• Justin Handlin

D&D: Worldbuilding Tips: Settlements

Updated: Jun 25

Majestic city on top of forest mountain with waterfall.

Are your Dungeons and Dragons settlements as wondrous and captivating as your complex dungeons?


Well then, stick around as we delve into our Guide for Worldbuilding Settlements in your Dungeons & Dragons game.

The D&D world is a wide and wondrous place, filled with monsters and magic. However, most people live in relatively safe communities, and even bold adventurers need safe-havens. Such areas are points of light in a dark world, and they share common traits. When you think about the civilized areas of your world, consider these questions:

Components of a Settlement

What purpose does it serve in your game?

A settlement’s primary purpose is to facilitate the fun in your game. Creating a settlement should also be fun. Other than these two points, the actual purpose the settlement serves determines the amount of detail you need to put into it.

How big is it?

The size of a settlement is largely a matter of flavor, but it can also influence the goods and services available there.

Who lives there?

Having a predominant race and/or group with similar ideologies can help flesh it out.

Who governs it? Who else holds power?

In the absence of empires or large kingdoms, power and authority in the D&D world are concentrated in towns and cities. Here minor nobles cling to the titles their families carried under past empires—dukes, barons, earls, counts, the occasional prince, here and there is a self-styled king.

What are its defenses?

Soldiers—both professional and militia—serve double duty in most settlements. They carry the responsibility of defending the settlement from outside threats, including bandits and raiders. This also includes walls, outposts, and even simple motes.

Where do characters go to find what they need?

Even small villages give characters ready access to the gear they need to pursue their adventures. Provisions, tents and backpacks, and simple weapons are commonly available. Traveling merchants carry armor, military weapons, and more specialized gear.

What temples or other organizations are there?

Temples, guilds, secret societies, colleges, and orders are important forces in the social order of any settlement. Occasionally, their influence stretches across multiple cities, echoing the wide-ranging political authority that crumbled with the fall of empires.

What fantastic elements distinguish it from the ordinary?

In the magical world of the D&D game, most settlements follow the patterns described above. But fantastic exceptions abound, cities where magic or monsters play a significant role in government, defense, commerce, or organizations. Or unique locales or broken norms can be used to inject a fantastic flavor into the settlements your player characters visit.

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Show Transcription

Are your settlements as wondrous and captivating as you're dungeons? No. Well, then stick around as we delve into the guide for world-building settlements in your Dungeons and Dragons games. Hello and welcome heroes to the credit.

So, I must admit I'm excited, for this we're trying a little bit of a slightly new format. We're going to be more open to a wide discussion forum. Instead of the usual and we'll see how it goes. So, the D&D world is wide and wondrous. We all can agree, right? It's filled with monsters and magic.

Most people live in relatively safe communities and even bold adventurers need safe havens from saving the world and ledges and every other Mo big batter. You can imagine these areas are points of light in the dark world and they share some common traits. When you think about it, the civilized areas are your world are the place that the characters are going to spend the most time in, right. Most of their downtime at the very least.


And there are a lot of opportunities there. Right. They're civilized the sanctuary. Yeah. And that's funny, you mentioned sanctuary Diablo Immortal and. Um, on sanctuary there's, you know, you got these little towns and stuff where outside the towns, everything is destroyed.

So, you got to have these nice places. So, everything out there wants to kill you.


And if it doesn't want to kill you. No, they only want to kill you. So, what that means is when it comes to building settlements, we want to ensure that we build fun and exciting in memorable locations. So, we have a laid-out plan of questions. You can ask yourself while world-building to really bring those places to life, even if they're going to be temporary, stop signs on the adventurer’s path to bigger and more extravagant places. Right now, the first question you will need to ask about each settlement town is what purpose does the location serve?

What does that, what does that mean to you? Matthew? You know, there could be a lot of things, you know, like for example, a mining town or a farming town, or, uh, or, and to be more diverse with a farming or the mice, what soar, what sort of resource are people farming or mining, you know, is it gold or is it.

What is it the farmer’s specialty, type of, uh, food or? Or I love that also could be a trade route or a frontier for, or maybe in some cases, the Capitol, those are, those are good points. So, when you're designing a city or a settlement, whether it's a farmhouse or it's a capital city deciding on what its purpose is before, we'll be one of the first questions you want to ask yourself, because it's going to help you get the lay of the land, right?

