…you don’t need to detail all of the inns, or blacksmiths, or streets in the whole city.
You just have to detail the inns, and blacksmiths, and streets that the PCs will be visiting on a regular basis.
The trick is to make the ones you do detail so interesting and/or useful that the PCs won’t feel the need to go anywhere else.
6 thoughts on “When Designing a City…”
Our Verbobonc had a patisserie named "The Brawny Brioche". One bite and the party kept coming back for more.
I always liked the City State of the Invincible Overlord for this – it gave you a full map and sound bites to get the creative juices flowing.
After a year of play I found that very little had been explored but those area where known in detail.
Another key thing to make the town / city live is the interaction of the locals and events that happen while the players are out of town. I've seen a few adventures sparked off due to actions while they are away – no more 'your are sitting in an inn and a total stranger approaches' just a simple Madam Fredricks approaches you as you return to your room and…
I know that if an NPC establishment becomes so beloved that the PCs might even try to buy it! I almost come to expect it actually…
Good advice, and one reason (other than the setting) I loved the Lankmar city book. Those big empty geomorphs were perfect to fill in for an adventure, allowing a few interesting counters as they passed through the city to get to the neighborhood where the action was to take place.
Some might consider it 'cheating', haha, but I rather prefer to write out such places separately at first and then drop them into the city in a modular fashion.
The first Inn they desire to go to turns out to be the first of my well described Inns that matches the general economy of the district they're in, for example!
After that, it's simply a matter of noting the location on my separate sheet so as to maintain consistency.
Exactly the point, Danny, thanks for clarifying that angle. It wouldn't make any sense to have these wonderfully detailed and interesting places going unused simply because the PCs went left instead of right when they came through the city gate.
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