Is there a step by step guide to build a village, town or city for a DND game? I have trouble getting my ideas down on paper. I feel a guide may help.
This is how I make mine:
Pick if I want it to be coastal, in a forest, desert, etc.
Pick a cool name.
Decide if this town is mostly for passing through, or if major things are happening here.
Decide if they’re cut off from other towns or near others.
Decide on population, race majorities and minorities.
Pick how the town makes money, what are its imports and exports if any.
Who is the leader? How do people like them?
What is the towns major problem? Starvation, rats, monsters, etc?
How strict are the guards? Do the villagers trust outsiders? Do they hate any race or class?
Come up with a bar, inn, weapon, and armor shop name and staff for each. If they’re known for anything, what are they known for?
How does this town get along with outsiders/other towns?
Any well known locals? What are their names, what are they known for?
If your players are good, evil, or neutral how would the townsfolk react? How would your players react here?
A lot of times some of this info is never asked about from my players. I recycle and use that info for other towns if need be. Half the time no one asks about the armor shop, or the potions shop. But its nice info to have on hand.
I also sometimes make mini flash cards detailing the important bits like:
Inn: Sleepy Fellow. Run by Ma. 5 copper a night. Worlds best pillows, they’re always stolen. Ma is sick n tired of it and will gut any thieves.
Here are some little extra tips and tools, too.
Plan your city around your landscape. If its a thin and spindly island, you’re not going to have a ton of open space. If the city is in a desert, there are probably very tall walls to keep the sand from blowing in, or the houses might be below ground, etc.
Here is a cool map maker to help visualize things.
Think about what you’d typically find in a town. Inn, bar, and leather working shops will be basically anywhere. Larger towns will for sure have armor, weapons, potions, etc. Farmer’s markets, hospitals, etc. are also usually present.
What kind of town is it? Is it peaceful, do they forage and lack trade routes? Is the town large, have a large guard presence?
How does the town make their money? Hunting, gathering, self sustaining, making crafts?
I use this sometimes to give me town ideas. I don’t really hit generate tbh, just the options alone help me out a lot.
How can your town serve the quest[s] and your players? Is it the main place where quests are given/done? If so, it might need to be more fleshed out. If they’re just passing by you don’t need a lot of detail. Maybe just one quirk or two to make each town unique. e.g. “Every Thursday is bring your pet to work day” for the local guards.
When I first started out doing pixel art I couldn’t find a good tutorial on how to make trees. So now that I’m a bit better, I’ve decided to make my own!
For this tutorial, you’ll need some sort of digital art program. You probably shouldn’t be looking at digital art tutorials if you don’t have a digital art program. I use Pro Motion, but I’m pretty sure that Gimp and Photoshop work too.
For space-saving reasons, I’ll put the rest beneath the read more
This is the first area of the game - the Temple of Abundance, a very old sanctuary built in honor of the sphinx queen Thalia. The protagonist of this story is Weaver, a young griffin who has been locked up in a cell inside the abandoned temple by the evil Dr. Zeralidius.
Here you will meet the first party member, a mysterious phoenix called Lauper who will help Weaver break out of his cell. In order to escape, Weaver and Lauper must solve the many puzzles of the temple and defeat Omoitama, the tanuki warden.
I actually had some written out for Dream Diary Jam that I keep forgetting to post, so yes, you’re in luck. In the small Yume Nikki fangame Community, we have a term called “Hell Mazes”, named after the original Yume Nikki’s big red pulsating map that was a bit frustrating to get through. These maps are large, confusing, and serve to frustrate the player rather than to challenge them. Here’s some steps on how to avoid one of those.
Whatever you do, I’d plan my maze out first. Grab a sheet of paper or MSPaint and doodle down a rough idea of what you want. Here’s my process of making a maze:
Step 1: Draw out your starting and ending points. Step 2: Connect them like this so there is at least one main path out of your maze:
Step 3: Fill out the rest of the maze with branches leading to dead ends or connecting paths.
Now you got yourself a maze. Start playtesting it from there and see how frustrated you get with it. Remember: if you’re not having fun getting through a map, your player is not having fun. You don’t want your player to be bored or frustrated when playing your game - that’s when they put it down in favor of doing something more fun like cleaning the house or rearranging their music collection.
