Town Features


Jeff E.
Validated User
Trying to come up with a list of 100 town features for quickly rolling up towns with some personality. I'm up to 70+, and would be interested in seeing what other ideas people have. Meant for "generic fantasy" or similar settings, and system agnostic (I have system-specific rules associated with some of these, but I'm describing the effects as generically as possible, here). Nothing overtly supernatural (that's another list, perhaps!), but weird/mysterious stuff is okay.

Secluded: The town is rarely visited by outsiders. There is virtually no trade and the residents are mostly ignorant of the world beyond. Very difficult to find information about anything beyond the town.

Bustling: Easier to sneak around in public places (blend into the crowd), but it takes longer to get around.

Dangerous: Greater chance of dangerous encounters (criminals, cultists, corrupt guards, etc).

Military Outpost

Protector: The town has a powerful protector (a monster, vigilante hero, etc).

Ethnic Enclave: A section of the town is populated by a minority race or culture. If it's a small town, the entire town is an enclave within the region.

Den of Debauchery: Penalty to self-control.

Mechanical Wonders

Devastated: The town has been ruined by a disaster or war. Most buildings have been abandoned or reduced to rubble. The town is treated as one size smaller for the purposes of population. If it's already a small town, it's deserted except for a handful of squatters.

Romantic: Bonus to rolls for romancing a love interest.

Guard Brutality: Guards will attack and rough up lawbreakers or anyone else who ticks them off.

Primitive: Due to isolation, cultural beliefs, or a weak economy, this town is behind the times in terms of technology. There's no working of hard metals or milling. Only primitive weapons and tools are available.

Barter Economy: People here usually don't accept currency in trade.

Dark Alleys: Alleys here are dark even during the day.

Gruesome Practices: Abhorrent customs or rituals, such as human sacrifice, torture exhibitions, etc.

High Taxes: Taxation is heavy, especially for outsiders.

Hidden: The town's location is unknown to outsiders. It may just be very remote or the town leaders may work to keep it a secret.


Filthy: The stench masks other scents, making it impossible to track by them.

Unsettling: Greater chance of weird and creepy (but not necessarily dangerous) encounters.

Shadow Rulers

Maze of Streets: Greater chance to get lost while moving around town.

Cosmopolitan: The population is a mix of many different races and/or cultures.

Hospitality: Friendly townspeople will invite player characters to stay in their homes.

Secure: More difficult to open locks or break and enter.

Maddening: After resting here, each player has a 1 in 6 chance of suffering a random insanity condition that lasts until they next rest outside of town.

Black Market: A secret market where contraband can be bought and sold. Players will have to ask around to find it.

Monster Attacks: A monster or group of monsters regularly attack the town.

Civil Unrest: Greater chance of fights or riots breaking out nearby.

Rampant Corruption: Most officials are corrupt and will act in their own interests. They are more easily bribed and intimidated, and many have already made secret deals with criminal factions.

Infested: The town is infested with harmful or destructive vermin.

Raider Attacks: Groups of hostile outsiders regularly attack and plunder the town.

Supply Shortage: The town is lacking food or building materials, etc. Such supplies are precious here and can be used to leverage deals.

Sacred Animals: Certain animals wander the town freely. Harming them will anger the residents and may have legal consequences.

Sports Mania: The town is obsessed with a local sport and its players.

Siege Resistance: The town has a well and a large stockpile of supplies that allow it to hold out much longer during a siege.

Monument: A large structure that's symbolic to the residents. They would be displeased if it were damaged.

Slavery: Slavery is legal and common here. Players may become involved in a liberation scheme, or may be forced into slavery themselves.

Smog: Resting here is less efficient. During each encounter, there is a 1 in 3 chance the smog will be thick enough to limit visibility in the same manner as fog.

Temple: A major religious center with a library and followers that can be contacted.

Intolerance: Town residents are unfriendly by default toward outsiders.

Hostile Occupation: The town is currently controlled by a hostile army.

Night Life: Easier to investigate and find people at night.

Mobile Camp: The town is comprised of nomads or traders and is packed up and moved to a new site every few days.

Labyrinthine Bureaucracy: Any dealings with the local government take much longer to complete, increasing the time required by a unit of measure (minutes to hours, hours to days, etc).

Underground Network: Sewers, ruins, or secret tunnels connect various locations within the town. There is a 1 in 2 chance that any building or street has a connection to the underground.

Plutarchy: Bribery of public officials is legal and customary.

Diseased: After a player interacts with the town's inhabitants, they must succeed at a roll or become infected.

Trial by Combat

Severe Laws: Breaking even minor laws can result in long prison stays, maiming, or execution.

Political Center: The town hosts representatives of a variety of towns, realms, and other factions.

Curfew: No one is allowed to be out after dark unless they have permission from the authorities.

Weapons Ban

Doomed: On any visit to the town after the first, roll a die. On a roll of 1, the town has been destroyed or abandoned.

Walls: Anyone wanting to get into or out of the city must go through the gates or get around the walls.

Peaceful: No dangerous random encounters.

Rumor Mill: Easier to find information, but a greater chance it will be incorrect.

Trade Center: Have players choose three uncommon goods and/or services, then roll a die. On a roll of 1-2, one of them is available. On a roll of 3-4, two are available. On a roll of 5-6, all three are available.

