|These places just spring up out of nowhere|
Towns, of course, are larger than villages. However, that comes with some baggage - a town is never placed randomly. There can be a lot of them, but they all serve a purpose. And that purpose is trade.
Trade is the lifeblood of any society, and people gather where the money goes. That means towns are built in strategic or advantageous locations, such as on a waterfront or at a trade intersection. Much like a village, a portion of the town's population is located in the surrounding area. However, this usually amounts to 30-50% of the population, and the population expands to a maximum of about 6,000 people.
Towns are self-sustaining, more diverse than villages, and have various trade functions. However, unlike cities and villages, there is less variety among towns. A city is such a large structure that it is completely unique. A village is tailor-made to a small group of people. Towns, on the other hand, all look a lot alike.
You need shops. You need government, representing the interests of the citizens and the rulers of the country. You need defenses, places of worship, and places to learn trades. And occasionally, you can get a unique locale or shop that can't be found anywhere else. All this means that a large majority of towns are going to feel similar, even if they look and function a bit differently everywhere you go.
With all that in mind, let's do this!
Instant Settlement: Town
Roll the following dice:
To recap from last time, each die represents a feature of the town. Don't worry about keeping the dice in a tight formation. Space between dice can be taken up by residencies. However, you will want to note the centermost feature and the outermost feature. These will determine the nature of the town square, and the nature of the area immediately around the town.
Start with the d4s and work your way upwards. If any number is repeated, replace the number on the higher die with the lowest available number. So if you roll a 3 on the d6 AND the d10 (and 1 is already on the d4) the d10 would become a 2. The highest die becomes the highest number, so if you roll a 1 on the d4, d6, and d10, they would become 1, 2, and 3 respectively.
A few notes on town structure: NPCs are about 75% Commoners, the remainder have occupations (such as guard or acolyte) that give them better stats. Anywhere from 50-75% of the town's population lives in the surrounding farmland and uses the town only for its features. And any citizen that doesn't already have a role will be involved in commerce, trade, or production of goods.
Here's our example roll.
The image isn't as clear this time, but here's the numbers listed:
And here's the adjusted numbers, with the inner- and outermost die circled.
3. Town Council
9. Unique Shops
Nearly every town is built on the foundation of trade. A town is usually at the intersection of major trade routes, or near a source of natural resources such as a mine. A vital location creates the basis for wealth in a town, and increases the population by 3,000.
If a town doesn't have a specific location, it is still located along a major trade route. Pick another feature of the town, which becomes the basis for the town's formation. For example, a town might form because a temple was built on a great holy site.
The type of die determines the location of the town.
- 1d4 - The town is located on a major body of water, like a lake, river, or ocean. Ship trade is common.
- 1d6 - The town is located at the intersection of two major trade routes. Traveling merchants are everywhere.
- 1d8 - The town is built around a natural resource, such as a mine, forest, or particularly fertile soil. Nearly everyone in town works in the local industry (i.e. miners, woodcutters, farmers)
- 1d10 - The town is built on a strategic border location due to inter-country conflicts. Nearly everyone in town is ready to go to war at a moment's notice.
- If the die is the centermost die, the feature cuts directly through the center of the town, forming the town square.
- If the die is the outermost die, the feature is not visible from the town, but is a short distance away. Road signs point to the town.
- If the die is anywhere else, the feature is easily visible just outside town.
Every town has a mayor, appointed by the noble that rules the country. This is by necessity - the town represents a significant commercial interest for the country, and the ruling noble needs a voice within the city walls. Because the mayor is granted to a town externally, the presence of a Mayor has no effect on the town's population.
If a mayor is absent, then the town's mayor was recently deposed for being a despicable tyrant. The ruling noble is attempting to find a replacement as quickly as possible.
The type of die determines the mayor's governing style:
- 1d4 - The mayor is friendly and wise, and respects the decisions of the Town Council. The government closely resembles a Democracy. Use Noble stats (MM pg. 348).
- 1d6 - The mayor is cunning and opinionated, and often at odds with the Town Council. The government is teetering between Democracy and Autocracy. Use Noble stats (MM pg. 348).
- 1d8 - The mayor is a prominent member of the town's guild or temple. The government borders on Kleptocracy or Theocracy, which may cause some tension among the populous. Use Priest stats (MM pg. 348) or Spy stats (MM pg. 349).
- 1d10 - The mayor has hamstringed the Town Council and acts as a Dictator. They are likely to be deposed soon. Use Bandit Captain stats (MM pg. 344).
- If the die is the centermost die, the mayor has a prominent home that overlooks the town square. The ground floor of his home acts as a meeting space and common area for citizens that the mayor is favorable towards.
