Saturday, August 27, 2011

Fantasy City Block Generator - The details

It's taken two weeks to pull my latest generator together and it is by far the most complex to date. Here's a link to the City Block Generator if you can't wait for the end of the blog.

Thanks for staying with me for those who want all the gory details on what this new generator can do. If you've ever attempted to detail a fantasy city, you know the huge undertaking it can be. From concept to map to detailed notes can be a lengthy labor of love. I've dreamed of this puppy for a long time. This is not a generator that tells you how many people and what PCs are present... this one tells you all the nitty-gritty details, block by block, building by building, floor by floor.

To start it asks a number of questions (with the goal of fitting into a city concept you've already started).


  • First it asks you for a simple district index... I find (as do other DM's based on web hint/tips) that if you break your city up into identifiable districts, its more manageable. So this is the first step in building you text key. For example if you have a "North Merchant District", assign it a letter (like "A" or "NMD")

  • Next it gives you an option to name the street (if you already know it) or to generate a random name for you.

  • Next you can choose a street type:

  • Straight (or generally any typical street with buildings on both sides - straight, bent curved or otherwise) where a block represents two sides of a street.

  • Circle - for those circular streets where instead of "blocks" you'd have "sections" around a hub.

  • Square - like the Circle, but terminology reflects a city "square" like a large open plaza.

  • One-sided - like a "straight" street, except one side of the street is adjacent to some feature (like a castle wall or a river) where no structures could be built.

  • For straight or One-sided streets, you can specify a general direction - this enables the output to designate something like "Main Street: North side" and "Main Street: South Side"

  • You then tell the generator how many blocks (or sections for circular or square types) to generate at a time (up to 6). So if you have short street with no intersections, on block ought to do it... but if its a fairly long street, you can increase the number.

  • Next comes "street class" - at this time you get "Alley", "urban normal" and "rural normal". Not much is generated for "Alley" except the occasional business that might just be tucked away in the cities underbelly. "Urban normal" is where the tallest structures and the most dense city details are fleshed out. "Rural normal" features fewer stories and more greenery.

  • Next you can specify retail, industrial or residential as a general guide as to what business to put (or not put) on the street.

  • Next comes an option to include random d20 DC values to open or break doors.

  • Finally you can specify an "Economy" level which basically affects the frequency of abandoned or vacant structures.


Then the magic of dxContent takes over and spits out some general details about the street, before diving into a block-by-block break down of the street - you'll get a mix of tightly "row" type structures as well as larger structures with green space around them.

Next comes a building-by-building (complete with construction information, number of floors, map key and dimensions, and notes on how upper floors are accessed). Finally a floor-by-floor break down tells you what business is present on the first floor and uses/occupants for upper floors.



I utilized a number of web resources to give you a comprehensive lists of businesses and industries. I felt that had to be the main backbone of the whole thing, if it didn't generate a realistic representation of the businesses you'd find in a typical fantasy city it wouldn't have much value at all. Anyway... you have to see it to appreciate it. I sure hope you take the time to check it out at www.dxContent.com.

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