One hundred ‘street scenes’ for Medieval settlements

Gentle Reader: this list has been formatted as a free .pdf download for your use; you can get the file by clicking here or visiting our Free Downloads page.

Many fantasy role-playing game adventures contain scenes set in Medieval cities, towns or villages. Although published adventures will contain information necessary to further the adventure’s plot, they usually don’t contain much else. This situation places the game master in the unenviable place of presenting only information relevant to the adventure; doing so makes it more difficult for the game master to present the settlement as bustling with activity, while at the same time making the adventure far easier for the heroes.

d100-explanationIt is for this reason that the list below was generated. The next time a player asks what is happening on the street, a quick percentile roll or five on the table below will fill your town with activity, some of which may even lead to adventure.

  1. A juggler performs on the street.
  2. A street preacher makes a loud, public sermon on the back of a wagon. He is a man of the local religion’s cloth and will not stop preaching for anything less than the drastic.
  3. A crier tells of a prominent minstrel’s upcoming performance.
  4. A teamster is hauling a wagonload of pig iron with a team of two straining oxen. His destination is a blacksmith shop.
  5. A woman carrying a stack of books trips in front of the party and falls over, scattering her books everywhere.
  6. A street hawker is peddling tin wares; he bangs two tin pots together to punctuate his sales messages. 
  7. A pane of glass falls out of a window. It shatters on the street. 
  8. Two wagons recently collided. The respective teamsters have managed to clear the road and are calmly sorting the matter out with the watch.
  9. A pedagogue passes by, with about six noble children following behind her like ducklings. 
  10. A group of unruly foreigners walk down the street, laughing and having a good time. Some might be drinking, even this early in the morning.
  11. Several kids are jumping into a hay wagon or large snowdrift from a second story window.
  12. A merchant briskly approaches, accompanied by a handful of servants. One carries a large stack of papers, another is taking sheets of parchment from the pile and placing them on the back of the third man, upon which the merchant is signing the documents. 
  13. Marching at double-time, a group of watchmen passes the party. They barely notice the heroes.
  14. A street performer leads his trained bear through the streets. Other passers-by give the animal a wide berth, even though it is muzzled.
  15. A group of children playing “Thieves and Sheriffs” charge across the street, some of whom take cover behind the heroes’ legs. At the DM’s discretion, some of the youngsters may really be thieves . . . 
  16. A beautiful young girl, dressed in noble attire, travels down the street with a heavily-armed and armored escort, who wears a visored helm. 
  17. A produce vendor’s cart rolls by. The proprietor is singing quite well as he strolls past.
  18. A group of laborers are carrying large, unmarked crates from a wagon into a warehouse or tavern. 
  19. An artist is hawking his paintings from an unhitched wagon.
  20. A group of young rakes pour out of a bar, laughing loudly.
  21. A homeless beggar sits cross-legged at an intersection, begging bowl in hand.
  22. A bored-looking clergyman stands next to a statue, marker or other monument.
  23. The heroes notice a humanoid figure following them slowly. If they stop and wait in the shadows for the figure to pass, it turns down a side street and disappears.
  24.  Two fast-talking men are holding a shell game at a nearby corner. Ironically, the game is somewhat straight, but a third associate circulates through the crowd, picking the pockets of those who stay to watch.
  25. A watermelon falls onto the street, splattering everywhere. It was thrown out of a third story window during a domestic dispute.
  26. A townsman strolls along, humming a popular tavern song.
  27. A woman walks by, carrying a large wicker cage full of white doves.
  28. A bedraggled priest approaches the party, asking them to divest themselves of all wealth or suffer the eternal consequences of avarice.
  29. A grossly fat nobleman waddles past; he looks down his nose as the heroes as he passes.
  30. A beautiful woman is buying a swath of fine fabric from a street vendor.
  31. A small group of young men listen in rapt horror to an old man’s war stories outside a tavern.
  32. A man walks by with a snake around his shoulders.
  33. A watchman, oblivious to his surroundings, indulges in a herring pie.
  34. A group of watch cadets pass the group, taking part in their daily run. 
  35. A clearly lost man, trying to hold a very large map open, asks the heroes for help. He doesn’t speak the local language at all, but repeats the name of the place he is looking for over and over while gesturing at the map. For bonus weirdness, the place he is looking for is a bit peculiar (“flesh house”, “gate place”, “human living location”).
  36. A wealthy-looking couple, dressed to impress, passes by. The heroes overhear the woman saying, “I’m sorry your wife left you for your stepfather…”
  37. A group of limners are constructing a scaffold next to a nearby building. Most of the men stand in an uneven circle smoking corncob pipes, watching the youngest member of the group doing most of the work.
  38. A “performer” from a well-known cat house dances on the corner, while a crier calls out the place’s hours of operation.
  39. The night soil cart is making its rounds, stopping every 20 feet while two men empty chamber pots into a great cauldron in the cart.
  40. A group of children runs out of a tavern, with the waiter or owner in pursuit. Some of the youngsters are still chewing.
  41. A preoccupied drunk obliviously runs into one of the heroes and yells, ”Out of my way, you clumsy oaf!” 
  42. A wizard drifts by on a flying carpet, hovering about a foot above the ground. She sneers at the heroes, looking at them as if they were beggars.
  43. A cleric, carrying a book and a sack of vegetables, walks down the side of the street. He smiles politely and walks on.
  44. A group of rough-looking teenagers lay about on a corner, looking slantwise at everyone who walks by, and itching for a fight.
  45. A pale-looking person walks down the street, stops in front of the heroes, starts coughing, and vomits on the cobblestones.
  46. A wagon is causing traffic problems as it tries to back up two blocks; the teamster missed his destination.
  47. “Peace cultists” assail the heroes, offering flowers and chanting, “May your days be full of happiness.”
