View Full Version : [WIP] Arcantis, the lake city

03-10-2013, 03:21 PM

I'm reading once again The Hobbit, and I got inspired by it to draw a city that wasn't built near a lake, but over it, a city built in big wooden plataforms. To make things a little bit different I also decided to make it a WIP post - my first actual WIP post outside the Challenges forums.

In ancient times it was just a little village, built on the ground next to the lake. But after a several number of years - more than a century - the river started to overflow from time to time, making the life there tough. People would have to rebuild houses, plantations, furnitures, etc., just as they would lose many cows, sheeps, and animals in general. After one of the most terrible overflows in their history - when the lake even covered the houses next to it, killing chlidren, seniors, and taking everything from the poor little village - those who were still alive decided it was time to move to another location, or build a village waterproof. Half of them moved, the rest stayed where they were and started cutting trees and constructing high plataforms so that they wouldn't have to worry with the overflows again.

I haven't done much so far, just the plataforms, the land and the bridge. I'm using torstan's tutorial on making cities, so next step will be probably to draw the main buildings of the city. This time I'll try to make everything - except the painting - by hand (what includes the wirtting), I hope it gets nice.

Any criticism, comments, or anything else is welcome ;)

- Max -
03-10-2013, 03:36 PM
Nice idea. I've started such a lake town a while ago but didn't find the motivation to finish it yet. Looking forward to see how this one will turn out!

03-11-2013, 05:30 PM
Small update here as I didn't have much time, class started today.

Update: Just some main buildings, I'm not sure if you can read what I wrote on the paper - It's just to guide myself, not a definitive writing -, but I draw:
1)The great house; 2)Lighthouse; 3)Warehouses; 4)Watchtower; 5)Smith; 6)Inn; 7)Shrine; 8)Barracks; 9)Dockers' Union.

They built it up again very quickly, what does not mean the structure is bad, it is actually pretty good till these days. Where are the barracks now, was, at first, the location of the Great House - where the five leaders live. The first plataform to be built was the one closer to the land, after that the one at the left, then the central (L shape), the top one (where is the new Great House), the top-left, the top-right, the big at right, and last one was that of the lighthouse. As soon as the lighthouse started working, merchant ships and boats - that once had to cross the lake going to the south or north without any place to rest some nights - came like bees on honey. The village then built the docks, which were lower than the plataforms, on the same level as the river, where the ships stayed. In case of overflows the docks are submerged in water, and the ships just stop by the plataforms then.

03-12-2013, 05:08 AM
Nice idea for a city. I really like your "within the setting" narrative as well. :) I enjoy reading such WIPs very much.

03-13-2013, 07:36 PM
Bigger update, now with much more buildings. Most of them are just common houses.

But what does the Five Leadres mean? Also known as the Great Five, they are those men who basic rule the city of Arcantis. They are not any man, but they also don't come from a rich or powerfull family - they can, but it is not required -, they are chosen by several challenges, and anyone can compete, as long as the one is: A man (women are not allowed); more than 20 winters old. The number of challenges is not always the same, and it depends on the number of participants. Each Challenge take out five men of the challenge, and it goes on untill there is something between 6 and 10 men, when the final Challenge is done. All challenges have something to do with water, since holding your breath and submerging your head, to fishing with bare hands the biggest fish. The last challenge is to cross swiming the lake, and it could even sound easy, if the lake wasn't 1~2 miles wide. The five who can get to the other side of the lake first are the Great Five. But how often does this competition happnes? It depends, the rules are that it will only have new competitions if two or more of the five die, resigns or are permanently disabled for some reason (to prevent dictatorship). The Five live on the Great House, with their families. They manage to keep the city safe, to control the money waste, to order any repairs needed on the structure, amog other things.

