LESSON Fantasy Workshop: Creating Interesting Cities

Discussion in 'CREATING WORLDS & SETTINGS' started by Arcadia, May 4, 2016.

  1. Cities in high fantasy are a cornerstone of any adventure. They are where your characters go to rest when the moon is up, where they come to interact with their fellow compatriots, and where they come to get paid or find out gossip. But cities can become stale in roleplays, unless they have some form of key feature to differentiate them from others.

    For example:

    City A is a merchant city to the west of City B, which is ruled by King A who opposes Council B.

    Pretty standard, right?

    However, it can be made so much more interesting by adding clever details that can make these cities stand out. So let's amend our example, like so:

    City A is a merchant city to the west of City B, kept aloft by a crystal containing air magic, maintained by the mages of the city. The King, King A, rules with a just but hard hand, an enemy of Council B who fought over a landlocked settlement between their two cities. However, City B is a city entirely underground, houses and buildings are carved into the voluminous cave walls that lie all the way into the depths of the earth, where the Council itself lies.

    These interesting details are part of the reason you can attract players. Interesting cities make for interesting roleplay stories. However, aesthetics aren't the only important detail to focus on in worldbuilding. The societal structure of the city is also important. Here are some questions that you should ask yourself whilst worldbuilding your cities:

    • Who rules your city? Is the rule a Monarchy (royalty)? Is it Parliamentary (Council ruled)? Idiocracy? (Self rule)? Or is the city ruled by Anarchy (no rule)?

    • How does your city make it's money? Through Ore Mining? Through Port Trading? Through Mercenaries? Through Culture (Art/ Literature)? Through Illegal Acts (Slavery, Fighting Pits)?

    • How does the city train it's citizens to be part of a profession? Mage Colleges? Artisans Guilds? Blacksmith Apprenticeships? Or even a Thieves Guild?

    I hope this workshop will be useful to you all, and allow you to build extremely detailed cities in your roleplays that you and your players can use to it's fullest extent!
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