Procedurally generated maps of medieval cities, suitable for RPGs

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This has been posted before, but given that D&D is now cool again, I think the re-post is warranted.


A useful tool, which will hopefully convince RPG designers to come up with realistic plans, not this sort of confused mess:


D’oh! Forgot to check for below sea level!


I love RPG maps, although to be honest as a DM I never found a city needed to have a literal layout since you weren’t typically traversing them block by block, but having a series of narrative encounters in it. To that end, I suppose I feel the same way about Dungeons. It’s been a long while since I did it, maybe a realism DM could catch me up on the value.


Pretty cool.

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I like having worlds that don’t mess with my WSOD, and I’m nitpicky enough that daft urban planning comes into that. GMs who put the palace on the riverfront downstream from the fishgutting district annoy me.

It can be helpful for building a sense of the city as a living place, with neighbourhoods of diverse character. Particularly if the players are going to be there for a while, particularly if the campaign is more sandbox than railroad.

Which isn’t to say you can’t mix things up a bit; it’s possible to arrange an apparently sandbox world in such a way that it invisibly nudges the players towards your railroad tracks.

For example: the last dungeon I ran was set in a mothballed military base. The internal layout of it was determined by a combination of “what pre-drawn maps do I have?” and “what would be a sensible way to organise this sort of building?”.

The basic structure was a central hall surrounded by three other sub-structures (the medical, armoury, command & control wings). Because of the encounters I had planned, I wanted the players to hit the medical wing first and the C&C bit last.

After coming into the central hall, the players could have gone right to medical, left to C&C or straight across to the armoury. I discouraged the straight across option by making the main chamber big, dark and scary.

But I still needed the players to go right instead of left. Which I encouraged with a few appropriate noises and glows, and by timing my questions of “so, are you moving?” to moments when the party was looking right.

That worked, but if they’d insisted on going left, I was prepared to just flip the map over and silently mirror the dungeon. None of the players would have ever known the difference.


Ah, the illusion of free will :smiley:

I was really disappointed by the latest version of Paranoia. The game comes with lots of cards and stuff and looks pretty solid at first glace. However, reading the GM’s guide, it quite literally says, “Make Shit Up”. While I have done that in the past, I prefer to have a set of clear rules that I can ignore when the story requires it, rather than just some window dressing covering GM’s Fiat. After all, if the rules are “Make Shit Up”, one doesn’t need to actually pay for the rules. Having said all that, the latest iteration of the setting is fun, and I’ve looked at coming up with some rules to play the game with that make use of all the cards and dice, while ignoring the “designers” lazy core. [Warning: the preceding contains high levels of vented spleen]

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Shh… the rule publishing Illuminati will be angry.

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Also by the same author and on, have a go at “Patient Rogue”. It’s a solitaire card game modelled on Rogue/NetHack, and is one of the few cases where that much abused word “roguelike” actually applies. It was written for a game jam and could use some tuning - it’s too brutal. Still, clever and cute.


Well mostly they’re a cool bit of window dressing, but they can help the GM create a sense of space and aid in realistic world-building.


Word Clouds can work well as a replacement for an actual map. You have a sheet of paper to represent a location with the name of the location and then a scattering of words for things the characters’ might interact with. This can trigger the players’ and GM’s imaginations without being too heavy handed.


This reminds me of Neal Stephenson’s Reamde and the desire for geologically accurate terrain in the computer game.

And for those of us who have difficulty conjuring or maintaining an image of a space in our heads alone, having a map helps get into the setting at all.


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