View Full Version : Orothos: The City of the Herons, the City on Stilts

02-05-2012, 03:08 PM
This is a very early stage of a map of my heavily Venetian-inspired city-state, Orothos. The part of the map that I've been working on is the old mercantile and administrative part of the city ("Downtown" if you will).

The city itself sits at the entrance to a large estuary and was originally built in mid-water on pilings so there is no land in the city; it's all artificial. Trade, especially in dyes and pigments, in wine, various sea creatures and their products, and in cloth were and still are very important to the economy and culture of the city, which accounts for the names of some of the few places and streets I've put down.

02-05-2012, 07:41 PM
Looks Good!

02-06-2012, 07:30 PM
I am a sucker for good maps of cities on the water.

Very nice start


02-07-2012, 12:03 PM
I've expanded a bit, added more streets, and so on. I hope to have the whole of the canal system worked out by Friday.

02-07-2012, 02:35 PM
I would offer that you do not need the bridges over the Serpentine Canal there. If they think in terms of punts/canoes/gondolas then bridges become superfluous for traffic over the larger canals. I would put in docks as points for ferries to cross.

Smaller canals would have bridges because it is easier to walk across than throw something to the other side but if you are using small boats as the main mode of transportation about the city then the main thoroughfare will need very high bridges to allow clearance to the traffic.

Just a thought as I look to see how I would go from place to place in the city.


02-07-2012, 03:17 PM
Wow! I was just studying an old map of Venice. Very similar color usage. This is looking great!

02-07-2012, 06:31 PM
Anstett, Venice often tons of bridges over large canals. They are beautiful works of achitecture an a wonder to walk across. Also, walking across a bridge costs no money; taking a boat does.

02-07-2012, 07:21 PM
I did stay in Venice for a week once. There are lots of bridges over the smaller canals it is true. However over the main canal where the shipping is they use the gondola taxis for people rather than a large bridge that would have to have a very high clearance.

When I was laying out my own Venice inspired city I routed all the ship traffic around the outside of the city and only have one bridge with that issue to block ships from entering that part of the city.

Plus with bridges it is much easier to charge a toll to cross, small boats just slip through the canals quietly to a secret meeting. :)

02-08-2012, 12:28 AM
You both make very good points, which I've been mulling over in the back of my mind all day. Anstett's comment about secret meetings, however, has convinced me that I do indeed have too many bridges. Secretive maritime meetings in out of the way places, possibly between illicit traders in beetle resin, between political conspirators, and general skulduggery involving boats on fog-shrouded canals have always been very much a part of this city in my imagining, so, fewer bridges it shall be.

That said, there will still be bridges, and some will probably be wonderfully designed (at least they will be described that way, as I lack the skill to draw them).

Thank you all for you critiques and comments.

02-08-2012, 03:25 AM
Well conceived - and a lot of work still waiting for you, hiding, in the shallows.

Anyway - it's a map, you're not painting the canals, so my twelve hundred running monkeys say a simple representation of a bridge works fine.

02-09-2012, 01:38 AM
I've done some moderate updating, changed the style of the block-color layers, and put in more roads and a small but growing number of docks, moorings, and similar items.

I'm trying to go with a vaguely 18th and/or 19th century city maps, several of which I have hanging on my wall. Nothing like convenient inspiration.

02-09-2012, 06:15 PM
This is starting to really come along now. I can't wait to see it when it is finished. They style you have chosen to go with looks really nice.

02-10-2012, 10:53 PM
Thanks Larb.

By the way, does any one know of a good way of bending text to the shape of the roads and the like in photoshop? I know that it can be done in something like illustrator but if and how to do that in photoshop eludes me.

02-12-2012, 01:51 AM
I've been working on getting the streets in and well as fixing the canal system and adding a few names.

I do have a question about coloring. Should I leave it with the color variation between the districts of the city, or should I go for a uniform color?

02-12-2012, 08:43 AM
I like the way this is turning out...keep it up!

02-12-2012, 11:14 AM
This is looking nice. Keep the colors.

02-12-2012, 01:45 PM
Here is the current working draft of the over-all map , canals and all. As you can see, I'm apparently bent on driving myself loony with roads, canals, market squares, and so forth. Still, I plan on enjoying this even if it takes a good long while to finish.