What features you're going to include? I actually like what Matt said here about. Um, understanding what the purpose of it is, is because when you're. Fleshing it out. You must constantly ask yourself, okay, it's a mining town. What are they mining? How are they getting it out of the town?

Who's buying it, who's utilizing it. Who's coming to get it. Who is the town's client? Oh, that's good too. I like that touches on the later question a little bit, but that's still a good thing to consider. And when it comes to, you know, answering that question, it has a wide variety of answers, but the goal is to help you.

Diversify, because if you say I'm building a mining town and now you're building another town, you're going to think, well, I already built a mining town better not build a mining town. Right. So, um, it's going to drive diversity in your, um, adventures in campaigns, right? Um, what's the most unique settlement you guys have ever had your characters venture into?

So, then a bit too long, I think, and our plane shift has campaign. I think it would be the. Um, oh, what was it? The embassy of the selenium conclave? Ah, yes. You know, it's, uh, there's a mixture of civilization and nature it's it was something that I wasn't expecting, you know, the vines and the branches integrating with the wrap that can buildings.

Although I was kinda thinking, oh, to be honest, uh, I was kind of thinking. Uh, for this lesbian conclave being as advanced as they are for Ravnica. I was thinking somewhere along the lines of, uh, uh, something that was shown in Netflix's Voltron, you know, the people who live in the forest and how good show, if you haven't seen it.

It's awesome. Yeah. And how they. I spoke with nature to shape it, where they would coexist, we're the people and nature would co-exist together. That would have been something interesting for, uh, this lesbian conclave. See, now that's, that's really cool and memorable as he discussed discusses that you instantly get a sense of wonder where you have a mix of nature in urban design, which isn't something that.

You run into very often. What about you, Matt?

I remember when in Pathfinder, we were in a small settlement. The idea was it was on the front edge of the frontier and the idea was more people would settle it as time went by, but also small didn't have a name until just a screw around with, uh, the rest of the party we got to by my mercenaries in my character, very loudly.

Referred to as a ton of Dick wood, uh, and then Murphy's escape place now.

And if I may, there's actually one other, a great example, but it's not something that my character's experience is something that I've witnessed, uh, in the second campaign of critical role. For those of you who don't know, I'm a huge fan of Critical Role.

It's what got me into D&D in the first place. Which is, which is why I hold it in such a high regard in such matter. And as a DM, it's very hard to live up to that standard, but I try each and every day and fail each and every day we did a storm King's thunder. You did a pretty good impression of an NPC that Matt Mercer did.

When we went to that Northern town, I remember it, uh, the, the Victor, the black powder merchant. That was a great impression. Yes. Well, thank you. So anyway, so to go back to the, to the example, uh, I was thinking of a campaign we ran. We came to a town of, I think halflings or gnomes called hopper duke.

I kind of figured that one makes you laugh.

So, what the, what the purpose of the town or the city per se is that it is the. I believe it's like the manufacturing and, uh, research and development, uh, city for the dwindling empires, uh, weapons of war, you know, like siege weapons can and firearms and whatnot. There was Matt Mercer who narrated that there was mentioned of some blast craters on some open fields of the city that was, uh, cordoned off from everyone.

You get the sense that it was. The experimental sites and whatnot. Sorry to go off on a, it's a good tangent. It's exactly. Point of this. Right? So, um, that actually bleeds into as a good segue into our next question you want to ask yourself is I'll make, is it going to be right? I mean, you're going to like, I want a fast, giant farm.

Well, if you're going to build this just ginormous 10,000-person farm. You're probably farming people pretty much. You know what I mean? So, so some plantations did get pretty big to small wise towns and themselves, but that definitely influences the type of processes you're going to have.


Oh yeah.

We keep going back and we keep talking about, we talked about mining, so I want to kind of keep going back to that. Worth mentioning too, that the being how big the town or filament is, can definitely influence what supplies might be available to the players as well, too. Like that's a really good point because a large town is more likely to just say we have more resources that place in drop-off from, and therefore more likely to have let's say missing items or if it was going to craft them.