Lawless: No government or guards. Most inhabitants are armed and prepared to defend themselves. Greater chance of dangerous encounters (thugs).

Vigilant: More difficult to sneak.

Academic Institution: A school or library of some sort. Easier to research information, especially information related to the institution's field of study.

Babel: The townspeople speak a unique language. There's a 1 in 6 chance that any one of them knows another more common language as well.


RPGnet Member
Validated User
Is the list a set of tags, or is that the main trait of each of the seventy towns?

Low taxes would be a counterpoint to high taxes and could combine with other elements of a town where trade is more open.


Jeff E.
Validated User
They are more like tags, I think-- they aren't meant to be unique, and a town could have more than one. I'd roll up one for a small town, two for a medium town, and three for a large one. Some of them contradict, but I figure you could just move down to the next one, re-roll, or come up with a creative explanation.


RPGnet Member
Validated User
I'd probably redefine babel, since that's more for multilingual areas in my estimation.

I'd change the existing Babel tag to 'unusual native language'


Registered User
Validated User
"Trade Center" could probably be split into a few different things for different types of impressive markets - "Bazaar" and "Marketplace" could help there, with the understanding that most towns have something but this one has something more. I'd also add "Canals", "Packed", "Sparse", "Ruins", and "Wide Streets".


Freelance Writer
Validated User
Run Down: The town is in a serious state of disrepair (local mine has run dry)

On The Up: A new mine has been discovered

Cursed: The town is rumoured to be cursed

Renown: The town is well known for some great achievement or is the birth place of a mighty hero

Location: The town is located somewhere very unusual

Strange Customs: The town has some downright unusual custom

Natural Phenomena: Some act of nature cause people to flock to the town (Aurora is always overhead, the Blood Moon always rises just behind it)

Coastal: The town is located on the coast or saltwater marsh. Likely has a harbour and ships etc.

Arena: The town is part of a gladiatorial fighting circuit

Smugglers Haven: There is something about the town that makes it ideal for smuggling.

Festival: Its the town's turn to host the regional festival.

Marked On the Map: There is no town, yet its marked on every map


Retired User
Trying to come up with a list of 100 town features for quickly rolling up towns with some personality. I'm up to 70+, and would be interested in seeing what other ideas people have. Meant for "generic fantasy" or similar settings, and system agnostic (I have system-specific rules associated with some of these, but I'm describing the effects as generically as possible, here). Nothing overtly supernatural (that's another list, perhaps!), but weird/mysterious stuff is okay.
Tourism: wealthy people visit here frequently and in large numbers to socialise and to witness/ experience some unusual and spectacular local natural feature/ building/ custom/ festival

Pilgrimage: followers of a particular religion or sect visit here in large numbers, seeking a spiritual benefit; or the town is a way station on a major pilgrimage

Capital: the town is a major political/ administrative centre for its region, province, nation or empire; has buildings, institutions, officers and so on according to scale

Monopoly: the town or certain offices, families, guilds or individuals within the town are granted a monopoly in a particular trade or occupation, or the right to raise a specific levy

Steep: built on very steep slopes - a peak, cluster of hills, cliff or ravine

Flooding: surrounding lands are subject to extensive flooding at a particular time of year; the settlement is predictably cut off from neighbours for weeks or months at a time

Icing: an island or narrow peninsula is surrounded by waters that predictably freeze for a large part of the year; access by water is replaced by sledges; those without accommodation die

Bushfires: surrounding forested country is prone to severe bushfires that occasionally destroy rural properties, crops and livestock, and displace refugees and monsters

Quakes: area is prone to frequent, noticeable but not devastating earthquakes; local buildings are stable, but new construction and roadways occasionally fail

Migrations: a bird, fish or animal species visits or passes through the area in vast numbers at a particular time of year; locals exploit it for food and other products; or it is regarded as a sacred or tourist phenomenon; or all three

Seasonal workers: poor foreigners (perhaps of a different humanoid species) arrive in large numbers for the peak labour season (probably the harvest, or seasonal construction works or military activities); they live in camps; there is tension between the visitors and the locals.

Immigrants: a large influx of poor foreign workers is aggravating unemployment in the town; gang violence is on the increase

Sectarian strife: two rival sects of the same faith divide the community; the two sects have differing dogmas and customs, and might appeal to different classes or ethnic groups; conflict might range from commercial competition to civil war.

Malodorous: the place stinks (much more than usual) due to by products of a local industry or food production; or a naturally occurring plant or volcanic activity

Ruins: major nearby ruins have been heavily 'quarried' for stones and statuary re-used in the new town/ city and surrounding villages

Housing shortage: the population has outgrown the available housing; the overflow lives in crowded slums, quickly built shanties at the edge of town or outdoors; fierce competition over housing often results in violence in the poorer quarters

Space shortage: as housing shortage but physical limits (e.g. an island, mountain top etc.) prevent the building of further housing; the town is built tall, and buildings in poorer parts frequently collapse

Food shortage: the town relies on imported food that arrives through its busy port; imports are paid for by exported goods; the town is very vulnerable to naval blockade

Unemployment: the place has more people than work; unemployed masses depend on handouts from the state or wealthy patrons; they are easily manipulated by promises of work, money or food; beggars are common.
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