Fantasy setting, Lord of the Rings style, homebrewed into a D&D campaign. Magic exists, although strong casters are fairly rare. Our group are strongly built males only, recently saved from slavery by the protagonists, and asked by them to make a town and a base of operations for the protagonists. As they are a nice group of people who are thankful for their freedom, and fearful that their previous captors will come back for them, want to remain on our protagonist's good side.

The protagonists are very strong warriors (2 of them are great spell casters) and have very strong political influence in the world. They will not only hail the town, but lead people there. They also intend to establish novelty Teleportation Circles between points of the world, and one of them will be here (possibly the first one in this continent). This will eventually spur the growth of the town and make it (in some years) one of the great commerce centers of the world.

The group of 70 freed slaves arrives to the bay in their stolen galleon. They go ashore in their boats and have been tasked with building a functioning city in the bay. The weather is cool, large forests surround the bay, whose large size (10km across, 20km until it opens into the ocean) allows for a gigantic city to be planned out.

The closest known cities are maybe 60km away (although smaller villages may be nearer) and the slaves have few resources, aside from the Galleon which brought them, some tools, and some coin. The slaves have many varied skills, so lets assume someone will know how to do something at all times. Their leader, a wise swordsman, decides to lay out the plans for the future Freedom Town. He assigns groups of people to each task, sets priorities and goals (short and long term).

What is the task list he makes?

I was going with Short Term:

  • Food and fresh water first. Search parties to locate both are dispatched within the day
  • Start clearing the woods, building rudimentary shelters, and building tools
  • A militia is trained to avoid marauders and other dangers
  • City is planned, layered around beach, with large roads being planned between districts to incite future commerce
  • Houses and workshops start being built. Mostly small homesteads with lots of farmland. Eventually, blacksmithing, wood-working, ship-building, leather working, and a small herbal medical station
  • A steady supply of fresh water is found by then, hunting is providing food for all the group, people are starting to have a regular work-life

Long term:

  • Galleon is dismantled to build both a port, and some smaller boats (for fishing)
  • A city hall is built, leaders for each area of commerce are found among the slaves
  • Freedom Town starts making roads towards closest road to incite trading routes
  • Other people eventually flood in (from political influence, disasters in other cities, novelty teleportation circles being deployed in Freedom Town, etc), a commerce system is made, salaries are defined by the city hall, and the city starts slowly expanding
  • Eventually, schools, walls, hospitals, and other highly sophisticated buildings are built

1) Is this list reasonable, or are there different priorities when colonizing a new patch of land from scratch? Did I forget something important, or could this plan actually work?

2) Also, how does the economic system start out? In the beginning, everyone is working for everyone. Is it a city hall decision to eventually start paying salaries when enough gold has been made available by commerce? Or are the people who trade and barter the ones to create the economic revolution?

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    $\begingroup$ You've got 70 people. That is, at most a big village, nothing more. With no other villages or cities nearby: Why would your settlement grow to any size in any acceptable timeframe? (you say not many strong casters - so time-travelling seems to be off the chart) $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 17:17
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ People haven't settled there yet. 60km is a reasonable distance to travel for a better economic opportunity especially if it's over water. This implies that there is some compelling reason not to live there. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 17:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Other people won't have a reason to move there. Even if your 70 starting population are especially fecund, it will be a long time before it could become a city. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 17:29
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I understand that you want this to be the foundation to a metropolis, but that will take a lot of time. These initial builders will not be going around and building the various guild houses, merchant areas, crafting districs, etc. They will build whatever they need at the moment and thereafter build whatever will be needed when it is needed. No one will plan for a city for >50k people at this point, they will plan a town for ~100; they simply have no way to foresee what will be needed or where to place it best. Give it a 100 years or so and it will have grown to the city you want. $\endgroup$
    – Mrkvička
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 17:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ On your to do list there is not "picking a place of high defensible value". I'd think about it. Galleon has got higher sale value than scrap value. It isn't possible to sell it? $\endgroup$
    – Shadow1024
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 19:24

1 Answer 1


The definition of incite is: to encourage or stir up (violent or unlawful behavior). ... You say the slaves go ashore having been tasked with...Wait, didn't you say they were free? Why would they not just leave? You have to justify them staying around. Here's a hint: few in their right mind are going to hang around a place with no women. Here's another hint: Feeding 70 people is going to make a big hole in the native animal life. This competition with the locals is going to lead to conflict sooner rather than later. Given that they are starting from scratch, it makes no sense to assert that they'll build their (70??) huts in order to accommodate roads, shops, inns, etc. etc. for a city of thousands. The idea of 70 men without women is going to work is delusional. Since they're starting from scratch, they've nothing to attract the local girls, so I guess rape and kidnapping will be high on their "to do" list. And unless you assume that there's no king or local government which has a military force strong enough to eradicate them, then they'll not last long. But 70 is a lot of people, so if there is no real opposition, rather than just settling in to some virgin forest, why not have them attack a village of a couple hundred, execute all of the men, and take the women for themselves? A much more reasonable solution. (I realize this breaks the fairy tale that people are inherently good). IMHO, 70 is too large a group to work with starting from scratch. There will not be enough resources (not at the needed density) and so there will be a lot of in-fighting (unless they take what they need from others). The most likely scenario, after they get off the boat, is that they'll scatter with the peaceable types building their own (widely separated, out of necessity) homestead, and the more aggressive types becoming raiders (or pirates). Sorry to rain on your parade. Of course, magic can solve all problems. Since there is nothing magic can not do, by definition, the only problems you have to solve without it are by choice. Enchant the men, enchant the wildlife, enchant local girls, enchant the ground, etc. etc.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That is an excellent point, the fact that women are also a necessity for the town, I hadn't thought of that. Despite being freed, the slaves are wanted by former owners and want to thank the protagonists somehow. Building this town such that our protagonists had a safe haven to fall back into was their deal. $\endgroup$
    – BlueMoon93
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 17:52
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    $\begingroup$ @BlueMoon93 It's all hard to imagine. Most likely scenario is to use the galleon (GALLEON! a fully oceanworthy ship which can sail anywhere, did you perhaps mean galley? those are somewhat limited in where they can safely go) to go somewhere where slavery is banned and join existing settlements. $\endgroup$
    – M i ech
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 20:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @BlueMoon93 if you've already set the 70ppl in stone, have some of them ditch the group/craft at some harbor/shore they stop on earlier, down to a reasonable size (maybe 30-40?). $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, plus women are essential for OTHER PREINDUSTRIAL WORK. I mentioned in a comment to the main question that blithely telling 70 LONE FIGHTERS to "found a city" is naive at best. Unless these ex-slaves are part-time militia who already had other jobs in the off-season, most soldiers spend their lives fighting, and they would NOT know how to build a house, farm land, make pottery, or... do anything related to "city-work." 70 whole FAMILIES would be my minimum as a "founding population," and that's still scraping by. $\endgroup$
    – Jamie L.
    Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 17:26

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