View Full Version : How to create a city?

2006-12-31, 04:15 PM
How do I create a city for my campigan?
what should I put in there, what's supposed to be made and everything important for characters that mostly "wasting" thire times in the city.
Its a medium city, goblins sorrunds them and the city have a ver intimidating bully-killer if it matters... :smallcool:


2006-12-31, 05:26 PM
Draft up 5-7 interesting NPCs.

Draw a flow-chart of interesting places around town. The Market, The Nail and Knave tavern, the town hall, the wizard's tower, the east gate... get like 10 of these, and write brief descriptions of them. Arrange these in kind of a spider-web looking diagram of how everything relates together. Don't draw out every street or building, because it's not that important of a location. Even if it was, interesting locations is more important than an interesting map. Name the streets around the locations you've picked, and figure out what is likely to happen at each of those locations.

Write out three different lines of dialogue that common people will be interested in. In your case:

"My, these goblins have become quite scary, haven't they?"
"I sure hope Geriard puts down those thugs that have been making all that racket at the east gate..."
"Do you bring news from the outside? The goblins have cut off most of our communication. How did you get through? How does the market for <TOWN'S PRODUCT> look outside? Would you like to buy some?"

Depending on how long it takes you to roll up an NPC and think of their motivations, you can get a town like this done in 20 minutes, less if you don't have to stat out the NPCs.

2006-12-31, 05:55 PM
Pick out and emphasize what makes the city different from a generic city, rather than what it has in common. Assume the boring and necessary stuff (carts of food, fishing boats, etc.), then add the "must see" elements beloved of tourist guides.

Are there canals instead of streets? Scores of towers, or a dozen vast square block-neighbourhoods? Do the people all go masked? Is there a higher or lower of instance of magic use than in other areas? How does the fusion of cultures city life inevitably produces cause a break from D&D norms as expressed in the PHB?

Who are the rulers? How strong is their grip? How does their rule manifest itself? In gallows and guillotines? Or in popular festivals and public improvements for the poor? All of the above perhaps.

How lax or rigid is the social hierarchy? Is it a case of "Make way lowly ones! Make way for the Grand Khedive"? Are foreigners accepted, mistrusted, or hated? Who is barred from certain parts of the city?

How has being surrounded by (probably hostile) goblinoids affected their culture? Is there an "eat, drink, for tomorrow we die" hysteria? Or a grim siege mentality? Are the goblins considered just another natural disaster, an act of the gods to be avoided where possible? Are their chiefs placated by tribute and bribed to fight one another? Are they warred against by the city-dwellers?

Perhaps most importantly: how does the city make its money? Terry Pratchett described the essence of a city as being "concentrated money-making". Try to convey the busyness and frenetic activity of a city to the players.

Legoman's urban flow chart is a great idea, a distillation into playable terms of some of the ideas I've thrown out. I'll be using it myself sometime I think (*yoink!*).

2006-12-31, 06:11 PM
Lots of good advice there. The only thing I can think of in addition is that remember that you are designing city for them. For realism, it might be good thing that you have general idea on how they get food but unless you think your players are interested in it, don't start thinking about it too much. Think "What will my players want to do there?". If you think that they might be interested in buying magic items, then design a way/npc/location on them buying/stealing/whatever those.

2006-12-31, 08:43 PM
Make sure you are aware of the highest level Spellcaster of each class that is residing there.

2006-12-31, 09:00 PM
Not 100% relevant, but its usually the next thing someone making a city is interested in. That being, how to make a kingdom feel real.

http://www.io.com/~sjohn/demog.htm (http://www.io.com/%7Esjohn/demog.htm)

2006-12-31, 10:55 PM
I always start with a map. I include the generic locations first (tavern/inn, general store, smithy, tanner/fletcher, temple, some sort of governmental building, jail, and either an alchemist/magic type shop/both [depending on how prosperous the town is]). I then name the ones I feel like naming (usually the inn, tavern, and the stores) and choose the presiding religion of the town so the temple will have a god. I draw in a few nameless buildings (These are there so that if for some reason I need a building I have one. Otherwise they're houses.) and some roads, and I name the major roads. Any town larger than 500 or so inhabitants is going to have a wall up protecting the town, so add gates and guard towers accordingly. I then apply a fitting sounding name to the city (usually based upon where it's located geographically, or its founding family which I make up on the spot) and voila, generic town generator version 1.0.Indoril.

Now for the flavor. Decide on some quests you want to be available in town, perhaps deailing with the goblins and perhaps something inside the city. Either decide on where your questgiver NPC's are located or set a Gather Information check for each quest and let your character go searching in the tavern (or do both, just to mix it up). Roll up major NPC's first (Your bully-killer for instance might be a higher level barbarian or fighter or multiclassed into both, perhaps the guard captain is a high level fighter and his guards are also mid-level fighters, maybe a couple of your questgiver NPC's have a few levels in commoner classes or hero classes even. Depending upon the nature of the town's leadership could be a high level aristocrat, fighting class, wizard/sorcerer, or cleric. Then generate an NPC you plan to use as a main villan for whatever major quest you intend to set the PC's on in this town.

Don't forget that the world moves too, not just to PC's. Add some timed events, for instance you could have it so that daily there is a 20% chance that there will be a goblin attack and roll a d% behind the screen. Perhaps the town's leader or a high ranking military official gives periodic recruiting speeches attempting to rally people against the goblins. Add some crime, theives robbing a shop for instance, and use it for side quests (maybe the PC's want to help the guards hunt the theives, maybe they want in on the loot). Also work out climate and general weather conditions, just to add more flavor.

Other things to touch on
-Are the goblins randomly attacking, or are they behind some organized force?

-If behind an organized force, are they actively sieging the town? If so, then this will drastically change the conditions of life within the town. You should include maybe a town crier calling out how much food is left, and how many soldiers remain to defend the town, and any damage sustained to the walls.

-Are the PC's the only adventurers in town? They may be able to team up with or hire fellow adventuring NPC's to assist even further in their quests.

-Write down anything and everything the PC's interact with and the circumstances, actions, and consequences thereof. Nothing creates story and context like PC's being morons (or alternatively being highly respected members of society).

2006-12-31, 11:35 PM
I took a class on urban sociology in college last fall, and one of the things we learned about was the ecology of cities: how the people in urban environments interact with each other and with their surroundings. For example, one of the articles we read (I can't remember what it was called, or who wrote it) consider the city's primary "businesses" or sources of income and the impact that has on the city's growth. For example, a settlement that grew up around a gold mine would have roads or transportation systems that provide easy access to said mine, a city with a strong tradition of crafting would have a big craftsman's quarter (and a big craftsman's guild or two to match), and a cultural and/or political center would have lots of pretty promenades, squares, performance halls, and coffee/tea/chocolate/ale/other-popular-drink houses where people can hang out and gossip.