World Building – Constructing a City

Okay! Today we’re going to take a step by step look at building a city, though not actual mapmaking or sketching this time. I still need to find a good site or app for that. Currently, I still do that by hand… Now, you could obviously do this on your own by winging it and pulling numbers and facts out of thin air on the fly. Your standard city needs a certain amount of people, obviously, but beyond that, you also want to consider:

  • Geography
  • Demographics
  • Economy
  • Entertainment
  • Infrastructure
  • Government
  • Education
  • Media
  • And anything else that comes to mind

Honestly, you can put as much or as little work into it as you want or need, but again, the more YOU know about your world, the more real it will feel to you and your audience. 

Today, I’m going to be building a city for my current WIP. Now, the generator I’m using doesn’t have a futuristic setting so I’ll probably have to make some modifications along the way. So, let’s get to it and see what happens!

Here we can see I’m using the RanGen site I mentioned in the previous World Building post. Below, you can see the stats that have been generated for my city.

This is a template or an example to work with. If you don’t like what was generated the first time, you can always retry or modify it to your desires. I will be doing the latter. haha So yes, my city is going to be large, especially considering it is located on a colonized planet (Earth 3.0 – officially known as LDECV-02 (Long Distance Exploration and Colonization Vessel 2) since it was claimed by Terran tech) and it has a large spaceship port for off world ships to load and unload their cargo.

Notable areas give you a lot of freedom to play with. I will not be using an insane asylum as that’s just not something that is prevalent in my universe. However, notable things here would include a multi-species Red Light District within the city perimeter as well as a collection of rare goods and novelty shops in the Shipping District. Outside of the city, the government offers flora and fauna tours to see the planetary wildlife in their natural environment. Anyone want to suggest a creature or two? haha

I can work with the financial status (increasing) and the local government (competent) here. Most shipping cities would have an increasing financial status and to work well, the government should be competent. I’ll also add this is a diplomacy based city with a Mayor who is generally in charge and a council voted in every few years to help guide and steady his leadership. For growth and development, it wouldn’t be rare here. The city is established but still expanding and constantly trying to capitalize on the environment around them. This city isn’t located directly near the oceans on this planet but there is fast speed travel that could make such outings and tours possible in the near future.

Given that, public services are NOT very expensive. This city could eventually try to turn into a haven for the super rich or the very wealthy, but for now, it’s more of a general commercial district that is accessible to the local populous and anyone who is able to afford a ship – possible for more than you’d think if you’re willing to sign a contract for one. But watch out for the fine print… But back to the city here, the crime rate would be next to nonexistent. Oh, not because it doesn’t actually exist but more because it’s pseudo-sanctioned in the ‘black market.’ The rare goods and novelty stores exist and sometimes operate with what one might consider contraband or illicit goods, but so long as they keep the dealings in the back and give the city a cut, they’re left well enough alone. Beyond that, the minor scuffle does happen and sometimes things do get out of hand – it happens when you’ve got irate Varium or Moladhi who are engaging in combat with Terrans after all, but it’s not what one would call rampant. Since this is also an established city, there would be other species that come by from time to time and interspecies interactions are strictly maintained so as to continue coming back with a clean record. Breaking the unspoken rules can result in being blacklisted – a fate no trader, merchant, or individual of means desires anywhere.

Taking a look at the next three, the cost of living in the heart of the city would be pricy. Not unexpectedly, given the selection of attractions and amenities around them. But like most larger cities, further out there would be more affordable housing for those that can pay for it, and at the very edges of many Terran cities, there is housing for the undesirables or the destitute – people who have fallen on hard times or are sick or maimed and have no way to recover without funds. No one is homeless but… that’s not to say the conditions are all that good. There are still jobs available to them, but the pay is not so good. Given that, the employment prospects here are not so good and that tracks. Most modern cities have a lot of automation to take care of the regular and menial tasks that Terrans traditionally held in the past and a lot of typical jobs are for those where judgement calls need to be made: like law and politics; for entertainment purposes: like influencers, general entertainers, and such; research and science, though these are often modified by AI assistance, and so on. And rounding out our options here, public transportation will be quite good, especially in the heart of the city. On the outskirts, you have to pay for a hover cab to come get you or walk a fair distance to get to a hover train station, but generally, citizens and guests have no trouble getting around. If you’ve seen the movie The Fifth Element, transportation is kind of like that but with fewer individual cars and more public transit options such as trains and buses, individual hover tubes that run under the city, hover bike lanes (existing on a separate level just above the pedestrians on the ground), public transport and courier lanes (above the hover bike lanes); and then you have the general traffic lanes. Parking can sometimes be an issue so a lot of people just opt to use public transport.

