Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Social Studies for RPGs

The most important point to understand about towns and cities is that they’re not collections of buildings; they’re collections of people, with the emphasis on collection. A few individuals will stand out from any group, but groups themselves have important characteristics. Individuals are unique and unpredictable, but groups can be qualified and quantified in interesting and reliable ways. That's what I’m chiefly interested in.

What follows is a series of short tables that you can use to generate collective qualities and attitudes for the people of a town. Each table determines an attitude, outlook, need, or other characteristic of the townspeople as a group. One set of characteristics can easily cover an entire small town. In a larger city, discrete neighborhoods, guilds, religious sects, or ethnic groups can be treated separately. Give each group its own characteristics.

(Read the rest at Kobold Quarterly ...)

I'll be looking at towns all week. Tomorrow's topic is useful mapping.


  1. I think that determining the alignment of a town/city/country/culture is a great tool for determining these kind of social constructs. A chaotic good society would probably not have a well organized judicial system, for instance, but might employ wandering judges who travel from town to town dispensing justice. In the same society, there may not be a social norm for family structure or any clear methodology for determining inheritance. Blood feuds might be common.

    All these things could be very different in a lawful evil society.

    Isn't world building fun?

    1. It certainly is. You might say it's one of my favorite things.