View Full Version : My First Town Map

Cunning Cartographer
04-04-2013, 07:14 AM

So I've never had to do a town map before so this is my first attempt, lots of inspirational stuff here so I don't feel like I'm entirely in the blind, plus I'm working it relatively closely to Torstan's guide.

I would however appreciate any constructive criticism, especially at this stage, so that my layout is appropriate for the area, size and setting.


The town was settled a few hundred years ago (how long it would take this town to be settled and built up would help) by a rich lord who basically founded the town and named himself the Baron of the area (though this is little more than a fancy title) and built himself a keep at the heart of the town. The town is around 30 miles from the nearest large town (a mining town named Glister), nestled in the hills and stretching the banks of a river that runs all the way to the south tow the nearest city (about 80 miles by river), so is relatively secluded with a smaller town both to the east and the south (a mountain range is to the north).

The Baron's heirs over the years have spent less time in the town, instead being drawn to the lights of the cities to the south, and so the town is usually ran by a town council in the current Baron's absence.

The population stands at roughly 800 - 1000 citizens.


The city is divided by the river that runs through it. Though there is no trade that comes from the north the town exports ore and timber to the south and returns with food and more luxurious imports for the wealthy folk that live here. Whilst there are a few farms dotted around the limited arable land surrounding the area, it is not enough to fully sustain the population, fishing and hunting the forests to the east also contributes to the peoples food.

The road from the western gate is the most actively used, leading out onto the main trade rode linking the town to Glister and to the north west of the town most of the shops and industry (smiths, craftsmen, tinkers) can be found.

From the eastern road there is little trade with the much smaller towns along the road, but their nearest trade to the east can be accessed also by river.

The more wealthy citizens live in the south west of the town in larger townhouses whilst more of the common folk are gathered on the eastern bank in smaller abodes.

Building Key

1. The Baron's Keep
2. Town Barracks/Jail
3. Town Council Hall
4. Major Temple
5. Industrial Area
6. Poorer Residential Area
7. Traders Market (Tents/Stalls)
8. Docks
9. Minor Temple
10. Eastern Road (Heads into deep forest)
11. Watchtower

So there you go. If there's anything that screams "This wouldn't be <here>" then please let me know. The only thing I'm not sure about is whether to flip the map, I'm wondering if the western road is the most used then maybe the town houses and the like wouldn't be situated there but maybe by the quieter eastern road (or would they not want to travel too far across the town when traders/guests arrive?)

04-04-2013, 09:00 AM
looks great man. somehow i really love the ununiform shapes of the buildings (even tho i realize these are most likely just drafts)

one thing that occurs to me, and could be me just understanding things wrong.. is that i believe there would need to be a much larger farm-network to support such a city... i could be wrong, but i think farmland usually needs to equal or surpass urban areas just to keep everyone fed... obviously not all of these areas need be on the map, and also trade routes could help with this.. so your map could easily be truthful, i just thought i'd point it out.

i think we've had the conversation before about the common lack of farmland associated with a city, maybe if you search around you might be able to dig up those threads... either that, or someone else could support my claim? or possibly kick me in the teeth and call me stupid? either/or would help shed more light.

Cunning Cartographer
04-04-2013, 10:51 AM
The farming was something I really wasn't sure about, but having done some research it is clear from my scale that I couldn't fit all the farming on the map anyway, but I will definitely pad out the visible regions with farm land and infer that there is more farmland outside this area (will change my region terrain a little more to account for more arable land).

04-04-2013, 11:02 AM
I think having the minor temple out along the eastern road is a little odd ... :) - there's a small labeling glitch with 9 and 10.

I like it - nice backstory, and a solid basis for a town. I'd possibly add a granary or two to the town. Some other thoughts - the keep seems in an areas that's not obviously good for defence. Perhaps on the river - to make at least one wall hard to attack. Also, with a river handy it would make sense to add a moat. I'd consider filling the houses up to the walls. Walls are expensive to build, so there's no need to enclose empty space. Then people will build houses right up against them (they get one wall of their home for free) unless the local law enforcement bans it.

As for rich/poor vs access roads, I'd argue that the busiest thouroughfares in towns are usually the poorer districts. New arrivals come in and stop at the first inn and get drunk - so it's not the most salubrious part of town. Big houses might be closer to he center of power and further from the industry and bustle of the gates. Youv'e got some large variation in house sizes going on here too :) But that might not be so crazy given your going all the way from tent to manor house.

I love the loose style of the sketch, it's an easy to follow town map - very clear. I'd just recommend adding the legend directly to the map - even in the sketch - that'll make it easier to interpret. Good work! Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

04-04-2013, 11:24 AM
It could be assumed that most of the farmland is strung out along the river valley - in other words it's a bit down from the map so you can't see it.

The only thing I'm wondering about is the placement of your manor houses. Your industrial area is right next to your rich manor district. I dunno what kind of industry they do but most can be described using one or more of the following words: Smelly, Noisy, or Smokey. If I could afford it I wouldn't wanna live next to a metalworker, tallow candle maker, or leatherworker. =P

04-04-2013, 11:36 AM
The only thing I'm wondering about is the placement of your manor houses. Your industrial area is right next to your rich manor district. I dunno what kind of industry they do but most can be described using one or more of the following words: Smelly, Noisy, or Smokey. If I could afford it I wouldn't wanna live next to a metalworker, tallow candle maker, or leatherworker. =P

I don't know it depends on the owner of the industrial area. There's a mansion in LaSalle, IL (two towns from me) called the Carus-Hegler House, and it's built on adjacent land from the Air Products (tanked gases) factory, that the mansion's owner started at the turn of the 20th century. If a residence belongs to the children of the factory founder, they might relocate to 'downtown', but if this is the original manor, more than likely it's next to the smelly, noisy, smokey area owned by the same guy...

