|Inner City. Inner. City. Pressure. (Inna citeh preshaaaa!)|
At this point, a city isn't something you can just throw together and slam down in front of your players. So why are we using a random generator?
Here's some situations that could use the random generation of an entire city:
- You're playing a game in an area without any established civilization, and want to quickly generate a place where you can run a city-based quest.
- A city was recently destroyed by an attack or disaster, and the inhabitants are rebuilding. However, it isn't quite the same, and when they finish it looks like a brand-new city.
- Your players are teleported or travel to a distant land they have never been to. They see a city in the distance, and you need it quickly.
- The city shifts every once in a while, each time they visit it the features are familiar but in slightly different places.
- You're planning a long campaign, and you want a home base city, but need some inspiration.
In any of these situations, you'll probably want to know beforehand the players are visiting the city, to give yourself time to roll it, map it, and figure out the specific details. Just like the town generator, cities aren't placed randomly - they are huge hubs of trade and commerce, and will always reflect that.
Also, if you do want to use the shifting city idea, I'd suggest you write down your results and only reroll to change the position of the dice.
Instant Settlement: City
|I saw a city on a hill... that kept shifting in weird ways|
Once again, each die represents a feature of the city. 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 history of the city, as cities begin as towns and grow outward. The center die will speak to the city's creation, and the outer die will speak to a recent event or conflict experienced by the city. If the adventurers solve that conflict and return, just roll 1d10 and create a new conflict using that number's "outermost die".
Start with the d4 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 a 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 city structure: NPCs are about 60% Commoners, the remainder have occupations (such as guard or acolyte) that give them better stats. Anywhere from 50-75% of the city's population lives in the surrounding farmland and uses the city only for its features. Nearly any profession can be found within the city walls, and commoners will always belong to some sort of trade or craft.
Here's our example roll.
2. Noble Ward
4. Trade Ward
6. Temple Ward
Cities are chosen because they have a wide access to trade, travel, and natural resources. A city is always a hub for major trade routes, and nearly always near a source of natural resources such as a mine. A standard city has a population of 8,000 due to its easy access to these resources.
If a city doesn't have a nearby resource, it became populated because it was a hub for major trade routes. Make sure there are at least 6 roads leading from the city, all headed to towns or other cities.
The type of die determines the resources of the city.
- 1d4 - The city is located on a major body of water, like a lake, river, or ocean. Ship trade is common.
- 1d6 - The city is surrounded by fertile farmland that provides incredible bounty each harvest.
- 1d8 - The city is near a massive mine, with some parts of the mine extending under the city.
- 1d10 - The city is built near a forested area. The forest is (naturally or magically) able to keep up with the massive amounts of hunting and logging the city requires.
- If the die is the centermost die, the city was founded as a town due to the nearby natural resource. Over time, trade exploded, either as demand for the natural resource grew or as people became more common in the area.
- If the die is the outermost die, the natural resource related to the city has been producing less in recent years. The city is worried that something might be happening (naturally or magically) to cause this. Many citizens are in a state of panic.
2. Noble Ward
A city requires a lot of leadership. There are a few levels to a city's leadership: one noble presides, usually a King/Queen or Lord Mayor. Below them, many layers of nobility share responsibility for the surrounding areas and government functions. Finally, an elected city council represents the interests of the middle class. A strong ruling class gives a city much better leverage in trade negotiations and political disputes with other cities and countries, increasing the wealth in the city. A noble ward increases a city's population by 1,000.
If a city doesn't have a noble ward, the city council rules the city. There may still be some upper-class citizens, even those of Noble blood, but they have no real say in the affairs of the city. Additionally, the city has a reputation of being somewhat lax in its laws.
The type of die determines the style of government.
- 1d4 - The city is a Monarchy. Either the King/Queen lives there and rules directly, or the Lord Mayor rules by decree of the King/Queen. Bloodline matters, and marrying into nobility can be a method for gaining power.
- 1d6 - The city is an Oligarchy. The presiding noble has their own small council that determines the laws of the land. Politics and loyalty are the most important factors of gaining power.
