This site is games | books | films


Ulm, Germany”. Signature and title verso. Oil on canvas, 32 x 24 cm Date 1875 Henry Thomas Schafer (1854-1915)

The best way to handle settlements in your game, of course, is to plan it out, placing every shop and every home, naming every NPC, and mapping every building. Yet settlements are the most complicated locations you’re likely to ever feature in your game, and the prospect of fully detailing one is daunting, especially if your PCs are likely to visit multiple settlements.

Presented below are basic rules for a more streamlined method of handling settlements in your game. Essentially, these rules treat settlements almost as characters of their own, complete with stat blocks. Using these rules, you can generate the vital data for a settlement quickly and efficiently, and with this data you can handle the majority of your players’ interactions with the settlement.

Note that for particularly large cities, you can use multiple settlement stat blocks to represent different districts within a city. This allows you to have neighborhoods with distinct characteristics inside one city’s walls. GMs should feel free to add other new elements to create the cities they desire.

The Settlement Stat Block

A settlement stat block is organized as follows.

Name The settlement’s name is presented first.

Max Liebermann (1847-1935) Title: Dutch Village road
Max Liebermann (1847-1935) Title: Dutch Village road

Alignment and Type A settlement’s alignment is the general alignment of its citizens and government—individuals who dwell therein can still be of any alignment, but the majority of its citizens should be within one step of the settlement’s overall alignment. Alignment influences a city’s modifiers. The type is the size category the settlement falls into, be it thorpe, hamlet, village, town (small or large), city (small or large), or metropolis. In most cases, rules play off of a settlement’s type rather than its exact population total. A settlement’s type determines many of its statistics (see Table: Settlement Statistics).

Modifiers Settlements possess six modifiers that apply to specific skill checks made in the settlement. A settlement’s starting modifier values are determined by its type. This value is further adjusted by the settlement’s alignment, government, qualities, and disadvantages. Note that introducing settlement modifiers to your game will somewhat increase the complexity of skill checks by adding a variable modifier each time the PCs visit a new town or city consider the use of these modifiers an optional rule.

Qualities All settlements have a certain number of qualities that further adjust their statistics – think of qualities as feats for settlements. A settlement’s type determines how many qualities it can have.

Danger A settlement’s danger value is a number that gives a general idea of how dangerous it is to live in the settlement. If you use wandering monster chart that uses percentile dice and ranks its encounters from lowest Cr to highest CR, use the modifier associated with the settlement’s danger value to adjust rolls on the encounter chart. A settlement’s base danger value depends on its type.

Settlement Population Ranges

A settlement’s population is left to the GM to assign, but you can use a settlement’s type to help you determine just how many folks live in the city. Since the actual number of people who dwell in a settlement has no impact on game play, the number you choose is largely cosmetic—feel free to adjust the suggested values below to fit
your campaign.

Settlement TypePopulation Range
ThorpFewer than 20
Small town201-2,000
Large town2,001-5,000
Small city5,001-10,000
Large city10,001-25,000
MetropolisMore than 25,000

Disadvantages Any disadvantages a settlement might be suffering from are listed on this line. A settlement can have any number of disadvantages you wish to inflict on it, although most settlements have no disadvantages.

Government This entry lists how the settlement is governed and ruled. The type of government a settlement follows affects its statistics.

Population This number represents the settlement’s population. Note that the exact number is flexible; a settlement’s actual population can swell on market days or dwindle during winter—this number lists the average population of the settlement.

Note that this number is generally used for little more than flavor—since actual population totals fluctuate, it’s pointless to tether rules to this number. After the settlement’s total population, a breakdown of its racial mix is listed in parentheses.

Notable NPCs This section lists any notable NPCs who live in the city, sorted by their role in the community, followed by their name and then their alignment, gender, race, class, and level in parentheses.

Base Value and Purchase Limit This section lists the community’s base value for available magic items in gp (see Table: Available Magic Items). There is a 75% chance that any item of this value or lower can be found for sale in the community with little effort. If an item is not available, a new check to determine if the item has become available can be made in 1 week. A settlement’s purchase limit is the most money a shop in the settlement can spend to purchase any single item from the PCs. If the PCs wish to sell an item worth more than a settlement’s purchase limit, they’ll either need to settle for a lower price, travel to A larger city, or (with the GM’s permission) search for a specific buyer in the city with deeper pockets. A settlement’s type sets its purchase limit.