That's a really good point. And that's something that I think Fifth Edition could use a little more work on describing because we know that it's not really high fantasy. It's kind of somewhere. I would say it's a low fantasy setting, not as bad as like Lord of the rings, but it's very up to the DM, how much they implement.

But when designing your city, you can say, okay, this is a city like water deep. It's huge. It's massive. There's going to be a few people selling a few magical artifacts, a few different, maybe not artifacts. I didn't mean artifact as the quality, but you know what? I'm going there. So that makes a good point because you're not going to walk into a little hobble, like the Shire, and be like all where's me, a magic ring.

Oh, that example, usually in a shyer, you're not going to find a magical item in that case, there was one, but that's. It's like a diamond in the rough, right, right. Keno, keep cattle keeps a good example, which we did not explore in our evidence campaign. It was just a stopping point for us. Actually, there's a book out there that allows you to really expand upon that, that candle keep mysteries.

It's just one massive library. So, you pick up a book and, oh, here's a quest is actually kind of cool, but anyways, so how big of it? So, uh, going back to the mine, if you've got a small mining town of 100 people, that's going to have a different structure than a mining town of a thousand people. You're going to have more resources.

They're going to be mining. They're going to be putting out more. They're going to have more clients, more people coming in and structure is going to be different. You know, I imagine in a, in a mining town of a hundred people, you have wheelbarrows being pushed around. And I thought with a thousand people complex cart pathways in and out of mines that are supported just like a whole new structure.

And the process is just more refined, more industrial. So that's kind of how the that's, how the size of your town can really impact the way you’re building around it. Even if it's just a fishery, right? You've got a small little port town. You're going to have people going out on their little tiny boats and throwing their nets overboard, casting them, pulling off.

Probably about it. But if you go into a, a massive Harbor, that's got, you know, a thousand people in it. You're probably going to have people have big giant boats that got 20 people on it that are trolling with a big giant net behind it. And it takes more people to do the work you're going to have probably potentially do they have; they don't have canneries in DMB, do they?

Why not? I guess they had it in a miss born, so, and that was a fantasy setting, but, um, So, uh, the size and how big it is can really play a big factor. Um, Matt, what's the next question you think we should wait for, everyone got the points later. We got it. Okay. So, the next question is who lives there. And I think that there's a great example for this.

Back in our Storm King's thunder campaign, you had my character and Ian's character traveled to a small, uh, blacksmith village that is run by orcs. Yup. And, uh, their specialty makes weapons and armor. And what better way to do that than us than a race that is that loves to fight, then orcs their grit.

That would be great at forging in terms of metal for weapons and armor. That's a great example. But another common example would be like, um, like a dwarf, like a Dwarven city that also is good at forging weapons and armor, you know, there would be on the surface and well, and you make a really good point there, right?

Because the types of the way they make their weapons are going to differ. Here's how it could work out. Yeah. We go to the town itself, humans lived there, but when she goes to the minds below ground, that's where the dwarves live.

Ooh, I like that.

I really like that. That's kind of a symbiotic relationship, right? I mean, Hey, why do you guys live down there? A little place with no ceiling. Oh, that's a really good example. Yeah. Cause they can, they can just fly up and not just take the door.

Yeah. And so those types of things are going to influence the way the city is designed. Right. Um, I want to continue off with the aarakocra thing because I think that's really awesome. If you have an aarakocra village, what are you going to do with that? For first thing that comes to my mind. If you have a group of Eric Oprah, now I do realize that they are from the, uh, are they from the elemental air, plane?

Um, but trees, cliff sides, all that stuff. And you can tie that into what they do, which we talked on previously instead of a mining village, maybe they're messengers. And so their entire village and the entire village or city is on the edge of a, like a valley. And they got all these little, uh, little, um, like holes that they just fly into, and each hole is going information, going to a different location.

Oh, my gosh, they become mailmen. They're literally fantasy mailmen. I really like that. That's a really good one because you also want to think about the population distribution too, right? Is it mostly humans? Is it all one race? Do they deliver babies, but I would imagine there'd be sports stork.

Just carrying a little package on the other beaks. All right. And what's our next question. Well, who governs it? Who's in charge who holds the power. Like you may or may not have empires, large kingdoms, but you also may have seen it too. Or sometimes the cities or towns just like. Are often their own autonomous region.

