So, your adventures walked away from the main story line again and are in the middle of unplanned nowhere. This happens to every DM. But what do you do when you need to put an area together for your party in a short amount of time? You turn to generators of course! Currently, we haven’t found a full and comprehensive D&D town generator that covers everything you’ll need to make a town in one go. But this guide will get you everything you need from a few sources in no time. From a town map generator to individual villagers, we’ll get you everything you need to make a stunning town your party will think you spent countless hours creating.
What’s in a town?
A town in D&D can have a lot of different things, but it’s best to focus on the points of interest for your adventures. A town to them is a safe place to rest and get supplies, an area to start new quests, and a central hub for them to work on multiple adventure hooks. A good town will act as an anchor and keep your adventures returning to it again and again. Each town should contain the following:
- A tavern or Inn
- A blacksmith, leather-smith, or armorers
- Various specific item shops
- A general store
- Craftsmen or Experts in trades
- A Town watch or Guard
That’s a lot of things for you to populate! Thankfully, good D&D town generators working in conjunction with each other can take the legwork out of these tasks. To populate these, we’re going to need to construct the following:
- A Town Map
- A list of villagers and stats for them
- Names of establishments
- Basic economy tables and store inventories
- Basic quest for the town
- Random encounter tables for the nearby area
- A Town name
Now that we know what we’ll be creating, let’s look at some D&D town generators that will make this work easy.
Town Map Generator
There are a lot of great D&D map tools online, and a lot them are free too! For our purposes today, we are going to look at one tool in particular that can help you make a usable town map as quickly as possible: Medieval Fantasy City Generator by Watabou on itch.io.
This map generator can build towns and cities of various sizes quickly and in your browser. At first glance, you might overlook this tool as being primitive. But it’s actually very powerful and can be used as a solid base for any town you plan on fleshing out more over time. To get the most out of the tool, you’ll need to click on the various settings they have and adjust them to fit your particular needs.
While the maps generated here are geometric in nature, they are highly functional. Each map has a set of town features, divides areas in to functional districts, and can have geography options altered for your ideal area. Our recommended setting for a quick town are as follows:
- Pallet: ink
- Hatching: on
- Labels: on
- Towers: Round
- Buildings: Complex
- Water: isoliners on
With these setting on we were able to get this town map generated:
As you can see, the map has all the notable features you need for a town. Plain and simple, this can get the job done in minutes. While this isn’t super fancy, you can always use this as a base and jazz it up later manually with other D&D map tools, or even photoshop if you’re feeling ambitious.
Now that we have the basic map with its key features outlined, we will need to populate it with stores, taverns, and other notable buildings. For this we turn to a variety of sources starting with one of our favorite tools: DonJon.
Most adventuring parties immediately head for a tavern when they enter a town. Because of this it’s something you need to have ready with a bit more detail ahead of time. This is one of the things that DonJon does really well. Their Tavern generator makes a full inn for your adventures to interact with in a single click. You get a name for the tavern, a description, patrons and food dishes ready to go. If you’re really interested in leaning into randomness, DonJon provides rumors that you can use as quest plot hooks for the surrounding areas.
Here’s the output from a sample generated earlier:
Random Shop Generators
Now that we have an inn all setup, you’re going to need to get your town shops up and running. The easiest way to stock and maintain these is to use a table. The tables from The Dungeon Master’s Guide can suffice for basic equipment; rolls can be used to decide stock, price and availability. But why do all that work when you can have a computer calculate it for you?
A fantastic individual by the name of gmbalistic went ahead and created some amazing spreadsheets that are free to use and save. Their sheets for stores are amazing and can be rolled for your adventure and saved out as pdfs. You can find the full list of tables here with instructions for use in the first tab.
Here are some sample PDFs we generated for this sample town:
Villagers, Guards and NPCs
When you need to flesh out a towns population it can be daunting to get stats for all of the villagers, let alone have good stats for the guards and random adventures in town. To get these quick and easy you can look at Myth Weavers town generator. They not only get you important information about the population of a town, but they also help you create stat blocks for every NPC. It’s almost a stand alone NPC generator more than anything else.
Using this generator you’ll have all the stats you need for a town. The big downside here is that there is no export and the information is a bit hard to manually copy. You can save the link, but we’ve had mixed results with getting the same characters from it every time. The best way to use this is to pull it up and copy out characters to a spreadsheet as you use them in your campaign. This way you make sure you’re keeping the character stats you’ve used for later reference.
Alternatively, if you need a list of new NPCs on the fly, DonJon has you covered once again. This is a bit easier to use and can be copied from quicker, but it will only make 10 at a time. That can be frustrating when you want to build a town of hundreds.
Putting it all together
So you’ve got a map, you got your shops, and you’ve got your NPCs, now you’ve got to tie everything together. This is where some writing comes in on your side. While it would be nice to get everything generated and make this easy on yourself, creating a 5 or 6 sentence write up on city is a good exercise for you.
The write up should be simple and include the following information:
- Town name
- Towns primary occupation
- Notable environmental features
- Notable visual features
- Town aesthetics
Here’s an example for our example town we’ve crafted so far:
The Town of Grathnir is a small artisan community set alongside the Serpent River. It is bordered on one side by a dense conifer forest that offers good hunting and a great amount of natural resources which the townsfolk use to make their skilled crafts and raw trade goods. The local guard is small in number, but actively patrol the stacked, wood walls that surround the town. The buildings all share similar styles of plain, wooden exteriors and more ornate wooden shingled roofs. The town center has a open market plaza bordered by two trade districts and Grathnir’s only inn: The Foolish Harper.
Not so bad, right? A little introduction for your adventures can go a long way. Now of course you can make them far more elaborate if you like, or you can describe it in a completely different way. But it’s a good idea to have a simple write up created and put in place with all your other town materials so you can refer to it later. The most important thing you can do when creating a town like this is to get organized.
Generating Town Quests and Story Lines
There are a ton of quest generators online, but almost all of them are for much larger or more grandiose storylines than your town needs. If you’re looking for some good plot hooks that you can expand on later, DonJon’s quest generator is the way to go. But if you want to put in some simple money making quests, we would highly recommend putting together a few hooks yourself for each of the main categories of quest. Below are a few examples:
- Fetch quests
- Gather herbs in the woods for the apothecary
- Find the herdsman’s lost goats
- Escort quests
- Lead a hunter into the woods for a dangerous monster hunt
- Escort a cart of trade goods out of town past bandit camps
- Extermination quests
- Clear out the goblins in the nearby cave
- Reduce the local wolf population
Each of the above quests are simple and can be put in just about any town. We’d recommend giving quest specific rewards, such as potions from the apothecary or rare ingredients from the monster hunt. Logical rewards make your town feel real and make your player’s actions have positive consequences. For any of these quests, you can roll some simple monsters from a random encounter table or pick specific enemies, such as bandits, from the back of the D&D manuals.
With all the above tools, you can get a town generated for your campaign in no time at all. You can build an entire functional town in about an hour. If you really want to spend the time and go the extra mile, your next steps would be to create a more detailed map, add campaign specific plot hooks, and start writing out NPC specific stories to put into you town. You really can’t go wrong with these tips for creating places your characters will be willing to explore for multiple sessions.