Map Tutorial 19 (Part 1): How Settlements Begin

Throughout the development of the Walkabout roleplaying game, I've been seriously considering how settlements start from a tiny encampment, then gradually tend to grow larger and more prosperous, or dwindle and fade away (many settlements go through multiple phases of growth and contraction throughout their histories).

Since I've been drawing a lot of maps depicting post apocalyptic settlements, it has led me to develop certain patterns when building up an outpost of civilization for the characters to encounter in the game. Such outposts may begin as single buildings, but if people wish to remain in such locations they need something to keep them there...this might come in the form of trade, local resources or strategic importance for the settlement. This has basically been the way many villages, towns, and cities were founded.

Tutorial 16 vaguely touched on the way settlements might be located in the grand scheme of the local region, but it didn't look at how the town actually develops within itself. Tutorial 4 gave some ideas about how to draw specific buildings based on their roofing styles. But a bit of theory in social development might help to make the layout of towns more realistic and contextual for the setting in which they are found.

Like every other tutorial in this series, consider the theories here to be new tools to add to your cartographic toolkit. You can choose to use them, ignore them, or use them as starting points to develop something new of your own.


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