Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Shady Thicket

The city of Haven is absurdly large. The population density is unreasonable. The idea is ludicrous. However, I'm not going for reality, I'm going for insane fun and maximum opportunity.

Haven is broken down into Districts, each acting like a semi-autonomous city-state within the city. There isn't a central "city government" - the place is endless chaos of guild and noble house politics and schemes. Recently in my game the criminal element was a major focus. There was a gang war in the city the adventuring crew organized to take down someone nasty. It was awesome.

This post is about one district: Shady Thicket. I decided to write up a document for each district to give them distinct flavor and color. Here are some screen shots of that. Let me know if you are interested and I'll happily share the pdf with you.

The idea is to give each neighborhood within a district some tone, which gives the entire district a tone. In addition to the description, some people and places. A series of tables to generate random buildings that apply to everywhere in the district and lean into the feel of the neighborhoods in the three regions of the district.

The people and place tables will always be unique, but as I write up more districts - which I'll do in detail as we actually play in them - I can reuse and tweak the building generators. For example, in Smoldering Wharf  docks I may use something like.

 d6 StateFeeling
Bustling / Active
2 Weather-beaten 
 Shady / Criminal 
3 Precarious / Dilapidated  Warehouse / Storage
4DisreputableFish / Fishermen
5 Leaning Heavily  Repairs / Carpentry 
6 Partially Collapsed  Boatswain /Sailors 

In fact I'll use exactly that. :)

You can map a city, but as soon as you've done that you lock things into position. Also, it is boring. I've got a 2-page spread of the district with the walls and major roads (and Greenwine hill). I've drawn on significant sub-streets and added a few buildings to mark specific locations. Everything else is handled with role playing and random tables. Based on an idea from the lastgaspgrimoire (which has SO MUCH GOOD STUFF), I've written up my "city crawl" mechanics to cover chasing someone down an alley, seeing wtf is going on up on those rooftops when the crew inevitably does that, and poking around the Undercity. So the map is simple and we add to it as we need. As we transition to roll20, I can even share it with the players.


  1. These are great! In an urban campaign I ran, I made "Neighborhood Sheets" with a basic neighborhood map, several named locations and space for notetaking about them, plus an NPCs section with more lines for notes, all based on some of the sheets in the 1E Lankhmar book. I like this format as the GM version of that same idea, with the locations and NPCs put into a quick d6 table.

  2. I'd love to see more of this - I'm about to run a GIANT urbancrawl so need all the inspiration I can get. If you want to email a PDF, I'm

  3. check out the Last Gasp Grimoire site and get a copy of Vornheim - tons of good inspiration. The old FR7 module from 1e/2e D&D has a few good things, but not enough to spend any serious loot on. Good stuff from as well!