Today I’m going to create a town, to help prepare for the next session of my new Dungeon Fantasy campaign.
Here’s the relevant portion of the world map, with a big fat red arrow pointing to the town in question.
As you can see, this town is located right at the end of Greygrim cove.
What do we know about it so far? Well, when we first created it, we learned that Greygrim cove is a cold, grim, cheerless little beach controlled by the dwarves of Dwimilzund. They presumably use it as a port, so as to get all the metals they mine to market. It’s a pretty tough area: the Theme of this region is “Dangerous.”
Everything else about the town has yet to be determined. Let’s head over to the Town Creation System to find out more!
Step 1: Settlement Theme
First up, is the Theme of this settlement the same as the Theme of the surrounding Region? (Rolling…) 4: Yes. So the town’s Theme is “Dangerous.”
Step 2: Memorable Feature
(Rolling…) 6,3: “Striking Natural Feature.” Here’s the flavor text:
Striking Natural Feature
The settlement is built in, on, or around a very impressive natural feature of some kind – perhaps a steep cliff, deep crevasse, rock formation, cataract, holy tree, cavern system, waterfall, lava flow, oasis, or sacred spring. The people of the town may love and revere this feature of the landscape – or fear and revile it – or perhaps just accept it as a fact of life.
Ok! I can work with that. “Dangerous” plus “striking Natural Feature” makes me wonder if the town is perched precariously on a sea-cliff, or similar… We’ll see.
Step 3: Settlement Layout
(Rolling…) 1,6. So the settlement is laid out like this ->
That’s the coastline you can see on the left. Obviously that narrow little bay must be the harbor; maybe that little bay is the only part of the coast that provides any decent shelter from the pounding waves.
Step 4: Creating Districts
I’ll roll all these up, and then report back. (Rolling, rolling…)
Right! The town plan now looks like this ->
Interesting. I’m already imagining the “Culture” and “Religious” districts as a Tavern and a Temple, perched high up on the Northern and Southern headlands, respectively.
I’m a bit surprised to see that the “hazardous” district isn’t right by the ocean – I’d imagined that the town was so dangerous because you might be swept into the sea. But maybe this surprise can be turned to my advantage. Hmmm….
…Ahah! Now I have it: maybe the “hazardous” area is a big ocean blowhole, and the those “portage” and “poor” districts are actually just fairly narrow strips of slick, wet rock between the blowhole and the bay. That would explain why the “poor” area is so poor, and also why it’s so dangerous getting goods in and out here. (If you’re not sure what an ocean blowhole is like, maybe take a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLfPR3SnXSA )
Step 5: Memorable Features for Districts
Culture – (Rolling….) 2,6: “Impressive structure.” Ok, maybe this is more than a tavern – let’s call it the Greygrim Chapterhouse, a huge, monumental stone building where virtually all the dwarves of the town go to eat and drink. Many sleep there, too.
Ruling – (Rolling….) 2,2: “Distinctive Architecture”. Ok, so it looks as if the ruler – council? King? Thegn? Let’s go with “Thegn” – has an interesting building here. Since we already have one really huge and impressive structure here – the Greygrim Chapterhouse – I think it’s best to try something different with this one.
Ok, let’s say that the Thegn of Greygrim lives in a building that was not built by dwarves. Who built it? Why, the Merfolk of Mithilgur, of course!
Long ago, this whole bay used to be underwater, and the Merfolk used to live here. But then the area was thrust up out of the water in some kind of magical cataclysm (perhaps the same one that brought the Hawk-Folk to Valiroth?). Now the Dwarf Thegn lives in a very ancient limestone-and-coral building, built in the flowing Merfolk style. It’s much thinner, lighter, and more willowy than the rest of the town, which is built in a typically blockish dwarf style.
Underworld – (Rolling….) 4,3: “Local Cuisine”. Ok, let’s say that this area is “underworld” because a fair bit of smuggling goes on here – specifically, the smuggling of ale (these are Dwarves, after all). Greygrim Cove is the main post for all ale being traded into, or out of, the whole of Dwimilzund. Now, in theory the High King of Dwimilzund levies a fairly steep tariff on all ale coming through Greygrim Cove – but in practice the Thegn of Greygrim finds it more convenient to allow ale to be smuggled in, without paying the King’s tax, as long as he gets his cut. So this area is the Customs House – which is actually a fairly well-known scam.
