Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Keep scrolling to find Top 10 Lists for Small, Medium, Large, Coastal, Mountain, Swamp, Arctic, and Desert Towns. As well as a list of Town Quirks (odd or unusual traits), and our guide to running an Urban Adventure.
Whether you’re looking for inspiration for an urban adventure, or your players just decided to breeze right through your starter town and on to who-knows-where, you can use our generator below to at least figure out what it’s called.
If you’re looking for something a little more specific, you can pull one of the names from our list below.
Choose a name or roll a d10.
- Tanner’s Gate
- Chalk Hill
- Fourmill Water
- Crow Foot
- North Brompting
- Three Oaks
The archetypical fantasy town; a few dozen stone and thatch houses huddled beside a river, surrounded by farms and forest. These towns usually have an inn, a market or general store, and someone in charge — whether that’s a council of elders, a local lord or lady, an important religious figure, or something else.
- New Coriolis
- Old Felling
Bustling streets swarming with merchants. Towering spires of wizard towers, universities, grand palaces. Merchant guilds for everything from thievery and assassination to shoemaking and muckraking.
Cities are big places, where just about everything can be found and anyone can be lost among the crowd. Cities are usually the seat of power for hundreds of miles around.
- Broken Crag
- Snowmelt Point
- Serpent Pass
- Flintjaw Rock
- Meister’s Folly
- Cloud Giant Gap
- Wyrmbone Hold
Isolated, perilous to reach and even more dangerous to leave, mountain towns create insular communities steeped in tradition and held together by powerful bonds.
Folk here are hard, intractable, like the mountains around them. They herd goats and cattle in the highland pastures, and while away the frozen, windswept winters with quiet company and hot schnapps.
- Mockingjay Vale
- Ghost Pine Mott
- Dryad’s Knot
- Three Oaks
- Elmwood Glade
- Poacher’s Crossing
- Saints’ Green
Buried deep among green trees, forest towns can be happy, rustic places — home to loggers, trappers, and other folk who live off the land. It all depends on the woods.
Are they secretive, mist-shrouded places where the trees and people keep their secrets as well as one another. Are they miserable, woebegotten places beset by blight or monsters from the deep, dark heart of the forest?
- Shinglestone Water
- Holder’s Wail
- Deep Silt
- Gull Beach
- Thrice Drowned
- Deadship’s Wake
Windswept, weatherbeaten, tied to the whims of the sea. Coastal towns can be a first port of call in a new land or a last stop on the way to places unknown. They are hubs of trade and cultural mixing, or they can be isolated fishing communities unwelcoming of outsiders.
- The Morass
- Stinking Pit
- Whisperwater lake
- Eldernaven Shoals
- Felden Pond
- Wader’s Creek
It takes all of ten seconds to convince most folk that the swamp — with its alligators, swarming mosquitoes, diseases, molds, fungi, and pervasive, nightmarish humidity — is not somewhere they want to linger.
This makes it all the more bizarre that people choose to actually make their homes in these places. Swamp life (not to mention swamp heat) means things move at a different pace. It’s slower, generational. Like time itself is sinking into the opaque morass.
Then, suddenly, the water churns, breaks in a wave of scales and teeth, dragging you down beneath the surface. Before long, it’s like you were never here at all.
- Ivory Peak
- Winterbite Pass
- Last Ale
- Gull Watch
- Ice Bear Crag
- Hope’s End
The bitter cold. The darkness. The loneliness. They’ll all get you before the bears, remorhaz, and white dragons do. Still, there’s something about places at the edge of the world that make people pull together and care for one another. Until the last of the food runs out, that is. Then, we’ve all got to be prepared to make sacrifices.
- Dry Throat
- Vesper Gulch
- Mephit’s Breath
- Cactus Banks
- Vulture’s Rock
- Dead Camel
- Exile’s End
- New Hallow
Blasting heat, shimming in air so warm it feels like a liquid. The cries of water sellers mixing with the stink of camels and spices. The taste of sweet dates and bitter coffee. Desert towns gather around water, or huddle against the coast. The more water, the bigger the town.
