HSK Worldbuilding – Cities, Part 2

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This is where we left our cities last time, with street maps and a few focal buildings. The next step is to fill in some detail about what’s actually in these cities. Let’s start with the key buildings, places that heroes might want to know about or visit.

First off we have the three temples. Since the city history (that I generated in an earlier post) says the citizens primarily worship Halward, god of storms, it makes sense to dedicate one of the temples to him. My first instinct was to make the half-sunken temple belong to Halward, but his worship didn’t really pick up until after the floods. Perhaps people turned to him because they saw that his temple still stood, out among the waves. For the other two temples, I’m going to borrow the Salt, Storm, and Stone pantheon from Sunless Sea, because it sounds awesome and ties into what I have already. Other key locations would be: a barracks, or fort; a lighthouse, somewhere near the water; and two primary marketplaces.

We’ve got the walled keep to start with here and an easy solution is to name it after its first master, Albert Briarborne. Looking at the layout of the city I can pick out interesting areas and turn them into landmarks. Near the centre of the city we have ‘the Wheel,’ a massive marketplace. Just North-east of there are some organic shaped streets which will lend themselves to some kind of park. Just to keep things interesting I’m gonna say that it’s actually a zoo. Finally, since there are no other large buildings that catch my eye, I’ve labelled one of the squarer structures as a clock-tower.

Cities-06I’m going to have to change format for these images… Can’t really read that text.

Next we can go through and name the various districts. Cairnholm is already separated by its walls, and most of these areas have one key building in them, so they’ll be easy to name. Blackwatch is a bit more amorphous, but we can use the main roads and wall to split it into four districts.

When coming up with names it helps me to think about what kind of people would live or work in that area. For example, the Stone Ward, in Cairnholm, is named for it’s dominant temple but sounds like a poorer district. The main road that runs through it will have a simple name, like Stone’s Row, to fit the simpler lifestyle and probably lower levels of education. To contrast this, the upper class district is called ‘the Gallery’ and it’s main road is Wyvern Way. In Blackwatch, we’ve established that much of the city’s early growth was thanks to trade moving through its port, so one of the districts gets named Trader’s Bay. Those sailors and the soldiers who defend the city also need a place to kick back. So in much the same way that Las Vegas sprung up to entertain the men building the nearby Hoover dam, Blackwatch has ‘Sailor’s Rest.’ This sprawl of taverns, theatres, restaurants, and brothels is the seedy part of town.


To finish off today’s post I’ve done a couple of sketches of the two rulers of these cities. These important NPCs embody their respective cities.
As the High Priestess in Cairnholm, Ellenin oversees the three temples and all their members. She makes all the important decisions for the city. She, like her city, is generous and welcoming, but has a stormlike fury that comes out when she is threatened.
Volgan the Grey is Warden of Blackwatch and an old retired soldier with the scars to prove it. He is stoic and brutally honest, with a quiet confidence backed by battle-tested skill.


Having detailed some of the big cities, I think my next step is to zoom in once again and pick out a starting area. A smaller town where some fledgling adventurers could make their mark.

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