  48. An acting troupe puts on a performance. They encourage the audience to participate in their interactive play.
  49. A street musician plays a lute, with a small, wooden tankard set upon the ground in front of him. A few copper coins can be seen in the tankard.
  50. While walking past a temple, a hero is struck in the back with rotten fruit (in warmer months) or a snowball (in winter).  The only person visible when the hero looks behind him is an elderly woman, ambling about nonchalantly.
  51. Two small children run past the party, wearing homemade dragon costumes.
  52. A small child asks a hero if that is a real sword/mace/magic wand they’re carrying.
  53. A bride or groom comes running out of a temple, and asks the heroes if they will be witnesses to their marriage.
  54. A hustler follows the heroes down the block, offering to sell “real” black lotus extract for only 10 gold coins. 
  55. Someone approaches the party and relates a long, complicated story of how he/she was robbed and now needs to borrow money to buy passage home to a distant city, where his/her young children are waiting. If the heroes suggest contacting the watch the “victim” will spin an excuse and answer questions much more evasively.
  56. A hopeful artist is making portraits of anyone willing to stand as a model. She has several pieces laid out for demonstration. One of the portraits may be a person for whom the heroes are searching.
  57. In a crowded street, a beggar sits quietly with a sad dog at his side. No one seems to be intent on dropping a coin.
  58. A drunk urinates just inside a nearby alley.
  59. A young couple is romancing on a haystack behind a stable.
  60. From an open window you can hear, and later see, 10-year-old girl playing the harp rather well.
  61. On a corner a human minstrel with a lyre, a dwarf playing an assortment of wooden buckets, and three tieflings singing in harmony are making fairly good music for an impromptu band. 
  62. A flustered midwife drops her groceries. 
  63. A town crier and noble courier are getting into an argument.
  64. A temple’s bells sound the hour. 
  65. A man pushes two racks of dresses out of a seamstress shop. 
  66. An exotically dressed woman walks away from the market square. Following her is a small group of people carrying her parasol, a wax tablet, and stacks of parcels. 
  67. A series of loud banging noises come from a nearby construction project. 
  68. An unwashed child runs up behind a wagon, jumps onto the back, and rides without the driver’s knowledge.
  69. In a small park, recruiters for the watch demonstrate weapons techniques for a group of youngsters. Several passersby idly look on. 
  70. The delicious scent of roasted meat wafts from an eatery the heroes pass. 
  71. A cart selling “roasted rat on a stick” is on the corner. The proprietor looks surprised as someone dressed in noble attire strolls up and orders one with honey sauce. 
  72. An older man is selling dramatic masks on the street for wearing or decoration. 
  73. A drummer practices on the street corner in front of a shop.
  74. A group of clerics pray aloud in a nearby park. 
  75. An innkeeper and scullery boy hang a sign over their door, using two rickety ladders.
  76. An elite clergyman rides down the street in a horse-drawn carriage. 
  77. Three well-dressed women, who apparently just met, are taking off their shoes and showing them to each other. 
  78. An old man flies a kite in the town square. 
  79. A diplomat, resplendent in highly-polished armor and riding a stately, dapple-gray stallion, leads his personal guard toward the city’s largest military installation.
  80. A wedding cake is being moved from the pastry chef’s bakery to a temple; several people have stopped to form a human shield between pedestrians and the five layer monstrosity, but the people carrying the cake are not very strong. 
  81. A group of obvious foreigners, accompanied by their dragoman, passes the party. 
  82. A pack of somewhat domestic dogs run about as their ancestors did. A few moments before, the heroes might have seen the massive cat they are chasing.
  83. A courier, dressed in the livery of a local noble house, runs past the party.
  84. A half-shaven man runs from a nearby barber shop; the barber appears in the shop’s doorway, throwing bent (fake) coins at the man while shouting obscenities.
  85. A gaudily-dressed courtesan, draped with cheap costume jewelry, approaches the heroes and inquires about where they are staying.
  86. A scraggly-looking stray cat hisses at the heroes from a nearby alley.
  87. A townsman, smelling strongly of horse manure, shuffles past the party. He grimaces at any comments made about the smell, and quickens his pace as he walks away from the party.
  88. Traffic on the street stops as a funeral procession crosses the heroes’ path.
  89. A wagon is pulled up into a nearby alley. The top half of the wagon’s back is open, and is serving as a stage for troupe of puppeteers. They are performing a very political play.
  90. Someone dumps a bucket full of wet, runny garbage onto the street below; the refuse may or may not hit one of the heroes.
  91.  A porter wheels a barrow, filled with sacks of flour, toward the heroes. His destination is a nearby bakery, if anyone cares to ask.
  92. A group of drovers leads a flock of sheep or herd of cattle down the street. Everyone hurries to get out of the way.
  93. A tax collector, traveling with a retinue of six watchmen and an enormous personal bodyguard, is visiting each business on the street. One of the guards wheels a barrow containing a locked strongbox, which is engraved with the city’s coat of arms.
  94. An ambassador, carried in a sedan chair by four heavily-muscled men and flanked with Imperial Legionnaires, makes his way toward a government building.
  95. A noblewoman is having her portrait painted in the park.
  96. A half-dozen laborers walk down the street; they are obviously employed in the town’s primary industry. While they take notice of the heroes, none of them speak to the party.
  97. A man dressed in a pointed hat and long robes, both of which are embroidered with moons and stars, approaches the heroes and asks if they can help him find his pet cat, Whiskers. Whether Whiskers is truly missing, or if this chance meeting is a pretense to ambush the heroes in an alley, is up to the discretion of the Game Master.
  98. The heroes see what appears to be the dried remains of a large bloodstain on the cobblestones. Any passerby asked about the stain look furtively at the heroes, then quickly walk away.
  99. The heroes hear a baby crying in a nearby building. 
  100. A man approaches the heroes, offering to hire them as funeral mourners.
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11 comments on “One hundred ‘street scenes’ for Medieval settlements

