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[Motor City Breakdown] A playable Changeling setting for Detroit, Michigan

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  • [Motor City Breakdown] A playable Changeling setting for Detroit, Michigan

    Motor City Breakdown

    A fan-made chronicle setting for Changeling: The Lost (1st Edition)



    Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus.

    (“We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes.”)

    ~official motto of the City of Detroit


    For a long time now, I've felt that Detroit, Michigan—the mad, beautiful city in whose long shadow I grew up—deserved to have its own World of Darkness treatment, just like Chicago and New Orleans and all those other better-known cities. In the end, the document wound up being much too big to fit in a single forum-post, so I've shared it as a publicly-viewable Google Doc.

    It took me a few years to get around to actually writing the aforementioned treatment, and in the meantime Chronicles of Darkness has replaced all the rules I'm most familiar with. Motor City Breakdown is written using first edition rules (call it a swan-song for 1E, if you like), but I hope that the ideas, characters, and locations presented herein will help to enliven your gaming table and enrich your Storytelling. Please let me know what you think of it, and I'll do my best to incorporate your suggestions into the updated 2nd Edition version, once Onyx Path releases Changeling 2E.

    Again, please feel free to leave your comments below. I hope you enjoy what I've written, and that you come away with a better understanding of the Motor City.

    Just remember that you can't save Detroit; you can only become Detroit.


    Useful and Interesting Maps


    Detroit Size Comparison (vs. San Francisco, Boston, and Manhattan)



    Racial distribution map (2010 Census) of Metro Detroit
    Each dot represents 25 residents. Red = Caucasian, Blue = African-American, Green = Asian, Orange = Hispanic, Yellow = Other.





    Vacant Lots As A Percentage Of All Parcels, By Block, 2009





    Last edited by Super_Dave; 08-07-2021, 03:09 PM. Reason: Update: added "Sidebar: International Relations" covering border crossings and extraditions between the US and Canada.

  • Super_Dave
    replied
    In addition to adding quotations/epigraphs to the beginning of each chapter, I've now fixed it so that clicking on the title of each chapter in the Table of Contents takes you right to the beginning of that chapter (which should make navigation easier). I've also added a few useful and interesting maps to the original post; I didn't want to put them in the doc itself because I'm not sure whether they're licensed for free use.

    I also ruled that Karagiozis' Flaw (Hunchback) still imposes a -2 penalty on Social rolls, but only if the other person(s) can see him and aren't accustomed to his appearance. And I changed his concept from "self-made kleptocrat" to "self-made plutocrat," to make him seem less outright villainous.

    Leave a comment:


  • Super_Dave
    replied
    Mostly I wanted to have more material in my writing portfolio, because I'm trying to get out of the restaurant industry. I'm not embarrassed at having written a supplement for a game I enjoy, I'm more concerned about the two worlds "crossing over". But I suppose that anyone who was really motivated could discover my "super-secret identity" with a little research, and it seems kind of silly to self-censor just because some unknown person in the indefinitindefinite future might potentially use it to harass me online. It's not like I put my Social Security Number in the doc or anything.

    Leave a comment:


  • AceOfAlmonds
    replied
    If parts end up getting used, I'll let you know! As for using your real name, it hadn't registered for me. I guess it depends on how worried you are about real-life privacy and how likely a google search is to pick it up? Like if it was me I wouldn't be worried, but I don't know if your situation is different (if you work at a school, or are currently searching for a non-gaming job, or something).

    Leave a comment:


  • Super_Dave
    replied
    I'm glad you like the NPCs. I worked really hard on them, especially Calliope. She was by far the most difficult NPC I've ever written, because she's the linchpin that holds the setting together. Calliope is like Hope, buried at the very bottom of a Pandora's Box full of bad situations and damaged people.

    You are free to use my material in whatever way makes your LARP more fun for your players. If you feel like taking notes and putting them online, I would of course be interested to read them, but I will only observe. I have no desire to steer your chronicle, only to see where it takes you.

