City-building tricks
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Thread: City-building tricks

  1. #1

    Default City-building tricks

    Hey all!

    My gaming group has asked that I DM a game in D&D 4.0 in a month, and I'm going about with my world building. The trouble is it takes me far too long to chew out all of the details for my cities. Occupants, saleable items, just seems to take forever.

    Do you guys know of any quick tips and tricks to speed the process up?
    Nosus decipio - We Cheat

  2. #2


    Hey. Is it a whole campaign, or just a game or two? I usually just "wing" things, especially in towns, cities, etc. I'll have a few key points, maybe a specific map or two, some notable npc's, but not everything about everybody. If it's a starting town, or where the campaign is, then definitely lots of info, most as I and the players go along.

  3. #3


    It's a full campaign arc, and this is the central city that it revolves around.
    Nosus decipio - We Cheat

  4. #4


    Well now, you do have a month to get stuff going. At least a map, and some points of interest marked out. It all depends on the level of detail your players want, not necessarily the level of detail that you want. I remember detailing a city quite extensively, just to have my players go somewhere else, so the city was hardly used. You could always borrow stuff and change stuff (ie lankhmar had a great city, I changed that to use a few times), can't tell you how many times I had players in the village of hommlet (from the temple of elemental evil). I'm sure there are probably cities - campaigns from other small d20 system companies that could be used too.

  5. #5
    Coffin Dodger / Keymaster airhead's Avatar
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    Find an old box for Sanctuary - City of Thieves.
    Great city already built. Very gritty. You'll still have to do a lot of work to 4.0 it.

    I understand that Thunderhold is being redone (maybe already done?) for 4.0. Great metropolis.
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  6. #6
    Freak! Demihuman's Avatar
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    Yeah, I do A LOT of RP'ing and it seems like winging it with a few really well thought out encounters and felxible skeleton of plot is the way to go. You can flesh stuff out based on what the characters get interested in as you go.

    Another really great tool that our group uses is to make the players responsible for some of the world. Diaspora has a geat codified system for this. But just have each player generate their neighborhood or village or forest or whatever. just make sure the understand that it is your game. We have a wiki we all can edit to keep track of stuff.

    It seems like the more stuff you plan out the more likely the players are going to be to want to do something totally un-foreseen like burning down the awesome village full of encounters you spent all month building in the first night . The less you plan the more able you are to adjust your story on the fly.

    This should give you good inspiration:

    When you use your imagination anything is possible!

  7. #7


    Find a local hobby store that buys and sells old stuff. The 2nd Edition D&D stuff, especialy Realms, is full of detailed cities with NPCs and organizations and points of interest. Just change the names and stat out any NPC that will do more than talking. Easy place to start anyway.

  8. #8
    Brushlicker Godlikebuthumble's Avatar
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    One word:


    Find it.

  9. #9


    For everyone who suggested looking to the older campaign settings, thank you. I looked up Ptolus and Sanctuary and took what I wanted, cut and paste. A lot of time was cut out of my planning.

    Demi: I do keep some premade encounters, random encounters, and I'm very good at improvisational story-telling. I like to have a fully fleshed story line so that I can hook the players back into it if they decide to go ADHD on me, and so I don't get lost in my own improvisation. As for making them responsible for the world....No. I would trust only one of the players to do it, the others are new and very uncertain of themselves. Another campaign sure, but this is their first.

    And when the players do something unpredictable like burn down the aforementioned village...well if that village was important I have a great trick. Rename it and place it somewhere nearby. Change a couple of details, and you keep your story. Much like the time honored tradition of flipping the map. Your group decides to go south despite all of your efforts to persuade them to ride north. If they're in the dark as to why you want them to go north, just flip the map.
    Nosus decipio - We Cheat

  10. #10


    I would have just said 'base it on a place you know very well and throw in theme-appropriate names for places'.
    But if you're building from scratch, having read many books and created many campaign worlds for my friends, I can not
    stress nearly enough how much the Pathfinder Game Master's Guide can be helpful.
    My gaming group and I have somewhere near 100 years of gaming experience, and we've all bought a copy.
    While much that is in it has been written before in other places, it's an excellent compilation of useful GMing information for
    creating a good campaign, a good short-term adventure, settings, variations for worlds...

    And no, they don't pay me to advertise. The book just genuinely impressed the hell out of me.

  11. #11


    Populate it with people in your neighborhood, making them the people you know and using their personalities.

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