MoonHunter Sayeth 20180824


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Setting: Chandler's Row
An Urban Fantasy Core Setting

“At Chandler Row, the consumer culture transcends its dark side.

Why should profit motive generate only idiot television commercials, wasteful packaging, cramped crackerjack condos, or the inevitable obsolescence of your cell phone? At Chandler Row, consumerism’s impulses are channeled into the creation of a living, breathing neighborhood. “

Quote from Raymond Chandler, Real Estate Developer at the dedication.

In the sprawl that has become The City (somewhere in The West, near the Coast), there is an oasis; a little pocket of urban perfection, mixing the living, the urban, and the commercial. It is everything The City council has been trying to achieve in the Downtown. Of course, The Row is smaller, only four city blocks by two.

However, The Chandler Group, directed by Raymond Chandler (no relation), have created yet another triumph like The Chandler Complex some miles away. They did so by throwing out conventional wisdom. The Row is nothing but a high-end shopping center at its core, but it is so much more. They took the roof off the mall so people could hang out in the sunshine (given the mild winters in the area, this is not a problem even during the gift giving holidays). They added housing above the shops (high-end town homes) so it was more than a machine in which to shop. They took space away from retail and gave it to people for parks and broad sidewalks. Instead of segregating cars and pedestrians, they boldly mix the two together, narrowing the streets enough to slow the cars so pedestrians can jaywalk with safety. The broad streets are boulevards, with the wide center divides having cafe seating and small green parks. These all seem like simple things, but it takes a level of design that rarely is seen.

The buildings run the gamut of earth tones and have tile roofs. The upper stories of all the main buildings are housing. Below are shops and services. Residents of the town-homes on the upper levels of The Row’s blocks can look from their windows and balconies and see something pretty much like real life on the streets below: fitness freaks on their way to the health club at dawn, mothers with strollers sitting in the parks (there are narrow boulevard parks on all the streets here), business people taking in caffeine or lunching and talking on their cells, and various residents visiting their patch of the world to shop at their high end shops, dine, drink, buy a book, watch movies, or dance until late at the night.

The stores and services include: Ann Taylor Loft, Anthropologie, BCBG MAXARia, a huge Barnes and Nobles, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Cornelli Fine Jewelers, Club Fitness (a huge multi story health club), Crate and Barrel, Chico’s, Diesel, Ecco Shoes, Farrah’s Nails and Beauty, Ferragamo, Furla, Gucci, Kate Spade, Oakley, Orvis, Paradise Day Spa, Running World, Starbucks, Urban Outfitters, Z Gallerie. There is a Classic Arts Theatre that shows artistic and foreign films (with the occasional blockbuster).

There are 21 dining establishments, ranging from Asian to Russian, with stops in the Southwest, Italy, France, and Mexico. Most are quite high end, but Noreaster Fishing Stop and The Dinner are family friendly food. Of course, Hotdogs on the Row and Sticky Buns Cafe are the local favorite.

There are six bars and night clubs, one of which is in The Orion - the five-star boutique hotel whos 42 guests enjoy suites and amenities few can find (and afford). Fuji’s Sushi Bar is a high energy dance club after nine. Club Gold is an ultra lounge. The Cobalt Club is an old-school dinner club, with big band/ jazz sounds and dancing. Here the elite drink custom martinis and dance until the wee hours. Q is a quirky club of dark corners and flashing lights. O’Mally’s has the feel of an old Dublin pub (in fact the interior was salvaged from a pub going under.. and it is said a ghost followed it). Savanah Bar is a restaurant and bar with an English African Colonial feel, with palm fans and no air conditioning. All these places are “The places” to be seen these days for the upscale set.

Most of the parking here is underground. Between these lots and the side streets, there seems enough parking (barely).

The Row’s is at the corner of two major streets. The layout of the Row is fairly simple. The main street, Chandler Row, runs four blocks from one of the major streets (east-west). Chandler Row is crossed by four side streets. The development is one block wide. One block ends at the other major street (north-south) The other ends at a side yard, where a large technology company’s campus property begins.

The central road is divided. There are trees and small places to rest there. The side roads (Apple, Baily, Cardinal, and Dade) have lovely planted gardens (with paving stones to support the inevitable jay walkers). The streets are narrow and the inlaid bricks at various crossing points act as minor speed bumps. Thus car traffic is controlled.

At the far end of Chander’s Row, the center divider opens wider. Here a lovely, but small, park exists. The Row’s signature feature, a large clock is at one end.. facing a small personalized chess set patio (the pieces are about as tall as a tall man’s knees). StickyBuns (in is small shack) supplies the people in the park with goodies, coffee, and some of the best Mexican hot chocolate available in the states. Cafe tables are spread around that patio. There are two swings and a see-saw there for the littles.

