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View Full Version : May/June Lite Challenge - Floating City of Khuramunz



anomiecoalition
05-18-2013, 07:57 PM
This month's challenge theme actually dovetails nicely with my Troglodyte lair from last month. There, the PCs got thrown into a cavern which turned out to be a secret entry point for smuggled cargo. So, for this month's challenge, I thought I'd map the smuggler's off-shore hideout.

"The Floating City of Khuramunz" - Home of the Plundering Horde...Basic idea is that a smuggler's/pirate's guild of sorts has set up a floating base of operations a few dozen miles off shore. This is where territory is divided up, inter-guild quarrels are settled, and ships can safely off load/seek repairs in the absence of a friendly port.

In many ways, the city will be a mix between "Waterworld" (Really bad Kevin Costner movie from the 90s) and the Ancient Aztec City of Tenochtitlan. Small city kept afloat by millions of empty barrels strung together and anchored to the sea floor. The city is protected by a ring of ships tethered together and with rope bridges connecting each ship to the city. The "city" itself is quite small and mostly consists of taverns/whorehouses/gambling halls, etc. At the center is the guild house which will be a multi-story building capped by a light tower.

I just started thinking about this and sketching things out today...so really open to suggestions. I'm also trying to figure out whether I want to try to map it with CC3 (which i'm much more comfortable and competent with) or photoshop...

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- Max -
05-18-2013, 08:06 PM
Seems an interesting setting/concept. Looking forward to see how it will go

Bogie
05-18-2013, 08:06 PM
Cool Idea!

foremost
05-18-2013, 08:07 PM
This looks awesome for a draft! I am looking forward to seeing how this comes out. How big are you planning this floating-city to be? I'd imagine it would have to be circled by 50 ships in order to support a complete and self-supporting population. Fishing might play a big role here?

Lingon
05-19-2013, 05:35 PM
This should be really cool, I love the concept of floating cities. If you are going for that rough, improvised, piratey look, maybe it should have a less regular shape? Either way, looking forward to updates!

anomiecoalition
05-21-2013, 03:16 AM
Yar...Took Lingon's advice and resketched my floating city to have a less regular shape. Figured that it should develop the way any other city would (i.e. from the old city outwards.) So, the this little city began with the "Captain's Quarter" which was nothing more than a floating hideout for a ambitious band of pirates. After consolidating some of their power, they needed to expand the city to accommodate more and more pirate gangs that affiliated with their organization. The original outer wall became the Captain's Quarter (home to the best brothels and rum in whatever fantasy world this belongs in) while new sections have been added from time to time (ultimately getting to its current shape - which is walled in as well.)

@Foremost - My use of the word "city" is deceptive...I envision this to be more of a floating village that probably only 600' x 600'. (Assuming that each square in my sketch is about 20' - which may change...) Its primary function is to serve as a well defended meeting place for this pirate gang to coordinate their activities/make repairs/unload cargo when friendly ports can't be found. Because there is always ships coming in and out with supplies, it doesn't need to be entirely self-sustaining. So, I'm thinking that it probably would have anywhere between 10-30 ships at any point.

Here's another sketch - probably will try to start working on this in earnest this week. Suggestions and Criticisms are welcomed!

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Lingon
05-21-2013, 11:34 AM
Yup, that looks like it's grown in a more organic way. Nice! One thing I noticed: the brothels and blacksmiths seem to share buildings ;) I also imagine a floating city would, even if lots of supplies are coming in on ships, have many more fisheries as those who live there would do what they can to make money, and everyone needs food and fishing is rather easy to pick up. Of course, they might be selling their catch on town squares instead, so maybe a pointless point :P

Bogie
05-21-2013, 12:36 PM
Coming along good AC! Nice changes.

anomiecoalition
05-21-2013, 12:43 PM
Thanks....good call on the Bs...changed my key for Brothels to "BR" (in the map the big B building was supposed to be a brothel). And yes, I imagine there will be quite a few fisheries and little docks surrounding the city (just haven't gotten around to populating the whole thing yet) :)

Other buildings I think I need: A general supply type store (for restocking), a smuggler's trading market (for regulated exchange of plunder), perhaps a gambling house, a few shacks for peasant type workers, a few nicer dwellings for the captains in that quarter... Anything else you guys can think of?