    I had a few moments to spare today, so I've added the epigrams back in at the start of each chapter, and made the other suggested edits. Still working on the djinn, though; he'll come later.

    Edit: is it crazy for me to not use my screen-name for this? I guess the mask has already slipped, but still: bad idea, or am I overthinking it?
    Last edited by Super_Dave; 04-12-2016, 08:00 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • AceOfAlmonds
    replied
    I'll let you know! I'm part of an ongoing Changeling LARP that changes towns every few years, and we're at the point where we're switching again, so I'll pitch it. If we do end up going to Detroit, I can take notes on how it goes and post them here or something. (It might happen that the STs are interested in running a similar town, but not Detroit itself; would it be okay to use aspects of the setting like that? Would you still be interested in hearing about how it goes if that happens? Due to the size of the game, the STs like to have control over what's in the area and not, which is harder to do with an actual extant city than with a made-up one.)

    Fair enough about the Court characters. Honestly, all the NPCs for this are really good.

    Leave a comment:


  • Super_Dave
    replied
    Thanks so much! I'm really glad you like it. If your players want to try out the setting, I'd be interested to hear what kind of chronicle you run, and how it all pans out. Do you keep your notes online, by chance?

    Two NPCs for each Court seems like an awful lot of extra work, especially since I mainly planned for the Courts of the Wheelhouse to be antagonists rather than player-friendly. It was my hope that players would either help design entirely new Courts, or else form new seasonal Courts which are totally separate from the corrupt and belligerent Old Courts (e.g., True Spring vs. Vichy Spring). Besides, I actually felt that most of my best ideas were for the Courtless characters who work outside the court system.

    1) I figured that Detroit is an unusually difficult place for the players to live and operate, so it would only be fair to throw them a bone like this. Plus, cheap real estate is one of the few things that's really drawing people to the city, so I thought it would make sense to have a fae analogue of that phenomenon.
    2) Good suggestions. I'll add 'em to the document.
    3) I thought a djinn would be too obvious, but I like your idea. Let me mull it over; he might find his way into the PDF.
    4) Alright, I'll take it out. Wasn't sure about it in the first place.
    5) I like your idea better. I'll change it to affect physical rolls, or else just remove it entirely (a hunchback isn't as disturbing as, say, a withered hand or a lazy eye).
    6) Well then, I guess it stays!
    7) I'm sure I can find some way to justify Ringmasta Ray as a Snowskin. Michigan is famous for its long winters, after all. Maybe he ran afoul of a wendigo or something.

    Well, since KismetRose seems to agree with you, I guess I'll put the quotes back in. You're right, it's pretty unlikely that they'll sue me, and really I'm doing them a service by advertising their book. (I might not have time to edit anything for a few days, though, because my wife and I are in the midst of moving to a new house).

    Leave a comment:


  • KismetRose
    replied
    Any changes I make will be done within this document (though at some point I'd like to turn it into a nice-looking PDF in the style of Venice Unmasked or Dream Catchers), so you could absolutely link to this Google Doc from your wonderful website!
    Done. =)
    With quotes, you're usually okay even if the work is copyrighted; fair use allows quotations of other works (so long as it's not, like, the entire thing).
    What Ace said.

    Leave a comment:


  • AceOfAlmonds
    replied
    Wow. This is a really stellar write-up. Now I want to pitch it to my Changeling group for the next town we go to.

    It might be nice to have two members of each court as sample characters, along with the current leaders.

