My favorite thing about the campaign map generator at DM Muse is that it places locations around the map, complete with description like the following:
The vacuous town of West Quartzwood, population 6,000. Ruled by Bark the Rude, an unrivaled warrior whose ancestors cleared the land of trolls very long ago. It is known for its corrupt and greedy town guard.
The kingdom building rules allow a district to have 36 functional building lots. Each filled one represents a larger area that’s mainly known for the building specified, but the population of a lot is said to be 250. So, West Quartzwood is a single district with 24 lots filled. Not worrying about the build costs, I put down buildings that fit the description and my own logic.
The corrupt town guard thing struck me in particular. I put the barracks and watch tower close together, then added a bank and a black market nearby to underscore their greed. In another area, I put in the town hall along with a monument to Bark’s ancestor.
There were still lots of blank spaces and lots of questions. Why would a town of this population be considered “vacuous,” that is, empty? Perhaps it was much larger but lost a lot of residents. Aha – a plague. This is where I realized my character had lost his wife to the plague. I put in his house, Bark’s and that of his wife’s family, as well as a shop owned by the latter.
A lot of the other things were just stuff I figure are staples of an adventurer’s home base. Stables, an inn, a smithy, a mill and a religious shrine appeared. I also added a pier to the northwest corner since that’s a water border on the world map and I wanted to make that a fishery space anyway.
The rest was determined by my character. He likes research, so a nearby library was essential. He also needs a teacher for his spellcasting. An old wizard is too overdone, so let’s use an outcast witch instead. I gave her both a home and an herbalist shop. Beyond that, I felt some of the NPC’s that ran other buildings needed their own homes, and that filled the rest of the 24 lots.
Beyond the town map, I had the town own the spaces directly adjacent to it, with a fishery in the water and farms on the plains. Though I’m not using the full kingdom building rules, I did check its stats to see if I had any glaring weaknesses. In the real rules, it would have a net gain of 2 build points per turn, assuming a successful die roll. Therefore, I’m going to instead add 2 to a Fate dice roll, making it less all-or-nothing. This will happen after certain adventuring thresholds (Fate milestones) rather than in-game time.
In the end, it took some thinking, but I feel like I have a coherent town that makes sense based on the info I had. (By the way, East Quartzwood is abandoned because of the plague.) It didn’t require throwing in much that’s unnecessary, in my opinion. It ties into the theme of this campaign and character, and gives me a few opportunities to interact with different characters there. Hopefully this method continues to work with new cities I might create in the future.