Spellcasting Unlike magic items, spellcasting for hire is listed separately from the town’s base value, since spellcasting is limited by the level of the available spellcasters in town. This line lists the highest-level spell available for purchase from spellcasters in town. A town’s base spellcasting level depends on its type.

Minor Items/Medium Items/Major Items This line lists the number of magic items above a settlement’s base value that are available for purchase. In some city stat blocks, the actual items are listed in parentheses after the die range of items available – in this case, you can use these pre-rolled resources when the PCs first visit the city as the magic items available for sale on that visit. If the PCs return to that city at a later date, you can roll up new items as you see fit.

Settlement Statistics
TypeModifiersQualititesDangerBase LimitPurchase LimitSpellcasting
Thorp-41-1050 gp500 gp1st
Hamlet-21-5200 gp1,000 gp2nd
Village-120500 gp2,500 gp3rd
Small town0201,000 gp5,000 gp4th
Large town0352,000 gp10,000 gp5th
Small city+1454,000 gp25,000 gp6th
Large city+25108,000 gp50,000 gp7th
Metropolis+461016,000 gp100,000 gp8th
Available Magic Items

Community Size                           Base Value                                      Minor                                          Medium Major

Thorp50 gp1d4 items
Hamlet200 gp1d6 items
Village500 gp2d4 items1d4  items
Small town1,000 gp3d4 items1d6 items
Large town2,000 gp3d4 items2d4 items1d4 items
Small city4,000 gp4d4 items3d4 items1d6 items
Large city8,000 gp4d4 items3d4 items2d4 items
Metropolis16,000 gp*4d4 items3d4 items
* In a metropolis, nearly all minor magic items are available.

Guards! Guards!

Source Pathfinder RPG GameMastery Guide
Pieter de Hooch (1629–after 1684) Title Paying the Hostess Date circa 1658
Pieter de Hooch (1629 after 1684) Title Paying the Hostess Date circa 1658

It’s inevitable – sooner or later, the PCs will want to call upon the town guard or cause a situation where citizens do so instead. Calling for the guard requires a Diplomacy check modified by the settlement’s Law modifier. It’s only a DC 5 check to call for the guard—with a success, the guards generally arrive on the scene in 1d6 minutes. Every 5 points by which the Diplomacy check exceeds DC 5 (rounding down) reduces the arrival time by 1 minute—if this reduces their arrival time below 1 minute, the increments of reduction instead change to 1 round. For example, the party wizard is being mugged  and calls for the guard. The result of his Diplomacy check is a 23, and the GM rolls a 2 on 1d6 to determine how long it’ll be before the guards arrive. Since the wizard rolled three times the amount he needed, the 2-minute wait time is reduced to 8 rounds.

The following table shows example offenses and bribes which, if paid, can sometimes get one out of more severe punishment in a religious lawful evil city.

Public Lewdness5cp – 10 cp
Breaking the Peace1sp – 25 gp
Larceny (depending on severity)5sp – 100 gp
Assault10sp – 50 gp
Murder (depending on victim)200 – 20,000 gp
Blasphemy1,000 – 10,000 gp

Settlement Modifiers

Rembrandt (1606-1669) Title The Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild, known as the 'Sampling Officials' Date 1662
Rembrandt (1606-1669) Title The Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers’ Guild, known as the ‘Sampling Officials’ Date 1662

Life in a settlement is represented by six modifiers, each of which adjusts the use of specific skills within the city.


Settlement Alignment

A settlement’s alignment not only describes the community’s general personality and attitude, but also influences its modifiers.

  • A lawful component to a settlement’s alignment increases its Law modifier by 1.
  • A good component increases its Society modifier by 1.
  • A chaotic component increases its Crime modifier by 1.
  • An evil component increases its Corruption modifier by 1.
  • A neutral component increases its Lore modifier by 1
  • (a truly neutral city gains an increase of 2 to its Lore modifier).

