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Published on Feb 7, 2017
This is a step by step guide on how to easily create a heavily detailed city in any tabletop RPG. I know it's a long video, but I was talking as fast as I could to shorten the video as much as possible.
I should have written out a list of all the steps in the video. Oh well, I'll type out the list here...
Step 1: Scribble a vague shape of the city. (This of course, is only if you don't already have a specific shape in mind)
Step 2: Add rough "globs" and other shapes within the city. (I don't think I ever mentioned that you're to add detail to those "globs" later, making them look like actual clusters of buildings, etc. I forgot to demonstrate a bit of that)
Step 3: Give the city a general alignment, race and theme.
Step 4: Give the city it's general source of food, water and one "product" that it produces for itself or other locations.
Step 4.5: Give the city a structural tone (are the bulk of the structures built out of stone? Wood? Metals?
Step 5: Add points of interest (blacksmith, taverns, etc). Add one or more unique or odd points to add to the flavour.
Step 6: Make sure you have a copy of the list for yourself (complete with DM insider info) and for your players (with only surface info).
Step 7: Create NPCs for your city (10 - 40 is about right, but this depends on you and your style). Don't worry too much about writing "good" NPCs. Just write down the first thing that comes to mind. You can tweak things later if you like. Remember... tweaking work is easier than creating work out of thin air.
Step 8: Add adventure type points. 1 big "quest", 3 minor "quests" and 4 "snippets".
Step 9: Place 2 dungeon crawls/adventures within 2 to 7 days travel from the city. These adventures should somehow affect the city. They should also not be time sensitive, meaning they'll always be there (for the most part).
Step 10: Create a "nemesis" for your city. It could be another city, a clan of monsters, a huge giant... and this could be dire and scary or it could be a semi-friendly rivalry.
Step 11: Name your city.
Step 12: Make sure you have a copy of the city map for yourself (DM copy with secret notes, etc) and a copy for your players, with only surface information.
Step 13: Write an entry description to read to players as they first enter the city. Describe as many senses as is reasonable. What does the city smell like, sound like, etc?