- 1d8 - The city is a Militocracy or Magocracy (ruled by military or magical might). The presiding noble is a hugely influential figure in this area. Joining an organization like the military or wizard school can grant a better reputation, and those near the top of the organization can gain real political power.
- 1d10 - The city is a Plutocracy, with the wealthiest noble acting as the de facto presiding ruler. They keep a network of bodyguards, spies, and confidants to protect themselves. Gaining money and influence is the path to power.
- If the die is the centermost die, an ancestor of the presiding noble was the founder of the city. He is something of a legendary figure among the populous, and the nobility works to ensure the stories of his exploits leave out any scandalous bits.
- If the die is the outermost die, power in the city has recently changed hands. The new ruler is quite different from the previous one, and people are discussing it heavily. It could be a new, terrible ruler, or it could be the first seemingly good ruler in a while and people are suspicious.
The world of fantasy is dangerous, both due to monsters roaming the wilderness and political disputes among countries. It should go without saying that every city has a standing army available, which may or may not also work as the city watch. Additionally, every city of decent size has walls, which usually expand outwards to form wards within the city. However, there is quite a bit of variance in how much devotion to military might a city delegates. A city with strong defenses can increase its population by 1,000.
If a city doesn't have strong defenses, it will still have walls and a city watch. However, the watch is mostly volunteers, and has likely never mobilized against a major threat (such as another army, a dragon, or worse). If such an event occurs, the city may suffer massive damage.
The type of die determines the primary method of defense.
- 1d4 - The city boasts a standing army. They are well trained and all of their leadership has fought in battles, either near the city or at the border of the country.
- 1d6 - The city has a small engineering force that develops defensive siege weapons. They still employ foot soldiers, but the weapons are their first line of defense.
- 1d8 - The city has a team of royal wizards that provide magical defenses for the city. They still employ foot soldiers, who are trained in how to avoid friendly spell damage and take out enemy mages.
- 1d10 - The city is protected by a broad magical effect that has been in place for longer than anyone can remember. The site has always been holy or at the crossing of powerful leylines, and the city sprung up around it.
- If the die is the centermost die, the city was founded as a strategic hold against an encroaching force. The border it protected may or may not still be contested, but soldiers in this city are treated with extra respect.
- If the die is the outermost die, the city recently received word of a major threat (such as an army, dragon, etc) planning an attack on them. The entire city is working to shore up their defenses, and could certainly use any help they could get.
4. Trade Ward
Much like a town, trade is the lifeblood of any city. However, unlike a town, cities are never known for particular goods or services - a city will attract enough merchants that you can find anything here. A trade ward is a staple in any city, but the presence of a guild-supported ward increases the population by 1,000.
If a city doesn't have a guild-supported trade ward, there will be marketplaces spread through every ward, and the city will be infamous for its extensive black market for less-than-legal goods and services.
The type of die determines the guild's power and influence.
- 1d4 - Craftsman's Guilds run the trade ward, ensuring fair prices for manufactured goods. They hold some influence of the rulers of the city, but won't flex it as long as they are allowed to buy and sell freely.
- 1d6 - The city has developed a Merchant's Guild due to the high number of vendors that reside within the ward. The guild lines the pockets of the nobility, though whether this influence amounts to much depends on the temperament of the rulers.
- 1d8 - A Transmuter's Guild has gained leverage over the trade ward simply by being able to craft goods that no other guild can. The city is well-known for selling hard-to-find magic items, though the guild prefers to stay out of political affairs.
- 1d10 - What appears to be a simple craftsman's guild is actually a thieves' guild. They put on a good front, but anything and everything can be bought and sold here. The rulers remain mostly unaware of this, in part because the guild keeps those who know of its existence well-paid and quiet.
- If the die is the centermost die, the city began as a humble trading post. In fact, that trading post still stands at the center of the city, though it has been utterly eclipsed by the multi-story stone shops that surround it. Still, it remains a source of pride and a common traveler's destination.
- If the die is the outermost die, a new guild has shown up in town and is offering goods at lower prices than have been established. Though the ruling guild would love to have them removed, the offenders have gained political influence that cannot be easily shaken off. A political power struggle is on the horizon.