My plan is to map it out on paper a little further before trying to commit it to the computer.

Bogie
05-21-2013, 07:07 PM
Slave / prisoner holding area.

Korash
05-21-2013, 08:23 PM
Would not the brothels, gambling dens and taverns all be served by the same locations, and I would also assume that there would be quite a few of these establishments. I am quite sure that a bunch of pirates might not be the most harmonious group, and that some ship crews would not drink well with crews of some other ships. Prisoner hold would be a def. YES.....Pirates love to ransom important prisoners. I think that the Shipwright might have a dedicated dock for his ship building/repairing.

I am liking this idea, and am waiting for the next WIP :)

anomiecoalition
05-22-2013, 05:19 PM
What pirate city would be complete with a several prisons...I've actually decided that since one of the more lucrative black markets in my campaign world is the slave trade (since its loosely based off Al-Qadim...and there slavery is a big no-no), these smugglers/pirates would certainly be heavily involved...and since they already have them, they are using them to do most of the jobs in the city itself. All of this is to say that I will have 2 or 3 "prison" type buildings to hold those who are being kept for ransom, but I will also have a small slave quarter where less "valuable" slaves are fed, stored, and traded.

@Korash - absolutely right that in a city this small brothels, gambling houses, and taverns would not be separate...instead, this city employs "pleasure palaces" - a pirates one-stop shopping experience. There will be lots of them throughout the city and I'm also going to have little "peace-keeper" barracks spread about.

Also - I think your right that "Ship Wrights" typically have their own dock to build/repair ships. In this case, the docks on the east side of the main entrance serves as sort of a private entrance reserved for the important captains. All those other docks are reserved for repair work. I figured that all of the other ships "park" in the circle surrounding the city and unload their wares through the rope bridges that connect them to the island.

So - started filling in my sketch a bit
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And - started drafting it out in Photoshop. I decided that since I have a fair amount of free time on my hands over the next few weeks, this would be a good opportunity to try to learn how to make a city map with that program (far more comfortable with CC3 most of the time).

So - any tips, tricks, pointers, criticisms and suggestions about the city layout or photoshop techniques are thoroughly appreciated.

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Bogie
05-22-2013, 09:23 PM
The texture of the boards looks out of focus - blurred. Since this would have been built in sections as th town grew, the decking should be more of a patchwork.

anomiecoalition
05-24-2013, 01:47 AM
The texture of the boards looks out of focus - blurred. Since this would have been built in sections as th town grew, the decking should be more of a patchwork.

Its like you're reading my mind...Not 100% sold on the hatch i'm using or the way i've used it here...but...

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Bogie
05-24-2013, 08:51 AM
Definitely better!

anomiecoalition
05-24-2013, 07:37 PM
Played around with the wood planking some more - ended up using this technique (http://web.archive.org/web/20100822073826/http://www.io.com/~sjohn/uresia-maps.htm) to create non-repeating planking pattern. Not sure how I feel about mixing the two when you zoom in, but I think I like it zoomed out. (Thoughts...)

Also took an initial stab at the main building and the docks. Not sure if I should make a break in the wall for the docks. I suppose if I didn't then we would have to assume that there is a door through the wall leading to docks...not sure how I feel about that idea. Alternatively (Option #2), I could cut away the walls a bit in the area immediately around the docks. (Thoughts...)

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Here's an attempt at Option #2

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KenG
05-24-2013, 10:32 PM
This looks great, I prefer the option #1 around the docks. Maybe add some stairs or ladders on the water side of the walls.
KenG

Bogie
05-24-2013, 11:15 PM
I prefer option 2, you need room to unload the ships.

