City Sites (1994)

TSR’s low key embrace of generic D&D material in the 90s (that is, stuff intended for insertion in homebrew games rather than explicitly tied to the lore and history of the various official campaign settings) is kind of surprising to me. I didn’t know there was quite so much of it until recently, even. I am not sure how I would have reacted to it back in the day, either, but I can tell you that I sure love it now.

This is City Sites (1994), and it is basically TSR ripping off the format of the Flying Buffalo series of Citybooks (which had been kicking around since 1982). What you get is a number of, well, city sites — some public locations, some business. Details on the NPC proprietors, the history, floor plans, adventure seeds and more are provided, so you can plop these locations into any city in your homebrew game as needed. I love this sort of modular material (see also Sprawl Sites) — over 25 years later, this book is still just as useful as the day it hit shelves.

There’s a fortified gate, a couple of public temples, a fountain, several shops and taverns. My favorite is the stable, where far more is going on than meets the eye. The jewelry store and its clever security system is pretty good too. All the locations seem designed to make their city feel lived it and to encourage player activity outside the loop of rest/explore/loot/return that D&D so often veers into, which I appreciate.

Cool maps, but scant art aside of the exteriors. That’s a Jennell Jaquays cover (signed in that bearded fellow’s chest), which feels sort of surprising to me, because I can’t think of another Jaquays painting without a monster in it. I like it though, it has a good fantasy city vibe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *