Understanding City Maps & Populations in Role-Playing Games

There are endless numbers of maps available for Game Masters to use in their campaign settings, but putting the size and services available into context can be tricky. How do we figure out town sizes and populations for role-playing games? This quick post is meant to help in understanding city maps & populations in role-playing games.

When I am trying to visualize the size of a town, it has always been difficult for me to equate the number of people to the physical size of the community. What I wanted to do here was make a handy table and provide some examples of how big (or small) your average RPG town/city might be - mostly by looking at them. For me, I normally try to count blocks of 10 houses, multiple that by 6 then add about 10-20%. It's completely rough, but if all you have is a map and no description, it's a good way of making a "guesstimate":

Average Household in medieval times - 6

Average Household today - 2.5

Once we have our city size, we can then start looking at services available in each town. These are NOT exact, just averages, but it does give us a reasonable expectation of things that might be found in the population center your PCs are in.

There are also several generators out there that will help you determine more specific information about your town (number of blacksmiths, for example). Here is one of them I used to help with this post:


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Naming Your Town

While coming up with a name can be half the fun, if you are in a hurry, there are tons of resources available to help you out. I love Fantasy Name Generator and we can search here for town and city names quickly, and easily:

Fantasy Town Name Generator

City Examples!

Nothing helps put things together like some example pictures. Below are three town examples to help us visualize towns vs. cities.

Small Sized Fantasy Town - Population Approximately 250 - 350 (Note: This would be an average Medieval town)

Medium Sized Fantasy Town - Population Approximately 3,000 - 7,000 (Note: This would be considered a large Medieval city)

Large-Sized Fantasy City - Population Approximately 20,000 - 30,000 (Note: This would be larger than the largest city considered "Medieval")

These maps were created using a combination of "Medieval Fantasy City Generator" and "DungeonFog"

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