Back in May I posted the “5 Fantasy City Supplements You Need” which focused on products about cities as a whole – of them 4 were about specific cities, and one was Fantasy Flight Games’ “City Works”. I used City Works this week to write up and map out the basics of Cruar’s Cove, a city in my campaign setting.
But once you have a city to play in, there are a lot of books out there that are great additions to your urban game. Books of floorplans, encounters and ideas for great urban adventures.
Here’s my picks for this week:
Flying Buffalo’s Citybook series
With 7 titles in the line, this is the grand-daddy or modular city designs for D&D games. Each book focuses on a certain style of establishment and encounter that you can use in your urban scenes. Each has between 13 and 25 locations (typically businesses) with detailed NPCs and adventure ideas, hooks and plots. Reading them for me is like a trip into the third D&D campaign I played in – I remember at least a few from each book that we ran afoul of during our adventures in the “City of Nine Blades”.
Dark Quest Games’ City Guides’
Basically the same as the Flying Buffalo line, but written for the d20 system and only available in PDF. This line ran for almost the entire run of the 3.x D&D production and the earlier books include material written by names that later became prominent with other d20 companies. Very affortdable and full of little encounters, stores, businesses and detailed streets and alleys that you can pull out as needed.
Foul Locales: Urban Blight
Published during the d20 rush, this book details a collection of urban encounters and locations with excellent maps by Ed Bourelle of Skeleton Key Games. The layout is horrid, but there are 18 encounter locations where “encounter” means a place where something interesting can and will happen. From a sewer ambush to a magical clock store, this is an awesome addition to any d20 fantasy game, and can be plundered for info for any fantasy game if you get it at the right price. Effectively this feels like a compressed version of the above two product lines.
City Streets Series
These PDFs by Generic Universe Publishing detail a single business in each release, but do so with incredible detail along with background information on the business and the employees, adventure hooks and story ideas. They are under $2 each, and there’s at least one freebie over at drivethrurpg that you can check out. Overall they aren’t quite as cost-effective on a “dollar per business” model as the other lines here, but go into much greater detail and are well written and nicely mapped.
Game Mechanics City Quarters Series
These three PDFs (and two are / were available in print through Green Ronin) detail a thieves’ quarter, temple quarter and “arcane quarter” that can be inserted into a fantasy city. More importantly, they detail sections and places in these quarters that are even more easily dropped into your city on an as-needed basis. Of the three, the Thieves’ Quarter is the most ‘portable’ although the arcane quarter can be the most useful to D&D game masters because of the lack of similar supplements or examples of such environments in other game lines.
What books would you add to the list?
And a footnote for those making fantasy cities at home who want to get that extra level of detail further than what I did with City Works this week – check out the free “Guide to the Creation and Depiction of Fantasy Cities” posted over on the Cartographer’s Guild forums. It is a brilliant and beautiful 20 page PDF to help you work on your fantasy city.