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KISMET'S LOCATION GENERATOR

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bridge town
Art by SnowSkadi

Introduction

I've seen a number of city generators over the years, from printed charts to standalone programs, and while some have been very neat, none of them have scratched my itch just right. A few have been useful and included some unique offerings, like Chaotic Shiny's City Builder. That program opens with a general overview of notable districts, places to go, and leaders, but it also has extra generators like the one that details merchants in a marketplace. But as with many sources, options fall short and the whole is too limited to be used in any depth.

Roleplaying books often review aspects that make a place seem real - but for some reason, these books don't gather all of the options in an easily useable form. I was particularly let down when Cityscape was released without a program or charts for DMs who are pressed for time. I can understand not wanting to randomly generate everything, but it's helpful to see all of your choices lined up in front of you. It's also nice to include larger scale traits, like the type of government in a town, along with small scale matters like which rooms are in the haunted house at the end of the creepiest block.

So, in order to get all of my ducks in a row and satisfy the way my brain works, I've assembled two different location generators. The first generator is fully detailed below and can be downloaded in PDF above. It is aimed at generating medieval places, probably for D&D games, and uses two pages of charts you can roll on (for those of us who like to do it old school). Everything about the charts is explained on this page so you understand the various categories. You should be able to use it for cities, neighborhoods, and buildings without too much trouble.

My second offering is a universal generator that is generalized so it can work for other settings (although it will still be fine for medieval use, if you translate the results into older terms). It has more options and uses the RPGChartMaker site. Have a look at a preview screenshot below.

There are a few reasons why this setup is good news. When you visit the links above, you can get started using them right away. You can edit any of the lists that appear, adding or removing entries easily for your own tastes and needs. And when you press the Roll button, the site will roll up everything for you randomly. If you don't want a list to be rolled, you can click on the check box for that list and it will be left out. If you find errors, want to suggest additions, or have other feedback to help me make the generators even better, please feel free to contact me.

Part One: Initial Groundwork

Alignment, Virtue, and Vice can be handy shorthand ways to encompass how a place really works and reacts, underneath all facades and through all of its stages. If you are familiar with both D&D and the World of Darkness, feel free to use both or to rely on one. Either way, I've linked to my custom-made Virtues and Vices.

Prestige is important because it gauges an area's reputation with other places (whether it's deserved or not is another matter, of course). Along with Access, which measures how often it's visited, Prestige might play into the area's first Impression on visitors, since that describes how inhabitants react to outsiders.

Flavor is a nice way to mix up the genres in your storytelling. The common room of the local tavern might be a place ripe for comedy, where jokes and laughter are plentiful. Upstairs, however, the bedrooms of the inn might be where dramatic plots unfold.

Groups that are important in an area can give you ideas for possible allies and enemies, story hooks and major operations behind the scenes. They are broken down into very basic types.


Alignment

Virtue

Vice

Government


Prestige

Access

Flavor

Groups


Roll 2d6

Roll 1d8

Roll 1d8

Roll 1d8


Roll 1d8

Roll 1d6

Roll 1d12

Roll 1d12

1

Lawful

Charity

Avarice

Colonial

1

Unknown

Isolated

Comedy

Charitable

2

Neutral

Confidence

Carnality

Council

2

Despised

Rarely Visited

Drama

Criminal

3

Chaotic

Hope

Corruption

Feudalism

3

Discounted

Waystop

Epic

Cult

4

Good

Industry

Despair

Magocracy

4

Tolerated

Often Visited

Erotic

Educational

5

Neutral

Justice

Sloth

Military

5

Recognized

Major Hub

Fantasy

Historical

6

Evil

Patience

Vanity

Monarchy

6

Accepted

Overrun

Historical

Magical

7


Self-Control

Wrath

Plutocracy

7

Praised


Horror

Martial

8


Two Virtues

Two Vices

Theocracy

8

Legendary


Mystery

Political

9





9



Punk

Private Club

10





10



Religious

Professional






11



Romance

Recreational






12



Sci Fi

Religious

The Repair of a locality is a quick way to describe not only its development but also its likely level of wealth and its size. While a gently decaying mansion might belong to an old miser, chances are it's suffering from a lack of resources needed to keep it maintained and the lands it once belonged to have been bought off.