- If the die is the outermost die, the mayor lives in an estate outside of town. The estate has its own guards and defenses, and the city council building has an office for the mayor to conduct business from.
- If the die is anywhere else, the mayor has a finely built but not-too-prominent home that sits among the other residencies. The mayor does business here.
3. Town Council
Nearly every town has a town council. They are generally elected, and represent the interests of the middle class. Because the middle class drives the trade and commerce in a town, the presence of a town council increases the town's population by 500. The city council is staffed by commoners, though more prominent members can use the Noble stat block (MM. pg. 348).
If a town council is absent, then the town has a system for gathering and tallying the votes of the entire populous, which happens about once a month. If the mayor would have a relationship with the town council (from feature #2) they instead have that relationship with the entire town. Also, the townsfolk are quite politically informed.
The type of die determines how the council was formed:
- 1d4 - The council consists of elected officials, selected from the most prominent and well-informed citizens. Many of them are merchants.
- 1d6 - The council consists of individuals representing major families or trade guilds. They are older folks who have lived in the town a long time.
- 1d8 - The council consists of prominent members of the local temple or guild. They prioritize funds to support their organization.
- 1d10 - The council consists of citizens who were elected, but have since sold out to the mayor, the temple, or the guild. The citizenry isn't pleased about it.
- If the die is the centermost die, the council has a large common house where they hold meetings, which overlooks the town square. A part of the building acts as a common space for all citizenry.
- If the die is the outermost die, the council has a small amphitheater space near the edge of town, where their meetings are held in a weekly public forum. Topics of discussion are posted on the outside of the building and attendance varies based on what is being discussed.
- If the die is anywhere else, the council meets in the home of their wealthiest member, which has a large room built to accommodate the council and a small audience.
A town has a lot of wealth flowing in and out of it. And that wealth needs protection! The promise of a standing military force to safeguard product also attracts merchants to towns. The presence of a barracks increases the town's population by 500.
If the town lacks a barracks, then the largest families/guilds/temples in the town provide a small body of private guards. This could give them considerable leverage over the town.
The type of die determines the strength of the soldiers:
- 1d4 - A standard issue militia. About 150 Guards (MM pg. 347) lead by a group of 10-15 Knights (MM pg.347) trained and appointed by the mayor. The group is disciplined around the mayor and his knights, but prone to falling asleep on the job if their task is boring.
- 1d6 - Mercenary Militia. About 100 Thugs (MM pg. 350) lead by a group of 5 Bandit Captains (MM pg. 344). The locals disapprove, but as long as the town council pays the Bandit Captains, the mercenaries behave themselves.
- 1d8 - Tenuous peace. 50% of the town's population use the Bandit stat block (MM pg. 343), and gangs control the streets of the town, with or without the mayor and town council's approval. If the leaders of the town disapprove, a small contingent of personal bodyguards protect important members from harm.
- 1d10 - A Mage guard. 30-50 Mages (MM pg. 347) protect the town with spells and wards. They use a Magical Guild or Archmage's Tower within the town as their base of operations.
- If the die is the centermost die, the barracks is a prominent feature in the center of town, and the soldiers occasionally use the town square for training exercises.
- If the die is the outermost die, the soldiers are situated on the edge of town, and use the nearby open land to train.
- If the die is anywhere else, the barracks is positioned among the town's residencies, however, the soldiers still travel outside the town to do their training exercises.
|Making my way down town...|
Nearly every town has a temple, to allow worship of whichever Gods are accepted or fashionable at the time. This varies based on the disposition of the nobility, but generally, gods of justice, peace, agriculture, and honor are socially accepted enough to merit worship. A temple also serves as a place of healing and ceremony, bringing the town's population up by 500.
If the town lacks a temple, then several small shrines perform the duties of the faithful, however, no one god's worship is prominent enough among the townsfolk to merit a major structure.
The type of die determines the scope of the temple:
- 1d6 - The temple serves only the patron God of the noble who appointed the mayor. Many townsfolk attend services here, even if they are not direct followers of that God. The several pastors use priest stats (MM pg. 348) and do their best to make the services accessible to all.
- 1d8 - The temple serves 3-4 deities whose worship is accepted by the noble who appointed the mayor. Each God is served by a Pastor (Priest, MM pg. 348) and their followers (Acolytes, MM pg. 342). Between them, nearly all citizens can find a place at the temple.
- 1d10 - The temple serves a minor God whose worship isn't outlawed, but who is locally prominent. The temple may or may not have the support of the Mayor, but it certainly has the blessing of the town council. There is only one Pastor (Priest, MM pg. 348), but 25% of the town's population use the Acolyte stat block (MM pg. 342).