That might be a perfect kingdom, but they more or less keep to themselves like the two rivers, for example, two rivers, a good example, like they're Teddy, perfect kingdom, every half forgot about them. So, they kind of ran themselves. And Larry is that that's a really good example of size making a difference.

I bought the last two to three real quick.

Wait. I think I know a good example. Like, if you're doing the forgotten rubs as your campaign setting, and you want to create a Homebrew world, that's not on the map or a settlement, that's not on the map. Uh, you can create a Homebrew member of the Lord's Alliance who governs those settlements, that.

Um, or a Xentarim is the one who governs the rules with an iron best. There's plenty of background. Yes. I love it. It's good stuff. So those power structures are important because it's going to affect directly how the. Players are addressed steering their adventures, specifically the consequences of their actions.

So if a Lord, let's go back to those entire, we were just talking about if that person's got some stuff going on and the adventures come in and diddly it up, they're going to now have some issues and I can see them totally coming in and grabbing the players, like, look. The characters are like, you guys are, uh, I don't want you here.

You need to leave. You're going to cause trouble and start making look like any problems that arise are their fault. Just to keep them away from what else might be going on. And maybe they just bribe them to leave. Like, look, if the adventurers are nothing but trouble. I need you to leave. Let alone that inside the person, the Zen term screaming, you destroyed half my team, but he can't get outright say that.

Right. And that power structure is going to affect how the wealth is spent too. Right. That's a big one. If you've got something like the two rivers from the, uh, What is the book series I'm reading right now? I'm a book 11 and I couldn't remember the name. My name is, uh, 14, I think. Uh, so, uh, in the wheel of time, I would say that the two rivers, everyone is about helping each other.

Yeah. There's only one book though. Dragging the bar. Oh, you met each other for the first time. Okay. That's a little more interesting. Um, when you're deciding on the government and who holds power that can affect the plots, the whole. The interactions. Um, I really think that when you've got a good, uh, hierarchy their kind of persona reflects down on the people.

So if you have somebody that particularly has a disdain for dwarves, that distain will probably follow through to the, all of their servants or their, their followers. And so when the player comes in and that's a dwarf, everyone hates them when they find out it's because the leader of this town is a. Elf, you know, I'm not thinking about like, uh, in the disco series, the, one of the means is more puck is governed by a partition and the city watch, which kind of ties into the defense's question to me, I'm coming up here.

It's like, there's only four people, but then the reason why the police force is so small is because crime is a problem in this city to the point where. Well, if it's that bad, we might as well legitimize it. So, they made it a Guild. We can't stop the crimes. Let's just allow him to control it and tax it.


Yes. And you can't commit crimes. The law permits. Oh, pay for a permit. You can't steal from me. Works for perfect.

Oh, my goodness and you practice crime without a permit. Well, let's say large men with a stick with nails in them, and it's like actually a more effective flu first nation. Oh, my goodness, because now you're taking away their business.

If there's one thing we can count on any sort of corporation over the little. Wow. Even if they are. Uh, entrepreneurs of the illegal variety. Oh, I can see my painting. I can share it. I go ahead. I'll look in this way. You take the painting by the way. All right. So, there's, um, there's a lot that goes into the siding on the quarter.

As Ian already mentioned it. The next question, you're going to ask yourself when developing a, um, uh, a good settlement, whether it's a city or a town is what are its defensive. This is a big one. People forget about this because of it, the adventurers get away with doing stupid stuff that they should not be getting away with.

If there is any sort of people that are designed to enforce the laws. So, yeah, and it can vary depending on how big the settlement is. Yup. I think that militias are pretty common for the smaller ones where it's just the farmer and his pickaxe and maybe one retired adventurer, um, is again, you know, uh, soldiers professional, um, might be hired and do double duties and, uh, the, the settlement.

So maybe they're a soldier one day and the next day they're an extra farm hand here, prop times. Why does he pass walking statues? Yep. I didn't know that. That was in the dragon heist book, I think. Yep. I do remember that. We probably never got to when we did that, we didn't run that very long because uh, Brandon hated us and didn't want to come and run the game.