A city is a hub for resources, but not everyone has the luck or skill to compete with merchants and nobles. Though nobody chooses to be homeless, a city at least offers protection from the wilderness for those who have nowhere else to turn. If a city has a dedicated ward for shanty-style housing and communal living, the population will be driven up by those who travel to seek refuge. A slum adds 8,000 to a city's population.
If a city doesn't have a dedicated slum, there will be beggars and urchins in every ward, and orphanages will be spread throughout the city instead of being concentrated in the slums. There may or may not be laws prohibiting busking in the noble ward.
The type of die determines the general attitude of the city towards its lower class.
- 1d6 - An unfortunate necessity. The city provides some resources to help keep the poor free from disease and remove the dead, but provides little other assistance. There are a few local organizations dedicated to feeding, clothing, and housing who they can.
- 1d8 - A challenging priority. The city provides housing, food, and clothing to the poor, and those who are able to work can apply for job training at local guilds. Many organizations exist to assist in these tasks, and to rehabilitate those who are sick, addicted, or disabled.
- 1d10 - A problem to be dealt with. The city doesn't provide much in the way of support, except for city guards that patrol the streets and keep an uprising from happening. There are a few local organizations that try to help the truly destitute, but they are spread thin and struggle to make a difference.
- If the die is the centermost die, the city was formed as a refuge during a time of great strife. Depending on how the city treats its lower class, this event could be remembered as the foundation of the city's growth, or as a messy part of history best ignored.
- If the die is the outermost die, members of the lower class have been suffering from a mysterious illness. The city hopes to keep it contained to the slums, but it could spread easily. The severity of the disease and the cause of it are being investigated.
6. Temple Ward
Even in a setting with few Gods, any population of commoners will require space to worship whatever Gods they prefer. A Temple Ward is a state-sanctioned worship space which will also provide services like healing, counseling, and ceremony space. It also gives the city a bit of reputation for morality, whether or not the rest of the city actually follows the code of the Gods. A Temple Ward increases a city's population by 1,000.
If a city doesn't have a Temple Ward, then small churches are mixed in with the other wards, and usually reflect the needs of that ward: the Trade Ward has a church of the God of Commerce, the Noble Ward has whatever God the Royalty worships, etc.
The type of die determines the structure of the temple ward.
- 1d6 - Contains temples based on a multitude of good-aligned Gods. Most prominent is the God that the nobility worships, but churches and shrines in this area cover a wide variety of Gods. However, all the worship that occurs here is directed at benign deities.
- 1d8 - Contains a lot of Temples dedicated to one God - the God that the nobility worships. The buildings are quite lavish, and this essentially serves as an extension of the Noble Ward. Small shrines in other wards cover any other Gods that people might worship, but the majority of the population has joined in the worship of the main God.
- 1d10 - Contains churches and shrines to any God that has enough followers. Good and Evil Gods alike have temple space here. The city has strict laws that prevent infighting amongst worshippers whose Gods are enemies. The nobility worships several Gods, including at least one God generally considered evil, which is why they enforce the situation.
- If the die is the centermost die, the area was considered a holy site long before the city existed. As worshippers flocked to the area, the city formed out of necessity.It is still a common site for religious pilgrims to visit and study.
- If the die is the outermost die, the city recently changed its policy on what Gods can or cannot be worshipped here. Choose a structure of the Temple Ward that didn't get rolled - until about a month ago, this was the norm. The people might be in uproar about the change, or there might be a quiet revolution happening. Either way, the worshippers who were kicked out (or now have to share their space) aren't happy.
A city is fueled by trade, and sometimes trade comes from distant lands. Foreign diplomats may wish to have a foothold in a city, as keeping an eye on their trade partner can benefit them greatly. Additionally, having dignitaries from a foreign land encourages citizens of those lands to visit, and a tourism industry can crop up. This increases the population by 3,000.
If a city doesn't have a dedicated embassy, visiting dignitaries simply stay within the noble ward. Additionally, trade within the city doesn't extend across country borders, either due to distance, conflict, or some kind of inhibiting terrain.
The type of die determines the most notorious embassy within the city.
