Now that your world is mapped out, it’s time to figure out where the people (or whatever the case may be) live.
In our world, towns and cities usually develop based on their access to necessities like food and water. The more primitive your society, the more important access to these resources are. If more advanced technology and means of transportation are available, then your citizens aren’t as reliant on what nature provides in order to survive. However, the odds are still good that the larger cities will remain close to those early water access points as they’ve been built on the foundations of what came before.
Another thing to bear in mind is the type of industries your society relies on. Are there rich minerals to be mined? Then they’ll have towns near those resources where the miners live even if the area is less than desirable. Are they hunters? They’ll live near their prey. Or are they being hunted? Then they’ll abandon areas where their predators live.What natural disasters are common in your world? How common are they and how well can your people prepare for them? If the local volcano erupts once a week and fills the valley with lava, chances are people steer clear of the destruction path. Did a nuclear explosion or disaster from space force people to live underground? Consider which types of soil would be easiest to carve out dwellings in. Caves are often formed by water, and if your characters live underground they’ll still need access to those necessities I mentioned before like air, sunlight, food, and water.
As you can probably tell by now these considerations can lead you down a never ending hole. Depending on the age of your societies, maybe all of these things apply or only a few. Maybe your people crash land on a new planet on page 1 and since they know nothing about the environment, they just build a home where they land.
So, just to show you how all of these elements can come together, here’s how I’ve developed my world:
My society once relied heavily on fishing and shipping seeing how much water there is. As I mentioned in Part II, there’s a mountain range that forms a natural barrier to the north and above that are where the savage monsters live. Only the desperate or the bravest hunters dare cross those mountains. There is a large port town where all of the fishermen, shipbuilders, and merchants live. However, due to the wrath of the Goddess they bring down upon themselves, the oceans have been turned against them and any ship that tries to sail too far into the bay is destroyed. The air smells like rotting fish and seaweed, so the wealthy have moved further inland away from the smell, and the city has turned into a dangerous place of thieves, pirates, and beggars.
Without the trade ships carrying imports and exports, even the extremely wealthy are forced to do without.
My capital city is centrally located. It’s close enough to the port to receive fresh goods quickly, but far enough inland to protect in the event of an attack. The farmland is close to the capital city, and with food so scarce its been confiscated by the government and farmers are hired to come in to work it. Because of this system there’s a small town where most of the farmers live.
As you can probably imagine, the population is rapidly dwindling, so I won’t have too many towns and cities to worry about as the story moves along.
There is one more location that is extremely important though, and that is the site of the Temple. It sits on a hill overlooking the harbor, higher than the capital, but close enough that it’s within a day’s walk for most people to reach it. However, it’s removed enough that there can be mystical happenings that go on unnoticed if no one decides to visit the Temple.
And now I’m back to the naming stage of things. I’ll follow the same steps I mentioned in Part II. From here, I’m going to move on to the society of this world, so this concludes my map-making process. I’ll continue to edit and refine the names and details, but it gives me a great resource to refer to as I tell the story of this world. In your own worlds you can get as general or specific as you want, but hopefully you’ve found my approach helpful to give you a place to start.
Have you tried any of these tips out? Let me know how they worked.