    And to try to help with the specific questions you posed:

    1) The new systems seem to make sense. I worry a little about Hollow-finding, since it's granting free dots in a thing while the other two don't provide a direct mechanical benefit. Using Chronicles rules, it's less of a problem, since those dots would simply lack protection under Sanctity of Merits (since they weren't bought). Probably the disadvantage of having other things squat there/having people try to take it back from you will help.
    2) For Debtor, I could see buying it off by making a huge payment, all your debt and then some, to those you owe, or making a payment and then working for your debtors (which may create a new flaw, like Mob Member or something). For Cop Killer, some sort of disguise/face change might do it, as long as you don't get revealed. Leaving town might work for either (depending on how much the affected NPCs talk to those outside the city).
    3) I mean, I like the idea of a bitter Djinn running a small convenience store, someone who came to America for opportunity, but never found it, and got taken to boot. Or a second-generation high-school teacher who's trying to get a robotics team together, despite funding being negative. Maybe having two (or more) characters would help? That way, if one has stereotypical traits, it's more about the person, rather than a statement about race.
    4) I don't think this is balanced. I could see that the third dot of Mantle for Winter is getting the free Glamour, or for there to be a bonus to harvesting sorrow/despair. I honestly like the second one better, since it means that anyone can benefit from it, not just courtiers. Either a bonus to the roll, or an extra Glamour gathered when successful.
    5) He could be hunchbacked and ugly without the flaw, just in flavor. Or the flaw could be adjusted to give a -2 to Physical rolls instead.
    6) I think different things sold on different days is interesting and plot-generating (what happens when a rival market tries selling all goods all the time? what's the reason for the restriction, beyond goblin arbitrariness? what will the players have to do to get something on an off day?). It does hinder the players a little, but not in a frustrating sense, I think.
    7) I mean, I personally don't like Shadowsouls in general (it's being a Darkling without having to be a Darkling), and adding the Darkling seeming on top seemed a little off to me. I think a reflavored Snowskin would work; not as sure about Razorhand.

    With quotes, you're usually okay even if the work is copyrighted; fair use allows quotations of other works (so long as it's not, like, the entire thing).

    Leave a comment:


  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
    Holy crap yes, absolutely! Go right ahead and use whatever you like for your game-book. I'm so flattered and honored that you like my writing enough to include it in your own project!
    Thanks

    Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
    Will your Detroit supplement for Princess be available as a PDF, or part of the existing wiki?
    The wiki is outdated and dead. Detroit will probably be published as an appendix to the corebook.

    Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
    I must say: the idea of a little girl living in the housing projects of Detroit growing up to be a badass hip-hop Troubadour or a Mender ICU nurse is pretty much the awesomest thing ever, and I really want to play her now.
    Go for it!

    Leave a comment:


  • Super_Dave
    replied
    Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post
    Hello Dave

    Over at RPG.net the Princess team is talking about the possibility of using Detroit as a sample city. Would you be ok with us reusing material from Motor City breakdown?

    If you'd like you'd be more than welcome to join us. The idea for Princess' Detroit is that the City has come under control of a cult that worships the Outer Darkness who've broguht the city close to the point where the growth of Darkness hits critical mass. An alliance of Princesses and Hunters have formed to try and free the city and pull it back from the brink.
    Holy crap yes, absolutely! Go right ahead and use whatever you like for your game-book. I'm so flattered and honored that you like my writing enough to include it in your own project!

    Will your Detroit supplement for Princess be available as a PDF, or part of the existing wiki?

    I must say: the idea of a little girl living in the housing projects of Detroit growing up to be a badass hip-hop Troubadour or a Mender ICU nurse is pretty much the awesomest thing ever, and I really want to play her now.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Kings Raven
    replied
    Hello Dave

    Over at RPG.net the Princess team is talking about the possibility of using Detroit as a sample city. Would you be ok with us reusing material from Motor City breakdown?

    If you'd like you'd be more than welcome to join us. The idea for Princess' Detroit is that the City has come under control of a cult that worships the Outer Darkness who've broguht the city close to the point where the growth of Darkness hits critical mass. An alliance of Princesses and Hunters have formed to try and free the city and pull it back from the brink.

