On the Village Calm

What is wrong with the village and town?

Hommlet. Saltmarsh. Small cities and towns.

How to make them useful?

Now we have plenty of semi-useful large cities. Vornhiem, Lankhmar, City-state, and more.

But what can we do to make our smaller settlements both interesting and playable. What information or stat-block can we give a village that makes it instantly useable?

Pathfinder has a settlement stat block. Notice the complete lack of shock and surprise on my face.

Is this stat-block useful?


Some people who run cities, said they wanted: Name; overall feel; map; names of major NPC's; tavern or a few shops/key locations/interesting features; shadiest guy in town; who the guy they will run afoul of is; a plot point/adventure seed or two; a descriptive phrase; and resources and obstacles (nee features);

Some people who play in cities, said they wanted to know: Shops; How easy is it to get in and out of town; What is the reaction to our arrival; who lives here; what language do they speak; what religion are they; Is it a village of ghosts where they hate thri-kreen and do they eat ghost candy.

I don't know if that last one is relevant but Scrap Princess is more awesome than you.

So, what's a useful block for a village or town? THE QUADRUPLE D!

Name : Descriptive Phrase
Type  : "Community Motto"

Government if non-standard (not mayor/council)
Population (Breakdown by race)
Languages Spoken
Local Gods

Notable NPC's

Locations / Interesting Features

Adventure Seeds
Some examples of names

* Name, six categories that affect skills, alignment, government type, "danger level", population, base value/purchase limit, spell-casting, magic items available, qualities, and disadvantages. Basically the most mechanical towns possible.


  1. That's a nice idea actually. I'm designing a city at the moment, so nicely timed :)

  2. That's actually a pretty nice shorthand. Consider it Yoinked.

  3. I've been working up a large town as a home base for dungeoneering, and have a very similar format for the basic information. Nice to know I'm on track.

    One other thing I've added is potential Contacts/Connections for each class/race the players might bring. Dwarves might have heard that a dwarven exile runs a rough tavern near the docks, Fighters may remember that a man they trained with joined the local garrison, etc... Then I have specific rumors for each of those. Hopefully, it will give me a chance to immerse the players in local culture/intrigue in a more natural way, and provides some immediate names and faces to work from.

  4. I would add a Landmark. It is a interesting feature of a city, a big tower or a castle, or a huge pit. Someday, you can use it.

  5. Landmark sounds good, but it needs to start with a D, sooooo Distinct Feature? That makes it the Quintuple D system

  6. Landmark is subsumed under "Interesting Features"

    There is a companion piece to this article coming up soon.

  7. My ideal method for the player's starting base goes more like this:

    Player: "What's the town like?"

    Ref: "It's a substantial place near the edge of the desert. Several thousand people live there."

    Player: "Are there taverns?"

    Ref: "Of course. What's the name of your favourite?"


    But the kind of ready reference you're proposing is good for new places.


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