Population is a brief measure of how many people call the area home and/or stay there regularly. Populations for medieval fantasy games like Pathfinder are likely to be smaller than similar categories in modern games, but these are basic measurements. Population often (though not always) relates to a neighborhood's Access, Impression, and overall development.

Sanitation and Lighting are easy to overlook when describing a setting but they can be very human touches that bring a scene to life. While you don't have to plot every sewer tunnel, it can help to know if a city has a sewer system, and dealing with waste can lead to some interesting side-quests. Defenses, on the other hand, might be easy to remember but difficult to afford. Remember that you can use Repair to describe many other physically based categories, like Sanitation, Defenses, Lighting, Streets, Constructed Features, and so on. An aqueduct in poor repair can lead to desperate troubles down the line.


Impression

Repair

Population


Sanitation

Defenses

Lighting


Roll 1d8

Roll 1d8

Roll 1d8


Roll 1d8

Roll 1d8 per repair category

Roll 1d8

1

Too Quiet

Undeveloped

Thorp

1

Alchemical

Avalanche

Magic

Alchemical

2

Lethargic

Ruined

Hamlet

2

Creatures

Collapsed

Maze

Bioluminescent

3

Tranquil

Poor

Village

3

Drains

Creature

Moat

Candle

4

Tolerant

Decaying

Small town

4

Holes

Drawbridge

Other

Electric

5

Friendly

Basic

Large town

5

Landfill

Elevation

Trap

Gas

6

Eager

Revitalizing

Small city

6

Magic

Weapon

Wall

Magical

7

Fuming

Fancy

Large city

7

Open Ditches

Barbican

Watchtower

Oil

8

Belligerent

Luxury

Metropolis

8

Sewer Pipes

Guardpost

Watergate

Other

Climate and Terrain are likely going to be useful for wide expanses but might vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. The harbor district, for instance, will necessarily be aquatic and very much affected by water, but the caravan district by the city gates (a hospitality and temporary district) might be far enough away to be rather warm most days.

The other categories on the chart below point to features that will usually be visible and prominent. Natural Features can affect how a city is constructed in the first place, whereas Streets will affect ease of movement.


Climate

Terrain

Natural Features


Streets

Water

Constructed Features


Roll 1d6

Roll 1d10

Roll 1d8


Roll 1d10

Roll 1d10

Roll 1d12 per repair category

1

Cold

Aquatic

Caves

Ocean

1

Cobblestone

Aqueduct

Aqueduct

Park

2

Temperate

Desert

Cliff

Pit, Whirlpool

2

Concrete

Cenote

Bridge

Pier

3

Warm

Exotic

Ice plains

Plateau

3

Dirt

Cistern

Cairn

Public Art

4

Wet

Forest

Island

River

4

Flagstone

Iceberg

Canal, Waterway

Quarry

5

Dry

Hill

Jungle

Scrubland

5

Gravel

Lake

Cemetery

Road/Trail

6

Wet and Dry

Marsh

Lake

Tidal flats

6

Mosaic

Magical

Dock

Sewer Access

7


Mobile

Lava plains

Waterfall

7

Other

River

Farmland

Sewer System

8


Mountain

Mountain

Wetlands

8

Paved

Spring

Garden

Shrine

9


Plain



9

Rubber

Stream

Greenhouse

Skyway

10


Underground



10

Tile

Well

Hatchery

Sports Field






11



Mine

Tunnel






12



Monument

Zoo

Part Two: Building Up, Digging Down

Districts give broad descriptions of the major function of an organic neighborhood or official area. Many neighborhoods are blended between two or more functions and some districts have changed over time as technology and residents have moved on. Keep in mind the overall Repair of a District.

History can play into everything else, from a building's Prestige to its Defenses and so on. The oldest District in a city could be its most gorgeous or its most neglected, for example. You can certainly start with how long the settlement has existed before generating the rest.


Districts


Districts

History


Roll 1d4 twice per population category


Roll 1d4 twice per population category

Roll 1d4

1

Art

Educational

Hospitality

Mercantile

1

Prison

Religious

Temporary

Ancient

2

Business

Entertainment

Industrial

Military

2

Professional

Residential

Transportation

Storied

3

Cemetery

Government

Magical

Park

3

Racial/Ethnic

Slave Quarter

Undercity

Recent

4

Courts

Harbor

Medical

Power

4

Red-Light

Slums

Waste

New

It can help Dungeon Masters to think about what the Desires of a location are, almost as if it was a person. These Desires are often in response to Recent Events or long-standing shortcomings, but they can also be purely illogical wants (perhaps related to an area's Vice).

