Who am I? That’s not important. Let’s just say that I might be a bard who may have angered a certain fairy once upon a time, and as a result is forbidden from mentioning his name in his writings. (Tip to all young men: Fairies are notoriously jealous.)
Anyway, I accepted a tidy sum of silver to scribe a guide to some of the more unusual places within our fair lands. (Okay; technically I’ve had a rather substantial debt forgiven as a result of my agreeing to this project . . . let us not quibble the bits.) Another friend of mine penned a composition on several of the interesting settlements in this region, while a third provided a treatise on castles, including a few examples.
I presume that my fellow bards managed to get their facts and figures on their own, as they mention nothing of how they came by their information. I, however, was given the most dangerous section to expound upon, and my exploits may make more sense if you know a bit more about who my band of companions is.
The leader of our group is Okent, a paladin within a holy order devoted to upholding the good and protecting the innocent. I’ve never known a more effective leader, mixing determination and compassion in a way that’s compelling enough to make even me stick around through thick and thin.
The healer of our group is a priestess named Raichael, a woman who is as holy as she is beautiful, and I could go on and on about her beauty if I wasn’t afraid she’d see this and break my fingers. Although I have visited her temple many times, I still don’t know who or what she worships. Apparently one of the core tenets of her faith is that the name of her deity (or deities) is sacrosanct; no one who isn’t a true and heartfelt believer is to ever hear the deity’s name.
Our oldest member is Grubba, but that’s only because Dwarves are so long-lived. I don’t want to be stereotypical, but I will say Grubba is a humorless, hard-working, industrious, fiercely loyal companion. I also confess to having tossed him once in the heat of battle to break an enemy’s lines. I think he enjoyed that, given the slightly higher inflection in the curses he hurled at me.
As for me, I’m the youngest of the group. I’m as good at writing as I am at sneaking and hiding, and each skill set has enabled me to get out of sticky situations the other skill set created. I’ve had it said that, despite my protestation, I’m a good friend when the chips are down, but I like to think I don’t know what I’m capable of, since the chips could fall even further yet.
The more I see the world with my companions, the more I realize there’s so much left I want to see. While some things vary all over the world, other aspects remain the same. The discovery of the new and the comfort of the old. Making new friends and seeing old faces. The world is big and the adventure is just beginning. I hope that you’ll find this book as useful as it was interesting to create.
My friend has stayed in some pretty interesting places in his travels. Here’s just a few of the most notable settlements from his trip around the world.
May all your travels be ones you can write about, and may you live to write all of your travels.
The game mechanics in this book are based on the system found in the D6 Fantasy Rule book, but the general information, including the random location generators, is suitable for any fantasy campaign.
Settlements in fantasy settings vary depending upon many factors. Population, resources, location, and trade are often the influential elements that give a settlement its distinct personality, whether it’s a small hamlet or a booming metropolis. Some locations serve focal points for trade and travelers, while others may possess small populations but have abundant mineral mines or farms. Game Masters need to consider these aspects when designing settlements or when heroes are exploring them. Every city is distinct. Intrigue, adventure, and excitement are plentiful in such places. Avoid making villages nothing more than spots to purchase equipment; doing so, while sometimes entertaining for players, slows the pace of a scenario. This is not to say that the players’ characters should not be allowed to resupply; rather, Game Masters can take advantage of this to introduce subplots, new characters or entirely new adventures. The locations included in this chapter serve as templates and ready-made settlements for immediate use. Additionally, the “Settlement Design Sheet” provides a quick system for creating hamlets, villages, towns, cities, and other similar places.
One essential element in designing a settlement is the political system. Th e very nature of villages, towns, and cities requires them to be organized under some form of rule of government.
