Our dieselpunk roleplaying game Tomorrow City is out now in the UK, and here's our final entry in the author's behind-the-scenes blog series!

The streets of Tomorrow City are a place of wonder, danger, technological marvels, and great social divides. They are a place of endless opportunity, for those willing to take advantage of a sudden revelation, an amazing invention, or the naivety of their neighbour. Crime and corruption are rife, from the sun-gilt boardrooms of the Inner City to the windswept slums of Underside. Into this desperate world come the player characters: skilled and dangerous people with burning needs and fatal flaws that throw them into adventure and intrigue at every turn.

So, You’re a Rev

Player characters in Tomorrow City are collectively known as Revs. Part troubleshooter, part mercenary, Revs are guns for hire who might sell their services to anyone or hitch themselves to a particular organisation or cause. Some work for the City Council or one of the many Ministries that control the city, while others are local heroes, looking out for those who cannot protect themselves from the hoodlums, Pattern aberrations, or madmen who stalk the shadowed neighbourhoods. The name "Rev" is a slang term in Tomorrow City and may refer to the revolting nature of the characters’ work, their revolutionary ideals, or just the energetic manner in which they pursue their goals, like a loud, revving engine. Whatever their motivation, they are tough, driven, and dangerous individuals with a variety of valuable skills and unique abilities.

So, how do you create your own Rev in Tomorrow City? Let’s check it out.

An illustration of a a man with vitiligo tinkering with a strange mechanical device as a small robot holds helpful tools

Trademarks, Abilities, and Flaws

Creating your Rev is a simple process. If you have played my other games, such as Hard City, it will be familiar, but there are some new twists that make Tomorrow City characters feel and play a little differently. The core of each character concept are the Trademarks – a package of ideas and suggestions that capture an element of the Rev’s background, career, or special abilities. There are more than 30 Trademarks, divided into four broad categories:

Backgrounds: Where your character came from, a social class, or significant life event. These include Trademarks such as Drone, Skyriser and Windborn.

Descriptors: Is your character Bold? A Genius? Sneaky or Tainted? Descriptors are distinctive personality traits or physical features. 

Occupations: If a character’s job is (or was) important to their identity, then you might select one or more of these Trademarks to draw out the details. Occupations include things like Apothecary, Gadgeteer, Muckraker, Sky Ranger, and Veteran

Pattern Weavers: If your Rev has some affinity with the strange and dangerous powers of the Pattern, you might select one or two of these Trademarks. There are four: Aberration Tracer, Metaphysical Geometrist, Symbolist, and Weird. Each describes a particular talent and focus of these otherworldly powers.

Your character has three Trademarks, selected from any of those available, with only a few restrictions. Mix and match from different categories to best represent the cool dieselpunk character you imagine. Each Trademark provides a list of common Traits, example Flaws that a character might have, and three unique Advantages to choose from – more about those in a moment. 

An image of the Sky Ranger Trademark from the Tomorrow City rulebook, with background flavour text and a selection of edges, flaws, gear and advantages for the player to pick

Edges and Flaws

The three Trademarks provide a broad sketch of who or what your character is and provide a host of prompts to further drill down into what they are good at and what problems they must regularly deal with. These are defined by Edges and Flaws respectively.

Edges are a specialisation, area of focus, or talent that your character is particularly good at. Having an Edge will provide a bonus die when rolling Checks, making actions easier. There is no definitive list of Edges, and players are free to make up their own, or choose from the list of example Traits listed with each Trademark. 

Flaws, on the other hand, are the problems, bad habits, or weaknesses that make a character’s life more troublesome. Virtually anything can be a Flaw, from personality traits to physical shortcomings, to secrets from the character’s past. Every Trademark lists several example Flaws that you can use as inspiration. When a character’s Flaw makes life harder for themselves or an ally, they get to refresh their Moxie. This is a pool of points that can be spent on doing cool things, soaking harm, and sometimes to activate Advantages.


