Sunday, 1 October 2017

Extra Little Worldbuilding Questions

Because my On the Edge of Exile campaign has had to be delayed for a few weeks, I've been going 'round in circles thinking about it. What this tends to mean is I write far too much about it, realise I don't want to plan/plot everything out, and then perform a cull. I'll add stuff, then trim it back, over and over again.

During this process, I've been thinking about some worldbuilding questions that rarely come up in guides to flesh out a settlement. These are pretty minor things, and not every settlement needs them all answered, but having an idea of them will help you stretch the verisimilitude of wherever the PCs go. Also note that for larger settlements - towns and cities - you can answer these per district or neighbourhood.


  • Who cuts the people's hair? 
    • A barber; 
    • The lord's ex-manservant; 
    • A communal hair-cutting circle; 
    • Everyone's Nan?
  • Who pulls teeth when they break or hurt? 
    • A barber-surgeon; 
    • The bartender (because they have a heavy door and string); 
    • They get in a brawl at the tavern; 
    • The local priest of the healing god?
  • Who maintains the well? 
    • A young chap with nothing better to do; 
    • A chartered guild of well-workers; 
    • The guards; 
    • A retired mason?
  • Who settles disputes? 
    • A travelling judge; 
    • Whichever outsider merchants are in town; 
    • A Mafioso; 
    • The lord's children, learning their command?
  • Where do people go when they want to relax? 
    • A back-alley dice game; 
    • A local pub; 
    • A drug den; 
    • A serene garden?
  • Who do people turn to when they have a problem? 
    • A local crime boss; 
    • The constable; 
    • A wise village elder; 
    • A kindly priest?
  • Who does everyone know you can rely on and trust? 
    • An honest bar fly; 
    • The bouncer at the pub; 
    • The sergeant of the guard; 
    • The Robin Hood-esque local pick-pocket?
  • Who does everyone revile or make fun of? 
    • A known thief; 
    • A disgraced ex-guardsman; 
    • The noble lord; 
    • The opportunistic mayor?

As a general rule of thumb, think about the things you do every day, and how the people in your world would fill those same roles. Every time you're out and about, think about how someone in your world would do the same. Where do you buy groceries, or do you grow your own? Who do you turn to when a button falls off your shirt, or do you stitch it back on? Where is everyone getting the thread, and the needles, if everyone sows their own buttons?

As I say, these aren't necessary questions to answer - but they are a useful tool, and they can make boring errands in your everyday life less boring!