    Leave a comment:


  • Super_Dave
    replied
    Originally posted by KismetRose View Post
    Having more than one version of Detroit will hurt absolutely nothing and no one.
    That's certainly true. The more attention Detroit gets, the better.

    Originally posted by KismetRose View Post
    Is this GoogleDoc in largely a finished state? As in, shall I link to it from my WoD site?
    Any changes I make will be done within this document (though at some point I'd like to turn it into a nice-looking PDF in the style of Venice Unmasked or Dream Catchers), so you could absolutely link to this Google Doc from your wonderful website!

    There are a few things that I'd like to fix, though:
    1. Do the new systems I've invented (for finding abandoned structures and Hollows, dealing with fires, scrapping, etc.) make sense, and are they balanced? There might not be any way to determine this without playtesting, but if anyone can spot any obvious problems, I'd be glad to know about them sooner, rather than later.
    2. None of the Flaws I've created (with help from wyrdhamster) have any means for removal. Under what circumstances could a person stop being a Debtor or a Cop-Killer?
    3. I wanted to include at least one Middle-Eastern/Arabic NPC, but all of my ideas felt like stereotypes. Any suggestions, people?
    4. I mentioned somewhere that Winter courtiers get a free point of sorrow Glamour for every day they spend in Detroit; is this balanced, and does it make sense? I wanted to give a reason why there's such a miasma of hopelessness that hangs over Detroit, but troubled places often have a lot of fear and a lot of wrath, too.
    5. Karagiozis, the ruler of the Spring Court, is based on a character from Greek and Turkish folklore: a poor hunchback who always manages to outsmart the powerful and win great wealth and power for himself. Karagiozis is a primarily Social character, but his defining feature (the "Deformity" flaw) imposes a -2 on all Social dice pools. I could remove the Flaw, but would he still be Karagiozis without it?
    6. The Goblin Market sells different types of goods on different days of the week: is this inconvenient and cumbersome, or flavorful and interesting?
    7. Ringmasta Ray has the Shadowsoul kith (I've never restricted my players' choice of kith to any specific Seeming), but mechanically-speaking, I wonder if Snowskin might be more appropriate? Or even Razorhand?
    Side note: originally, each chapter of Motor City Breakdown began with an image and quotation, but a friend wisely pointed out that I could get in trouble if I included quotes from copyrighted works, even in a free document. I plan on buying real photos and commissioning a little art before I turn this into a PDF, but for now I'll only use material that I've written and quotations from works in the public domain.

    Leave a comment:


  • ShadowKnight1224
    replied
    Oh hey, my proposed rules made it here!

    I'm glad I could've contributed to a fanbook. This looks pretty spiffy, too. Great job all around.

    Leave a comment:


  • KismetRose
    replied
    Originally posted by Super_Dave View Post
    Oh man, they did? Well I hope that my setting is still useful, even if Onyx Path had already given Detroit their star-treatment.

    I'm glad you told me, though. I'd be very interested to see what they did differently, and get a different take on Detroit. I did think to myself while writing this that the 313 would also be an uncommonly good place to set a Werewolf or Vampire chronicle; just think about what they'd have to do to even attact someone's notice in the first place!



    Thank you so much! As always, you are too kind, KismetRose. I'm quite surprised if you've finished it already, though; I had no idea how long it was going to be when I started. I'm also glad that you think it's well organized, because decided what should go in which chapter was one of the hardest parts of writing it.

    P.S. I hope you get your notes in order without too much trouble.
    Having more than one version of Detroit will hurt absolutely nothing and no one.

    And I've by no means finished reading it, but I gave it a good skim and have enjoyed what I've had the chance to consume.

    My own notes are coming along pretty well and are making me feel more optimistic than overwhelmed, which is a nice change. I'm not planning on publishing them but on creating a setting Bible for myself for easy reference.

    Is this GoogleDoc in largely a finished state? As in, shall I link to it from my WoD site?

    Leave a comment:

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