Thursday, March 24, 2011

Founding a Fantasy Town, Part I

Last night I started getting my head back in the game--the Domain Game that is. (Thanks to all the players and volunteers nudging, cajoling, and encouraging me in the last couple weeks).

I put out some rule guidelines last month for how would-be rulers, warlords and satraps could attract rural settlers to their newly-carved lands, this month we take a look at what it takes to dupe unsuspecting urban types to your hold.

Where does the aspiring city builder begin?

First and foremost is the locating, surveying, and clearing of a proper site. A number of important questions need to be answered:
  1. Does the site have access to a fresh water source? Will it have enough water to sustain larger populations as the settlement grows?
  2. Does the site have enough arable land to support it? If not, how will food be secured to sustain the incoming hordes?
  3. Is the site in an economically feasible area? Will enough trade and commerce pass through the area to make it sustainable or prosper even? Is there enough work available for the new population?
  4. Is the site secure enough? Is the surrounding local area secured and patrolled adequately? Is it properly fortified? Is the new settlement policed sufficiently?
  5. Is the site properly drained? Is it on high, stable enough land to sink foundations and be resistant to floods?
  6. Will the new settlement meet the cultural and religious needs of its new citizens? Will the bread be supplemented by
Recruiting Urban Settlers
Once these questions have been considered and a charter issued, the local lord can begin the all-important task of attracting new denizens to the settlement.

A roll can be made once a year on the following chart for each farmed square mile newly-dedicated to supporting the settlement (roll only once for each). Note that at a minimum each 100 citizens will settle in land equaling roughly .1 square miles. Thus a town of 1,000 citizens will take up a 1 square mile area. (More spacious lots can be given to settlement residents if desired.)

Roll d10
1 None attracted
2 2 laboring-class families
3 4 laboring class, 1 semi-skilled
4-5 8 laboring class, 2 semi-skilled
6 12 laboring class, 3 semi-skilled
7 16 laboring class, 4 semi-skilled, 1 expert
8 20 laboring class, 5 semi-skilled, 1 expert, 1 patrician
9 24 laboring class, 6 semi-skilled, 2 expert, 1 patrician
10 28 laboring class, 7 semi-skilled, 2 expert, 1 patrician

-2 land secured in less than a year
-2 inhospitable environs (inadequate water, uncomfortable terrain like marsh, etc.)
+1 land secured more than five years
+1 settlement has developed cultural/religious amenities
+2 settlement on established trade route
+1 settlement site has wooden palisade
+2 settlement site has stone walls

Types of Urban Colonist Families
Each family is assumed for simplicity sake to be made up of five members (two of working age, one potential for militia service). The varying classes correspond to the categories on my Hirelings charts.

Laboring class families
This colonist class is made up of escaped slaves (or serfs), penniless freemen, drifters, etc. New colonists of this type will settle into available economic niches as urban laborers, apprentices, underworld types, etc. They can also be coerced or enticed into moving into work as cottars, harvest workers, and other agricultural labor in surrounding farmlands.

Semi-skilled and Expert families
Semi-skilled and expert families will take up shop in the settlement, initially (and literally) as small, independent providers. As the settlement grows from hamlet or village to town, these workers will found or import related-guilds, societies, and other mutual associations. The exact occupation of each family is to be determined by the GM.

Patrician families
Wealthy families that represent guildmasters, wealthy merchants, and/or minor nobles. Each household will hire 5-20 local residents to meet their own domestic and economic needs. (If none available they will “import” 1-4 laboring class families of their own.)

Optional: Colonist Cultural Identity Chart
Roll once for each incoming group.

Roll 1d8
1-5 Colonist group made up of same culture, ethnic group, and race
6-7 Colonist group made up of different culture or ethnic group (same race)
8 Colonist group made up of non-humans


  1. - maybe you will find this useful :-)

  2. Very handy little PDF there, thanks for sharing. It's interesting comparing the order of those town plans with the chaotic jumble of a medieval European city.

  3. There's no 3 at the d10 table about attracted settlers...
    But very nice work, might come in handy.

  4. Thanks for pointing out that my fly was open haha. Done fixed it in the post.