After recently purchasing the very useful Vornheim City Kit by Zak S., I decided I wanted to take a stab at randomly generating the layout of my campaign’s fantasy megalopolis, Atgur (Proper). I started with the method for random layout that Zak suggests in the Urbancrawl rules, but something about that wasn’t quite clicking for me. Still, I knew I wanted to generate the neighborhoods at random so that it had the feel of an unplanned ancient city.
Here’s what I ended up doing: I picked a number of neighborhoods that would match a die. Since Atgur is unfathomably huge by medieval standards, I decided on 20. Then, starting with neighborhood #1, I rolled 1d4+1 to determine how many other neighborhoods it should be connected to, and rolled a d20 to see which ones. It really speeds up as you go, because you will start rolling a 2 for some neighborhoods that have already been connected to a few others, so you just move onto the next one. I did this all on paper at first, but I realized I could have gone right to the mind mapping program in the first place and saved some work (I used MagicalPad). Once I had it all in the app, I moved everything around so that none of the connections were overlapping, since they are actually supposed to represent the way neighborhoods butt up against each other. In only one case could I not make that work — the connection between neighborhood #3 and #17. I just ended up moving #7 between the two of them and that solved the problem. I was also worried I might end up with two separate closed networks, but that didn’t happen.
I think it worked out quite well for it’s intended purpose. Neighborhood #13 is the one that was renamed City Center, because that was where it ended up on the layout, so I added a few extra connections to that one. I added a few extra connections to some of the other neighborhoods, but I’ve actually been slowly going back and weeding them out since I’ve realized the layout just isn’t as interesting without the weirdness random results can produce. For the curious, my original paper version is below.