Your Favorite "Starter Towns"

Two questions:

What is your favorite starter town, either published or on a blog or something?

What makes a good starter town in your eyes?

To answer the second question for me, I think it hinges on:

• a powder keg situation between factions within the town
• an outside threat the town is facing
• oozing flavor and novelty in a way I couldn’t improv at the table

I’m not just talking about typical fantasy settings either—would love to hear some examples of sci-fi or modern starter towns you’ve loved.

(A starter town, to me, is the place you’d begin with in a new campaign to get the ball rolling. It might never venture far from that locale, or might move on after a session or two.)

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I like to make sure that I have some key Businesses on hand to give the settlement a little bit of flavor, so I put together this d100 for that: d100 Buildings & Businesses. I have a few more applicable Vignettes in my tables for that (Vignettes).

To breathe a little more life into things (and potentially create some seeds/hooks to foster engagement with the denizens), I also occasionally use my These Village Folk Are… (and it’s urban counterpart: These City Dwellers Are……) tables.

It’s up to the Players what they want to do, so sometimes that Initial Haven stays a little more abstract at first, but if they choose to find adventure there, it’s usually present if they look hard enough :slight_smile:

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There’s got to be a universal OSR law at this point that if you need a d100 table of something, ktrey has made one.

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This is an excellent question. So hard to choose! I don’t have a favorite but I really like Humble Beginnings by Queer Wizard. Supposedly it’s getting a new version.

Desert Moon of Karth has an awesome starter town, full for competing factions with wants and needs, I can really see an explosive situation there.

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Karth is great, and I was definitely thinking of it when I mentioned sci-fi! I haven’t seen this Huboe Beginnings before, but it seems outstanding. Thanks!

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This is quite unusual but interesting:
A Village, a Forest, a Dungeon, a Beast.

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I just took a look at that, there are some very good generators there!

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I’ve been considering running Doom of the Savage Kings as a beginning (or post-funnel) adventure for a new DCC campaign, and then using Hirot as the starting town.

It’s not exactly plug-and-play and would need some fleshing out, but you do get a pretty good map of the immediate surroundings and a full map of the town and the notable locations and a few key residents. Plus, the PC actions in the adventure can have a lot of impact on the town afterwards.

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Black Wyrm of Brandonsford.
There’s stuff to do that doesn’t involve the dragon. But also… Dragon.

People have wants and people have troubles.

And also… Dragon

Eventually everything leads to the dragon.

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Excellent suggestion. That adventure is so, so good. I really hope that Secret of the Black Crag delivers something similar (and I’m very confident it will!)

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I havent played this but I like it. Covers the basics. It's always sunny in Castle Greyhawk ☀️: Mautbek, a starting town for OSR games

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I have a town I use called Redmud. It’s on the edge of a large river, a huge mostly unexplored forest on the other side of it. The river floods occasionally. There’s an adventuring guild there now, and everyone hates it.

It’s a shitty place really.

There’s mine that mostly drags out rock and dirt.

I use it for one-shots. It’s the town that everyone starts in. And whatever anyone does there is lore. Including burning down the pub. Which has happened twice.

Most tension is caused by the adventurers themselves as no one that lives there really wants adventurers.

Also, shameless self promo I use this one too: Largshire

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Some good suggestions here, none of which I’m familiar with. Looking forward to checking them all out.

Towns and cities should offer the safety of civilization with interesting aspects to explore (people, places, situations). As a DM my current city excursions have turned into a dangerous place as PCs seek to challenge the stratus quo and do crime. Adventure!

Have tried using the Midkema press city daylight encounters and the Gabor Lux nighttime encounters inspired by the same, both with some marginal success.

I sketched a starting location for when I’m stuck for inspiration, it does offer a detailed tavern setting complete with a gambling game for something more than high die wins type of thing - you can find that here: Adventure! – On the Tabletop

Oh also some great digital tools for city layouts here: https://watabou.itch.io/

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Not from gaming, and also only kind-of a town, but I was recently planning a game and realized I like Deep Space 9 as a location.

It has a dangerous empire that was just fought off on the border, a liberated faction that was recently mostly victims and terrorists right next-door, businesses on-board that are willing to play all sides, a steady stream of foreigners moving through, a magical portal to a strange realm that sometimes has monsters come out, and a group of interlopers (the party) trying to keep everything from going sideways.

Also, there’s already a list of a hundred or so plots that you can just read a summary of online, and quite a few of them work as adventure ideas.

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I’ve searched around for discussion or recommendation of good starter towns and have always had trouble finding results. Glad to see this thread.

Now I want to know what elements y’all think make a good starter town. Going to start a new thread for it.

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