for Dungeons & Dragons®
by Mark Shute
Copyright 2001 by Mark Shute
You don't have to run fantasy RPGs for very long before the players decide to head "for the nearest village". Inevitably, it will be a village or town you hadn't given any thought to or done any preperation for, let alone mapped out. And even if you have thought out a village for an adventure, drawing up a map is still a cumbersome task. After you've put in the Inn and the Temple and the weaponsmith's shop, you still have to fill in all those huts and sheds and shops and extras that add so much character, especially when the players spend more time in a town than you expected.
This utility is designed to quickly create a map of a small, rural village. It randomly places buildings of random size and random shape along a central "street". The resulting map is sized to print out on 8½ x 11 paper (printing on graph paper works very well to establish scale). Multiple maps can be printed and placed together to form larger hamlets; four maps can easily create a crossroads town. About the only draw back to the Variable Village is the necessity for all of the buildings to be in perfect 90° orientations.
While the layout of random grey blocks is hardly a "complete" map, it gives the GM a firm foundation to build on. With the buildings located, the GM can quickly select the larger ones to be the "Inn" or the "Temple", and then assign craftsmen's shops and stables and peasant's cottages, sheds and stalls and outhouses. Sketch in fences, walls, trees, the village well, and an open air market. Turn the map any way you want to designate "North", and draw in the main road that runs through town. The first step (and often the most daunting) is done for you automatically. All that remains are the details, which a clever GM can make up as he goes along.