So far I have for interesting buildings:
1)The great house; 2)Lighthouse; 3)Warehouses; 4)Watchtower; 5)Smith; 6)Inn; 7)Shrine; 8-Barracks; 9)Dockers' Union; 10)Stables; 11)Traders/Merchants Guild; 12)General Store; 13)Alchemist;
And I'm still going to place: Backer, Butcher, Jewelry, Tavern, Doctor and fisherman Guild.

I think there are some important buildings I'm missing. Can you guys help me? What do you think the city should have?
PS: It has no plantations, so it does not need any sort of Mill (Windmill, watermill....).


03-15-2013, 08:11 AM
In my opinion, the city needs some mills. Not for grain, but for the power you can get. I could imagine that the smiths or some other craftsmen would prefer the mill to do the hard work instead of themselves. Also you need some kind of sawmill, as this city is depending on its wooden plataforms, they'll need to renew the old parts to keep it safe.

03-15-2013, 09:39 AM
Beh, my poor english has betrayed me again! I tought mill meant only things for grain prepare :(. Indeed, smiths might need the mills, and a sawmill is a "must have" on a city like this, I just didn't know how to say it in english - and I forgot to write woodworker on the last post - because yes, the maintenance is more than importante in this city, is a matter of life. Thanks for clarifying it ;)

@Edit: Well... anyone has an tips on how can I darw a sawmill? Also a mill for the smith? I mean, does the smith or the sawmill need water force? Wind force maybe? I'm serching for it on google but all it is said about Blacksmith is that he needs: Anvil, Bellows, hammers, Swages, among other items.

I appreciate any help :)

03-15-2013, 01:40 PM
From all maps I have seen, the smith is always drawn as a simple house, with a chimney for the furnace and eventually some area for him to work with the Anvil.

As for the Sawmill I think a big common house would do it, like a Warehouse, with enough space to the workers cut and prepare the wood, as so to stock for future use. I've read some about those techniques and I don't remember anything about using Water or Wind force to do the work. All they used was fire (furnace) and human force, to cut the wood or hammer the iron.

03-15-2013, 02:50 PM
I think historically, that smiths did not use mechanical hammers until much later, but water powered sawmills were in use in the 1700's, possibly earlier. The reconstructions I've seen did not use a circular blade, but a long vertical blade that moved up and down as the water wheel turned.

Mark Oliva
03-16-2013, 01:32 AM
I think historically, that smiths did not use mechanical hammers until much later,

I know of continental hammersmiths that date back to the 17th Century (i.e. 1600s). A hammersmith is a smithy with a hammer that usually is powered by a waterwheel. I know of a copper hammersmith in Northern Germany with two waterwheels: One to power the hammer and a smaller second waterwheel to power the bellows.

but water powered sawmills were in use in the 1700's, possibly earlier. The reconstructions I've seen did not use a circular blade, but a long vertical blade that moved up and down as the water wheel turned.

Again, I know of continental prototypes that go back to the 17th Century. But you're correct about the vertical saw blades. If there were circular saws in those days, I've found no historical trace of them yet.

This photo shows a typical rural sawmill that dates from the 18th Century (1700s). It's called the Schwarzmühle (Black Mill), and it's on the small Weismain (Wise Main) River in Northern Bavarian Upper Franconia.


Unfortunately, I have only one interior photo of an historical, waterwheel-powered sawmill. If you look closely, you'll see the vertical blade in the middle of the photo:


The photo was taken in the Black Forest Open Air Steward's Farm (Schwärzwälder Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof), an open air museum near Gutach in the Black Forest of German Badinia.

Sorry about the quality of these photos. They're scans of slides (diapositives) taken with a film camera back in the early 1980s.

03-16-2013, 03:03 PM
Mechanical hammers have been known of and used since the ancient period. Same with sawmills. There are even examples of the romans using sawmills to cut stone (I'm guessing it was sandstone or something, not granite =P). Their existence in your town is going to be down to various factors but if there is running water present, I'm sure they'd make use of it. And the sheer quantity of wood required in building and maintaining that city would make sawmills very valuable unless there is a significant amount of cheap labour available (like slaves).

