Thursday, January 20, 2011

Designing the City Campaign: Part 2

In part one of this series, I discussed some basics on creating and designing the city based campaign.  I mentioned some of the key ideas you might want to think about when developing the city for your campaign.  Now, there is something to be said about pre-made supplements, maps, and the like.  These can be great tools for establishing a city based campaign, but this series is geared more towards the home brew system, and building it all from the ground up.  Continuing on, we'll use an example of a city I've developed using some of the brainstorming processes I outlined in part one.  At this point, the city is still only a very rough idea, but in the end, the result should be a fantastic and entertaining center to begin your campaign.

So, by doing some simple brainstorming I've concluded the following facts about my city:


1. Large sized wooden and stone walled city (pop. 75,000) with a vareity of friendly human races, but primarily made up of humans and halflings, with a few half-elves and even fewer elves and dwarves.
2. The city is situated on the coast line of a sea.
3. The ruler of the city is a former adventurer.  He acts as merely a figurehead.  The true power in the city rests with his council, a group composed of wealthy and influential citizens, or nobles, within the city.  All of them answer to the king of the land.
4. The city's economy revolves around its trading vessels and ports which provide repairs to traveling ships and rest for travelers, shipment warehouses for merchant companies to ship various goods from across the region abroad, and a strong fishing trade.
5. The city itself is divided up into 4 districts each separated by wooden walls and gate entrances: The docks (situated along the docks and harbors of the city), the market district (the hub of business in the city and situated in its center), the upper district (home of the city's wealthy citizens, the ruler, and his council), and the south district (most of the poor peasants occupy this area.  Wood and stone houses are squeezed tightly together along winding rutted streets.  Also, home to the city's crime element)
6. The law as it applies to adventurers: Adventurers wishing to conduct their operations within the city must register with the city hall.  Weapons are not allowed at all within the upper district, and must remain sheathed within the other districts (althouth this is rarely enforced in the south district).  Adventurers calling the city home are forced to pay a tribute to the city of 5% of their earnings.

Alright, so now that I have some very basic ideas written down, I can start developing things further.  I will start with creating a few places of interest within the city.  Note, these will be brief descriptions as examples, but the more detailed your descriptions of these key places are, the better.

Magrem's Marvels and Delights

This two-story stone structure is located within the market district of the city of Crestfall.  The wooden sign out front shows an image of a wizard riding the back of a griffin.  The shop itself lies on the first floor.  It is dark and dusty, with items and books scattered about haphazardly and in seemingly no order at all.  Old Magrem sits behind the counter at the rear of the shop, usually hunched over a tome.  His shop serves many mages, and within he has many volumes on mythical creatures and spellcraft, various recipes for potions, magical scrolls, and spell components.  Despite the dank and cluttered appearance, Magrem's Marvels and Delights is one of the most popular shops for sorcerers in the land.  Magrem himself is a retired adventurer of older years.  He lives on the second floor above his shop.  It is rumored that he has a vast assortment of magical items in his personal possession and he keeps his apartment heavily warded.  Some say he has a transdimensional door which allows him to travel to various places in the land although these destinations are known only to Magrem himself.

The Harpy's Haven Inn

Located in the Docks District, the Harpy's Haven Inn serves many travelers and merchants entering the harbors of Crestfall.  The large, two story wooden structure is dimly lit and usually smoke filled.  The common room holds a large fireplace in its back corner.  Patrons enjoy a fine assortment of fish and other creatures of the sea prepared in various sauces with a fine assortment of ales and wines to choose from.  The inn is owned by one Esmelra Ravenpeake.  She is a tall, brunette beauty of middle years.  In addition to the fine meals, patrons are also offered the services of the inns many prostitutes at a fairly reasonable price. Because of the crowd it usually draws, the inn is usually guarded by four large human bouncers.  They are watchful of the patrons and protective of the prostitutes within.  Any abuse is not tolerated and those causing disturbances are quickly thrown out.  It is rumored that Esmelra is actually leader of the secretive thieve's guild although the city council has never been able to prove it.  Some say that behind the stones of her fireplace there is a secret entrance to a hidden area in the inn's basement said to be the meeting place of the ranking members of the guild.

These are two examples of important places within the city.  Once you start developing these locales, you'll find they provide nearly endless possibilities for adventure hooks.  In the next part, I'll focus on some of the more notable NPC's of my city and their influence within.  In the future I'll discuss the guilds and organizations, creating a map for the city, and fleshing out adventure hooks to get a campaign started.