- If the die is the centermost die, the temple has a large yard that forms the town square. During the summer, wedding ceremonies are held in this space.
- If the die is the outermost die, the temple stands on a hill overlooking the town. It could be inside or outside the town's defenses.
- If the die is anywhere else, the temple is positioned among the town's residencies, and despite being the tallest building in town, doesn't take up too much land.
All towns have guilds, supporting and training craftsmen, merchants, soldiers, and more. However, not every town has a major guild, which is what this feature represents. The presence of a major guild means that nearly every professional in town who is eligible for membership will join the guild. Since these people would be in a guild whether or not a major guild is present, the guild does not affect the town's population.
If a major guild is not present, then, of course, many smaller guilds fill the void. Also, guild membership becomes more of an option among the citizenry, acting less like a society and more like a school for a particular skill.
The type of die determines the scope of the guild:
- 1d6 - The guild supports the most prominent profession in the town. It is highly specialized, and masters of the profession might visit the town to teach or trade.
- 1d8 - The guild is broad in scope, covering not only professional skills but multiple trades and basic educational instruction.
- 1d10 - The guild is built on the reputation of a single great master of the profession, who may or may not be still alive. If they are alive, people travel long distances to study with them.
- If the die is the innermost die, the guild has a prominent position overlooking the town square, and the square is used for ceremonies, open markets, and guild meetings.
- If the die is the outermost die, the guild stands on the edge of town, and uses the open spaces around it to perform guild events and as building space.
- If the die is anywhere else, the guild is positioned among the town's residencies, and retains its use as a public meeting space, but without a major outdoor area.
Sometimes, a militia isn't enough. The presence of some kind of physical defense system is a boon to a town, and provides a sense of security to its inhabitants. Town defenses boost the town's population by 1000.
If defenses aren't present, then the town's militia makes regular patrols around the outskirts of town.
The type of die determines the type of defenses:
- 1d8 - Constructed: the town is surrounded by walls, a moat, or some sort of magical ward. These may or may not take advantage of natural defenses as well.
- 1d10 - Natural: the town may be located alongside cliffs, a river, or at the top of a hill. Though imperfect, these defenses provide a strategic defense if the town was to be attacked.
- If the die is the innermost die, a guard tower stands in the town square, tall enough to see the edges of the town and sound an alarm if needed.
- If the die is the outermost die, several small guard towers are lined up along the perimeter of the town, each staffed by a small number of guards and each able to provide an alarm.
- If the die is anywhere else, no towers exist, but the defenses are regularly patrolled by the city militia.
8. Transportation Services
These constitute services beyond the usual shipping routes: they either offer travellers a unique experience, or offer to ship goods in a unique way. Because transportation adds to the usability of a town by wanderers and merchants, the presence of a transportation system increases the town's population by 500.
If a town does not have specialized transportation services,
The type of die determines the type of transportation services:
- 1d8 - For goods. Instead of ships or caravans, the town offers a unique method of moving products, such as mine carts, huge pack animals, or teleportation circles. These services are used by the most prominent merchants in the town, and afford high levels of protection.
- 1d10 - For travellers. Same as above, but on a smaller scale. These services are used by the most prominent citizens in the town, and afford high levels of protection.
- If the die is the innermost die, the services are run by a prominent merchant located near the town square. The town is famous for those services.
- If the die is the outermost die, the services link only to one other town. The road, not the town, is famous for utilizing that service (for example, the Road of Elephants, or a road where the rich simply teleport instead of walking along it).
- If the die is anywhere else, then the services are provided to only a limited number of people, either due to availability or cost.
9. Unique Shops
The town contains a shop that is totally unique - you won't find this type of store again, outside of the big city. It could be a well-kept secret, or it could be famous, depending on the world and the town.
To determine the type of shop, take the original numbers from the 2d6's and add them together. I use this table to determine the price of magic items, as I've said in the past.
- 2 - Magic Weapon shop: sells items that are Rare and Uncommon
- 3 - Magic Armor shop: sells items that are Rare and Uncommon
- 4 - Magic Wand, Rod, and Staff shop: sells items that are Rare and Uncommon
- 5 - Magic Rings shop: sells items that are Rare and Uncommon
- 6 - Magic Potion shop: sells items that are Rare and Uncommon
- 7 - Magic Scroll shop: sells scrolls up to 3rd level, most spells available
- 8 - Miniature Warfare: experimental weapon-maker is interested in building anything you can design. Personal ballistas? Oversized swords? Just give him a few days and it's yours... at full price of course.
- 9 - Curse Purge Plus: fixes cursed items, adds curses to regular items, all for only 1000 gp a pop. Great for pranking your friends!