- 1d8 - An embassy from a country that is significantly more powerful or wealthy than the city's country. They throw extravagant parties and many nobles support trade with the other country. It's a well-known secret that the larger country is trying to gain a strong political foothold using the city.
- 1d10 - An embassy consisting entirely of members of another race, such as elves or dwarves in a human city. The area is a safe haven for members of that race, and the city's attitude towards them varies from person to person. Some say their goods and services will put honest folk out of work, others welcome a new culture.
- If the die is the centermost die, the city formed on the site of an ancient peace treaty between two nations. Statues of the people at that meeting decorate the city. To this day, the two countries have been staunch allies.
- If the die is the outermost die, a country that has an embassy within the city is nearing a declaration of war upon the country the city resides in. Members of the embassy may be divided on the action, or they may be united for or against the city. Whatever they believe, citizens have made pleas and protests at the embassy in regards to the conflict.
Death is a part of life, and many cities have a dedicated graveyard to deal with the massive amount of bodies that a thriving city can generate. The cemetery can also serve as a park for civilians, and often has city guards assigned to it at night in order to stop necromancy. A cemetery allows a city to be cleaner and healthier, increasing the population by 1,000.
If a city doesn't have a dedicated cemetery ward, there is a guarded plot of land outside the city walls used as a graveyard. However, this generally means it's easier for unscrupulous wizards to get dead bodies for their dark rituals.
The type of die determines the layout of the cemetery.
- 1d8 - The cemetery is divided between nobility and commoners. A small wall or fence separates the two, and there are separate entrances for each side. The nobility have large mausoleums and statues, while the commoners have simple grave stones or markers.
- 1d10 - The cemetery is for commoners only. The nobility either have their own grave sites in the noble ward, or prefer cremation.
- If the die is the centermost die, the city was founded at the site of an ancient battle, where a great hero made their last stand against a tide of foes. The hero has statues throughout the city, and visitors to the city can learn a lot about the ancient war and the hero.
- If the die is the outermost die, bodies have been disappearing from the cemetery. It is unknown who is behind this and what their purposes are, but there's good money to be made getting to the bottom of it.
People enjoy nature, but the wilderness outside a city is dangerous, even if it's populated with villages and farmhands. People live in cities because it affords them protection, but often they bring a bit of the outside in with them. A garden also brings people to the city, increasing the population by 1,000.
If a city doesn't have a dedicated garden, then houseplants and flowers in windows are quite common, and decorate the sides of the streets.
The die that rolled the natural resource determines the type of garden.
- 1d4 - The garden is full of tropical plants and small ponds. The ponds are well-stocked, and people enjoy swimming and fishing.
- 1d6 - The garden is built around a rare patch of trees which provide contrast for the surrounding farmlands.
- 1d8 - The garden is built around a massive boulder, which has been carved and painted by hundreds of citizens over the years. The decorations may or may not have a common purpose - e.g. declarations of love
- No natural resource - The garden is actually a massive tree that has been hollowed out or has houses built into its branches. There is quite a bit of history behind the tree, and how it came to grow at these crossroads.
- If the die is the centermost die, the garden contains a magical plant that has a unique property. This site has always produced this type of plant, and the city formed around this area.
- If the die is the outermost die, the garden has recently been dying out. The citizens are concerned, and the nobility doesn't seem to have the resources to fix the problem. The cause could be mundane or magical.
No two cities are alike, but some are even stranger. If a city has an oddity, it's well-known for it. People might travel across the world just to see it. These will be less extreme than the town oddities, since many people still need to live here and trade normally. Most cities don't have oddities, and having one doesn't make a big dent in population.
To determine the oddity, total up the natural results of the 3d6 and consult below.
- 3: A God has taken up permanent residence in the city. They are very popular and receive many visitors, as well as many threats.
- 4: The city is a few steps out of time. It exists a few hours in the future. Doesn't affect trade much, but those who leave the city get a three-hour headstart on their journey.
- 5: Strange weather: food, animals, or even fire could fall from the sky. Doesn't happen terribly often, but only happens here.
- 6: A demigod has taken up permanent residence in the city. They are respected and feared, and people try to get on their good side.