Th e type of political system used in a settlement is mainly determined by the Game Master in the end. However, consistency does make fantasy locations more credible — although bending the rules of politics can create intriguing and memorable places. To make a hamlet or metropolis fascinating for players, a Game Master can allow them to discover through role-playing the type of government present. As the heroes are likely to travel from one land to another, from one kingdom to another, from one city-state to another, it’s quite plausible that they would not be aware of the laws of each place they stop. If the laws or politics of a settlement is an essential part of the location’s “personality,” then the Game Master needs to define these elements before the players’ characters arrive. However, it’s not necessary for a Game Master to become entangled in the complications of politics to devise a political system. Sometimes using an land lord who is appointed by a king is sufficient. Unless the politics of a settlement are essential to an adventure, then all that need be done is to provide enough surface information to give the village or town plausible background. Th e list in the “Types of Leaders” sidebar gives some common possible political systems that can be used when designing a settlement.
Of course, each of these basic political structures can be modified with various flavors of political philosophies such as democracy, communism, oligarchy, monarchy, republic or constitutional government, and scores of others. Possibly the best rule that a Game Master can adhere to when designing a government for a settlement is the rule of consistency. Avoid placing political systems that oppose each other within the same borders, unless the realm is a collection of city-states. Don’t create laws that conflict with a settlement’s politics simply to control or confuse the heroes. And equally important, keep the politics in the background unless it’s essential to the story.
Types of Leaders
Elected Leader: The ruler is selected by the general populace or by specific officials. These officials in turn might be elected, or they might have the ability to foresee the future, thereby making them the best people to choose a ruler. The ruler might be of average ilk, be a persuasive orator, have demonstrated leadership ability, possess mystical qualities, or claim birthright. The title can vary from chief to constable to mayor, depending upon the nature of the settlement.
Appointed Leader: In some cases, this class of ruler doesn’t diff er much from an elected leader. However, in most instances, an appointed leader is one who has been granted the rule of power by a higher authority in an empire, kingdom or city-state. Titles for this class of ruler vary from consul, governor, pro-consul, mayor, lord, or prince.
Self-Appointed Leader: Occasionally these rulers are benevolent and concerned about the welfare of the people they govern. In most instances, though, they’re tyrants who have come into power through money, otherworldly means, or military might. These self-appointed leaders might adhere to a rigorous military code or be religious zealots, determining laws by whim and interpretation of their belief system.
Ruling Councils: Rather than limit governing of people to a solitary person, ruling councils have multiple members, ranging from two to hundreds. These rulers could be selected by a law that requires each member of the settlement to serve as a member of the council, by the drawing of lots. Or they might be elected or appointed, depending upon the political landscape of the country they occupy. Th is is also a common system of government for large city-state that are independent of greater rule.
Th e grandest of all settlements are cities. Populations of such places range from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands. Quite often, these are the economic or political capitals of nations.
These vast urban areas are typically devoid of the farms and mines common to their smaller brethren. Such resources have long ago been drained in large cities, requiring nearly all the necessities for living to be imported. Seldom are these booming environments lacking in manpower, as countless people travel to large cities in search of wealth and work.
One of the dangers facing large cities are the threats of conquerors. As a result, city rulers tend to spend extravagantly upon civil defenses, including soldiers, war machines, and stockpiles of food (should there be a siege).
Another aspect of vast settlements is the unique architecture. Proof of power can be found in large civil edifices and ornate buildings. Tremendous structures or marvels cause visitors to stop and gaze in awe. But for as much money that flows through the hands of the wealthiest city, there are countless poor. This dichotomy between extreme wealth and extreme poverty often results in the development of city quarters or neighborhoods. Most every large city has a dilapidated section of houses where the unemployed and poor congregate. It’s often in these seedy areas that heroes find the most adventure. Such environments are perfect for experimenting wizards or secret guild houses. Very few people inspect the downtrodden parts of a city with a careful eye.
Along with the fusty quarters come the wealthy warrens. Here’s where the city’s elite live and celebrate. These sections of a city are well guarded, both by city guards and by private guards. Rather than broken-down wood frame houses, the posh portions of a city are more likely to have granite and marble residences. And most commonly, this section of town exists upon higher ground. Th is allows the waste and sewage to flow from the lavish quarter into the lower, and poorer, districts.
Political intrigue, murder, kidnapping, revolution and rioting are all ailments for large settlements. Simply by entering the city’s gates, adventurers can become embroiled in all manner of exciting challenges.