- 10 - The Magical Menagerie: Sells monsters, mostly tame. Price is 1,000 gp times the monster's CR.
- 11 - Pacts-R-Us: make your next level a Warlock level. Pact availability based on who runs the shop. No cost - just your eternal loyalty is fine.
- 12 - Bulk Superstore: cheap prices due to eldritch deals magic. sells one Legendary magic item, chosen by the DM, and a wide variety of Rare and Uncommon magic items.
- If the die is the innermost die, the shop is known by the townsfolk as a friendly and respectable, if a bit odd, place. It sits, alongside many other shops, around the town square.
- If the die is the outermost die, the shop sits on the edge of town. The owner doesn't get out often and everyone seems a bit suspicious of them.
- If the die is anywhere else, the shop is a small, unassuming shack. It appears much bigger on the inside than on the outside.
Sometimes, a town is a bit on the strange side. This is fairly common in my homebrewed world of Ahneria, but if you are running a more mundane town, feel free to substitute this table for another. I adapted this one from the "Weird Locales" table on DMG pg 109.
To determine the source of the weirdness, add the original numbers of the 2d8's together.
- 2 - Town built on a floating mass of land
- 3 - Wishing Well in the center of town
- 4 - Crystal Cave that magically answers questions
- 5 - Wrecked Ship (if near water, it's an air/space ship. Otherwise, it's a boat)
- 6 - Wild Magic Zone
- 7 - Ancient Tree containing a trapped spirit
- 8 - Dead Magic zone (similar to Antimagic Field)
- 9 - Built on a haunted hill or barrow mound
- 10 - Permanent Portal to another plane of existence (either a one-way portal or a non-hostile plane)
- 11 - Fog occasionally forms humanoid forms, like ghosts
- 12 - Boulder craved with talking faces
- 13 - Giant Crystal shard protruding from the ground
- 14 - Nearby body of water has a river ferry guided by a skeletal captain
- 15 - Nearby forest entirely made of awakened trees
- 16 - Town built within the ruins of an ancient and massive graveyard
- If the die is the innermost die, the feature only exists at very specific times, such as the night of the blue moon, or after a sacrifice to the Dark Gods has been made. If this feature involves the entire town's location (such as if the town is built on a floating mass of land) then the entire town only exists at that specific time.
- If the die is the outermost die, the feature only exists on the ethereal plane. Creatures who can see or travel into the ethereal plane are surprised to find this relatively normal town is quite different from the other side.
- If the die is anywhere else, the feature is present in the material plane at all times. Depending on the feature, a town might try to hide the fact that it exists.
Now, let's go back to our example roll. I've added some more stuff to the image, which should help me describe this town better.
The town overlooks a body of water, though to get to the water, townsfolk travel down a cliffside path. Ships dock at the bottom of the cliffs, and goods are carried up and down the path by animals and carts. The mayor is cunning and opinionated, often at odds with the town council. The council consists of elected officials, selected from the most prominent and well-informed citizens. Many of them are merchants, and together they push back against the mayor's kleptocratic tendencies. The town uses a mercenary militia, which the townsfolk aren't fond of, but the council knows as long as trade is good, the thugs won't misbehave. Additionally, the council supports the temple at the center of town, which is a place of gathering, worship, and ceremony, and forms the town square. The God of the temple is a locally popular God that doesn't have the mayor's approval, even though their worship is not illegal. A prominent citizen acts as the local pastor, and many of the townsfolk are trained healers in the way of the God. A major guild oversees the basic professional and educational training of the town, and nearly everyone either studied there and considers themselves a member. The town is surrounded by a protective wall, which incorporates the cliff face into its defenses. The town's population is around 5,500 people, many of which live in the area surrounding the walls..
In the picture above, the white lines represent major streets which divide the blocks of the town. The brown lines are roads leading out of the town. Each block contains 50-75 buildings, including shops, residencies, and of course the feature which the dice within that block represents. The innermost die (the 5 on the d10) represents the town square.
Once again, it's easy to see some plot hooks forming. The town seems quite loyal to this local God, and the mayor is opposed to the council. It makes sense that the mayor would be trying to sabotage the temple, but how? And for what ultimate purpose? Also, we have a town of healers (probably the pastor's doing) protected by mercenaries (possibly the mayor's doing). Are there conflicts? Does the church try to reform the mercenaries? Will the mercs turn on the council at the mayor's word?
There's a lot we could do here. My recommendation is that you make the town before the players find out about it, so you can set up rumors and build your map based on the town's location.
In two weeks, we'll be back to figure out how the heck we're doing entire cities!
|Home is where you hang your sword, so they say|
Thanks for reading!