Now let’s take a look at Appearance. Overall, mine would be flat. The terraforming and colonization process would have made sure of it for the shipping cities especially. Urbanization would likely be at 60% or higher for this city as well so that’s acceptable. There aren’t that many natural places in this city in particular. The construction level is advanced and likely to stay that way since they want to keep their prestige and continue to attract high end customers and tourists from other worlds. Similarly, the general upkeep would be high, as well as the street condition, though obviously in the outer regions… maybe not so much. As they say, out of sight, out of mind and if the city doesn’t have to spend that money to keep the people that matter happy, they probably won’t. 

And finally we can take a look at the people. As mentioned, because this is a shipping city, it does have a large population, but the contentment is generally high. The shippers are a bit miffed half the time due to taxes and custom payments, but the citizens are happy overall. Well, maybe not the undesirable, but their opinion doesn’t really matter for all intents and purposes. The racial diversity here is more of a species diversity. Since it’s a Terran colonized planet, there are more Terrans living in the city, but other species like the Moladhi, Varium, and Dawbn are welcome since they coexist very easily. Sometimes you might see a Kyanwa or a Bagis, but they’re not as easy to accommodate in typical Terran sized buildings. Not surprisingly, shipping cities would have a more tolerant view of other species as well. Smaller cities that have less contact are known to be a bit more conservative or wary, but this one is quite friendly. Mostly. They haven’t had much experience with the Yeunamba or the Halcsapos so that could change if they encountered one of those species but on average, they’re friendly. And accents… aren’t really a thing in my world. Not unless you’re specifically trying to learn another species’ language as there are universal translators that everyone is implanted with at birth so as to make communication possible for everyone. There are some known instances where people well off the grid don’t have this tech and have developed strong accents accordingly, but they are not usually encountered in large cities.

Okay. That covers the information here. Let’s sum everything up in a redone chart, shall we?

Type of Settlement

Port / Shipping City

Size of Settlement

Large (1000 km2 or more) – I looked at Los Angeles for a reference

Notable Areas

A multi-species red light district; a collection of rare goods and novelty shops; flora and fauna tours to see the natural wildlife

General

Financial status

Increasing

Local government

Competent (democracy based with a mayor and governing council voted in every few years)

Growth / development

Constant and expanding

Public services

Affordable for the majority

Crime rate

Next to nonexistent (pseudo-sanctioned)

Cost of living

High in the city center but manageable further out and government funded in the outskirts (poor upkeep though)

Employment prospects

Relatively low due to automation processes and robots / AI

Public transport

Everywhere – except in the outskirts where it’s only minimal

Appearance

Overall appearance

Generally flat

Urban area

60% or higher – there aren’t many natural areas in the city

General construction level

High

General level of upkeep

High

General street condition

High

People

Population

Large (likely more than 20 million people) – googled cities with largest populations and used those as a guide

Level of contentment

Relatively high

Racial diversity

Majority Terran but there are plenty of Moladhi, Varium, and Dawbn as well

Attitudes towards visitors

Welcoming and friendly

Regional accent

Next to non-existent due to universal translators

If you would like to download an updated template version with additional examples and explanations for yourself for your own stories or something like D&D, feel free to access them here:

Type of Settlement Outline Template – Word Version

Type of Settlement Outline Template – PDF Version

Oh! I almost forgot. I need to name my city, don’t I? haha Anyone have any suggestions or recommendations? I haven’t decided yet but I’m all ears. Thank you and I hope you have a lovely day!

Also, Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there! ^_^

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