Mark Oliva
03-16-2013, 03:42 PM
Mechanical hammers have been known of and used since the ancient period. Same with sawmills.

Just to avoid misunderstandings, I'm not challenging your opinion. Do you know of anything that actually documents the existence of water-wheel-powered sawmills or hammer smithies in Europe before the 1600s? I've read a number of texts that claim that, but I've not yet found anything that actually substantiated their existence before 1600. Among other things, I'm interested in this issue because I find it difficult to believe that it really might have taken that long to implement this technology.

03-16-2013, 04:43 PM
There's an old schematic of one here (http://dmd.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/author/dmd/database/resultpage?-table=ded&-format=resultpage&theauthor=Villard%20de%20Honnecourt&theyear=). Also wikipedia has two lists (one for ancient (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ancient_watermills) and one for medieval (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_early_medieval_watermills)) of various watermills, including a list of old texts that include descriptions of them (so you can search for translated copies and verify them personally given the not wholly reliable nature of wikipedia =P). But it gives you a starting point to search for the mills mentioned on those lists on other sites and in books and such.

Most of the listed mills are grain mills but not all of them are.

Also there is a book called Wind, Water, Work, which goes into great detail about mills in the ancient and medieval period.

On a side note it is worth looking up Barbegal Mill. It is a very impressive piece (http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/barbegal/roman1.jpg) of ancient engineering.

03-16-2013, 05:02 PM
Beaoner looks to be a nice setup. It is amazing that no matter how inhospitable an area is some people are too stubborn to leave!;) I would like to do a stilt town one day perhaps on a smaller scale though. Continue on !

I must have missed where the technology level is equivalent to 1600s Europe. HMM. The funny thing about TECH is it is often times accidental and varies wildly by culture. As example the Chinese invented Gunpowder as early as the 9th century Why them and no-one else. First weapons created were bombs fireworks and flame throwers. Why in this days of extra-solar exploration and everyone's favorite ( smartphones) are there still earth cultures wearing loincloths and drinking cow blood. Don't they have the decency to evolve ??:P Sorry for the rant !! I postulate with reasonable certainty that invention or non- invention of certain technologies through out history has altered immensely the current state of society. And as stated earlier with very unequal results. So to take this farther in a fantasy world even one not dis-similar to our own (no magic, elves etc) with the same time of existence , TECH would have advanced more quickly or slowly or perhaps in totally unimaginable ways. If Beaoner is patterning this world after 14th to 17th century Europe then the appropriate Technologies apply if not then it the same as comparing apples to oranges. It is all Fruit!

Beoaner Sorry for the highjack !!:blush:

03-16-2013, 05:55 PM
It's true that the spread of technology is down to lots of different circumstances and in a constructed world you get freedom to decide what exists and and what doesn't. Mills were just brought up in the thread regarding the city, and I was also replying to Mark regarding what I've read.

Also the late medieval period is often the assumed sort of technology level of many fantasy worlds until someone says otherwise.

03-17-2013, 01:42 PM
Sorry I didn't answered anything sooner, I was unable to login this Saturday.

But Wow! That is a lot of information, more than I expected to get when I asked for help actually. I've to thank you all: Counlin, Bogie, Mark Oliva, Larb and lostatsea.
For what I've understood, I'll make two or three sawmills next to the water, so that they use a watermill to cut and prepare all the wood needed, even though the city is on a lake, the water flows fast enough to have watermills I guess, not to mention that the city location is near one of the lake's tributary river. As for the smith I'm not sure wheter I'm going to replace it to have a watermill too, or if I'll let it where it is now (the last option is much more likely to happen). I was thinking about Windmill maybe, since it is a big lake it would always have some breeze or air going from land to water (by night), and from water to land (by day) if I'm not mistaken.

Also, the technology I'm assuming is something like a LotR/GoT, technology, which I think can be compared to a late medieval period like Larb said. BTW, thanks once again for the amazing links, Larb. And Mark Oliva for the photos.

