Cities Of Khorvaire Design Template

Each of the cities is described according to its size. Large cities have extensive descriptions and groups of NPCs, similar to the detailed material on Sharn in the Sharn: City of Towers sourcebook. These cities are so large that even paragon-level PCs may not make much impact on the culture surrounding them. Smaller cities and towns have descriptions similar to the more plot heavy City of Stormreach sourcebook where PCs can become important parts of the city in the heroic tier and come to be major players by paragon tier. The smallest of settlements here have many plot hooks but only some geography and political intrigue, more similar to a Dungeon article than a sourcebook. Heroic tier characters will become important almost immediately and may completely reshape the city in your campaign by the paragon tier, perhaps leaving then or staying to defend the settlement against threats from the larger world. Each settlement is designed to be rich enough to inspire a DM through an entire campaign, no matter the size of the settlement, and DMs should feel free to have the settlements adapt as their campaign grows.

City at a Glance

On the front page of each city is a box listing the types of settlement characteristics discussed on pages 152-157 of the Dungeon Master's Guide. A quick glance at these details can give you a grounding in what to expect from the city, but they are often only basic details which require reading further to fully understand. The organizations, rulers, and defensive forces of a city in particular are only described as the average visitor understands them and an adventuring party may quickly run into trouble if they don't pry further.


The theme and mood of a settlement helps a DM to develop a campaign which meshes with the city. Theme is a phrase which can be thought of as the motto or moral of campaigns set in the city. A theme of "corruption touches everything" for instance would suggest that any character in the campaign will eventually be overcome by greed and selfishness, even the PCs. On the other hand, a theme of "hope is on the horizon" suggests that even in the darkest parts of a campaign, there is reason to keep fighting for something better. Mood, on the other hand, is a less-tangible and more suggestive quality to a settlement. The mood may be "dark and gritty" or "chaotic and whimsical," characteristics which can be found in many of the NPCs and quests that the party finds itself on. Together theme and mood can help a DM to keep his campaign grounded in the setting and make sure that the campaign is a memorable one and distinctive. DMs who like a certain settlement but not the theme and mood can change either or both to reflect a different sort of settlement for their campaign. Changing from the corruptive theme to the hopeful one mentioned above would be reflected in miserly merchants becoming repentent sorts stuck in their ways that the party can redeem. A switch in the other direction, however, may lead to hopeful leaders in the community being revealed as hypocrites and cowards in the end, requiring the party to step up. Theme and mood are presented to help DMs and are just one more tool that can be used or changed as need be.

Large Cities

The pilot page will include…

  • Introduction: A stage-setting paragraph without heading to start.
  • Flavor Piece: A paragraph or two outlining the popular perception of the city in greater society (example: City of Lights).
  • Wards of [[City]]: A description of the cityscape with links to individual wards, each of which gets its own page. Descriptions of neighborhoods should be detailed, as in Sharn: City of Towers.
  • [[City]] at a Glance: As discussed above.
  • Guide to Contents: Links to each chapter.

Chapter One: A Visitor's Guide to [[City]]

Large cities get a full outline of all the different areas of the city, similar to the Visitor's Guide chapter in Sharn: City of Towers.

Chapter Two: Life in [[City]]

Headings in this chapter include…

  • Districts and Wards: A discussion of the socio-political demographics of the city.
  • City Architecture: The cityscape of the settlement and how locals navigate around. Subheadings might include common features of the city (levels in Sharn, bridges in Flamekeep).
  • Getting Where You’re Going: Travelling within the city and what services visitors can expect. Other subheadings include how to get to other cities nearby by land, air, water, or magic as appropriate to the settlement.
  • City Districts: A brief discussion of the types of districts to expect.

Chapter Three: Power and Politics

The major political forces in the city's government and economic circles, including…

  • City Government: An overview of who rules the city, concentrating on politicians actually in the city and law enforcement.
  • Foreign Powers: National governments with influence in the city, concentrating on representatives actually there.
  • Dragonmarked Houses: The economic power-houses of Khorvaire (obviously not always appropriate for other continents).

And so on.

Chapter Four: Guilds and Organizations

The more informal forces in the city, including…

  • City Guilds: The unions and working forces that keep a city functioning.
  • Adventurers Guilds: Any groups that foster adventuring which a group of player characters might join or face off against.
  • Arcane Orders: Groups of arcanists who research and share resources together: again, either potential allies or rivals for PCs.
  • The Circle of Song: The ubiquitous bards alliance that is found throughout the Five Nations.
  • Religious Groups: Most religions don't need to be covered in depth unless they are of particular note to the city (i.e. endemic religions, powers behind the throne, etc.).
  • Cultural Groups: Any unique or especially powerful groups in the city that span multiple wards.
  • Mercenary Services: Legitimate, dirty, or informal mercenaries that operate in the city.
  • Organized Crime: The large criminal organizations in the city.

Small Cities

Pilot page should include…

  • Introduction: An introductory paragraph on what's included in this write-up.
  • Wards of [[City]]: Description of the city, with links to different wards. Each ward gets its own page, with brief descriptions of each neighborhood and a list of Key Locations at the end, similar to City of Stormreach.
  • [[City]] at a Glance: As discussed above.
  • Guide to Contents: Links to each chapter.

Chapter One: A Visitor's Guide to [[City]]

Three sections: What the City Offers, offering generalized reasons to set a campaign in the city, History of the City, and Festivals and Diversions for some of the local color.

Chapter Two: Life in [[City]]

Similar to large cities.

Chapter Three: Power and Politics

Similar to large cities, though Dragonmarked Houses and other non-political entities are generally moved to Chapter Four.

Chapter Four: Guilds and Organizations

Similar to large cities.


The pilot page should include Wards of [[City]] and [[City]] at a Glance.

Chapter One: Life in [[City]]

Similar to small cities.

Chapter Two: Shape of [[City]]

Overview of the cityscape and then all areas of the city described (one page). Descriptions can be brief and then key locations, similar to Backdrop: Graywall or Explore Taer Lian Doresh.

Chapter Three: Forces in [[City]]

Political and informal forces that shape life in the city.


For settlements already covered in detail by previous books (such as Sharn or Stormreach) or articles (such as Taer Lian Doresh and Graywall) only a summary is given. I don't want to be inventing the wheel here so if other people have done a solid job I will gladly step back. Some treatments are too small to set an entire campaign in the settlement given its size (notably the fantastic but limited articles on Fairhaven in Dungeon 170-175) and additional resources can be found here. Even where the setting is complete, some additional game material might be given and/or updated from 3e sourcebooks.
Previous publications summarized here include:

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