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World Building 102: My template for town creation

Content of the article: "World Building 102: My template for town creation"

So I've been tinkering with my world building and I've found a series of questions that I ask myself that helps make my towns feel alive. Now depending on the type of game you're running your mileage may vary but this seems to work for me and my tables:

  • Government: How does the city govern itself? How does ruling work and most importantly why? Is it a monarchy or patriarchy? Is it a republic? Is it an appointed barony? Is it a Kratocracy?

  • Ruler(s): Who is the appointed leader? If it's a large number of people, who is the majority leader or who is accessible to the PCs? Who is the official leader(s), who actually leads? E.g. Even though Prince Caius, only seven, was the true ruler most of the power was delegated to the chancellor, the Honourable Victor Viceaux

  • Heir: Maybe not even in a legal sense but who is "next in line"? Is there a hereditary heir to the position of power? Is there an up and coming politician running for office? Are the guilds seizing power?

  • Flag: Plain and simple. What symbol represents this area and how does it relate to everything else about the town? It might be best to wait to answer this question, otherwise you'll find yourself coming back and addressing it again.

  • Colors: See above. Maybe these reflect what resources the townsfolk have access to. E.g. Is the flag really going to have a purple backing? That dye is hard to obtain.

  • Economy: Why does this city exist? What causes money to flow through this area? Is it a natural stopping point on the river? Do certain medicinal flowers only grow in this city? Can diamonds only be mined from these mountains? Is there a silver vein nearby and has the militaries of several countries taken notice because where there's silver there's mithril? Maybe a Duke long ago built his castle here and forced his peasants to inhabit the nearby lands (if that's the case then why is it still inhabited – he died ages ago)?

  • Population: Fairly straight forward. How many people are in this city, village, town, whatever? If you have people you also need a way to feed them. This is an excellent way to throw in leverage of specific groups (because everyone needs food, even evil). Maybe the local magisters conjure food but they pretend they can only bring forth so much so they can set a higher price on goods. Maybe the trades guilds hold a monopoly on overland travel and have prevented grain from reaching this city until they pay dues or agree to embargo non guild affiliated tradesmen. Maybe there's rolling green fields nearby that can be farmed.

  • Demographics: What relative amounts of each race is in this town? And by that I mean what is the prevailing race? What are the minor races? Do they have any relevance to the town? E.g. Dwarves live here and perform a significant amount of logging. This upsets the forest spirits and causes woodland races, like eladrin, to be disgruntled at best and openly hostile at worst.

  • Armies: How much of the population can mobilize for war? How many are active duty military forces? How many are city guard? Is the city known for any specific type of troops? E.g. The halfling rangers of Hobble Hole are known to bond deeply with their beast companions, usually wolves, and as such ride them into battle. These warriors operate as medium cavalry in battle.

  • Known for: Is there some feature in the town that everyone knows about? Do people hailing from this town possess particular characteristics? Does everyone from this town have certain colored hair? Does everyone from this town start with sea vehicles proficiency?

  • Cultural Quirk: Sort of like above but this can refer to traditions as well. Is it customary to eat before your guests? Maybe the people in this town don't refer to anyone by their first names? Do the halflings here pour out a flagon of ale before drinking because if you're worried about one drink then maybe you should have brought more?

  • Allies & Enemies: Plain and simple. What cities or political powers are their friends and which ones are their enemies? Try to think who would want their resources and who would benefit from them keeping their resources. The world is give and take.

  • Geography: Territory surrounding the town or the area the town is built on. You cannot have an agriculturally rich town in the middle of the mountains unless an outside force is making or made that happen (e.g. massive terraforming, massive druid craft, etc.). Chances are this affects the economy of the town. Are you in a valley? Then water collects here and the soil is soft, probably fertile. Maybe a plant grows here that won't anywhere else. Maybe a leyline underground here causes all sorts of aberrant plant life. Etc.

  • Architecture: What is the general design of buildings? Why? E.g. The Halfling city of Hobble Hole has architecture that is really only suited for shorter races, making anything taller than a dwarf uncommon to be a permanent resident. Or maybe the city has a basilisk problem and they had to have reflective buildings so now everything is made from polished stone.

  • Animal Life: This is mostly what I would think to be exotic wildlife. Of course we're going to think wolves and spiders in the forest, bears in the mountains, etc. But what about the monstrous creatures? What monstrous creatures are endemic to this area? What impact have they had on society? Remember these monsters are part of these people's world. E.g. Building off of the basilisk problem from above, maybe it's like a biblical petrification and turns victims to salt. Well they're in a landlocked city so they're not just going to let that go to waste so they actually grind up the petrified creatures to package and sell the salt.

Read:  SPOILERS for Rats of Waterdeep Running Rats of Waterdeep and things didn’t go as planned. Looking for help with what to do now.

Source: reddit.com

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