On a side note it is worth looking up Barbegal Mill. It is a very impressive piece of ancient engineering.
Indeed a very impressive work of engineering.

Beoaner Sorry for the highjack !!
No problem ;).

03-19-2013, 02:48 AM
Well, nothing to add about mills or tech, but beautiful map. It's always nice to see something hand drawn, and you're doing a fantastic job. Everything's neat and the lines are clean; one question I have about the space around buildings - regardless of time-period or tech level, it would save wood if buildings shared walls. Obviously key buildings, like the mills and such, might not be able to for various reasons, but basic housing might share walls. I realize you're still working on this, and there are plenty of examples of towns from all time-periods where buildings don't sit that close to each other, so it's just a thought.

Good luck with this, it's looking great!

- kes

03-19-2013, 10:24 AM
Thanks kestrelgrey, and yes I was working on shared walls houses, and now you said I'll probably make lots of them. I started drawing non but then I saw some city maps and remembered that sharing walls is a great way to save resources, specially on this case, that's why you can see lots of erased houses at the center plataform.

Well, haven't done much, only inked all the houses from the first plataform, and some of the center - and the lightouse and dockers guild. I also started to work on the infor area at right, done the City Name (Arcantis), which took me some time till I get the right font. I'm planing on drawin a fish on the city's shield up there, but let's see I may change my mind.

But there are some highlighted areas, and I need specific help/opinion on those. The river mouth was supposed, at first, to be at right (where the arrows point). But then, after the mills discussion I thought it could be better if the river came from the left, so the sawmills would be placed at the left platform, getting the fast water that comes from the river, making them move with good speed and enough force to cut woods. If I choose the "Left River" option, there will be a problem with the docks placement, though. So the question is, taking the "Right River" option, would sawmills placed on the left platform have enough water force to work (considering the blade was moved by water force)?

Another question, what do you think of the building for the smith, is that ok? Should I change it? Take another one? I plan to let the smith having to do everything by his own hand force, I mean, the city does not build anything complex or huge with iron, or other metals, only basic things like forks, knies, maybe some swords for the guards (most of the soldier's items are imported), some fishing items... And general repair.

03-20-2013, 08:53 PM
Just a thought - the smith and any other constant user of fire (baker?) might be on a separate platform; better to contain any fire. Delivery of logs to the sawmills by floating might mean a "parking lot" of sorts next to the town - which might work best on the downstream side, or wherever an eddy of flow doesn't make the collection a) beat down the town or b) float away. As for where to put the sawmill water wheels -- unless the support pilings are close together, the current wont be much blocked. Hmm - unless the pilings were placed to INTENTIONALLY partly block the flow, and funnel it with extra force past the wheels...

Have you thought about ice? Does your climate ever cause big chunks to be zooming down river?

03-21-2013, 06:42 PM
...Hmm - unless the pilings were placed to INTENTIONALLY partly block the flow, and funnel it with extra force past the wheels...

You sir just gave an great idea, I'll try to work with this now :)

As for the ice, I was thinking about a "good" weather, I mean, the temperatures will be between 20~15 on summer, and something around 0 at winter. It may have some snowing days, but it would be rare and just few( a little?) snow, not enough to freeze the lake's surface, only some of the tributaries river - at their source on mountains. Too much snow would be a big - and heavy - problem for the city, even because if the lake freezes there is no ships for trading, selling or buying products in the city.

At the smith and bakery - I don't remind of anything elese that uses so much fire - I'll see if I can find a better place for them, without having to make another platform.

