How do run a town or village with dozens of locations?

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I'm going to be running a published adventure soon that features a village with about 30 locations on a map of the village. Each location has a detailed entry usually with NPCs.

Can anyone advise me how to present these locations to the players? Should I show them the map and a key to locations? Read out the list? Just mention the place the PCs come to first and introduce links the other locations via NPCs? Try to describe the locations as the PCs explore the village?

Or is there a better way I'm completely missing?

I don't want to spend ages detailing the village and boring the players, but then again I don't want to skip over places they might find interesting. 
I would just show them a map with a key and let them explore the town as they see fit. What they find interesting may surprise you. This also lets the characters steer the direction of the story and makes things feels more organic.
Also, may I ask what published adventure you aer running? I'm just curious as I'm looking for a town like that which has a lot of locations.
This is where collaborative creation shines.

I had the same problem, with a town from a module. I didn't like the layout or really anything about the town, and wasn't sure how to present it to my players, so when the time came, I had us all brainstorm the details. I set some parameters, and then asked them leading questions about what their characters saw, and things their characters couldn't possibly know. We ended up with a town that they've been eagerly "exploring" for weeks, and it's much more engaging to us all than what was in the module, because we all helped build it. Any one of them could describe very interesting details about it.

Don't detail the village. Find out what your players are interested in, and work with them to detail those parts of the village. Generally just brainstorm and take notes. They'll be more engaged, and care a lot more about it. Description is famous for going in one ear and out the other.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Also, may I ask what published adventure you aer running? I'm just curious as I'm looking for a town like that which has a lot of locations.


It's actually the next Encounters adventure without giving too much away.

I'm quite happy with the village and the locations, but I just want to present it in such a way as to not  bewilder the players, but also not be too meta-gamey, and not make the players feel they need to visit every house.

I'm quite happy with the village and the locations, but I just want to present it in such a way as to not  bewilder the players, but also not be too meta-gamey, and not make the players feel they need to visit every house.

Give a very high-level description, telling them only about 3 things that set this village apart from any other. Let them assume that anything you don't mention is entirely standard.

If something interesting doesn't get explored, leave it.

Don't bother with more detail unless they specifically interact with some location or NPC. Even then, don't expect them to remember anything they don't come up with themselves. If you find yourself spending any time correcting people on details about the city, you're probably wasting that time. Try to roll with the players' recollections of what they've heard.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Also, may I ask what published adventure you aer running? I'm just curious as I'm looking for a town like that which has a lot of locations.


It's actually the next Encounters adventure without giving too much away.

I'm quite happy with the village and the locations, but I just want to present it in such a way as to not  bewilder the players, but also not be too meta-gamey, and not make the players feel they need to visit every house.




When I saw your post, I wondered if you we're talking about the new Encounters season.  I will be DMing it too.  From my perusal of the module (I have to be careful of what I say.  We can't spoil anything here), it appears that the intention of this season's module is to have your adventurers explore the town, but don't worry, you have everything you need to allow them "free roam".

At the beginning of every season, I usually sit down with a highlighter pen and read the whole thing through, highlighting important points and I also make notes in the margins, drawing arrows to places where the info is applicable.  As you begging reading this adventure, you'll see that as the party begins their journey toward Hommel Lane, you will already have been seeding the story with some places and people that they should check out when they arrive.

i will probably either copy the map from page 13 or redraw it, and give it to the players when they arrive.    I may or may not give them a key to the locations. if they are looking for a certain place or person, I may just have them roleplay as they ask for directions. 

The Encounters program is making an effort to facilitate more exploration and roleplay in the recent seasons (as opposed to just a thinly-veiled inevitable combat encounter), and to the writer's credit, they have provided a rich cast of townsfolk that saves you from the hard work.  Heck yeah... Let them walk around this town and meet some of the quirky residents.  Without saying too much, you'd be robbiing them a little of this season's spirit if you didn't!

Too, if you'd like to discuss the Encounters adventures in an area where you can be a little more spoilery, visit the Encounters Groups where fellow DMs discuss this stuff in more detail.  

Here...        community.wizards.com/dungeonsanddragons...
What should a DM do if someone misremembers a detail about the town? Stop things and correct them? Take what they say literally and embarass the PCs? Say "Yes, and..."?

(Edit: I applaud Wizards for trying to put in more detail, but there are known problems with having a mass of details. I hope the session advises how to use it. I gather that it doesn't, leaving DMs to sink or swim with this new focus, which I would expect to lead to more people having a low opinion of that side of the game.)

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I freaking hate posting stuff on this blasted IPad... It changes words and takes twice as long to do anything because of its.  Sorry... After seeing stuff in my last post, had to rant.

 After about eight hours in any small town or village the party will pretty much know where everything is, so just give them the map. Especially for an Encounters season, gloss over any place it's not imperative they visit or any person they're not going to be having an important coversation with - since Encounters is pretty much a "Go here, do this. Go there, do that." scenario with time constrants, the party will almost certainly not visit all 30 of those locations on your map even though WotC provided a more fleshed out exploration-friendly adventure this time. If your players have a copy of the map with the locations marked on it, if they're interested in something that's not part of the adventure they'll more than likely ask about it on their own.
  Do, however, drop an occasional mention of important locations they're passing by or people they've previously met, particularly places/people that they'll be needing to return to/speak to again in the near future because they're relevant to whatever the party's currently involved in. For example, if the priest at the town church is going to play an important part at some point in the adventure, make sure to mention on more than one occasion that they can see the spire or the bell tower of the church over the roofs of the buildings from pretty much anywhere in town, and have the priest walk past them and greet them, maybe even give them a blessing on their way out of town to go kill monsters.

  Descriptions of minor people and places can be colorful if they are given but should be kept to a sentence or two - describe brief scenes rather than individuals. You can do a lot to illustrate life in a small town or village and give it flavor while spending less than five minutes over the space of an hour doing it.

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