I think he does some scheduling issues with the new job too. So. Yeah, I'm still going to blame that on him. So anyway, the reason why this matter is because a good example with, you know, water deep as, uh, uh, as these girls talking about, Brian was talking about is, um, if the player characters do some sketchy stuff, I got arrested in my life.

My character's life for drawing. I drew a weapon, and they were about ready to stop my face in the city guard. Like their job is to beat my face. And if I draw a weapon for no reason, and that's one of the laws in water deep. So, the amount of power that it takes to enforce that is reinforced by what the guards may not be necessarily that strong, but the Magistrate who runs everything have all kinds of power.

Or maybe the guards as individuals aren’t very strong, but there are lots of them. Yes. I mean, a thousand guards can take down, especially in five years, mechanics-wise, right. With the bounded accuracy. But even beyond that, a thousand guards, Avengers, if they get the jump on them, they might be okay with a fireball, but only that wasn't going to run out of spells.

You just keep throwing soldiers at them and eventually succeeded. So, I knew there. Oh, they're going to a killing it. So, I just, something waves, and waves is still just so they all died. They all shut down. One of my favorites. Is the more classic based off the, uh, the Westworld west, the Westworld, right?

Where you got like one, um, chief or one sheriff, and he's got a deputy and maybe a couple of groans, but the tall time, the top, the town is so small that that's all that they can afford to pay. But the person that they hire or all they need, I was going to say because the person that they hire is really, really good, and that can make all the difference.

Walking tall is one of my favorite, Rock movies. And, and he comes in this blue, this one guy cleans out all the corruption because he's just awesome. The actual police officer that moves well, actually even more often. Oh, yeah, I didn't, I didn't know. That was based off of your day. Let's just say the mafia killed his family and then he had nothing to lose at that point.

So, he kind of, oh, that's totally the same story as the Punisher man. That's a good story. You should do that. But anyways, so when you're deciding on the defenses, you use that to. I don't want to say control your characters, but make sure they have to deal with consequences of their thievery weapon, brandishing.

You know, if you follow the laws of land, which is a previous episode we touched on, you should totally check that out. Um, it, uh, it touches on all the different varieties of laws that exist like brandishing a weapon without reason is a huge law. How many times your character is always say “I'm gonna attack that guy.” They do it some much that you know, like there should just be a guy following her up, passing out fines, just like, oh, Hey, Billy, good to see you. Here's another ticket. You know, we don't, we don't do that because honestly, in some cases that's not as much fun, but as soon as you do that, a couple times, they ain't got no money for magic items.

In some cases, the players aren't at the towns offenses. Oh, that's a good one. That's a great, it's funny you say that there was one time. I think I was playing fourth edition where the, um, group, I played them up to like level like a six or seven, not very high, but we wanted to return. So, they became the Nobles of that town and the guardians, they weren't necessarily was militia people that worked under them, but they were essentially the novels of that area and their new players.

We're getting requests from their old characters, which was awesome because the players had the knowledge of what they did. So one of the villains of the previous hero showed up again. It's one of those I've destroyed my villain. Oh. He survived with scorches on his body and missing arms and legs. And now he's got this big robotic construct.

And he's learned magic and can, you know, push people off edges with magical power and choke them from a distance sound, sound familiar. Yes, it was totally that, but he came back and so their new characters had to deal with a villain of their old characters, which was just so much fun. And so, when you're designing your defenses, think about those sorts of things, especially.

Say, Hey, I'm developing this town. I think, your barbarian would really fit in here as like the chief. What do you think always do it with permission? Don't be tossed with people's characters into your campaign stuff without talking to them first. And that goes both ways. Yeah. Um, so I think. Um, when it comes to the defenses, you want to think more than just the people too, right?

When you're talking about the people, what types of walls do they have? What kinds of weapons are they carrying? Can they afford a few trebuchets or can they have, do they have century towers? Do they have patrols that go through the local areas? What are some other defenses before we move on?

I know it’s not people related. Cause we kind of spent a long time on that. But I just flashed back to an old episode of a Batman, the animated series where like joker got an inheritance from who get an old mob boss, but there was one point where he's panicking. He's like, okay, I may be crazy enough to go up against the Batman, but the IRS.

So that's paperwork. Nobody wants that stuff. All right. So the next question, we're going to want to ask ourselves as we're developing our fantastic settlement is where do the characters go to find what they need? So, this is big because depending on the size of the area, which we've already talked about, They're going to need to go to different locations for resources.

I'm a really good example for this is, um, In a small town, the healer, the leader, the, uh, the, the, uh, the local town magistrate might all be the same person, you know, um, while in a bigger town, they might be different people. Um, and so what, what are some things that the characters would need that you would want to flesh out with this question?

Where do they go to find what they need? Well, the problem is what they need, but I can also so picture some sort of religious professional being present even in the small city. Yeah. That's definitely a good one. Yeah. That's great for a pallet in the clerics of the party and whatnot, but that's a good one.

Um, what else? Let's see, uh, I think basic provisions might be great, even for possibly even the smallest cell of settlement. It can be found, um, like, uh, things for like, uh, uh, toolkits and stuff, whether it's an herbalism kit or component pouch. So, this is something we don't touch on. Very often. Wizards have spell components, right?

And some, sometimes there are places that should open up to have those. At what level do you have those for me, a smaller Midtown probably wouldn't have it, but you can expect to find like an arcane shop in a bigger town component, but yeah, what's that well, right, right, right. Like diamonds, aren't going to last very long.

So yeah. Speaking of diamonds, um, a great example for, um, a wizard to get a spoken Ponant for, uh, a spelled. Uh, chromatic org, what's the best settlement to get the component, a diamond mining town. It's run by some dwarves that you've already designed, because you answered that question in the previous example, which is a good example.

So those are the things you want to think of. Um, other things are like, uh, maintenance of equipment, right? Um, specialized equipment, cold weather gear is a big one, right? You're not expected to find cold weather gear in most villages. You're certainly gonna find one at the bottom of them. Um, or in a frozen desolate land, of course you get, if you get there and it's already frozen, how did you come to north?

Yeah. So those are, those are things that you want to, uh, really consider when you're doing your, uh, Uh, what do they need, whether it's a blacksmith, armor, Smith, weapons, Smith, um, are they all one or is it different people? Um, services too, right? They're going to need an Inn. So, you're going to need an end.

What services that in does that an offer like, um, Uh, like messages to different, uh, to send ahead of you. Right? So, Hey, we got Carrie and pigeons or some air Cochran's that will deliver, you know, messages to the next town before you get there. So, you can alert people of you're coming. Right. And is there a guilt hall there?

If there are guilds in the settlement, that's a good one because that might be how they do all their customers too. Bounties Monday, right. And paperwork. Cause everyone wants paperwork. Actually like how in the Goblin Slayer, the manga like the application to become a Guild Member of the Guildhall, there was an actual D&D character sheet.

That's awesome. I didn't notice that. Wow. The manga. Oh, I wonder why they can get away with that.

What’s our next question, Matt? What temples or other organizations are there. Yeah, we did just kind of talk about temples and guilds and stuff. Um, but it goes beyond that, right? Yep. Uh, you mentioned Thieves Guild. Secret societies are always a must in a moderately sized down. Yeah. A great example of this is the Forgotten Realms for organizations.

Many of them are, are roughly good. There is one that is just criminal. You have this and Tom, the criminal one, and then you have the other three, the three. I think total Lords Alliance, the Harpers, the Emerald Enclave and more.

Yeah. There's another one too. I think. Yeah. I don't remember what they all are, but there are lots. And if you're playing in forgotten realms, or even if you're not, you can still use those and say, okay, this location might have a point for an access point for the Harper's. You want to do that sort of stuff that makes sense for that setting, but is also a great way to tie your characters and their needs into the campaign, right?

I think that you can expand upon this even more too. Perhaps having an influence gauge, right? So, this town has this secret society, and this secret society has influences in these other locations and what the player characters do could draw the attention of those societies depending on the influence that that place has.

If you go to one where there's a small influence. Maybe the other, the other, uh, uh, secret societies won't do anything, but they might hear word of it. And then they do something small in another town. And then that just slowly builds up the reputation till this entire. And finally, they're like, we got to do something about these guys.

