Then you feel it.  A warmth.  Gentle, like the sun at dawn.

A golden glow hums just beyond your reach.  You extend your hand.

The smoldering embers of who you are reignite. The glow whispers to you. “Though we all have faced different ordeals, our journey is the same. Rise, sister. You are not alone.”

The glow’s blessing takes many forms.  Some have been blessed with nigh invulnerability, while others have had near fatal wounds healed.  A few have been gifted with artifacts of power. Some have been blessed with the knowledge of unique tactics and strategies. While others have had phantoms of gold appear beside them, willing to charge into battle.  

The glow is the embodiment and blessing of the soul’s last howl of defiance and glory. 

And you stand, once more. 

How to Use the glow in Game:

There’s times where your players have messed up so bad there’s no way out.  But it alluded to early enough, the Glow won’t come off as the deus ex machina device that it is.  It also can be used to prevent grimdark from getting too much so.


Leman noun le·​man | \ ˈle-mən

Definition of leman



especially : MISTRESS

History and Etymology for leman

Middle English lefman, leman, from lef lief

First Known Use of leman

13th century

Look-up Popularity

Bottom 30% of words

Closing remarks 

Zendead – Dark Spot on Netflix is a pretty creepy French piece of TV. The location is pretty interesting and it leads you into some fun places. I am really enjoying it so far. 

Joules – David JP Phillips.  Guy is a professional public speaker.  He’s had some ted talks about good public speaking.  He just started a youtube channel though.  Done some reaction videos on major youtube personalities as well as some modern famous individuals.  There’s a lot to learn from this guy.  And the best thing?  He does his research.  You may get some tips on how to be a better storyteller

Music is courtesy of Sim on Twitter you can find him at @TheSimulacrae

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And Thanks to Merriam-Webster  and Online Etymology Dictionary for our Lexicon segment

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