Welcome to the Guild KenG

anomiecoalition
05-27-2013, 02:15 PM
I decided to go with option 2 - I think it ultimately makes more logical sense and creates a more interesting wall shape

Made some updates over the long weekend. Most notably, I redid the coloring of the planks, added some buildings, redid the walls, and created 3 separate partitions (aside from the captain's quarter in the middle and the slave quarter next to it). 3 roughly equal sized areas where the 3 dominant gangs congregate (one of the gangs is primarily focused on the slave trade, so the slave quarter may be considered theirs as well.)

I tried making my own brushes for the buildings - but, found that once I figured out how to do it, it was actually easier to create each building individually with the path tool and a series of layers for the fill and shading (rather than try to rotate them around and fit them to the size I wanted). So, the process is time consuming but I kinda like how its coming out so far.

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jtougas
05-27-2013, 02:35 PM
Looks really good. At this scale the detail of the planking seems a little large but it does impart the right "feel" for this. I would agree with Bogie that something like this might be built in sections and of varying types of wood as the need arose. Maybe you could add some "weathered" sections to contrast with the newer construction. Overall this is a great idea and fabulous execution. :)

Bogie
05-27-2013, 07:48 PM
Looking great, love the layout.

anomiecoalition
05-27-2013, 07:58 PM
Thanks guys. @JT - Yeah, the planking seems a little large zoomed in, but any smaller makes it look real messy zoomed out. Plus, it actually turns out that at the proper scale each plank is only about 3ft wide (The "city" is only about 600 ft in diameter). But, i'll definitely have to try creating that weathered uneven planking effect later on when I can a chance to clean things up and focus on the real details.

So, now I have at least half the buildings done....after that, I'll try to figure out how to do the ships (still have no idea how i'm going to depict them) and i'll have to expand the canvas a bit to make room for them and a key.

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jtougas
05-27-2013, 08:01 PM
This really looks great and you know me the messier and more worn out the better. :)

anomiecoalition
05-28-2013, 02:51 AM
Got a little more done....

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jtougas
05-28-2013, 04:45 PM
I love the crowded feel of this. I can imagine walking those narrow streets with the sounds and smells of pirates and crooked shopkeeps ladies of the evening and drunken bums begging for coin. Fabulous job !! :)

Bogie
05-29-2013, 10:42 PM
It's really coming together nice AC!!

anomiecoalition
05-31-2013, 11:22 PM
Thanks guys.

So - slight detour on the actual city map. I'm gonna need some ships to go around the city and although there are some great objects available for download on Dunjinni, I thought I would take a stab at making my own to plop down. So, here's a working draft (made in CC3). Never made a ship before (and I have no personal knowledge of ship stuff) so all comments and criticisms are welcomed. In particular, wondering if I'm on the right track with the sails...

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Bogie
06-01-2013, 01:45 AM
Nice work, I like it! I also have little boating experience, but I was told that one of the boats I made was wrong because the deck planks are supposed to run front to back not side to side. I do not know if that is true or if it really matters but just passing that on since you asked. I think you did a very nice job with the sails except that I doubt they would be transparent, unless they were made of spider silk. Most sail cloth or canvas is solid.

jtougas
06-01-2013, 03:39 PM
I think it looks really good. I would agree with Bogie on the plank orientation but to be honest I don't think it's that big a deal. You could try a little shadow on your sails to give them some depth as well as upping the opacity. Obviously a ship at dock would furl sail so I think your on the right track :)

Schwarzkreuz
06-01-2013, 04:35 PM
Oh this is a great Idea!

anomiecoalition
06-01-2013, 06:45 PM
Thanks all - made some changes to the ship and I think this is as far as I need to go with it (for now...) since most of the details are going to get lost in the overall city map anyways.

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Here's a test of the ships thrown into the full map. Still gotta move them around to exactly where I want them and some other tinkering with their shadows...