It can also help to have an idea of which Buildings can be found on a street, especially if that street becomes important to the current story and the PCs keep returning to it. The fact that the party's favorite tavern is just a stone's throw from the cemetery might become important when they're stumbling home late at night...


Desires


Buildings


Roll 1d10 once per population category


Roll 1d10 per column for a block or once

1

A Distraction

Approval, Respect

Skilled People

1

Animal Pen

Dance Hall

Library

Shop

2

A Leader

Families

The Next Big Thing

2

Arena

Den of Sin

Mansion

Smithy

3

A Makeover

Information

To Destroy a Being

3

Asylum

Foundry

Market

Stable

4

A New Purpose

Luxuries

To Locate the Lost

4

Bank

Garrison

Mill

Stall

5

A One-Use Pact

Money, Investors

To Move

5

Barn

Granary

Mint

Tavern

6

A Victim

More Time

To Recover

6

Barracks

Guildhall

Monastery

Tenement

7

A Winning Streak

Necessities

To Stay

7

Castle

Hospital

Museum

Theater

8

Allies

Popularity

Trade

8

Cemetery

House

Observatory

Tower

9

An Excuse

Revenge

Trust

9

Church

Inn

School

Town Hall

10

An Important Item

Security

Undecided

10

Craft Workshop

Jail

Shack

Warehouse

It can be important to know what's been going on in an area, especially if the player characters haven't been there before or haven't visited in some time. The Recent Events section is aimed at neighborhoods or larger, but can be used for particular buildings with a few adjustments.

Sometimes the party might explore a building and want to know exactly which rooms are in it, which is why I rustled up a list of common medieval or simple Interior Rooms. They can be quickly altered for different settings, as well. A classroom can just as easily be on a holodeck as in an old schoolhouse.


Recent Events


Interior Rooms


Roll 1d10 per column


Roll 1d10 once per repair category, 2x or more after basic

1

Besieged

Liberated

New Tribute Erected

1

Armory

Classroom

Library, Study

Storage Room

2

Business Setback

Lost Major Artifact

Old Monument Ruined

2

Auditorium

Cleaning Room

Nursery

Storefront

3

Cleansed

Major Breakthrough

Outside Investment

3

Ballroom

Common Room

Observatory

Summoning Chamber

4

Crushed Others

Miracle

Plague

4

Bar

Courtyard

Office

Throne Room

5

Disaster

New Attack

Population Decline

5

Barracks

Craft Room

Pit

Torture Chamber

6

Fraud Revealed

New Church Opened

Received Major Gift

6

Bath

Game Room

Sanctum

Training Area

7

Fresh Immigration

New Competition

Recent Atrocity

7

Bedroom

Infirmary

Sauna Room

Trophy Room

8

Good Press

New Crime Moves In

Revitalization

8

Bell Tower

Jail Cell

Secret Hallway

Vault

9

Haunting

New Defenders Arrive

Riot

9

Brewery

Kitchen

Secret Room

War Room

10

Imbued With Evil

New Suppliers

Subjugated

10

Burial Niche

Laboratory

Sparring Ring

Workshop

For Example

For instance, the decaying old house at the bottom of the hill might be quite orderly inside because it's dedicated to helping as many of the poor as possible (Alignment: Lawful Good, Virtue of Hope which keeps it running and Vice of Despair which keeps maintenance from getting done). The upper classes might not think much of it (Prestige: Discounted) and it might be just beyond the last street of the city (Access: Isolated), but the charitable organization that runs it manages to give a friendly Impression. It has an outhouse for Sanitation and uses oil lamps for Lighting, and although it has only some light weapons within for Defenses, its larger parcel of land allows them to raise their own food and some livestock. Recently it endured a natural disaster, in which a landslide buried half the land and nearly got up to the house. They desperately need strong people to help clear away the mud and rescue whichever crops they can - but the landslide wasn't natural and is only the first of a planned assault the wealthy plutocrats to drive the charity out of business.

 
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