If dungeons are the beginning point of adventure, towns and cities are at the end. After all, adventurers needs someplace to go to rest and recuperate, get magic items identified, and spend all that loot they've accumulated from their perilous journeys into the unknown, right? Recognizing this, the earliest D&D campaigns - Blackmoor and Greyhawk - were not only named for their dungeons but also for their nearby towns and cities.
However, there is little guidance in Original D&D for how to put together a town or a city; I suspect Dave and Gary assumed that was the easy part of running a campaign. I certainly like coming up with stuff for cities and towns, but that's not necessarily true for everybody. Recognizing this, Flying Buffalo, Inc. produced Citybook I as part of their Catalyst series of all-system supplements, and published in 1982.
Citybook I: Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker "...is not a complete city....while the establishments are described in detail, the choice of business included are those a group of adventurers is most likely to have an immediate interest in." Basically, a referee can use the 25 establishments and their various NPCs in whatever way they want. While you could use the book as the framework for an entire city (which would be up to you as the referee to detail completely), it's more likely you would pick and choose what you wanted to include in your campaign. That's certainly what I did for my Southlands campaign, placing two Citybook businesses in Westguard town:
- Skywhite's House of Lavation: Adventuring can be a dirty business, and to wash away the grime of the quest there is no finer establishment in the City than Skywhite's House of Lavation. This includes the plans for a quiet, almost Oriental style bathhouse, the four NPCs associated with it - the brother and sister who own and run it, and the two young musicians who work there, and three scenario ideas. "Those who refuse to take tea have their fees politely refunded, and are shown out with the admonition to return when in a better mood for a proper bathing experience...."
- Larkspur the Leach: For the treatment of wounds, broken bones, disease, and other unpleasant legacies of the adventuring trade, the man to see is Larkspur. It might seem odd to include a chirurgeon in a fantasy world where clerics can heal, but it is also the case that someone like Larkspur might know things that a cleric would not. In addition to Larkspur, there's Dame Gerda who cleans his house, and again, three scenario ideas. "He is especially eager to operate on non-human kindred such as elves and dwarves, since he knows very little concerning the physiology of these races." (!)
Each one of the establishments in Citybook I is well-detailed but not so much so that a referee can't add their own material. The lack of specific system information makes it easy for a referee to take the relatively abstract descriptions of fighting and magical ability and specify them using the rules of their choice. The book itself is divided into an introductory section, with guidelines for the referee, an article on "City Mastering and Citybuilding," an explanation and key for all maps, and more ideas for referees. Following this, there are:
- Lodging and Entertainment: an inn and a tavern
- Personal Services: eight businesses ranging from Skywhite's House of Lavation to Sleaz's Tattoo Parlor
- Hardware: Five businesses including a swordsmith, a bowyer, and a stable.
- Food Services: three unique eateries
- Community Services: a clocktower and a bellman's service (so who distributes the news in your campaign? Think about it.)
- Spiritual Services: a temple, a mortuary and a cemetery (all those player-characters lost in battle need a decent burial, right?)
- Security Services: a barracks and a jail
As you can probably tell, I really like Citybook I. Each establishment is detailed enough to be used "as is" but written to allow for individual modification and further creativity, and presented in an attractive format. If I had a criticism of Citybook I it would be that the backgrounds for each establishment are sufficiently interesting to become a distraction from a dungeon as the focus for player-character attention. But if that's what's wrong with this book...well, that's hardly a criticism.
Rating: five dragons out of five.