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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Running Town Crawls

Back on the post about putting town info directly on the map, rorschachhamster raised the topic of PCs wandering through town and possibly passing by the inn (or some other recognizable location) without you noticing it on a map like the Ringhill Keep map. I suppose that might be hard to run, based on how you run in-town exploration or how you label your map.

I have some ideas about this, but want to ask everyone else first: how do you (or your GM) typically run your town explorations?

Are you running them like dungeon crawls, with streets as corridors and shops/homes as rooms? Do you make players check each building to find out what it is?

Are you giving out the unlabeled town map or sketching it quickly, and labeling things as they pass them, if they are obvious?

Are you treating the map abstractly and assuming major shops are easily located?


  1. That's a tough question for me. I've run a lot of cities, players always seem to like them, but I can't for the life of me explain how I do it. One thing for sure, it doesn't involve a lot of pre-planning. However, as locations are encountered in a city or town, they become cemented in place. If the players stop and look around somewhere, like a square or intersection for example, I'll usually try to delineate as much as possible, while still giving the impression there might be more there that they're just overlooking now, but might find later.

  2. I usually don't have time to make detailed maps of towns, and handle them more abstractly.

    Some of my dungeons are essentially buried towns though, so it all depends.

  3. I tend to do towns vaguely. By quarter or neighhborhood. Entertainments, events, shopping bargains, and dangerous encounters are via random encounter charts.

  4. I think the clincher here is whether or not the town is actually run as an exploration at all.

    I think the deciding factors are: 1. how the players are treating the town visit (exploration or shopping trip) and 2. whether or not there is some consideration that makes the exploration valuable/important (town is really dangerous or strange [treat like hexcrawl with dungeon frequency wandering encounters], town has some interesting facet or facets to be explored [unless it's nearly all interest facets, then I treat as shopping trip and transition to dungeon/hex for the interesting stuff]).

    So, I only need a full map if the place is dangerous or strange (which I usually know ahead of time), in which case I've got a map and wandering encounters already prepared; I'll just use some random map I've got stashed if we're talking interesting facets.