Poor – (Rolling….) 6,5: “Unusual Streetplan”. Ok, so we’ve already decided that this area is poor because it’s stuck on the damp rock between the bay and the blowhole. It’s very slippery here, and at many places the rocky path is narrow enough that it’s easy to fll into the sea, or into the blowhole itself. Thus the paths are all lined with chain railings, to help dwarves keep their footing. The railings are very low for human-sized folk, and are thus more of a tripping hazard than anything…
Religious – (Rolling….) 1,3: “Famous Person or Group”. Interesting – is the Temple perhaps named after a famous priest or priestess? First, let’s use the Solo 6 to find out who the Temple is devoted to. Starting with the most likely option, is it devoted to Tharundin Thronebeard, the Dwarven god of statecraft and mining? (Rolling…) 6: An emphatic “No, and…”. Ah, interesting! This is good, and really works very nicely with what we just learned about the Thegn’s involvement in Ale smuggling. Tharundin Thronebeard is associated with the divine right of Dwarf kings, and we already know that the local Thegn is at odds with the High King over the question of tariffs – so it makes perfect sense to say that the Tharundites are not very welcome here!
Right… is it a temple to Dzara, the Stone Maiden? (Rolling…) 3: “No, but…”. Ok – let’s use this as an excuse to head in a different direction: we’ll say that the Temple is not actually a Dwarven Temple at all – it’s actually an old Merfolk Temple, that still survives from the previous era, when the whole bay was underwater – Merfolk priests still serve here, and some of the Dwarves have even converted. Nevertheless, they are on very friendly terms with the Stone Maiden, so much so that it’s often possible to find a proper priest of the Stone Maiden here. Nice!
Ok, so who is this famous person? Let’s say that, among Dwarves, the Temple here is known for being the place where the first Dwarf converted to the Merfolk religion. That Dwarf’s name? (Rolling…) “Blundin Steepcliff.” Perfect!
Portage – (Rolling….) 5, 1: “Standard of Hospitality.” Perfect! Is this area notable hospitable, or notably inhospitable? (Rolling…) 4: notably inhospitable. Interesting. Ok, this is obviously the dock area, where goods are loaded and unloaded, at great risk, due to the slippery rock face, crashing waves, and nearby blowhole. Since it’s such risky business, the dwarves who work on the docks hate it when outsiders poke their noses in, trying to help – it’s just too dangerous a place to have newcomers flailing around!
Hazardous – (Rolling….) 3, 6: “Special Event”. This area is the blowhole, which blasts up vast spurts of sea-spray with great regularity. Let’s say that the “special event” occurs every time there’s a king tide (i.e once a fortnight or so). Whenever the tides are unusually high, the blowhole really gets going in earnest, sending up vast, vast sheets of water, and soaking the whole town. It’s quite a spectacle, and dwarf children love it, but the older dwarfs mutter about missed business opportunities – the docks have to be closed once a fortnight, since it’s simply to dangerous to load and unload goods with the blowhole blasting away so strongly. Thus work in Greygrim follows a distinctive rhythm, with a day off for the dockworkers every king tide.
Hmm… what’s the name of the blowhole, I wonder? Maybe it’s named after a famous dwarf. Let’s roll up a Dwarven name. (Rolling…) “Floni Strongbeard”. Ok – let’s say that poor Floni was a dwarf who feel into the blowhole one day, centuries ago, and now the thing is known locally as “Strongbeard’s Demise”. (The merfolk have their own ancient name for it, of course.)
Well, I’ve got plenty to go on with – Greygrim is now a nice little town. Once again, I’m pleased to see that the Town Creation System has thrown up a few surprises, pushing me to think of things I never would have thought of without it. Nice!
Let’s take a look at the updated town map (I’ve just included it on the right -> )