DMs: How Do You Handle Your City Streets?




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  1. #1
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    DMs: How Do You Handle Your City Streets?

    hey there fellow dms!

    i have a question for you.

    how do you guys order your city streets, alleyways, sewers, and the like?

    my players tend to go running down alleyways when trying to run to or from crimescenes.

    i tend to roll randomly if the alleys and streets go left right, dead end, etc. as well, i do not map out every single city, town, or hammlet the pcs end up in.

    how do you folks deal with it?
    'I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.'

 

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    Do you take note of where they go though?
    Would make it hard, you they try and go back, and you can't remember.

    Our DM, usually has most of it planned out.
    I guess he would improvise if we went' somewhere unexpected.
    If you are born again, then do you have two belly buttons?

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    I use city maps pretty much every time.

    "Oh crap. I run... North!"
    "Okay, quickly your group dashes down the street. There's an alley ahead to the left."
    "No We keep going!"
    "As you pass the alley you see another alley on the right coming up, and on the left there's a bakery with it's door open, a group of children is standing in front of the shop."
    "Oh man, which way should we go guys?"
    "I donno, what do want to do?"
    "Are there any holes leading to the sewers?"
    "No. But a group of 12 guards is walking down the street from the north now."
    "Um... Crap!"
    "Okay, so what are you going to do?"
    "I donno, I donno!"
    "There about 120 feet away now, they have heavy crossbows, longswords and their wearing Breastplate."
    "We have to get out of here, think of something... I climb the wall."
    "Looks like Rooftops it is."

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    i am really good at making it seem like i have it all planned out when in fact i do not.

    i run a rather freeform game that allows the party to do what they like. no need to pull them along like puppets, as far as i am concerned.

    there have been too many times that they have gotten themselves in ugly situations and i have been forced to wing it to decide which way a particular street or alleyway goes.

    just last session a pair of pcs were busy robbing a gem merchant when the city watch happened upon them and i had to make it up as they attempted to flee from the guardsmen.

    oh those nutty rogues!
    'I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.'

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    In my setting of 'Fahla' the game took place in the nation of Lomyr.

    Lomryian custom is very particular about urban layout.

    All communities are arranged in a circle around a central park. Roads go in rings out from that park and are connected along 8 spokes.

    As a community gets larger it adds circles. They all spin out from a central circle in the center and connect to each other where the spokes meet.

    Space in between the conection of the circles is given over to small farms and other nessessities.

    There's more to it than this of course. There's rules about what kinds of buildings go where and all.

    As a result there are few 'alleys'. There may be space between two pieces of property but it's anybody's guess as to weather or not it connects across to the next ring.

    However any settlement the size of a town on up will have a sewer and that will tend to give players a large confusing mess of tunnels that could have all sorts of interesting dangers (at one point the players where dangling a guy over the water when they slipped and dropped him in. Before he'd even fully hit the water something very large and scaly jumped up and swallowed him whole --- the one time in the entire campaign I rolled for a random encounter and I got 00. The PCs quickly re-evaluated their desire to hide in that location).

    Unlike the eras of history most fantasy games are based on and even the era my setting was based on; Lomyrians have developed limited plumbing and a printing press. Though the sewers all go to community bath houses (the center of Lomyrian social life) and public out houses and not to individual dwellings.

    If I were to run a session in a more medival like town or city I would probably look at a map or two of Paris, London, and Rome anywhere from 1200-1400. Then use that for ideas on how chaotic to plan out alleys, streets, and so on.

    Most old cities seem to have a central place that is very well planned out but is surrounded by an outer city that is a near random mess. Though in many cases the core roads leading into the inner city run fairly straight though the outer city. Since those are the roads the lords of the city will be using.

    It's also likely that the city walls only protect the inner city and that the guard only checks passports there. Patrols inside the inner city are likely common and hard to avoid. While in the outer city you might go months without seeing a guardsman in your barrio and the 'law' as it is is a matter of a couple block zone enforced by your local guild which spends half it's time fighting off the guild a few blocks away.

    That last paragraph is how law works in Lomry as well. The city of Coinic for instance has hundreds of competing 'thieve's guilds'. The guard sticks to the merchant docks, the central circles, and the islands where the upper crust lives. Slaves patrol the sewers.

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    arcady: that all sounds very interesting. i like it.

    speaking of sewers, in tonight's game the party entered down into the sewers of waterdeep in search of an entrance into a wererat assassin guild. but for this i took the time to map it all out prior, knowing the party wold probably go that route.

    where can i find a street map of london circa 1200 or 1400?
    Last edited by eXodus; Tuesday, 5th February, 2002 at 08:20 AM.
    'I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.'

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    Finding old maps is really hard.
    Anything beyond 17th Century is really really really hard to find.
    I haven't seen anything on london, but there are some Historic Maps of Dutch Cartographers that are kinda neat.
    http://odur.let.rug.nl/~welling/maps/maps.html

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    Well...

    When I was running a Middle Earth campaign set in the city of Tharbad I drew up a map of the city including every single building, canal, passable sewer pipe and road (that took a LOOOOOONG time to do). Ended up being about seven A4 pages IIRC.

    But, for normal play (where a single city is not anywhere near as important), I'll normally have a map of any area the PCs are likely to frequent or visit in an adventuring sense; otherwise I'll just make it up as I go.

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    myhtandlore:

    great site. thanks a million.

    i could not be happier!

    you are the man.
    'I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.'

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    What I did maps wise for my own game was to make a map of one of those circles I mentioned. Then I just made a scetch showing where different neighborhoods where.

    Since each circle is fairly similar in layout that pretty much worked.

    Also having an idea for how the people of the place laid things out let me fill it in on the fly.

    Knowing where shops of a certain type might be. Or what social class would be in a given region.

    You don't need exact details of every nook and cranny. Just the right kinds of guidelines that you can quickly wing together a given place they end up in.

    Knowing how the people of my nation did things has put me on a point where I could on the fly describe any place in the entire nation with less than a minute's thought.

    That's really why I like to make such detailed cultural builds. Because it lets me know the 'feel' for them that I need when I have to 'zoom in' to something I was not expecting before my players tossed the game in that direction.

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