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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

One-Page Towns

In yesterday's post, I made vague suggestions about a one-page town template. And rorschachhamster suggested a One-Page Town contest. Which suggests to me that we would need an actual template that people could use.

Now, I have some ideas about what such a template would contain. But I posted on the G+ mapping community a request for other opinions, and today I'm asking here. What do you think should go into a one-page town? What's necessary? What can be added later on the fly? Assuming there were a one-page towns collection, how much info do you think the content creators should supply, and how much is too much?


  1. The following questions are ALL I would want in a one page town:
    -basic layout: walls or not? towers or not?
    -exactly 1-3 notable architectures: wiz tower, infested sewers, tunnels under carpenters' guild, moat, castle, etc.
    -cosmopolitan or single-race?
    -special merchants/local product: yes/no?
    OPTIONAL: theme ("imagine a gold-rush boomtown, but for swamp gas" or "Zion from the Matrix, run by Mind Flayers")
    OPTIONAL: secrets ("the yellow swamp gas is a living creature that possesses those who huff it" or "the Mind Flayers are good guys, possessed by Evil Overlord Dingus")

    I can do the rest (such as rolling reaction to determine xenophobia/hostility). and I can determine the special product/merchant myself. All other details are determined as necessary, through play.

    This matches pretty closely to my guidelines for determining towns in my game (I use a "town level" stat for a few things but the most player-facing part of that is "how many of X thing can I buy" and "how much can I carouse").

    Here is an example of this, applied to the above swamp-gas town from my game.
    -built on low stilts and wooden platforms above the swamp
    -lots of gas refineries and processors' storefronts; nearby crater after the New Year's Festival
    -cosmopolitan, not xenophobic
    -gas processors, Level 1-6 (hereafter L1-6); dog-supply store (L2); mask-seller (L4); some other dudes I can't remember 'cause the players haven't shopped there

    where "level" refers to maximum quality they can produce: i.e. a L5 gas-processor man can refine gas up to "level 5," improving its sale price and heightening its effects.

    I am a slavish devotee to the d6. All things in my game can be ranked with them: # appearing, dungeon size, "town level," HD, damage, etc. I still use d20 for attacks. I will phase it out for ability checks soon (in favor of a "roll 2/3/4d6 model," with no deviation from those categories.) I haven't figured out how to phase it out for attack rolls yet, the math is tricky. Also, maximum player level is 5 (but, of course, monster HD can go higher).

    I should start a blog too

    1. If you start one, I'll read it. Some very interesting ideas there.

    2. Thanks. I'm kicking around blog names and trawling through the material I've written on my computer, seeing what stuff might make good blog posts. Classwork is a perpetual enemy of my free time, but this is my only hobby so I might as well write about it!

  2. A price list for the local market/bazaar/shops would be good. Its an easy way to make towns different.

  3. Some cultural info would be nice. I just did a big table for Secret Santicore that has stuff like food, clothing, factions, customs, taboos, recent events, etc. Some info like that to give the town a little unique color more than geography would be cool.

  4. In one sentence, who runs the place? "The mayor is a broken and defeated man who rubber stamps whatever the merchant's guild decides" or "The bishop runs the town like a dictator" etc.
    list of three things you can't get there, three things you can only get there, and three things that are outlawed there.
    maybe a quick checklist of y/n to does this town have: a militia, a magistrate/court, a thieves guild, a secret cult, etc.

  5. A whole page should be more than enough. I did some digging a few months ago and came up with some ideas how I would do something like that. Telecanter gave the first impulse:


    And I came up with this:


    And this as a follow up:


    The main idea is to treat a settlement as a class, with the ability scores reflecting the main characteristics (and the leader of the settlement), level describing the size and HD for the population. It wouldn't need more than the equivalent of a character sheet (with a small map integrated) this way and should be easy to grasp for any DM. As it is, it's not yet finished as a domain game, but it works to improvise a settlement on the fly. Maybe you find something of interest.

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    1. I think a one-page town should have the following elements: A one or two sentence back-story for the town (just enough to get the basic idea), who leads the town, at least three important NPCS, and at least three important locations.