Alignment never modifies a settlement’s Economy modifier.

Settlement Government

Just like nations, towns and cities are ruled by governments. A settlement’s government not only helps to establish the flavor and feel of the community but also adjusts its modifiers.


Magical-2+2-2increase spellcasting by 1 level.
Secret Syndicate+2+2+2-6
TheocracyDouble the modifiers for the settlement’s alignment. The settlement gains any one of the following qualities as a ‘bonus’ quality: Desecrate/Hallow, Holy Site, Pious, Racial Enclave, Racially Intolerant, Unholy Site.
Utopian Experiment-2-1+1+2

Settlement Qualities

By Unknown author - Энциклопедия для детей. Т. 35. История средних вековBnF, Public Domain,
By Unknown author – Энциклопедия для детей. Т. 35. История средних вековBnF, Public Domain,

Settlements often have unusual qualities that make them unique. Listed below are several different qualities that can further modify a community’s statistics. A settlement’s type determines how many qualities it can have -once a quality is chosen, it cannot be changed.

Note that many of the following qualities adjust a town’s base value or purchase limit by a percentage of the town’s standard values. If a town has multiple qualities of this sort, add together the percentages from modifiers and then increase the base value by that aggregated total -do not apply the increases one at a time.

Animal Polyglot
Artist’s Colony
City of the Dead
Cruel Watch
Famed Breeders
Financial Center
Free City
God Ruled
Good Roads
Holy Site
Legendary Marketplace
Living Forest
Magically Attuned
Magical Polyglot
Mobile: Frontlines
Mobile: Sanctuary
Morally Permissive
Planar Crossroads
Planned Community
Pocket Universe
Population Surge
Racially Intolerant
Racial Enclave
Resettled Ruins
Religious Tolerance
Royal Accommodations
Rumormongering Citizens
Sacred Animals
Slumbering Monster
Small-Folk Settlement
Strategic Location
Trading Post
Tourist Attraction
Unholy Site
Well Educated

Settlement Disadvantages

Just as a settlement can have unusual qualities to enhance its statistics, it can also suffer from disadvantages. There’s no limit to the number of disadvantages a community can suffer, but most do not have disadvantages, since a settlement plagued by disadvantages for too long eventually collapses. A disadvantage can arise as the result of an event or action taken by a powerful or influential NPC or PC. Likewise, by going on a quest or accomplishing A noteworthy deed, a group of heroes can remove a settlement’s disadvantage.

Bureaucratic Nightmare
Magically Deadened
Magical Dead Zone
Rampant Inflation
Soul Crushing
Wild Magic Zone

Sample Settlements

While it’s nice to be prepared, and planning out cities can be fun in and of itself, it’s not always possible to generate specific settlement stat blocks for every town and city that the PCs might visit. Sometimes the PCs decide to venture off in search of supplies instead of heading straight for the next dungeon, other times they make selling their newly acquired loot their highest priority. The following sample settlements are designed for precisely such occasions. Rather than a specific name, each of these sample settlements bears a generic title that indicates what kind of settlement it is or where it might be located.

Section 15: Copyright Notice – Pathfinder RPG GameMastery Guide

Pathfinder RPG GameMastery Guide, © 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors: Cam Banks, Wolfgang Baur, Jason Bulmahn, Jim Butler, Eric Cagle, Graeme Davis, Adam Daigle, Joshua J. Frost, James Jacobs, Kenneth Hite, Steven Kenson, Robin Laws, Tito Leati, Rob McCreary, Hal Maclean, Colin McComb, Jason Nelson, David Noonan, Richard Pett, Rich Redman, Sean K Reynolds, F. Wesley Schneider, Amber Scott, Doug Seacat, Mike Selinker, Lisa Stevens, James L. Sutter, Russ Taylor, Penny Williams, Skip Williams, Teeuwynn Woodruff.

Section 15: Copyright Notice – Cityscapes: New Settlement Options for the Pathfinder RPG


Cityscapes: New Settlement Options for the Pathfinder RPG © 2012, Otherverse Games; Author: Chris A. Field.

Scroll to Top