02-12-2012, 01:47 PM
This is looking very cool. I can't wait to see it finished! The muted colors are very nice.

02-12-2012, 03:16 PM
I really like this map alot. I will watch to see how it comes out..
It seems rather organic for a totally "ARTIFICIAL" Construct. By that I mean when building on land including Islands ; natural obstructions influence shapes rivers meander ; islands are irregular ; it is easier to follow the flow of the land than dig a straight path through it for a road. Thus constructions tend to be constructed to compensate and grow around these obstructions. You can force the shapes you want especially with modern technologies but it is usually cheaper and easier to go with the flow. On a totally artificial construction things would tend to be more artificial. Roads/canals would be straight and parallel . Buildings would be more uniform with right angles and equal spacing. It would be simpler and more time and effort efficient. That being said only special Buildings would be constructed outside the norm with organic and artistic shapes. How ever if the submarine floor had natural obstruction such as rock outcroppings and terraces. These would have to be built around and that might explain the more organic feel of your city !! :) There are several ancient examples of floating garden and cities to be Googled. I really like how yours is going though. Venice by the way is built in part over 117 Islands which helps gives it a "Organic" feel to it . Don't change the city ; Maybe update the background ?Or not !! Don't let the opinion of one "crank" Spoil a really good thing :)

02-12-2012, 03:33 PM
The main reason for the lack of regularity (other than my distaste for grids and the weird notion of having the city's final shape resemble a murex shell) is that the city is quite old and grew in an unplanned fashion with new pilings being driven into the estuary floor as needed. Certainly the marine topography would have influenced things as there are a number of submerged reefs, shifting sandbars, depth changes, and channels in the area (indeed that was part of the historic reason for the selection of the site).

As to the artificiality of the construction itself, a lot of that has to do with the history and philosophy of the city builders. Land, to them, is not capable of being owned as it is not the product of artifice or craft. One can own a house, but not the land on which it stands and so forth. By essentially constructing their whole city, it can be viewed more as a collection of ownable buildings rather than a tract of land. No doubt counter arguments have been raised concerning the estuary floor, the reefs, and so on which exist below the foundations (probably there is a long history of deeply confusing legal battles to be considered here).

02-12-2012, 11:25 PM
other than my distaste for grids
That's what everyone thinks, until they need to furnish a room ... then you see why rooms are rectangular and cities have grids. ;)

02-13-2012, 12:03 AM
Having just had new furniture delivered today, I can follow that. Still, I always get lost in gridded cities faster in non-gridded, especially when the road signs are obscured by trees.

02-13-2012, 12:31 AM
Gridded cities are super hard. Half of my native town is gridded, and I still get lost there every once and a while.

02-19-2012, 07:17 PM
I've been somewhat busy this week so I'm not as far along as I would like. Nonetheless, I have made progress with the map, added a simple border, and so on.

02-19-2012, 09:40 PM
It is coming along very nicely.

How far is the mainland? and in what direction? Maybe an arrow on the legend to show?


02-20-2012, 12:51 AM
The closest body of land is a marshy island infested by large crabs, numerous rice farms, mudflats, diverse turtles, and a few small towns and other settlements. There are other islands about as well (most similarly populated by fractious creatures with shells). The mainland itself is largely to the west. I'll play around with arrows and the like and see what would make sense and not be too distracting at the same time.

02-24-2012, 12:42 AM
I've done some more work on the city, finished most of the major canals, filled in all the districts, adjusted the borders, and added a smallish fort. I still have a long way to go, but it's good to be making some progress.

I'm going to have to spend a heck of a long time inventing names for things, so if anyone has a good method for generating lots of names short of staring at an empty document, making myself vast amounts of tea (and slash or pouring myself a moderate glass of wine), and going at it like gangbusters, I'd be delighted to know.

04-20-2012, 06:30 PM
Names are most often not chosen out of random letters as they might seem in fantasy texts; most are either a description of the place in some language or another, or after a prominent event in its history. I suggest naming streets things that might lead to historical significance. if you name a street "Street of the Ocean", maybe it was once flooded under a foot of water. Maybe the infamous Street of Chickens is the place where a young prince was attacked by chickens and traumatized, and throughout his childhood refused to call it by any other name, and it stuck. Man, I'm having fun doing this.