The five-screen art theatre is in the back block. It does surprisingly well for an artistic theatre. Gino’s Pizza is some of the best elite pizza in the city is next store. With “31 Flavors and Gellato too” next door (the franchise is owned by Gino’s), the back block is called Date Row, instead of Dade Street.

This is the Key Setting for the campaign.

The Summer Court has moved into the Real World and this is where they live.

Living like a real King or Queen or the super rich is too visible. Those that hunt the Fey will find them. Living like the fairly rich, now that is just under the radar. Just enough affluence to avoid most of the “mundane”, but not enough that to raise eyebrows.

Here the Shidhe live in the beauty of the city. Most leave their "domain" to play at working real jobs, building up their power in this world. Some are dilatants who work in the high end shops here. No matter what their cover, they do not stray too far from the ready wards and gossamer shields. They dine nicely here, enjoy the bars and clubs, and the Home Owners association holds special meetings on certain days (corresponding to Old Calender Holidays and Fey Times).

This domain is lovely as they have Humans they interact with. Shoppers, Hotel Guests, and the few Humans (usually talented to some degree) that live here. A few lower fey hide in and around The Court’s Domain (mostly in the shadows).

The campaign is all about the Daily Lives of those that live around Chandler’s Row. They intrigue against each other, having the grand (soap opera) stories that The Courts are famous for. They play in the Human world (occasionally having to hide their nature from the curious or the annoyingly observant). The Domain’s law is to protect The Domain at all costs… the Mortals must never know. Even if that would mean the loss of a Fey/Shidhe, the fiction of the domain must be kept.

Of course, there are wiccas, mages, werewolves, and ghosts, that might come around. This is an attractive environment. They may come for the shopping or food or they may come for the paranormal resources here. They will disturb things and perhaps disrupt the balance of this place. Oh and the occasional vampire who thinks this location is a perfect hunting ground (Slay it quickly and quietly).

Note: Chandler is a Human (or so he appears to all who have checked). He seems to have an old soul and wisdom beyond his kind. He seems to know of The Court, but pretends he does not. This fiction has served both sides. What Chandler gets from building this place is anyone’s guess. The Chandler Complex is not that far away

If you need images, this location was inspired by Santana Row in San Jose.

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This urban fantasy chronicle is not deep into the "adventure" side of the genre. This is more like many UF books and focusing on the social interaction. (oh there will be some adventure... this is not a peaceful chronicle.). This is a very political chronicle, so the mechanics have to support that. This kind of chronicle really needs a high degree of player engagement.

The Character Creation Party is going to be key. There will need to be a relationship map. The GM might have some key NPCs to include for that map. Additional NPCs and Locations might be created when the GM harvests additional bits (step 7). You can encourage it by using the 3x5 cards and maybe even extending it to group world building , with the player generating NPCs, power blocs in the court, plots between important and less important characters, and detailing the Row and the world beyond.

The Protagonist Characters and Non Protagonist Characters need to remember to create the drama. The Roleplay is an emphasis. Some Character Creation Tips that are helpful.

Interest Rule: What is interesting or unique about the character? Just like everything needs to add drama to the game, everything should be interesting (and possibly unique). What sets this apart from just another set of mechanics in the game?

Maximum Game Fun: The character should be developed to provide as much fun as possible for the player and the rest of the troupe in the game. It should make things interesting without making them impossible or frustrating or bothersome.

Best Dramatic Effect: Just like a character's action should results in as much drama in the game as possible, either adding to the tension or resolving existing tension dramatically. Players should choose character elements that provide the best dramatic effect and GM’s work with them.

MacBeth Rule: Perfect characters in an RPG or story can become boring. They can have goals and such, but very little gets in their way. For characters, it is best to bring your own drama and complications with you.

Wants, Needs, Fears: If you know what drives a character, you can easily figure out what to do with them.

One bit of logistics needs to be addressed early on (if not in session 0). The GM and Troupe need to figure out various Stages, Casts, Major and Minor Characters that will be "in play". It is not so much the "standing sets", it is who is running which character (as a first choice or as the understudy should the first choice not be able to play it).

Many of sessions will have a strong "summer court plot" - maybe two - and a b-plot/ scenario to add some action. (Monster of the week or a running plot with the witches or werewolves). Thus having a number of summer court plots and simmering conflicts will make gaming for the entire troupe easier.

This looks like so much work and effort. Having a party environment during session 0 helps keep it light, fast, and cooperative. It is a really light process that goes pretty quick if the players are engaged. ) The other key to making this work is one of they key things to making GMing work- Organized and Knowing what needs to be done. The GM should make sure that the players do their connections, their drives, needs, fears, and build up complete non-protagonist characters.

This one uses a lot of MoonHunter Techniques. Again, this requires more effort "up front" when most people are excited by the chronicle. Once you have it all set up, it becomes quick and easy to run... to set up sessions... to improvise from there.
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