As you may know earlier this year, Raging Swan Press published the Gloamhold Campaign Guide. The book has been well received, but there is something missing.
Although John Bennett has done a heroic job designing and describing two of the three towns—Dulwich and Dunstone—that lie close to Gloamhold’s benighted precincts the nearest town—actually a small city—have thus far eluded design.
Well, the good news is I’ve finally started Languard’s meaningful design. (And my meaningful design I mean starting to generate the city’s details, not merely thinking about it).
Of course, one of the first things to do is to sketch out a map of the city. Normally, this is my most hated part of the design process; my mapping skills are terrible. However, a month ago or so I discovered Linea—a drawing app for the iPad that has made even my maps look almost alright.
Behold: my working sketch of Languard:
As it stands, this is a pretty “bare-bones” map at the moment. It shows
- Major terrain features
- The city walls, bridge, docks and other major buildings
- Major thoroughfares
- Castle Languard
- The Father’s Hall (cathedral dedicated to Conn)
- Fane of the Waves Eternal (Serat’s temple)
- The Dreaming Spires
- Vonya’s Span
- Low Market
- High Market
- Low Gate
- Traitor’s Gate
- River Gate
- Duke’s Gate
- The Great Forge
- Watcher’s Spire (also known as Champion’s Abbey)
Fear not. Obviously, I won’t be creating the final map of the city. This map serves two basic purposes:
- I can give it to the cartographer (Tommi Salama) when it comes time to create the final print-ready map.
- It helps me visualise the city, which helps me bring it to life on the page.
No doubt as the city’s design continues, I’ll add to it. As and when I have significant additions, I’ll post them up here.
Available Notable Services
One of the other things I like to do when designing a city is generate the details of significant (to PCs) services and NPCs. While I could plonk down on the map pretty much anything I want, I want the city to make sense. It must have verisimilitude.
I don’t need to generate the number of butchers, cobblers or other mundane services, but I think it’s a good idea to know how many sages, alchemists, weapon smiths and so on are available (for example).
The PCs are bound to access some of these services during their time in the city and knowing how many there are allows me to design individuals for the PCs to meet (and perhaps employ).
I also like my cities to be as realistic as possible. So, I turned to one of the stalwarts of my gaming book collection to help generate the numbers: TSR’s World Builder’s Guidebook.
After running the numbers, I now know the city has the following services:
- Almshouse (2)
- Apothecary (1)
- Armourer (3)
- Bowyer (6)
- Weaponsmith (4)
- Alchemist (1)
- Sage (2)
- Cleric (11)
- Wizard (4)
- Fence (8)
- Assassin/bounty hunter (3)
- Jeweller (1)
- Speciality smith (2)
- Clockmaker (1)
- Bookbinder (2)
- Shipwright (3)
- Boats for hire (12)
- Inns (22)
- Taverns (32)
- Hostels (2)
I’ve also added to the list:
- Moneychangers (2)
When looking at the numbers above, keep in mind the following:
- These figures are just a starting point. If I decide the city needs more than one alchemist, I can add more.
- The numbers above represent the number of that particular service available to the PCs. For example, there are more than four wizards in the city—obviously—but only four are available for general spellcasting, magic item creation and so on. Similarly, there are more the 11 clerics in the city, but most are engaged in tending their flocks, leading church services and so on and so have no time for pesky adventurers.
Another Epic Resource
And finally, in my quest to create a realistic city environment I’ve turned to The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England. If you haven’t read this book yet and you are a GM who enjoys world building, I highly recommend snagging a copy. It’s available both digitally and physically and is an excellent investment.
What’s Up Next?
Next up on my design plate is thorny topic of demographics. Languard has a population of almost 8,000. The vast majority of these folk will be normal, average commoners. Perhaps only 5%-10% of the population will have actual class levels, but what levels are they?
Given I’m designing Gloamhold and its environs as a relatively low-magic, old-school setting it wouldn’t make sense to have loads of high-level NPCs running around. (Particularly, as I favour the slow advancement track for my Pathfinder game).
For more Languard, check out the city’s main page!
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