a good thing would be a survival server, just like a faction server, but no factions/towny.
you can still setting homes, a in game rank sistem (the more you play, more privilegies you get, like more homes, warps, extra commands and new kits)
and a limit of the world (like 12,000²) and a simple city, with no waprs in it (but warps to get from home to the city) and you can get out of tyhe city to the wilderness.
i used to play on the server of a (kinda)famous youtuber, it was really good, the comunity always active inside the server, but one day a "good" person came, he was the best player of the server, he always helped other players so the admins gave him admin, he was acting like the best until one day he gave admin to some players without the ops kwnowing, it was too late, they did a drop party at the spawn, averyone got ruined and grieffed, deleted backups, and that was the end.
the thing is that i loved it, and it got the things i said before.
just dont forget to make manual backups to other folders, and never give admin to people you don't know (even if you speak by skype, you should know them in real life).
Here is the video, now he is famous. but back on those day he wasnt so much:
Like in the start (near the fountain) you can see juampix(a blue rat), he was the grieffer.
as you can see, when you get out the castle, you find vip plots and then plots, from more walking, you get out of the city, with spawn protection near of course.
I used to run a server which took place in a city!
It was called grief city and people could build and pvp all over the city. It got popular for awhile, but after a couple months it died off..
Wait so in that server could people pvp / grief in the city?
I know staffing is extremely important ! You have to pick someone friendly, but not irresponsible. If you pick wrong, your server could be in jeopardy.