04-04-2013, 12:44 PM
I'd agree with GP, and I think it'd be much more likely in ye olde times, when its much more difficult to just pick-up digs and move... they'd be more likely to create a smaller summer house or just expand the manor instead of just pick up and move... to me it seems that places were rarely sold by the rich.. they just bought more property... to me it seems a form of status and power.. but that's just a speculation...

I also knew that farmland could easily be spread-out beyond the confines of the map, but I wanted to suggest that the size of farmland required to support a city would probably be more than 3-4 family-run farms... which is to me what seems displayed on the map... (again, thinking of the region in general, not just the map shown... i tend to think about the big picture in the end, cause i find that even when you focus on a section, it becomes much more believable the broader the scope of your detail... also probably explains why i rarely finish a mapping project :P)

04-04-2013, 01:11 PM
A couple things you may want to ask yourself:

How is the river passage defended? The town is walled, but the river entry / exit are fairly wide open.
The bridge looks like an ideal spot for tolls, especially if all the docks are on the east bank and trade enters / exits the west.
Maybe another dock north of the bridge? Can vessels pass under it?
I would think the trader's market would be more central to the keep and the wealthier clientele, instead of next to the poorest section of town.

I really like the look you have here! Looking forward to seeing more.

04-04-2013, 03:43 PM
Having seen Yospeck's contest entry this month, I have a feeling this is going to be a blinder of a map when it's finished. I really like the division of space but suggest that you can mix up the building sizes a bit more and perhaps not make them so extreme. It looks a little too obvious at the moment...but perhaps that's what you're after?

Cunning Cartographer
04-04-2013, 07:07 PM
Some great feedback here guys and it's making me debate a few things. Building size and spacing is something I've done roughly and so there's at times very little consistency between my giant homes and tiny tent like buildings, also there are spaces that haven't filled in because I didn't want to put in the work unnecessarily until I was satisfied with the final layout. I'm going to try shifting a few elements around, creating a few more iconic/necessary buildings and thinking where they need to be positioned.

The layout of the town is pretty much bang on with what Gamer and Loogie are saying, and was my train of thought. If the town was built up then the bigger homesteads would presumably be around industry (I'm thinking more forges, sawmills and the like) unless the town was built with the idea that "this is going to be where the rich people live in the future" and build away from everything else. So I'm thinking there would be areas with big buildings where shops and crafting workshops are from the initial settlement, but that they themselves have maybe been converted into other buildings (taverns, theaters, guild halls, bagnios) but a few would remain as mansions for wealthy families that aren't necessarily lords and ladies (this is a town, not a city, so I imagine most that would settle here are of the merchant type caste seeing as though it would have started as a frontier settlement). Maybe a secondary, newer district can be included which was made over time, away from the rough areas.

To the north of the river is the mountains, so there's going to be pretty much zero traffic coming from the north save for anyone mining and loading it up on barges perhaps, this town is the only remaining northernmost settlement (the other abandoned 40yrs ago, that said they would have traded with them at SOME point). However, it's going to be barge and ferry traffic that comes through, not sea vessels. That said said, I'm not entirely sure what type of defenses are put in place for river openings that lead into a city (I thought towers flanking them might be enough, but presumably there should be some high bridge?).

As for the traders market, the market would invariably form close to the docks I imagine, especially in a trade town, and the number of crafting workshops in the vicinity making people get up early to the docks to get the best trade. There are other more refined establishments and shops throughout the town, but I think it makes sense to have the oldest and most well used market by the docks, and that would presumably be one of the scruffiest and downtrodden areas?

04-04-2013, 09:35 PM
Thinking further on why the market bugs me, I think it stems from the dock location. The keep is the main reason the town formed, right? If you were building a keep, wouldn't you want the docks as close as possible? I think that's what drives my vague discomfort with the overall layout. Maybe another dock just south of the bridge on the west bank connects up with the open square area and a second, more upscale trade area?

04-04-2013, 10:36 PM
It depends on the docks, really. If it's docks that can house bigger ships than you might want to keep it away from your keep. Any water is a great way for invaders to get in, especially if it's difficult or impossible to close it off from the outside (like a sea). The closer people can dock to your keep, the quicker they could get to it and perhaps even overpower it before whoever lives in the keep can do something to stop them.

I think.

Cunning Cartographer
04-05-2013, 07:37 AM

Okay so I decided to flip the map and rethink the layout a little. The way I see it the eastern bank was the original settlement as most of the trade would come from the settlements to the east, so here you would have the wealthy merchants establishing their estates/houses relatively close to their businesses and the center of trade I would imagine. This would of course mean that they would be shoulder to shoulder with the industry/craft.

Over the water, in a more defensive location, stands the Barons keep, along with with what was initially the only temple that was to one of the Major gods. All this is away from the hubub, trade and noise of the town.

As the town begins to grow and expand (though it's still not a massive town and doesn't get that many passing travelers) it expands around the center of trade at the docks, as more people filter in the wealthy merchants no doubt slowly move away from the noise of the docks and relocate to the more peaceful western bank and thus the "Lord's District" is founded (though they're not necessarily lords). The buildings they originally owned in the Old Town may still be occupied by their families, or sold to newly arriving merchants, or converted into guild buildings etc. The Old town expands and then when it hits the walls begins spilling over into the eastern bank, but to the north and so still away from the Lord's District and a secondary bridge was built.

Also, added a personal dock to the keep :)

Scale of the buildings is still all over the place, and I've just shifted around images from my original map.

05-13-2013, 04:35 PM
the map is great, the intention if ink sketch make it real