If you have played Hard City, then character generation is probably looking familiar. Advantages, however, are where we make a significant departure. Each Trademark has three unique Advantages that let them do something interesting, break the rules in some way, or gain access to equipment, knowledge, or abilities that they might not otherwise have. Think of Advantages like class abilities or feats that you might see in other games. For example, the Apothecary’s Advantages allow them to either begin each mission with a bag full of serums, or brew poisons and serums during rest periods, or be a skilled combat medic.

A new rule that several Advantages reference is called Mastery. Characters with a Mastery in a specific action or activity can re-roll one of their Action Dice after making a Check. For example, a Skyriser might have the Born to Rule Advantage that grants them Mastery when bullying or pushing around bureaucrats. It may seem like a small bonus, but can have a significant impact on a scene, right at the moment the characters need a bit of luck.

Your Rev begins with three Advantages, one from each of their Trademarks, which means they will have a selection of interesting and potentially powerful abilities. The Advantages you choose will help to define the character’s role in the group and the things they are likely to do during a Job. As you read through the list of Advantages, and begin to play the game, you might even find some interesting synergies that can be explored!

An illustration of a woman with a cybernetic eye leaning at a bar as she places a bulky pistol down on the counter

Drives and Ties

Every Rev is grounded in the world in a variety of ways, helping to create a sense of a life before and beyond the stories you will play. This is achieved through the writing of Drives and Ties.

Drives are what motivates your Rev to throw themself into danger, face terrifying enemies, or risk their reputation or resources. Drives can be anything you find interesting and should suggest the sorts of adventures, trouble, or stories you want to get involved in. This is where you can make up some background details and add to the world. For example: “The Butcher of Midtown murdered my brother, and I will find them and make them pay!” or “I need to know what’s at the centre of the Nevada Fragment Field. I just need a way out there.”

Ties, on the other hand, are the relationships you already have with the other characters. Perhaps you have a rival, or someone you look out for, or even a family member who just gets on your nerves or embarrasses you. A good tie can provoke interesting roleplaying situations and provide more drama for your games.

Drives and Ties are primarily roleplaying tools and are helpful in guiding the way you play your character. They are also fertile material for the GM to build stories around and present all kinds of opportunities to make your games more interesting. Leaning into your Drives and Ties, bringing them into play, and exploring how they affect your character will also reward you with experience points, which are used to improve your character.

An illustration of a woman in fancy 1920s style clothing sat in a high-tech wheelchair and holding a quill

Moxie, Cred, and Grit

Most of a character’s details are expressed with words and Tags that define who they are and what they can do. Moxie, Cred and Grit are the only real numbers you will see on your character sheet, and represent abstract resource pools that are utilised in play.

Moxie is a character’s luck and willpower. It is spent during play to improve a dice roll or do other interesting things. Some Advantages may require the expenditure of Moxie to activate. The only way to refresh this pool is to have your Flaws cause trouble and make life more difficult. 

Cred is a representation of a Rev’s resources, reputation, and wealth. While it does not equate to a specific social class or bank balance, it indicates how easily the character can get the equipment they need for a particular job. In game terms, you will spend your Cred to acquire gear before or during a mission. Tomorrow City has a very robust equipment section, with lots of detail on how to create your own unique dieselpunk items, and Cred is the currency for this crafting.

Grit indicates how tough and durable your Rev is. The higher your character’s Grit, the more injuries they can sustain before being incapacitated. It also determines a few other things, such as the number of serums you can be influenced by in any given period. Characters with a high Grit can soak up a lot of harm before they begin to feel the effects.

Round Out and Gear-Up

The final things you will do before play are give your character a description, a cool name, and perhaps purchase their first equipment loadout. The process is relatively quick and produces detailed, interesting characters who have a variety of cool abilities and a clear place in the imagined world. During playtesting I took great delight in seeing the interesting Revs that the players would create, and I cannot wait to see what you do with the rules.

This wraps up my series of design diaries. I do hope you have enjoyed the glimpse into what is coming.

Tomorrow City is out now in the UK and 27th February in the US.

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