If you want a more in-depth exploration of how to make your own D&D town for your campaign, you can click here. To help you quickly make towns on the fly — or just to help out if you’re looking for some inspiration — we’ve put together the following tables below. Roll for a town’s location, its type, and a twist or quirk.
Town Location (D10)
- Hidden Valley
Town Type (D12)
- Large Town
- Occupants age at ten times the normal rate. A curse placed on the town by its wizard king who needs to quickly grow soldiers for their war with a neighboring mage.
- Built in a graveyard. Houses made from tombstones, repurposed mausoleums, ghosts wandering the streets.
- Ruled by a fat, chronically sleepy Hill Giant who awakens twice a day to demand tribute.
- On the edge of a vast, magical labyrinth that houses a vile monster.
- Home to two (or more) warring cults. Snake cultists, demon worshipers, religious fanatics, etc. All in constant, bloody conflict.
- Extraordinary craftspeople. Jewelers, weavers, cooks — any and all crafts practiced here seem to be performed by true masters.
- Bridges. Isolated by many narrow bridges over perilous drops.
- Built among ruins, repurposing the halls, streets, and structures of a much grander civilization.
- Port. Ships at anchor, docks bustling with sweat-soaked workers loading and unloading.
- Great Market. A huge gathering of silken tents, stalls, hawkers, vendors, and street food salespeople. Permanent, seasonal, or once in a lifetime.
- Place of learning. A school, university, library — some repository of ancient wisdom and hidden knowledge.
- Cannibalistic. Out of necessity, or tradition, or the meddling of dark forces, the people here are almost all missing something — a hand, an ear, a leg — and struggle to look at newcomers without licking their lips.
- Temple. A grand place of worship — a monastery, convent, or some other bastion of the faith.
- Wild Magic Fluctuations. Remnants of some great magical catastrophe have scarred this place. Gravity doesn’t work all the time; the sun keeps changing color; people wear each day’s new mutation with grim stoicism.
- Accursed. Mist clings to the ground. In the dark woods, wolves howl at the fat and malevolent moon. Pale maidens run across the moors — ill attired for the occasion — to stumble to the doors of gargoyle-encrusted mansions. Inside, pale-skinned, crimson-lipped aristocratic types inform them that they’re “just in time for dinner”.
- Culture clash. Two distinct cultures are being forced to coexist in extreme proximity.
- Under Siege. An invading army is currently laying siege to this place. Famine and disease stalk the streets. Grim-faced soldiers watch from the walls. The black market is thriving.
- Occupied. An invading force has recently taken over this place. Bodies piled in the streets. Bright new banners hanging from every wall. The sullen stares of the conquered.
- Interplanar Instability. Doorways to other places keep opening and closing, seemingly at random. Wizards and academics, here to study the phenomena. Confused creatures from far away, wandering the streets asking the way home. Reality rotting away like the flesh off a corpse.
- Witch Hunts. Someone or something has been declared dangerous. Gangs of peasants roam the street, pitchforks and torches raised. Sham trials and well-attended public executions. Something else stoking the mass hysteria.
Running Urban Adventures
Whether you’re all meeting in a tavern, staggering out of the wilderness in desperate need of supplies, or looking for somewhere to sell this super neat cursed sword you just found, towns and cities are an essential part of the Dungeons & Dragons experience.
Sure, this is a game that’s nominally about bravely venturing into the untamed wilderness, or down into the mythic underworld, or having any number of other adventures out there.
But the wilderness is only untamed and the underworld is only mythic — out there is only out there — if it’s held up in contrast to something: safety, normality, civilization. In D&D 5e, nine times out of ten this means a town.
Towns — especially in traditional medieval fantasy campaigns — tend to represent points of light in a dangerous wilderness filled with owlbears, dire wolves, and all manner of other deadly random encounters.
They’re a place to find shelter, to journey toward through forests and dragon-infested swamps. To resupply and rest up between adventures. To hear tales of strangeness and cursed treasure.
Sometimes, of course, the town is the adventure. There are plenty of classic urban modules as well as wilderness or dungeon-centric ones.