They're messing up the flow of our business. So that's something that really comes out of asking yourself, you know, what kind of organizations. And I do think that that, um, is good because that's a good way to guide them, to get the political authority of all the, uh, stuff you've built in the world kind of connected together, which goes back to what you were saying about the two rivers, right?

Yep. That has a political influence in me. That's not an and-or coming to it, but everyone there is like, it's not affecting my life. I had no idea we were partying. Yeah. Oh yeah. We forgot their existence. We need an expert long bowman moment. Grab them from the two rivers.

Cause we own you.

Nobody's been here for three generations. Where are you when we were attacked?

That's what I'm waiting for. All right. Um, and the last question that you want to ask yourself when trying to build a wondrous and exciting. What are some fantastic elements that distinguish it from the ordinary now in a world of D&D most settlements have certain patterns above gins or historical influence, but there are going to be some that just think that's really important if you don't have these in your campaigns, you're missing out because it is a perfect way to, to feed your little, uh, birdie and players, a few nuggets of lore about your world? Even if it's as simple as a statue in the center of that town of a, a hero of that town, I think.

I don't know who I was at, running it with. I ran into denture where they were in a port town in the center of the port town is a guy riding a whale. Right. So, when I described that, what do you think is the first thing people ask? Yeah. Do I know what it is? Or who is that? Right? Because I've specifically described, well, now they're going to want to know, well, that's the guy that founded the village.

Why did he, why is he riding on a whale? Because that's how he got around how he get around. They say he can talk to him. What's that sound like to you? I drew it. Yeah. The town was founded by a Druid. So he had, he was basically Aquaman. Right? That's all he was. But he was a little bit stronger than your average.

Basically, a level like two or three characters. In that town, that's a big deal. It made him super strong, and he became this legend. Now the player characters don't know how strong he is. They just know the legend of this guy that founded a town and rides a whale. You know, he wrote a whale around, they don't know the full story.

No. And you don't have to explain it to them either. Give them a. Hey, here's your history check. Here's what you know, or just talking to them, the NPC is, should be revealing that stuff. Natural 20. I know everything. I want to touch on that really quickly. So that's a good point. So natural twenties are auto successes in the attack.

That's it, but that doesn't mean they reveal everything. For example, I’m reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, the one thing I have learned is that the information passed from one person to the next changes. So even if you get fed a lot of information, how reliable is it? Um, When you're developing your locations, this is certainly something you want to take into consideration.

You want to build the defenses, build the, um, the commerce structure, the city in a way that makes sense for the theme that you're going with. And that theme defines itself as you answer these questions. Um, for me, You should always have at least one fantastical area that the players get to visit. Well, my personal example, is in the books that drawing on the dark, most of the buckets on a brewery in Vienna, and it turned out in this brewery, it hit in level.

Which brewed a beer called the dark, which is, which takes, which is a 500 a year process. Oh, geez. And that makes a pricey. Well, no, because I, beer, they give her the Fisher king every 500 years helped maintain his health and immortality. Huh, that's a cool story, bro. That's a good book. Um, so when it comes into, uh, one of my favorites, I think when you're new, the fantastic elements, you can start small coming across the first town that has a teleportation circle in the church.

Would be a fit to me, that's a fantastic element when your low level, but then you get to water deep and there's like 10 of them to all different locations in the world, you know? So, what can be fantastical may not necessarily have to be fantastical in the grand scheme of the content of the world though.

Floating island battles are pretty cool. Um, toss those in there occasionally, but they don't have to be as grand as that to have a fantastical element. So, what are some, is there anything else you guys got to talk about world-building settlements here that we might've missed?

I think one other aspect of it is like, say for example, a long time ago, there was a major battle on the outskirts. No, there was a major battle on the outskirts of this large city that was once a small town.

Now it becomes significant because it became a fortress and then a city and then whatnot. That's pretty cool. And that's, that's a good point. You know, the evolution of towns is something you can actually show through your players yeah. Through the traverse of time inside. Very cool. I like that very much.

Um, all right. That's really all have this. Um, when it comes to world-building, it's hard. It's tough. It's a lot of work. Start small build-out. Yeah. Yes. That is the best advice. Start on one little time. And then work your way out from there because trying to build a whole world all at once is a huge task.

