HSK Worldbuilding – Cities, Part 1

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Alright, time to zoom this worldbuilding series in a bit. Now that I’ve detailing the various races and their nations I’m going to focus on a pair of cities. Cairnholm and Blackwatch are two human cities with very different backgrounds. The former has rebounded from disaster through the power of their faith, while the latter has grown slowly around a strong defensive fortress.

WorldMap-18a WorldMap-18b

City Planning

I chose these two cities because their very different histories are going to influence how they are structured. Everything from the shape and direction of streets to the placement of key buildings will be motivated and affected by these histories.

Let’s start with Blackwatch. This city began as a strongpoint, built to guard the eastern coast from dwarven raiders. The first structures that would have been laid down would have been military in nature. When drawing the map, I start with a blank coast line and add in a walled keep, with a sheltered harbour for ships, right on the coast.

But Cairnholm’s original structures were destroyed by flooding and no longer make up part of the city. Being built practically from scratch by a large, organized group will result in a much more organised layout. Since the people of Cairnholm are very religious, the key buildings that I place first are some temples. I chose to have three.


The next step is to add some walls, and define some districts. Cairnholm will have multiple layers of walls structured around its temples while Blackwatch will have a single wall, built to contain and protect the growing city.


Now that the big structures are in place I can block in some packs of buildings. Once that’s done, I can carve some main roads through them. Again, these will be either structured or meandering depending on the city.


With that step complete, and the shape of the cities coming together, I can now go back over each map and add in the small streets.


And there we have the base for a city map. I’ll keep working on this one, adding some colour and texture, but at this stage the map is perfectly serviceable.

In the next post I’ll go into some more detail by picking out key buildings, naming districts, and creating some well-known NPCs for each city.

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