03-24-2013, 07:13 AM
I like the idea of the pilings used to funnel the water. As for the smith and bakery, you could set them close to the water and/or make the part of the platform they're on simply as close to the water as possible, even lowering the part of the platform each building is on. That way you don't need a new platform, and there's ready, immediate access to a lot of water to put out any fires. Looking at the smith building right now, it would be a simple matter of shifting the south and west platform edges closer to the building, or just adding some indication of stairs or something to show that that part of the platform is lower.
I have no idea if I'm even making sense, sorry XoX

I love you're buildings, and I'm very impressed with how this is looking! I like the fish idea on the shield ^-^ Other than the obvious connection to water, is there another reason for choosing a fish? Bit of a world-/culture building question, but you already have such great details about so much! Keep it up ^-^

- kes

03-28-2013, 07:14 AM
Ok, this is far the slowest map I've ever done.

In this update I have added some buildings to the platforms, but the main thing is the sawmills and the smith. There are two sawmills, as you can see at the image, one you can actually see the wheel, the other one you can't, that's because I took jbgibson's idea of "funneling" the water, and the wheel of this sawmill is inside the house, but moving with the water that runs below the platform - The blue lines try to explain that a little better.

As for the smith, I've one at the lighthouse platform (which also needs fire), and a Woodworker building with it, and it could sound weird, but just the other day I was watching a documentary on woodworking and to make wood curve (for wheels, boats, etc.) you actually have to boil water and with its steam and some force the wood will eventually get curved. Its just a small one though, I'm planing on having a bigger woodworker house at another place too. The baker I decided to let there and the center platform, for two reasons: 1) Using well done ovens (even the hand made) the chances of starting a fire are minimum; 2) For location purpouses, being on the center is much easier for the people to reach.

I also added a school of math (engineering) and a library. I chose for the city's shield an anchor, because it is what better represents a city used mostly as a dock.

After a couple of years the rumors of a village being built over a river have attracted men of science, they wanted to see how were the people building it. Not much later those scientists were teaching math and engineering to the main builders. Some even decided to move and started living in Arcantis, after a couple of years they built the school of math and engineering (on the top-left platform, next to the sawmill), to teach young kids how to make the village's maintenance or even make it larger. Next to the school a library was also built.

The years have passed, and what was a village one day, has become a small city, though it is just as important as any great city. It is now part of the kingdom, and received a Shield: The Anchor, and above that the kingdom's three circles. Ships coming from the sea (going up the river), or to the sea (going down the river) dock everyday in Arcantis to spend the night, to buy food/drinks, or to sell their products - specially flour, grains, cereals and wood.

As always, comments are welcome ;)

04-01-2013, 09:34 AM
Looking good - and I love the idea. It's very rectangular for a town on a river. Perhaps add some gentler shapes upstream to stop the river current hitting it square on?

04-09-2013, 08:00 PM
After one month and I'm still not done, bleh....:?

Well, last weekend I decided to rush a little and I've completed all the "holes" with buildings, now the city is completely populated. By my math, considering that something around 3 people live in each house, there is a total of 705 people living on Arcantis, I may inflate this number a bit though, since it was common to find families with five or more people at the middle ages - according to my knowledge.

The city now has four sawmills, two smiths, one (but I'm thinking about adding another) potteries, one Backer, one Butcher, and Alchemist, a Doctor, a Fisherman guild, docker guild, trader guild, lighthouse, two woodworkers, school of math, library, exotics store, general store, jewelry, stables, barracks, watchtowers, warehouses, two shrines, and if there is still space to write I'll add coopering and weaving.

You can see two things I named lifts, but actually what I wanted to mean is that they are cranes, to take the heavy stuff on the docks and take upstairs, to place on the warehouses. I'll add more of them around the city, next to the several warehouses it has.

@torstan: I'm not sure I got it right, you mean something more "circular"? Or more like a Trapezium?

Next steps, finish the Great House (which I'm thinking on changing its shape), finish inking the platforms (as soon as I get what to do upstream, with waht torstan said), draw more cranes and docks. Make a good writing and finally make the illustration I'm planing since I started the city, on the bottom rectangle.

04-11-2013, 12:41 PM
Its getting more cool at each update :)

As for what torstan said, I think he meant that instead of a straight line, it would be better to have more angles, going "up" and "down".

Looking forward to see the finished version.