Mapping is an important part of the top down RPG style games. There are a ton of great design guides on asset creation and placement, but I want to talk about a topic that is not discussed as much.
A lot of maps tend to have a good amount of dead space. These are areas that serve no real purpose, only used to travel through. Now in dungeons with random encounters, this might be a design choice to have players navigate through. But in towns and areas where there are no random encounters, getting rid of the excess can go along way in making your maps more interesting.
Let’s take a look at three different games and look at what we can improve to get rid of some dead space.
EDIT: Here is a link to the album if you want a closer look at the example images.
So here we have HAMLIN VILLAGE from DRAGON QUEST 2. It is an older RPG and map design was just becoming an important part of the genre. As you can see there is a ton of dead space that simply serves no purpose. In the center of the map you see a lot of wasted grass tiles and the long paths just waste your time walking.
Looking at my improvements to the map, you can see that all of the main points of the map have been retained. The village seems more cozy and there is no wasted space. The building were simplified and the paths were cut down. Now, wasted time running from building to building is cut down and access to all of the NPCS is easier.
Here is AZALEA TOWN from POKEMON GOLD AND SILVER. About 10 years of RPGs come between Dragon Quest and Pokemon Gold and Silver, but some of the mapping problems still exist, but to much less extent. There was a lot of dead space around the well the team rocket member is standing in front of and there was some spots around the town that were unnecessary.
Now here I made some design choices that you may or may not agree with but are definitely worth talking about.
First let’s look at what I call ‘nooks’ or small areas that are somewhat isolated from the flow of the map. A big difference between the two maps is that I put the GYM inside of a nook. The before map might be slightly easier to navigate, but the nook puts emphasis on the importance of the GYM and makes it feel isolated. This can be a design choice as to where you want nooks. The berry tree at the top of the map is in an even greater nook, and the design choice in getting there is my next choice I made.
Choosing path size seems arbitrary, should a pathway be one, two, three, or four tiles long? My philosophy is to think about the situation. For the berry tree, it is secluded behind someone house and it feels right to have a one tile path between the house and the tree emphasizing the hidden-ness of it. Now, be careful with one tile paths and NPCs. The choices to make paths a certain size and having one tile only walk ways is important to the flow of the map and making areas feel smaller.
One of the biggest irks I had when playing UNDERTALE was SNOWDIN. Walking across the town seemed to take awhile and waste my time (I am aware of the teleporters). I felt the town would feel much more ‘cozy’ (a theme it was already rolling with) by bringing everything a little closer together. Seeing multiple NPCs and building together in the same screen adds to the feel of the map and makes the village seem a little more tight knit.
So why am I bringing up dead space? I have awful problems with it. As you can see with my example from GLITCHED, I almost shrunk the map down by half from both the width and the length. Now there is much less space in town and moving around the map feels much better and natural.
Now all of this comes down to design choice. If there is a reason that non-random encounter maps need to be spread out then go with it! Removing dead space though can help a lot of maps be smarter and more player friendly. Tiny villages seem much more cozy and quaint while NPCs are easier to find. Overall, be conscious of the space things are taking up and ask yourself the question, “What use is the part of the map?”
If you like these quick game design tutorials, let me know by liking or messaging me and I’ll try to get one out once a week!
One thing about making parallax maps in RPG Maker is that it is a bit bothersome to create animated layers in them (like water). I made some simple animated lines on completely static layer to create the illusion of animation there.
Fancy house! :0 Now it’s way better than that previous very flat one!
BTW, anyone know if it’s ok to name characters as famous people? I have here Madonna and Beethoven already. Kierkegaard is next! I’ll probably just edit their names just a little for the reference to remain obvious. :0
Thought I could show how I start making the maps for them not to look too ‘boxy’!
Edit: If you’re making non zoomed maps it’s best using square tool for that as they’re quicker to use. Since my maps are zoomed I don’t have to make them this size, tho, it’s too big, so I use this tool. (And if I’m making bigger maps, I use square!)