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D&D General what's your favorite starting town?


As a DM, one of my favorite things is introducing the starting town or "home base" to the PCs. I love bringing the town to life and hopefully making the PCs feel connected and a place they want to be. A good map also goes a long way in doing that.

Like most of us, my free time is a luxury so borrowing and salvaging from published sources is necessary. My son is rapidly becoming interested in D&D and he really likes the idea of town-based adventures. I'd like to create a mini-campaign that primarily takes place in a single town with lots of short quests and tasks given by the NPCs of the town.

So what are your favorite published, starting towns? Bonus points for good maps, lots of adventure seeds, a small but detailed surrounding region, and interesting NPCs. Thanks!

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I don't know that it's my favorite, but Phandalin fits that description perfectly, at least with the content from the Starter Set and the Essentials Kit.

If he really wants to stay in town, Waterdeep can keep multiple parties adventuring for their entire career without ever needing to leave (see Dragon Heist and Dungeon of the Mad Mage), but it's more like having a campaign set in New York city rather than some small town in New England.

The original FR setting had a lot of emphasis on Shadowdale as a starting location. Except for the presence of a lot of high level NPC (which can easily be changed), it was a great location close to a lot of potential adventure sites (access to the Underdark, old elven ruins filled with the remains of a demonic invasion in Myth Drannor, plus the constant threat of Zenthil Keep to the north made it a great starting location, as did most of the other dalelands locations.

I've used it a lot over the years so I'm inclined for something different these days but Shadowdale in the Forgotten Realms was always one of my favorites. Good amount of NPCs and locations with history but not too much to be over bearing to start out. It is quaint enough that the PCs feel safe there but no so much that there is still danger if they look for it or are unfortunate to come across it. There is quite a bit of adventuring locations nearby too. The maps aren't the greatest but if you look through the various products that have been put out over the years you can find some decent ones.

Last year I was running a campaign and went through the Shadowdale book that came with the 2E campaign setting and created a list of all the NPCs of the dale. The majority are farmers, merchants, etc., but doing that put the town into a whole different perspective for me.

Except for the presence of a lot of high level NPC
Honestly, besides adventuring groups that pass through there, there really arent that many high level NPCs. Elminster is never there and rarely if ever sees visitors. Storm Silverhand doesnt normally see visitors either if she is there. Sylunes dead, although she is still powerful, but that power is rather limited based on where she can actually go. Other than that I cant think of many more unless I forgot some. The chances of running into those NPC's are relatively rare, but of course They are likely to come out if there is significant danger to the dale, otherwise for the day to day that's what PCs are for.


Lord of the Hidden Layer
You can lift some of the Intro Quests from Rime of the Frostmaiden without having to go into the Antarctic conditions. The quest involving locating a shipment of casks of mead would work anywhere. Going fishing is also a common make-a-living. For a "Nightmare Before Christmas" -ish vibe, the White Moose quest would work.

+1 for Phandalin.

Loudwater (4e Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting) and its NPCs / quests looked interesting too.


Most of my campaigns have started in small towns that have soon been left behind. This time I started the campaign in the city of Sharn in the Eberron setting and (surprisingly to me) the entire campaign has not left the city walls so far and it has taken them to level 7. It's only now with the first arc of the game concluding that I think they will want to explore the wider world.

Li Shenron

I don't think I ever used the same starting location twice... However I can say I prefer "small town" as location type for a few reasons. A large city might make it too easy to acquire equipment, information, support etc at low level, and it's difficult not to assume there are higher level NPCs the PCs may try to rely on. It might also offer too large of a scope, while a small location helps focusing on less quests. If some PCs are native of the starting location, it might be hard to justify not giving them plenty of local knowledge, while the same for a small village is not going to be overwhelming by default. Small starting locations encourages the PCs to seek adventures by travel and exploring the wilderness, which is an iconic part of D&D I always like.

None of these are really necessary, but I find it easier as a DM to start small before moving to larger and more complicated locations.

Daggerford on the Sword Coast. N5 Under Illefarn comes with the town, numerous starter side quests and a longer dungeon crawl. I've had great times.

Sandpoint from Golarion. Also a great starter town, and plenty of adventures to be had. There's also a couple of adventure paths starting in Sandpoint, if you'd like to go that way.

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