Sep 28, 2010

5th blog entry - Creating a settlement, part 3

Hello people, it's time for some more tips for Dungeon Masters, and everyone who want to become one x)

So, the 3rd part of this "Creating a settlement" tutorial shall be about different ways it can be managed and ruled, and also a bit about towns and their surroundings in general. Most of the stuff I'm gonna say here are taken from Dungeon Master's Guide and reworked a bit. So, here we go!

When you have decided on the size of your settlement and it's ways of getting needed resources, it's time to figure out who's gonna run the thing. Well, that's where it becomes interesting. DMGuide offers a few solutions to that, which are more than enough, and which i'll tell you about here. Of course, you're always free to come up with something on your own. In fact, if you do, let me know :)

  1. Monarchy - The rule of one man of royal blood, who is always drawn from the same family tree. He has an absolute power over military and economy, and usually deeply influences religion. The ruler usually has advisors and nobles who help him, or do the work in his stead. A monarch almost always resides in the largest settlement of his kingdom. Other cities are run by those chosen by the monarch. Regular citizens have little rights in such political system.
  2. Tribal or Clan structure - Tribes and clans are usually smaller settlements, up to the size of the village. They are ruled by a chief, leader or a warlord who has almost absolute power, and is chosen by either the rule of the strongest, or is voted out by the village elders. He pays respect to the elders, and to the religion, he's a supreme military leader, and influences the tribe's or clan's economy (if they have one). The difference between Monarchy and Tribe/Clan structure is in the way the leaders are chosen, and in the size of the settlement they rule.
  3. Feudalism - This is the type of political system that you can find everywhere throughout kingdoms ruled by a monarch. It is a complicated multi-layer system of classes. The lowest of people (peasants) work for their feudal lord, who "works" for the higher lord, who, again, "works" for even higher lord, all the way to a monarch. Peasants got almost no rights, and slavery is an often find, and the lords are in many cases cruel to their subordinates, and even to other, lower lords. Although the feudalism and monarchy seem to be unable to exist without each other, there are differences by which you can tell them apart: In monarchy, all soldiers are commanded directly by the monarch, while in feudalism, monarch (the supreme ruler) commands his lords, who command his lower lords, who command his even lower lords, who command soldiers.
  4. Republic - Republic is by far the best possible system, as it allows people to choose their representatives, who then gather in senates and vote for or against the propositions which concern the well-being of people. On the other hand, this is fertile soil for corruption. Democracy works best in city-states of any size. Regular people obtain the right to vote by a few means: Being born in an republic, by a bloodline, by paying for it, or by deserving it through a public service such as serving the military or performing a deed of bravery.
  5. Magocracy - Political system in which the ruler is either the most powerful spellcaster, or the oldest child of the current ruler, able to cast spells. Leader of a magocracy has an absolute rule over all aspects of his kingdom, but usually has a group of consultants and sdvisors by his side. Arcane magic is much more appreciated than divine, and divine spellcasters are often looked down on, although they are still treated better than those unable to wield magic. Lands with a majocratic political systems are rich with magic of all kinds. Divine and arcane universities are an often find, and even their military always has spellcasters in the ranks. If the ruler is the most powerful spellcaster, he may be challenged by those who believe to be even more powerful than he is.
  6. Theocracy - System in which the religion plays the most important role. Rulers are often clerics or druids, chosen as a representative of a deity. In some cases, leadership over the land is inherited through a bloodline. Once the ruler is chosen or inherits the throne, he usually stays on the function to the end if his days.
More about these six political systems i've shortly described here you can find in the Dungeon Master's Guide v3.5 pages 140-141. Other than that, the DMG gives a LOT if information and suggestions on economics, demographics, politics and various other aspects of a settlement or a kingdom. Be sure to check it out if you're looking to become a real Dungeon Master, as the well laid-out kingdom or a town is the base of an awesome campaign.

Now, about the other thing i wanted to tell you about... Creating a town in accordance to it's surroundings:

Well, this is quite simple, and thus, I'll point you in a right direction, and you'll soon realize how easy it is not to turn off the right road.

If you got a settlement with an approach to a sea or an ocean, it would be normal to find a lot of fish in the market. Also, almost everyone from the given settlement should have some points in their swim skill, sailor profession, fisherman profession and even some in craft (shipmaking). It just comes normal.
If you got a settlement which is in the middle of a desert or a plain, with no mountains or hills nearby, it would be strange for it to have massive walls made out of stone blocks. The primary source of food for such a settlement should be agronomy and animal husbandry, rather than fish.
If you got a settlement on a riverbank, make sure they use that river for fishing and transport.
And so on...

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial. Until the next time, may the sword and sorcery be with you!


  1. Good tips for general fantasy world-building too, nice post!

  2. Twas a long time since i played.. But i got some friends who plays every weekend. I'll be sure to pass these ideas to them!

  3. this is one of my more favorite blog posts from you :)

  4. this really takes a lot more skill than i thought

  5. These tips are great, it's much harder than I thought :/

  6. That's awesome guide... Really. All 3 parts. Really like it.

  7. This is most likely not limited to Dungoen Masters, is it?

  8. This is great, Ive always wanted to know just how to become a dungeon master. Now I know! Thanks!

  9. Really enjoyed reading this, thanks man!

  10. Good post. Id like to note as a DM, its all about coming up with stuff on the fly. You can never flesh a world out enough so you should become acquainted with coming up with new things on the fly and keeping it all together with what you already have.

    Good posts.

  11. I used to play a bit back in middle school. good times

  12. sup

  13. Thanks this was very interesting :p

  14. WHen i'll get paid for this, i'll be the man lol. thanks bro

  15. Thanks for the tips, this can help my writing as well. :) Following and supporting.