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I'm having a hard time finding inspiration for an Urban adventure set in a fantasy world. I have always run wilderness adventures or dungeon crawls.

The adventure I'm designing is based in a Port city with a fairly large population. Merchants, Sailors, Pirates, and a very bureaucratic Port Authority are some of the aspects that I plan on including in this adventure. What I'm asking for is a list of adventures (published, home brew, or 3rd party) that could help me overcome my writers block. They don't have to be d20, I can always adapt the mechanics to fit my campaign. Ideally, I would like it to be a skill-check for my players.

Thanks in advance.

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8 Answers 8

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Have you checked into Green Ronin's Freeport? It describes most of what you're looking for, and has enough adventure hooks to fill a tackle box. Plus, there are guides that convert it to just about every d20 system you might want to play (True20 is my favorite of them, but there's Pathfinder as well).

Hope this helps!

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I've read through some samples of the Freeport series on the True20 website. Which adventures would you suggest for urban fighting, political intrigue, and espionage? –  MarkP Aug 8 '11 at 18:49
    
The classic Death in Freeport trilogy is all those plus some deathtraps and sea caves. All Freeport adventures are into urban intrigue, however, that's their deal in general. And then the Pirate's Guide (setting book) has loads of hooks, and the add-on setting books Cults of Freeport is perfect for in-town (Buccaneers of Freeport is OK for that but a bit more seafaring friendly). –  mxyzplk Aug 8 '11 at 23:29
    
Though the answers thus far are great, I think the Freeport series is what I'm looking for. –  MarkP Aug 9 '11 at 12:16

The Wire, season 2. It is all centred around the dock in Baltimore: drug traffic, girl traffic, and dockers unions. All of that could be easily converted into an set of adventures: Help rescue girls before they are shipped to slave island. Help drug dealers (or demon magicians) either escape or get supplies in the city -- knowingly or not. Finally, you have docks. Two gangs decide to get in and unionise (sorry, make a guild) and have a racketing ring (sorry, provide a better, saver service).

Film noire. Any of them. All of them. Corrupt officials, McGuffins, femme fatal, dark alleys, and black cats. If your players are up to some detective work, any of those can be easily converted.

Wild west, the reality. Not the Hollywood myth but the real things. Gold rush, ghost towns, cowboys coming and causing trouble, saloons and gambling (whoring), and of course, the law. Look at Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp at Tombstone for what could be a very very good game indeed. Frontier towns are great, as they allow not only city expansion, greed, but all sorts of "bad things" to come in and out.

Wild West, the fantasy. Pretty much the same as above but now with added myths: seven samurai/magnificent seven, Unforgiven, Once Upon a Time in the West, ten to Yuma... Countless things to be converted.

Beowulf. This is a classical city tale with monster, their Mum turning up to complain, and finally a dragon.

Disc World Anything set in Ankh Morpork (so mostly the guards serie) by Terry Pratchet. Countless source of adventures: What about orcs in the City guards? What about Troll right? How about the characters are the night watch and have to deal with all those pesky, irritating, and stupid adventurers?

Night Watch, Day Watch, Twilight Watch, Last Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko can give you plenty of ideas for a more magical setting. It's modern urban fantasy.

Dresden Files by Jim Butcher should need no introduction.

Kitty Norville by Carrie Vaughn should be a read. Radio talk show, werewolves, and a very real character. Her books are awesome nonetheless.

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I would look for Shadowrun adventure hooks. The setting is different but the basic thought behind them is the same. Information that would be aquired through the Net will have to come from investigation/ written documents. Instead of a mega corp complex its a magicians tower, nobles home/keep. And the underworld still exists on pretty much the same level in fantasy/mid-evil as it does in Shadowrun. There are shadows and sewers and slums in both places.

Warhammer(fantasy roleplay) also has a signifigant number urban adventures. You will probably want to change some of the back story but mutant monster is a mutant monster if it is caused by chaos or just some crazy wizard.

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I totally agree with the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay option. In the second edition, you can find adventure plots for almost any city, for example in the Ashes of Middenheim or Sigmar's Heirs books. –  Kzu Dec 9 '13 at 9:19

If you haven't seen Vornheim yet, you should at least take a look. It contains two actual adventures, but it's mainly a lot of D&D edition neutral material for designing and running cities on the fly. It might be a good source of ideas, and it's definitely handy as a backup for when the players wander outside the range of your notes.

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It's not reference material for a system. but Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files is a mystery-fantasy book based in modern Chicago with a Fate 3.0 game Dresden Files RPG based off of the series. Either one could possibly help.

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+1 for suggesting Dresden even if I did it too -- but you were faster on the post. –  Sardathrion Aug 8 '11 at 16:05

Whenever I think of urban anything for fantasy I think of Ptolus. It's a colossal book that was the playtest arena for Monte Cook as he developed 3rd Edition D&D. The main book itself only has a tiny intro adventure but that entire thing is chock full of plot hooks and ideas. The original book is hard to find in physical form (also expensive) but it's readily available in PDF and now POD (print on demand) through DriveThruRPG. Also on DriveThruRPG you can get specific chapters from the book for different districts within the setting allowing for further ease of attaching your preferred system. There was also an adventure (The Night of Dissolution) published but I don't know much about it.

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If (and only if) you can read Swedish...

Kandra (sorry, I have yet to find a decent web page for this module) is a city module for the Swedish RPG "Drakar och Demoner", but most of it is rather system-unspecific. It is not a port city, but would probably be a good inspiration for the "not part of the actual port" parts of the city.

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Night of a Thousand Screams is a Legend of the Five Rings adventure (one of the earliest, and one of the best :) set entirely in Ryoko Owari, on the night of the Bon Festival. Very action-oriented, with a little bit of mystery.

The box set City of Secrets, again for L5R, was a an entire campaign set in Ryoko Owari. Lots of intrigue and politics.

City of Thieves was a Fighting Fantasy novel (number 5), set in a city.

Khare, Cityport of Traps, was one of the Sorcery game books, pretty much all set in an Urban environment.

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