- 7: A magic forge within the city can be used to create new spells, magic users flock to learn its secrets
- 8: A certain school of magic (or all magic) is particularly potent within the city walls
- 9: A certain school of magic (or all magic) simply doesn't work within the city walls
- 10: The city is built on top of a massive dungeon, attracts adventurers
- 11: The city is the only place that can produce a certain kind of resource. It's very valuable and highly coveted.
- 12: A seer foretold the birth of a world-conquering hero would happen in this city. It hasn't happened yet, and people wait anxiously.
- 13: The city is run by an immortal vampire. They take extreme precautions to stay alive, and may or may not be within the public's awareness.
- 14: Airship manufacturing warehouse.
- 15: A public teleportation circle allows easy travel to another city. Heavily regulated
- 16: Nobody can die within the city's walls, they come back within 1d6 hours. Bodies are taken elsewhere.
- 17: The city exists halfway between the material plane and another plane. Trade is conducted with the other plane, and strange goods and services can be found here. Fortunately, it's a very civilized part of that plane.
- 18: Another city exists directly beneath this one, except it's upside down and gravity is reversed there. Roll a new city and use that one.
Additionally, note the position of the d10:
- If the die is the centermost die, this oddity has existed for some time. People within the city are used to it, but it still astounds visitors.
- If the die is the outermost die, This is a recent change or discovery. The civilians are still reeling from the effect it is having on their lives.
Time to map the city! Much like last time, we connect points equidistant between the dice so that wards are formed. In a town, each line was a street. Here, each line is a wall or other natural barrier.
Now, let's build our city. This will be a lot of information.
The city is located on a major body of water, like a lake, river, or ocean. Ship trade is common, and the city was founded as a town due to the nearby natural resource. Over time, trade exploded, either as demand for the natural resource grew or as people became more common in the area. The city is an Oligarchy. The presiding noble has their own small council that determines the laws of the land. Politics and loyalty are the most important factors of gaining power. Power in the city has recently changed hands. The new ruler is quite different from the previous one, and people are discussing it heavily. It could be a new, terrible ruler, or it could be the first seemingly good ruler in a while and people are suspicious. The city has walls and a city watch. However, the watch is mostly volunteers, and has likely never mobilized against a major threat (such as another army, a dragon, or worse). If such an event occurs, the city may suffer massive damage. The city has developed a Merchant's Guild due to the high number of vendors that reside within the ward. The guild lines the pockets of the nobility, though whether this influence amounts to much depends on the temperament of the rulers. The slums are an unfortunate necessity. The city provides some resources to help keep the poor free from disease and remove the dead, but provides little other assistance. There are a few local organizations dedicated to feeding, clothing, and housing who they can. The Temple Ward contains a lot of Temples dedicated to one God - the God that the nobility worships. The buildings are quite lavish, and this essentially serves as an extension of the Noble Ward. Small shrines in other wards cover any other Gods that people might worship, but the majority of the population has joined in the worship of the main God. An embassy from a country that is significantly more powerful or wealthy than the city's country. They throw extravagant parties and many nobles support trade with the other country. It's a well-known secret that the larger country is trying to gain a strong political foothold using the city. There is a guarded plot of land outside the city walls used as a graveyard. However, this generally means it's easier for unscrupulous wizards to get dead bodies for their dark rituals. Houseplants and flowers in windows are quite common, and decorate the sides of the streets. The city is built on top of a massive dungeon, which attracts adventurers.
Holy smokes! If we're talking about pure plot generation, there's so much that could be used here. The power in the city recently changed hands - is that due to the embassy? Or the merchant's guild? Is the body of water connected to the dungeon under the city? Does the God of the city dislike bodies, necessitating an outside graveyard? Could the embassy hold the threat of a major attack over the city, given their limited defenses? Perhaps the merchant's guild or the nobility funds excursions into the dungeon.
|Garton exists in real life! But it's a tiny village in Yorkshire.|
The real power of a city generator like this is it gives your players something to interact with, to change. And as the city changes, so too can your plots. In Garton, the whole "new ruler" plot is wrapped up. But now we're dealing with all new problems, and the players are the ones driving the change.
And that's a pretty engaging game if I say so myself.
Thanks for reading!