I got a smart phone over a month ago. The timing almost but doesn’t quite coincide with when I began blogging daily again. You might have noticed.

I don’t have a lot of stuff on my phone yet, and I hope to keep it that way for as long as I can, though I’m working with cookiemonger to get some audiobooks to read while I’m at work.

One of the things I do have, is Amazon music (or is it Prime Music? I don’t really care what it’s called) and that gives me the Hamilton musical, which I listen to over and over.

I love the tragedy, the passion — all the things. The musical says things I don’t hear very often, and some things I probably needed to hear.

The Schuyler Sisters introduces Hamilton’s future wife and her older sister, who both play important roles in the story, and in this song they sing about New York as “The Greatest City in the world.”

So, this morning’s post isn’t about New York so much as it is about cities.

For those of you who recall, I’m working on a system for generating settlements like characters. Something about this song connected to something in the song from Wicked: “One Short Day.”

There’s a spirit there, about discovery in a city, that I want to capture. Because let’s face it — cities in Dungeons & Dragons tend to be hives of scum and villainy. A friend pointed this out recently while reading the Gloomwrought book.

Are there any cities in D&D that are nice?

Uh, not really. The ones in the heavens seem to be pretty chill, but that also isn’t where adventure hangs out — and you can kind of see why. Also, bad stuff happens in D&D heaven too, so you aren’t exactly safe there either.

So the feeling in trying to capture is one where ‘every city feels like the center of the world.’ I think this is a sentiment shared by a lot of people who live in cities, whether they really think about it or not.

I forget if the German word zeitgeist applies more to the spirit of a time or the spirit of a place (though the two are interchangeable enough sometimes we have the term timespace), but I think this is a concept I need to pursue for its application to settlements.

A city (or other settlement) is more than the sum of its parts — nor is it necessarily the total.

It’s a thing. Kind of a feeling, and kind of personal. I think different people can talk about what a city is like and know what the other is saying in part because a city lends itself to shared experiences.

I think whatever becomes of this zeitgeist idea will ultimately become ‘classes’ for settlements, but it may be some time in coming. It depends on how much research has been done on the personality of cities and how easy it is to adapt that information.

I will not throw away my shot. ;)