Plus, if you do that, you'll end up moving things around anyway. Especially if you let your player characters influence everything. So, all right. I think that'll do it for our main topic today. World-building settlements.


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Dungeons and Dragons Unearthed Tips and Tricks for DMs and Players

Monster Variant: Fuariora

Origin: Death Dog

Lost Features: Bite, Two-headed, Size becomes small

New Features:

Damage Vulnerabilities bludgeoning, fire

Damage Immunities cold

Frost Luminesces. While in freezing temperatures, the fuariora sheds bright blue light in a 5-foot radius and dim light for an additional 5 feet.

Resurgence 10. When the fuariora takes damage from a single source greater than its resurgence threshold, it releases a burst of thick 10-foot-radius sphere of chilled fog centered on itself. The sphere spreads around corners, and its area is heavily obscured. It lasts for 1d4 + 2 rounds or until a wind of moderate or greater speed ( at least 10 miles per hour) disperses it.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 1) slashing damage plus 3 (1d6) cold damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or have its movement speed reduced by 10 feet for up to 1 minute. The creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns. If the creature fails the check by 5 or more, its speed is reduced by half instead.

Frost Tail (Recharge 5 or 6). The fuariora whips its tail releasing a 15-foot cone of cold air. Each creature in that area must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw, taking 5 (2d4) cold damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Encounter: Spearhead of the Clan Chief

Berghilda, an elderly seerer is seeking the aid of adventurers. Through her divinations, she has seen an item of power that hides deep within the Burning Spear Cultist territory. It’s guarded by beasts, brutes and magic. The item she seeks is called the Spearhead of the Clan Chief (circlet of blasting). The characters must remove it from the hands of the vile Burning Spear. She warns the characters to be wary, for the spearhead is likely in the possession of one of the agents of the Burning Spear. If this is true, then their power would be much greater than those of the minions that surround them.

The location of the cultist’s cavern opens around the long side of a river. It’s a perfect spot for them to enter and leave from, as well as a powerful way to bring goods and equipment into their sanctuary. Berghilda believes that with the correct tactics, patience, and a little luck, the characters should be able to enter the cavern, retrieve the spearhead, and return. If possible, she would like to see all of the Burning Spear punished, so she will have a special reward if the characters can manage to deal with the entire cult within the lair. But it is a tall order.

Magic Item: Illusionist’s Hand Wraps

Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement by a spellcaster)

The hand wraps were created by a particularly gifted illusionist. She was able to bind her unique gift for casting multiple illusion spells to her hand wraps.

While wearing the hand wraps, you can cast the minor illusion spell. Whenever you use an action to cast the minor illusion spell, you can use a bonus action on the same turn to cast it a second time.

Dungeon Master Tip: Table Talk

It’s a good idea to set some expectations about how players talk at the table.

  • Make it clear who’s speaking—the character, or the player (out of character).

  • Can players offer advice if their characters aren’t present or are unconscious?

  • Can players give other players information such as how many spell slots they have left?

  • Can players take back what they’ve just said their character does?

Player Tip: Class Acts: Rogues

Not every rogue skulks in the shadows, a dagger in one hand and a bag of ill-gotten treasure in the other, always keeping one eye out for a back to sink a blade into. Some ply their skills openly as locksmiths, trapmakers, and dungeon guides who take great pride in their work and feel no need to hide their talents behind deception. Some would say the shadows might eat them alive, others that they are simply pragmatic. A few outsiders refuse to believe that the smith who crafts the lock can resist the temptation to crack it open and take what it protects for his own.

So it is with the Fraternal Order of the Inner Vault (also known simply as “the Vault”), a secular and honest guild of rogues who reject a brutal life in the shadows for one of honor and brotherhood under the light of the sun and civilization.

-Dragon Magazine, Derek Guder-

RPG Phatloot Giveaway: Bard College of the War Chanter

War Chanters look to the tales and legends of heroes of the past for inspiration. The weapon of choice of many war chanter’s is the polearm. This stems from the idea of standard bearers, carrying a visual representation of their beliefs. As such, the weapon often has a small standard with intricate designs or a coat of arms that hangs from the end. Not only can these sow discord among your enemies when fluttering around in combat, but when they are placed skyward, they create a rallying point for your comrades in arms

Winner: machine.gmc

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