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jtougas
06-01-2013, 07:59 PM
The ship looks really good now. This is just a nitpick but all the ships looking the same looks a little "canned" Either way this is very good. :)

anomiecoalition
06-01-2013, 08:59 PM
Agreed...thought about that as I was placing them. Just not sure of how else to do it. Originally, I was planning on making 3 types of ships (to represent the 3 major pirate factions - one that specializes in mercenary type work, another that does traditional bread and butter goods/slave smuggling, and the last one which is more of a stealthy type of pirate group.)...but not sure if I have the energy to do all that at the moment - so for now, its just one ship with the northern half facing counter-clockwise and the southern half facing clockwise. Open to any suggestions anyone has to placing them better.

jtougas
06-01-2013, 09:12 PM
I can certainly understand not wanting to do a bunch of different ships. As for placement I guess it would depend on what's easiest for the captains. Currents and wind direction all have an effect on a ship docking. If the currents are strong against the ship as it docks it might have to come in under sail or use some sort of winching maneuver whereby the ship lowers a smaller boat and the sailors row to the dock using the ships winches to pull the ship into her berth. Of course this is all probably too much detail but it's something to think about. Also while they all look very orderly, are pirate captains that neat? maybe you could try to move a few of the ships just a hair one way or the other to create a little more organic arrangement. In the end this is all just fluff on top of a great entry !! :)

Korash
06-02-2013, 10:39 AM
AC, I am not sure what happened here but it seems that the Thumbnail scrapper is pulling up your ship instead of the town map. I tried to fix it but I couldn't figure out how to do it.

I like what you have going here, and think that slight variations in ship size, angle and color would go a long way in breaking up the similarities.

anomiecoalition
06-02-2013, 01:33 PM
Thanks for the suggestions guys. Here's an update with some variation in color, size, and angle.

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*With Rope Bridges and some adjustments to the ocean layers.

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Korash
06-02-2013, 08:36 PM
Yup, THAT broke up the similarities quite a bit. I LIKE IT :)

I just thought of something though...These ARE functioning ships right? Not just permanently tied to the docks right? 'Cause if the were fixed, why the sails.....?

Bogie
06-02-2013, 09:29 PM
Excellent with the new ships!

KenG
06-03-2013, 11:08 PM
This looks great AC. One idea would be to change the sail colors to show the factions.

anomiecoalition
06-05-2013, 02:19 AM
Thanks guys!

@Korash - Yep, the majority are meant to be functioning ships that come and go as they please. As I envision it, the faction which controls the city in an administrative sense has a few ships at their disposal (bigger olive colored ships) which are relatively permanent (wouldn't want to leave it unprotected) but do venture out from time to time.

@Ken - Great suggestion, thought had crossed my mind, and may still do that

Redid the walls and some of the buildings...tried to clean a few things up. I'd like to start doing some labeling, but not sure how to do it without cluttering the whole thing up...

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Bogie
06-05-2013, 01:24 PM
This just keeps getting better and better!!:) The new walls look great.

jtougas
06-05-2013, 04:34 PM
That looks fantastic !! the layout of the ships is much more "natural" now and the whole thing looks awesome. For labeling you could try numbering the important buildings and then create a key. That's what I usually do for crowded maps like this. This is really great !! :)

anomiecoalition
06-07-2013, 02:35 PM
Thanks guys - Small update...labeled the different sections of the city (for each of the gangs) and made a compass.

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Bogie
06-08-2013, 11:55 PM
Fantastic compass AC.

anomiecoalition
06-10-2013, 08:33 PM
Added a border, cleaned a few things up, and started thinking about building labels. I'm sort of leaning towards not doing any building labels...map already feels pretty busy...but we'll see.

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WillP
06-10-2013, 11:01 PM
I would think that a cobbled-together pirate city wouldn't have enough dedicated use buildings to warrant labeling.

Bogie
06-11-2013, 12:48 PM
I like the border, it goes well with the compass and the font.

I would vote no labels, or just a few.

anomiecoalition
06-13-2013, 01:33 PM
I was also thinking that labels were gonna muddy things up more (thanks for the validation). I think this will be my last update (unless there are any objections/suggestions).

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Bogie
06-13-2013, 02:52 PM
Actually, I think you should scrap this and start over, do it all in hot pink with flamingos !!!! Just Kidding!;)

Lingon
06-13-2013, 03:17 PM
The color tweak was an excellent choice, gave it a quite intriguing mood! Hot pink and flamingos sounds really good though…