In this article, we’ll discuss towns in Gransys. Unlike the villages and baronies we discussed in this series’ last post, we actually do have an in-game example in the town of Cassardis. After talking about what towns look like and what narrative themes they enable, we examine a few possible sites for new towns in the map, and finish with two example towns written using GURPS City Stats. One is new, and the other is Cassardis.
Towns in Gransys
Towns are not just larger than villages, they’re also made up of more permanent structures and generally less isolated. They see enough traffic and trade from nearby settlements that they can host a perpetual market. They’re also more likely to have walls, which will be either wooden palisades or stone structures.
While some of a town’s inhabitants are still farmers, they make up a smaller portion of the population. The rest take up the kind of job that requires a higher population to support - builders, professional traders, more specialized artisans. A lot of villages have a blacksmith, but this is the smallest type of settlement where you might find an armorer.
That’s usually enough for Dungeon Fantasy, but those who want to go deeper into the social aspects of the setting can add some interesting hooks here. This is a world transitioning between TL 3 and 4, and we can extend that to say that it’s transitioning between a feudal, medieval economy and a monetary, Renaissance one. The original game offers some support for this notion during the quests related to Fournival, a merchant who holds no title but has quite a lot of pull with the Court due to his fortune and business deals.
Towns, then, are where you begin to see the tension between these two economic models. They don’t control a lot of farmland directly, but are the center of a trade network that links all nearby villages, and part of a bigger network connecting other towns further away. It’s quite possible for an enterprising merchant or artisan to make their fortune in this system without ever holding a formal title. Historically, these people were the original burgeoisie, a term which means literally “those who live in cities”.
Therefore, it will be quite common for a town to be the stage of a conflict between these wealthy merchants or artisans and the nobles that are supposed to rule over them. Nobles that live away from the town in a rural manor will soon find their townie subjects doing things behind their backs. Those who live in town will face more direct resentment if they try to exert direct control over its affairs. And, of course, there’s always the possibility that the nobles and merchants collude to hoodwink the Duke.
Cassardis is right there on the map, but it’s not the only town in Gransys. Where should an enterprising GM place their own made-up towns? They would make interesting replacements for the “rest encampments” present in the original game. Those consist of a handful of tents inhabited by a guard who performs the same functions as an innkeeper and by a peddler who can also enhance weapons.
In an expanded world it would make logical sense for those spots to contain actual towns, since these are the kinds of services one would be able to find in them. Aside from the possible political conflict outlined above, the GM can take a cue from the neighborhood monsters to determine what other problems would plague each place.
Example Town: Hardship
The town of Hardship grew out of a logging camp, and took its name from the lake on whose shores it was built1. Now it’s a trade hub for the villages around the lake, and a rallying point for the caravans bearing tribute to Gran Soren and supplies to the Shadow Fort. Since the latter are few and far between during the best of times, Hardship’s mayor has long had an arrangement with the Shadow Fort’s commander.
However, he’s had no luck in calling in those favors recently, as the fort’s garrison has been too busy worrying about the goblins massing in the mountains beyond Gransys to do something about the rumors of a dragon sighted in the nearby forest. And it’s unlikely they could do anything to the ghosts that rise from the lake at night. As if the biting, disease-carrying insects that rise from it by day weren’t enough.
Population: 1,500 (Search -1)
Physical and Magical Environment
Terrain: Swampland; Appearance: Unattractive (-1); Hygiene: -2; Normal Mana (Common Enchantment)
Culture and Economy
Literacy: Accented; TL: 4; Wealth: Average; Status: -2 to 3
Government: Dictatorship, Feudal, Municipality; CR: 4 (Corruption -2); Military Resources: $75K; Defense Bonus: +5
Example Town: Cassardis
The coastal town Cassardis was settled hundreds of years ago by people from a different culture than the one dominant in Gransys. Their dress and architecture resembles that of our Mediterranean cultures. Until recently, it was completely independent from the duchy.
Most of its hardy inhabitants are fishermen rather than farmers. Many actually sail out in boats to harvest the bounty of the sea, which would sound downright suicidal to an outsider. This fish-based diet is complemented by vegetables grown in domestic gardens or in fields outside the town’s sturdy stone walls. Cassardis fishermen also sell plenty of dried fish to the rest of Gransys.
The people of Cassardis are long used to repelling monster attacks by themselves, and a lot of them receive at least some combat training from an early age. They are well-acquainted with the goblins plaguing the lightly forested hills beyond the town’s fields. These attacks greatly increased in frequency and intensity a while ago, which has prompted a drastic and unprecedented decision from Adaro the village chief. He has requested help from the Duke in exchange for allowing Cassardis to be annexed into Gransys.
Now Cassardis hosts a garrison of the Duke’s Men, and has to pay taxes and tribute in exchange. Adaro is still chief, and though there is some ressentment against him for the annexation no one can deny the soldiers help keep the town safe.
In a Dragon’s Dogma campaign, as in the game, this town of badasses is the perfect place for PCs to come from. Its self-reliant nature can help explain where the PC’s adventuring skills come from, and its isolation from the rest of Gransys is a perfect excuse for why they’re initially ignorant of the duchy’s situation. It also has its share of problems that can be looked into, although it’s generally a lot better off than places like the appropriately named Hardship.
Population: 2,000 (Search -1)
Physical and Magical Environment
Terrain: Island/Beach; Appearance: Average (0); Hygiene: 0; Normal Mana (Common Enchantment)
Culture and Economy
Literacy: Accented; TL: 4; Wealth: Average; Status: -1 to 3
Government: Dictatorship, Municipality; CR: 4 (Corruption -1) Military Resources: $100K; Defense Bonus: +7
The origin of Lake Hardship’s name is lost to history. ↩