I've tried to involve my players in city creation a few times through the course of the game, usually whenever they are about to finish up a story arc, but I usually all I get are just get a few shrugs and not even a question about anything I suggest. They go silent and shrug even when forewarned it would be coming last session. I tried using obsidianportal for a while, everything from asking and suggesting stuff on the group forum to posting news snippets and trying to bribe them with fate points to simply ask about something in it that they would like to guide the next session towards without success at all.

The closest I've gotten was someone suggested a hospital run for supernatural types that transfers anyone mundane that comes in whenever possible, but when I asked why or what it was that was interesting about it to him/made it worth mentioning, I just got that he didn't know and thought a hospital would be good in case anyone needs it. Another guy once suggested his character's girlfriend and her father but couldn't give me anything about what might make them relevant or how they might become important, basically leaving it up to me to abuse his character's family if I choose to.

How do I get my dresden files players involved in city creation?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you all playing online, or do you meet in person? \$\endgroup\$ – DForck42 Jan 9 '12 at 21:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ it's a face to face game at a FLGS \$\endgroup\$ – Tetra Jan 9 '12 at 21:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you tell them beforehand that the game was focused on city-building? And how did they answer? \$\endgroup\$ – Cristol.GdM Jan 10 '12 at 14:36

What you might do, instead of just handing them an open slate, is to give each one an assignment. Give one person a place they have to make up. Give another one a person of interest. Give another a theme (or trouble, or both). Delegate at least one aspect to each person. If someone has issues with coming up with something, throw something random at them and have them work around that concept. If they really struggle then encourage them to talk with the other players and get their opinions. Feel free to chime in when necessary as well.

Instead of asking why, say “That’s cool! How does it fit, or how can we make it fit?” If there’s no clear solution back burner that idea and give them a different assignment.

Once you have enough pieces you can assemble them into your city.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tetra I think this is a good suggestion for try to ease them into it. I always try to stick by the first two rules of DungeonCraft. #1 Never force yourself to create more than you have to. #2 Every major campaign element should have a secret. What I interpret this as, in regard to your game, is: Don't force your players to make more new material than you need for the next story arc. And be okay with your players not knowing how everything fits, just work it in yourself. \$\endgroup\$ – Wesley Obenshain Jan 10 '12 at 17:13

Try to find out why they are unhappy about doing it. Communication is key here. Be assertive instead of aggressive.

Bad: Why can't you come up with something for the city?

Better: Would it be helpful if I explained why and how I want you involved in the city building?

Best: How can I help you in making the game more enjoyable? What problems do you see in you getting involved in the city design phase of the game?


I understand that part of the joy of the Dresden Files RPG is the shared story-telling that goes on. Perhaps your crew is just warming up to it. Maybe it seems a little "large" to them. It is a different position to be in as a player, that's for sure. Maybe you just need to take baby steps to get them where you want them.

Remember that your job as the story-teller is to facilitate the story being told.

Next time you should come up with a couple of ideas that could fit into each of the aspect slots you are trying to fill and ask the players choose which ones they would like. Make sure there is obvious plot-synergy between certain ones and see what the players do. Tell them they get to choose and you are comfortable running any combination therein because you have so many dastardly ideas. :P

Getting them to take that first step of plot responsibility will open the door for your players to start coming up with their own aspects later.

I would also suggest acting excited anytime they do come up with something and offer support in fleshing out the idea. Don't just ask for more details, that can be hard to do. Ask questions that get the imagination flowing but that are also kinda multiple choice; like for example with the Hospital: Is it a psychiatric hospital, a trauma hospital or a long-term care hospital? Three different hospitals with three different flavors of that story-line, right?

Or in the example of the GF and her father: What kind of a relationship does your character have with the father? Do you think he is a good father? Does the GF think so? Do they ever do special father/daughter stuff you're not invited too or told about? What do you know about the mother? Or their family past? All of these questions begin to create more questions that develop the relationships and generate plot hooks.

I'm sorry if this got me rambling. I hope to have helped you out and given you some tools for the future.


Well, it might not be the answer you want to hear, but maybe you shouldn't try to force it on them? Each player has his own preferences, and you might just have got yourself with a group of players not interesting into that aspect.

World building doesn't fit to all players/characters, without meaning they are less good. For example, consider a group made of John McClane, Indiana Jones, Tarzan and Rambo. Are they bad characters? Well, some of them, but overall they are nice characters. Can you imagine them being responsible of organizing a city building? Well, that would be weird.

It might be difficult for you, having players interested in a different aspect than yours, but your role as a DM is to adapt your game to your players. Try to consider the opposite, where a group of players is really interested into world building, and social games, and the MJ insist on sending them off to fight dragons, use minis, tactical grids, and so on.

Your players are more of the "following the orders" kind, they don't see themselves as leaders, which is fine. And nothing prevents you from adding a bit of world building now and there (for example, a NPC asking them what direction something should take, or destroying an area of the city, and electing them "kings" of it by mistake, etc), encouraging any effort in that direction, and you might have one of them start to take interest into that part of your story :)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Part of the problem though is that world building a city is baked into DFRPG. It's thier city, they're supposed to know it like the back of their hands \$\endgroup\$ – DForck42 Jan 9 '12 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mikalichov, are you familiar with DFRPG? \$\endgroup\$ – Pureferret Jan 9 '12 at 21:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, only played once at a convention, and remembered it as a "light WoD", sorry :/ (you can start throwing stones) In that case, since it is so embedded in the game, maybe it should have been talked about earlier. Anyway, ignore the previous answer, since it is not relevant to the specifics of the game. \$\endgroup\$ – Cristol.GdM Jan 9 '12 at 21:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mikalichov no one's throwing stones. We all get our share of bad answers, and it's not a bad answer, just one that doesn't fit DFRPG \$\endgroup\$ – Pureferret Jan 10 '12 at 8:32

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