Although, I will say I think there’s a difference between a political, city-based faction crawl like Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, and what is essentially a dungeon-based adventure that happens to be taking place underneath a town or city like Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage.
I’d be inclined to say the former is more of a true city adventure than the other (the latter still wants you to leave the town to enter the dungeon; the way there just involves fewer forests and owlbears and usually more sewers filled with giant rats).
If you’re prepping material for your game and you want to use a town as the set dressing for a dungeon, that’s absolutely fine. I’ve done it plenty of times.
However, it’s important to recognize that, if you want to run a truly urban adventure, you’re working with a different set of building materials than a traditional dungeon crawl or a slog through the wilds.
Instead of natural obstacles, ancient ruins, and traditional wandering monsters like dragons, chimeras, and ogres, you’ve got people, factions, established power structures, shared history, different resources (both diegetically, in terms of what’s available to the player characters and in terms of what’s available to you as a DM) and that’s before you even start considering the physical geography of the city or town versus the wilderness.
From my own experience, there are three basic templates I like to use when I make an adventure in an urban setting:
- The Mystery Town
- The Faction Conflict
- The Hunt
Each one engages with different elements of the town, city, or other urban environments.
The Mystery Town
A phrase I’m borrowing from Tom and Jason over at Fear of a Black Dragon, the mystery town is the creepy rundown village in act one of every horror movie. It’s the town built around The Slaughtered Lamb where the locals gather to wait out every full moon and warn you to “stay off the moors.”
It’s the isolated commune in Midsommar or the town from The Wicker Man, and the home of the Stepford Wives. It’s where about half the episodes of The X Files take place.
The Mystery Town is just that: a town that’s hiding something beneath the surface — a monster, or a cult, or some other strange happening. The townsfolk don’t always have to be involved, but having at least a few in on the dark secret is important.
Thematically, mystery towns are about contrasting the safety and security of civilization with the unsettling darkness beneath. Structurally, mystery towns conceal the true nature of the threat, usually forcing the adventurers to approach things more delicately.
They won’t get anywhere walking around waving their swords at people; the townsfolk aren’t goblins that they can just threaten and torture to get the information they seek. Then, as the players slowly unravel the truth, so do they unravel the pretense of normality that enshrouds the town.
Their enemies move against them more openly, the horror creeps closer, and they usually end up descending into a small dungeon of some sort as a final crossing of the threshold from normality into peril.
The Faction Conflict
I’m a firm believer — even in games I run that are ostensibly all about straightforward dungeon delving — in creating some faction conflict behind the scenes. Factions are great because, whether your players are punching goblins or dipping their toes into politics, factions mean resources.
Factions have land, soldiers, safety, food, shelter, magic items, healing — you name it. Different factions have different resources, but they all have something the PCs want to some degree.
Now, make those factions bitter rivals, or at the very least make their goals or cultures incompatible. Now you’ve created a decision for the players to which there’s no “right” answer — at least, not without changing the conditions of the test.
Faction conflict is one of my favorite ways to run D&D — especially at higher levels when combat is kind of a drag and the problems that used to be interesting challenges to newbie adventurers are mere inconveniences — and towns or cities are the places for it to play out.
Whether you want to run a gritty game of mob violence in the vein of Gangs of New York or Peaky Blinders, or something a little more hoity-toity like Game of Thrones (or even Bridgerton if I’m being honest), cities keep everyone in the same place, vying for resources, and (usually) have enough of an established social code or legal system in place to prevent all out warfare.
The result — much like the mystery town — is that the players need to learn to use their heads.
This last mode is a little broader, as there are many things you can hunt — from killers to ancient artifacts. The main unifying element though is that cities present different options and challenges to player characters than they would usually face in a traditional adventuring environment.
Tracking an art thief through the criminal underworld and tracking a unicorn through a magical forest are very different things. They both involve finding something that doesn’t want to be found, but they’re going to involve very different skill sets.
Hunting for something (or someone) in a city is going to involve talking to people to gather information, moving through the territory of different people, and scaling buildings rather than mountainsides.
There’s going to be overlap, but it’s different enough that it’s going to feel fresh and interesting to your players.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.