Friday, January 6, 2012

Moleskine Maps XIII [The City Street]

My buddy Bryan contacted me yesterday needing a map STAT! He is running his first game in a while, a Pathfinder one too boot, and he needed a map for his first session. What he needed was a street map so he could run a couple of encounters on a plain old city street.

After he sent me that text I admitted I had rarely seen in the RPG realms and something that admittedly, we probably all could use a little more of. How many times have you ran encounters in a shop, inn, magic store and never the thought crossed your mind how the players got there? I think he might be on to something here. So I jumped on the idea and through a quick map together for him.

The first map I did for him was a quick three minute map I did sitting in my car waiting for a co-worker outside the motorpool. I threw on a gaslight (or magically powered?) street lamps and then I went all crazy and drew in a sidewalk...medieval folks hate mud too, right?                      That map is to the right --->

Yeah, I did not like the sidewalk either.

I used this as a test bed to try out shapes, how to place the doors (top right there I drew it and decided I did not like that way and it was a bit confusing), styles for roofing and to get a general idea of how to layout it. I decided I wanted a higher view with more buildings. The idea of a GM having the bad guys running and ducking down alleys and in and out and around building as they try to evade the players....just sounded fun. Then the idea occurred to me that it would be possible to run an encounter ON THE ROOFTOPS!!! Hells yeah baby!

Anyway, I started from scratch, zoomed out a little to give Bryan more room to play (he originally asked for three maps, but I just did not have the time to pull that off) and tried to add some nice variation in there to keep the map interesting.

So, what do you think? Am I right that a handful of these would be useful? Should I make a few more?


  1. I really enjoy urban games. The first few issues of Loviatar featured a lot of material from my Pathfinder game set in Baldur's Gate. I think that cities provide the opportunity to have lots of recurring NPCs, which really facilitates the use of a relationship web to drive conflict and drama.

    Man, I need to game...

  2. That's a cool map.

    In doing medieval and fantasy cities, one of the things I almost never do is use grid streets. Very seldom is there city planning. Mostly, the city grows organically, and different styles of streets and buildings tie to different eras.

    I use twisting roads matching geography that may or may not shine up through what's built on it, houses that grow together over alleyways, repurposed areas, barricades across street mouths that grew into stables, basements that connect with older basements beneath them, etc.

    Cities layer like sedimentary stone, and for the same reasons.

    Anyway, I think it would be cool to have more city stuff. I think it's worth thinking about elevation, how the city grew in the area, (whether or not it is built on razed ruins), and how the city reflects both who built it and how it is used now. For me, map is story, and good story leads to map. You're good at this too. I figured I'd toss some thoughts into the pot as you stir up some good urban flavors.

  3. I will admit, i am not very happy with the city map, I like other ones I have done much much better.

    Good input though Andrew, I will take that into account if, when, I try this again.