So to recap from last time: I was excited about a system for creating urbancrawls outlined at The Alexandrian and was also inspired by the feeling of the Steve Jackson Sorcery! gamebooks and decided to give the urbancrawl system a shot to design a “strange magic” city.


We left off last time with:

  • a list of districts
  • a definition of what a neighborhood was
  • a list of layers we were going to use
  • a rough map
  • a neighborhood list
  • neighborhood breakdowns for the Temple, Palace, Ruins, and Crafting districts

Since there are plenty of neighborhoods, I’m tackling the Bazaar district this time. I’m also finalizing what I’m doing with the docks. I’ll cover the two slum districts next time.

Here’s the (very rough) map. It’s just a set of neighborhoods surrounded by the city walls and bordered by the wall, the five major rivers, the major roadways, and the shores of the central lake. Note that none of those have names at this point. This is just one step up from a sketch, and then only because I figured using software would result in a slightly more readable result than hand drawing it.  Districts are color coded, Neighborhoods are labeled with a key. We’re also not going to name them at this point either. That’s something we can handle later and something that takes up an awful lot of brain space and time while being subject to change if the neighborhood map or list changes under it.

Note, I finally made a decision on the Docks district. I’m just having a single dock neighborhood. Boats enter the city via the rivers, and dock at the central lake.

  • B – Bazaar District: Since the city is a trading hub, this is the main district. It encompasses three of the five water entrances to the city, three land entrances, and much of the lakeshore. Though it comprises two non-contiguous pieces of land, it is considered a single district because the palace (P1) and temple (T2) neighborhoods that separate the two parts are also mainly economic, and the two parts can be easily bridged by the smaller roads that circle the lake shore and by ferry and skiff across the lake.
    The neighborhoods in this district contain many densely packed shops of all descriptions around their exterior. Inside are mostly middle class dwellings and a fair amount of local services, amenities, and green areas.

    • B1 – Animal Pens: This fairly large neighborhood has its own docks, and shops and residences are fairly spacious. This is because most of the shops deal with livestock of some sort. Prices are generally high since the city has very little dedicated agriculture and imports most animals, feed, bedding and other needs. Shops all have pens and cages and are mostly open air. Residences often have their own pens and are unassuming. The animal handlers, farriers, and other caretakers that live here sell to citizens, shops, and the temple trade district. Public spaces are often simple and are sometimes used for grazing areas when not otherwise in use.
      Landmark: The dung heap – Excess animal excrement is piled high and sold as fertilizer and fuel. While this shop isn’t that impressive, it is easy to find by scent alone.
    • B2 – The Heights: At some point in the history of this neighborhood, one of the residents decided to get more real estate by building up as opposed to out. It quickly caught on and now the whole neighborhood boasts three to four story shops and residences that widen each story, crouching over the streets below, sometimes even meeting their neighbors – creating claustrophobic tunnels beneath. Inside, narrow staircases lead to cramped floors above and dizzying balconies. Within the neighborhood, navigation can be difficult without the sun as a compass. Residences are usually shorter, but still multiple stories. Public areas are often gardens in the few areas that receive a little direct sunlight.
      Landmark: The Heights Theatre – The theatre is a semicircle of buildings on the dockside road. Performances are held almost all day, with the best seats on streetside risers.
    • B3 – Floating Market: This neighborhood is still mostly underwater. The buildings are on stilts and small merchant boats and larger water striders weighed down with packs crowd into the remaining spaces. Though a pedestrian can make their way around by jumping or walking on planks between ships, it’s more common to hire a small skiff or a water strider to move around. Further in, the neighborhood has fewer boats, floating board walkways are strung between raised buildings. Public areas are often little more than bits of open water where residents can sit, fish or bathe.
      Landmark: Strider Market – Dockside is a stall with a pen of stakes driven into the muck that sells the local water strider steeds that can traverse both water and land with ease. They can even climb walls with the right tack and enough skill.
    • B4 – Junktown: The city currents eventually drag the floating detritus from all corners of the city to the edge of this neighborhood. The buildings here are made up of scrap wood, sailcloth and other  bits. Residents scour the incoming debris for anything of value and sell it at cobbled together stalls. Residences are often lean-tos and tents of scrap cloth. Public areas are often little swap meets in their own right where scavengers consolidate the day’s findings for later sale.
      Landmark: The Wrack – Dockside hosts the slowly growing pile that washes up from the rest of the city. Scavengers of all types can be found night and day sifting through the debris and carting off anything of value.
    • B5 – The Landing: Earlier in the history of the city, there was very little solid land and much of the population lived in small boats. Many of these boats became landlocked and stranded in this area as the Palace and Temple district were built. Though this neighborhood houses many traditional buildings, it also is home to these beached boats which have been converted to shops and dwellings. Inns in this neighborhood are popular tourist spots. Within the neighborhood, the remaining water is found in public park areas.
      Landmark: The Ghost Ship – In the early days of the city, an untended ship drifted downriver and was declared cursed. It drifted about for years, considered an ill omen, before getting beached along with the other ships in this area. Eventually it was taken over by a visitor to the city and now is a popular pub.
    • B6 – The Maze: One of the original districts of the city, the Maze was constructed before there was much dry land. As such, streets are very narrow. The neighborhood also grew haphazardly over time, so the layout is confusing for non-residents. Shops on the outside are small, densely packed, old and somewhat run down. Inside the neighborhood the maze-like streets have a reputation for confounding visitors. Because of its maze-like construction, rogues and thieves often make The Maze and its boltholes their home or base of operations. Public areas are often small sitting areas with just enough room for a few people.
      Landmark: The map shop – A small booth that sells maps of the city, this shop originally started as a place to buy maps of the neighborhood itself. As that task became more impossible, they branched out to the rest of the city and surrounding areas.
    • B7 – Raised Market: During the construction of the raised crushed stone foundation of the Palace and Temple districts, the wealthier merchants of the city funded the same renovation for one of the neighborhoods of the Bazaar district. The shops ringing this neighborhood are large, sturdily constructed, and well decorated, and sell expensive high quality goods. The residential areas are a range of mid-large sized apartments and smaller villas similar to what is found in the nobles district. Public areas are fairly large with statuary, gardens and water features.
      Landmark: Statue of the Founders – A larger than life construction of the merchants who paid for the upgrades to the neighborhoods, this statue is placed along the road facing the noble district as if a challenge to those dwelling there. In the time since, several of the founders have in fact entered the upper ranks of the government.
  • D – Docks District: This single neighborhood district sits in the heart of the city and is where most of traffic enters and leaves. Raising the land in the city for building has created a central lake which is ringed with docks and wharfs and populated with small crafts of all types. Most of the shops and buildings that ring the central lake are built similarly to the neighborhoods they front. Though most trading happens off the docks, bulk goods are traded from ship to ship right here. Though few people actually claim residency, there is a large transient population: sailors, traders, and travelers all fill the inns that ring the lake. There are few public spaces, but that doesn’t stop anyone from fishing or swimming off the docks.
    Landmark: The obelisk – half buried in the muck on the shore near the northern slums, a rune-scribed standing stone lists to the side drunkenly. 

Next time: I finish the northern and southern slums. After that, it’s time to start filling layers.