  1. Great list. Will have to bookmark the permalink and use during the next game!

    • Alric says:

      You’re most welcome. You can also download the .pdf, using the link in the first sentence of this post or by visiting the Free Downloads page.

      Thank you for reading my blog.

      Alric

  2. Ripper X says:

    This stuff is pure gold! I simply love it, I really do and look forward to play-testing it. Thank You!

  3. Gonna have to use this list. Extremely evocative, not only do these all add nice flavour to a description many of them can also be used as plot hooks if your PCs pick at any of them.

    Pity I’m playing at the moment and not DMing. :(

  4. […] From The RPG Athenaeum we have a wonderful list of 100 street scenes for Medieval settlements – otherwise known as “adding crunch” to what might otherwise be a static world. I know that I will soon be leveraging any number of these simple prompts in a game to spawn some creativity when things go stagnant. Why don’t you roll 2d10 and see what you end up with? Ah… #50 “While walking past a temple, a hero is struck in the back with rotten fruit (in warmer months) or a snowball (in winter). The only person visible when the hero looks behind him is an elderly woman, ambling about nonchalantly.” Happens to me all the time!! http://rpgathenaeum.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/one-hundred-street-scenes-for-medieval-settlements/ […]

  5. Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m absolutely enjoying
    your blog and look forward to new posts.

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