Formating #Twitterville – A Different Kind of Setting

The issue I’m struggling with is how to convert #Twitterville into a usable setting for a GM.

#Twitterville differs from other settings in two ways. Firstly, all its entries are limited to 140 characters so there are no long essays on the background or politics of the city. Secondly, it is being created by a range of people with different ideas about what a fantasy city should look like. As the editor and mapper I have some control over this but differences in styles and, in places, contradictory content poses unique challengers.

City of 1000 Rumours

The solution to both these problems is not be like other fantasy settings and use #Twitterville’s unique format to its advantages.

Each entry in #Twitterville is not a factoid about the city, but instead a rumour, gossip or hearsay. Some of these are self-evidently true, the city does sit by the side of a lake and it is at the end of the spice road. Other are less obviously true and will be left to the GM to decide their reliability.

To help guide the GM, each rumour needs a Scarcity Level, from 0 (public knowledge / self-evident ) to 5 (only know to a few people and only true if the GM wants it to be). GM’s can use the Scarcity to assess how successful Gather Information rolls or similar player investigations revels.

Location, Location, Location

A random table of 1000 rumours is not much use to a GM when the players are specifically trying to find rumours about the graveyard. To make #Twitterville useable by the GM, the entires need to be grouped by location. This is also the best way to generally browse through #Twitterville. Looking at the map and reading the associated entries for each area. I had a first attempt at doing this for the area around the city with last week’s PDF.

Locations are not the only things players like to investigate. They may want to know about people, or certain types of monsters, or be on the look out for a trader with a shade reputation. For #Twitterville to work as a setting, GMs need to be able quickly find the rumours relevant to the players inquiries quickly and easily. The obvious solution to this is to tag each entry with keywords and then have a index of all the keywords and the rumours they relate to.

We Have The Technology

Adding the Scarcity Level, the location and tags to each #Twitterville entry is not a major piece of work. There are only about 180 tweets at the moment so it isn’t very demanding. However I want the city and setting to keep growing and a 1000 rumours seems like an achievable target. I also want to be produce nicely formatted, up-to-date PDF each week but the tweets and relationship between them may change so I need to keep everything in a suitable format.

Of course I need a #Twitterville database that allows the easy adding of new tweets, the assigning of Scarcity Levels, locations and tags to each tweet and the data has to be exportable in a format I can use to generate PDFs without re-typesetting everything each week. Technically, this is nothing and I have all the skills I need to do this. I hope to even be able to grab the tweet direct from Twitter itself.

Time

What I don’t have is time. Right now I have the Adventure Writing Competition to oversee and the normal day-to-day activity of a small games company plus I’m working on the code needed to run our soon to be launched affiliate scheme. The eagled-eyed of you will have noticed that there has been no bucket of links this week.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been splitting my time between #Twitterville and the affiliate code but the next step for #Twitterville is too large for me to do as a side project. So there will be no #Twitterville update this week whilst I use the time to complete the bulk of the affiliate system. Then I will dedicate an entire week to the technology of #Twtterville so that it can grow into a useful and distinctive campaign setting.