To travel, you must have a Guild Pass, Knight’s Mark, or Travel Token from a recognized authority, to enter a city or town.
Cities, and Towns are guarded. Villages, Hamlets, and Steadings will have a Refuge of some sort. Starting your own village (which grows to become a town and then a city) is even encouraged in most places. The typical survival rate for such is shockingly low.
These guards and refuges are essential: the world is not a safe place. Especially at night. The world left after the God’s War has plenty of critters malign and benign who just aren’t healthy to be around. The only safe place at night is a walled compound. There are monsters in the world that will prey on travelers. From Dreadnaughts to Powers That Be to beasts.
Traveling beyond your home is a dangerous thing, and even though the merchants talk tough and all, ever notice how rarely you see one come back through?
Typically, a city will support a few Towns, each of which supports a few Villages. Each City influences the culture of the Towns and Villages beholden to it – typically because that is where the people came from (limited space inside cities that are walled), but also because of the assorted ways in which laws and governments work around them.
Different Powers That Be tend to favor certain cities.
Travel between Cities, Towns, Villages, and Hamlets always requires a Pass or Mark of some sort.
These can vary from metal plaques stamped to ornate scrolls that must be signed, and so forth. Entry into a location requires a pass, and they are often expensive if simply bought. Guilds, Circles, and Posses are all able to offer Passes, while Nobles will offer Marks.
Messengers in uniform, even retired single messengers, are the sole exception to this: no one gets in without a pass, though a single pass can serve for a group traveling together.
Passes have a set period of time that they are valid, usually a watchnight. Passes will act across realms, but always require a reporting in at the assigning body – Posse or Guild, or Circle, that exists in that location on arrival. This does mean that if there is no Circle or Passe for that location, entry will not operate, and so this means that many villages, Hamlets, and Steadings are closed.
Marks have a period that is often Longer, but only operate within the range or beneath the cover of that Noble and their Liege. So, a Durango Noble pass is not of much use in Lyonese. Marks, however, will otherwise allow free travel within those lands. Most Merchantry (to include Peddlers and others) will carry multiple Marks and Passes, with the passes covering periods and times in the future, based on their expected speed of travel.
Docks and piers always have a Riverward or Seaward whose job it is to ensure that those on ships are appropriately covered, and Watches are known for random checks.
Most gates will collect information about those entering the town – name, purpose, duration – and will always direct adventurers to the nearest Public House (which often gives them a cut of the higher fees charged to adventurers from outside the region).