My Vornheim City Table- Hustle and Bustle of a Big City

I’ve been running urban campaigns for quite awhile now. I started back in my days of 2e when I was running a homebrew setting and continued with Eberron and Sharn: The City of Towers (3.5 of course) and eventually moving into other settings and now I’m running a campaign using the Vornheim Complete City Kit.

I’ve become used to running city adventures and attempting to make them feel “alive.” Most of the time I can do this pretty successfully, other times I acknowledge I fall flat. Running city adventures can be difficult in giving the miniscule details of “what’s happening street level.” It’s important to not bog thing down by giving too many unimportant details, but giving enough can enrich the city and make it feel like a living part of the campaign.

I’ve heard many people state that they have a heard time with this. Jim over at Lamentations of the Flame Princess has stated in his books as well on multiple podcasts that he doesn’t run city adventures for the very reason I’m mentioning.

In his book, Zak gives tons of tables and charts to help a city active and alive, but he leaves the minor details up to the GM. These, to quote him, “less intrusive encounters” can sometimes be a pain to come up with on the fly or, perhaps, the GM isn’t feeling inspired enough to do so.

To aid myself, and anyone who wants to use it, here is a chart of activities that are happening “street level” around the characters. Can these turn into full encounters should the players choose to interact with “it”? Absolutely! These are just to make the city feel more alive and active.

I would probably roll up two or three of these at a time and describe them when the players are walking through the city and then sprinkle in some actual encounters that will directly affect the characters and the story.
I tried to keep these pretty neutral so they could fit into many different campaigns and setting styles.

Here it is: City Hustle and Bustle Chart (PDF form).

1

Man preaching/ranting about religion/doomsday

2

Pro-human group defiling another race

3

Baazar opens to ruckus trade

4

Woman crying about her missing child

5

Authorities chasing someone down the street

6

Vehicle accident of some kind

7

Town crier yelling out news of the hour

8

Honorable duel in a field

9

Bar fight spills out into street

10

Children playing

11

Street performer(s) on corner

12

Prophet sees the future

13

Shop is having a sale

14

People haggling over price

15

Pimp beating whore in street

16

Couple kissing under a lamp

17

Workers bring supplies from vehicle

18

Bank robbery in progress

19

Wedding going on

20

Music Festival

21

Play about to start

22

Street fight happening, caller taking bets

23

Building on fire

24

New bar just opened

25

New restaurant just opened

26

Spousal fight

27

Vehicle breaks down

28

Person gets sick in front of characters

29

Street vender takes notice of characters

30

Little child throwing temper tantrum

31

Woman cooing over dress in window

32

Men bragging about last nights conquest

33

Purse snatcher attempt to take from a woman

34

A drunk gets tossed onto the street

35

Pan handlers beg from the characters

36

Whores ply their trade

37

Show of magic and bizarre about to begin

38

Animal loose on streets

39

Bird flying by defecates on character

40

Street water splashes on passerby

41

Shady deal in alley

42

Guards arresting someone

43

Rabble bullying someone

44

Major NPC walks down street

45

Characters run into old friend

46

Pick pocket snags from character

47

Fireworks going on in distance

48

Construction on new building

49

Repairs on city wall

50

Workers strike

51

Section of town closed- Royalty eating

52

Animal festival

53

Religious ceremony in front of chapel

54

Homeless shelter opens for day

55

Gang turf fight explodes

56

Potion maker demonstrating wares

57

Butcher hanging meat on store front hooks

58

Herder bringing livestock through city

59

Traffic Jam

60

Street thick with insects

61

Garbage piled in streets

62

Sewage in streets

63

Section of street closed- murder scene

64

Someone threatening suicide

65

Soldiers march through street

66

Decorated soldier parades by

67

Paint falls on character from overhead

68

Condemned building is demolished

69

Baker selling strange pies

70

Funeral procession

71

Person on street crying

72

Jewelry maker showing wares

73

Mercenaries stating they are for hire

74

Thug attempts to rob players

75

Public urination/defecation

76

Eating contest

77

Festival

78

Parade

79

Casino opens

80

Streetside games of chance

81

Person running screaming down street

82

Large gathering of people for unkown reason

83

Person drops crate they were carrying

84

City representative touring area

85

Reporter asks character their thoughts

86

Meteor shower can be seen over head

87

A filthy man blocks characters path

88

Person arguing with themselves walks past

89

A dog begs for food and follows character

90

Man brandishing a weapon screams of injustice

91

Old man wandering down street looks lost

92

Feral cats scamper across street

93

Woman begins to give birth

94

Person screaming looking for a doctor

95

Person screams their friend is possessed

96

Children run by singing creepy song

97

Person asks if character wants fortune told

98

Character sees a rival across the street

99

Flower girl approaches a character

00

Characters run into royalty
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About wrathofzombie

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn. View all posts by wrathofzombie

4 responses to “My Vornheim City Table- Hustle and Bustle of a Big City

  • Anarkeith

    One of my monthly campaigns is set in a large city. I often create two to four NPCs that the party will see or hear during the session, giving them the option to interact or not. These mini-encounters are usually just social, but can prompt entanglements for PCs if the players seem inclined. When PCs travel through these neighborhoods again, they’re likely to meet these folks again, which helps establish a sense of the city, and can provide hooks for later adventures depending on how much time the players invest in the encounters.

    I like your table, and I’ll use it to add action to the NPCs I’ve created.

    • wrathofzombie

      Thank you good sir 🙂 I do that too. I’ll introduce an NPC as a passing fancy and then bring them up over and over again in random areas that way they become familiar..

      If the characters have been in the city for a long time I may introduce new NPCs with a history, “There goes Old Man Peabody again chasing the neighborhood kids as usual!”

  • Sir Timothy Of Kent

    Excellent chart. I’m squireling that away in my folder of “useful charts”. Thanks for sharing!

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