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Basic Information

Literally "mother city", the word metropolis tends to refer in modern usage to a particularly large city or connurbation, typically of international significance or at least of a scale that renders it predominate in its own nation. Some natons have an objective standard for classifying a city as meteropolitan, whilst others use the term to refer to a county or other administrative division dominated by a major city (such as Washington DC, Ile-de-France or Greater London).

Historically, it tended to apply more to a city-state that had reached sufficient size to plant colony cities - examples including classical Athens and Rome and Medieval Venice. Despite the effective demise of the city-state as a form of international power by the early modern period, the concept of colony building also caused the term to be applied to London.


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Game and Story Use

  • The Pre-modern "city state with colonies" model could be pretty useful for worldbuilding - using historical examples like Rome, Athens, Carthage and Venice as examples.
    • Actually, in a near future setting, especially a post-nation state one, the idea of a large city serving as a state in its own right, together with its satellites home and abroad feeding in food and raw materials, is also not so far fetched.
  • Identifying the key cities in your campaign world will be a necessary part of world-building: places like Rome, Baghdad and Constantinople (in the pre modern era) and LA, New York, London and Hong Kong (in the modern era) should all be known of - at least by hearsay - by most of the workds inhabitants, even if they're not as significant as they think (recall that in the medieval era much of Europe depicted Jerusalem as the centre of the world, despite there not being much there at the time).
  • Frankly a large city could well serve as a campaign setting in its own right - this is normal for cyberpunk, but you could also run a perfectly decent pulp era campaign without leaving New York, a colonial era campaign in London or Paris, a medieval campaign in Baghdad or Constantinople or a classical campaign in Rome and still have plenty to do.
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