PDA

View Full Version : What's In the City?



Aval Penworth
02-10-2010, 08:20 AM
There are clearly some well educated characters on this forum, who know a lot about history, literature, geography and economics. Has there been a discussion thread about all the important elements of a city/town/region?

I'm talking about answers to questions like..What can no town do without? Where would the garrison most likely be? How big would market places need to be to support a given town size? Etc etc etc.

Also, what are some clever or interesting elements you have included or seen in a city?

I'm sure that this discussion has already taken place... but so far I can't find it.

Demonsozen
02-10-2010, 11:04 AM
Everything, in my opinion, is relative. So, if you have a big town, you need a big market. Small town, small market.

(I'm not much of a military guy) so I don't know about the Garrison. I had a teacher named Mr Garrison. But thats about it. :)

thebax2k
02-10-2010, 01:22 PM
Aval, that's a tricky question to answer. I would start by going to this site: http://www.rpglibrary.org/utils/meddemog/ and looking at the bottom where all of the businesses are listed. Obviously your city does not need all of them, but if it is based on the middle ages, than it will have many of them. I would say that no city, at a bare minimum, based on history would be without merchants/a market, taverns, inns, and restaurants, a blacksmith, a temple, a well/wells and or water source, and a government structure (such as the keep). The keep/garrison will be located on the most defensible land feature in or near the city--so if there is a hill, then the keep/castle will be built on top of that. Or, if waterways and the coastline form a peninsula, the keep would likely be on the peninsula for the greatest defensability. If the area is completely flat without any natural features that would aid in defensability, then the keep/castle will likely have been built on a massive scale with multiple curtain walls and towers to command the area around it. Although its fantasy based, take a look on Dragonsfoot.org in the map section, there is an excellent map of the kind of castle that would be built in an area with few natural defenses.

Another good answer to your question is: what do you need for your characters to further their adventures and have a place to blow off steam? A city in a game or story is ultimately a backdrop or setting for the pcs/characters within that game/story. So, make sure you have an inn/tavern, a thieves guild (and requisite sewer tunnels with nasties), a mages guild or a mages tower or towers, and plenty of locales for plot/adventure hooks. Take a look at the Citybook series from Flying Buffalo or the X Quarter series (Temple, Arcane, etc.) from the Game Mechanics. Both have loads of locales that while not necessarily mandatory for a city, provide plenty of adventure potential.

Meridius
02-10-2010, 01:26 PM
Don't think too much in singularity. Big city generally means MORE markets rather than bigger markets. As a rule, you could say that market squares don't grow, but get replaced by by bigger ones, but they don't continually get bigger, rather they specialize. For example: many cities had a 'fish market'.

Mainly think about food. That's produced locally, except for the fancy stuff. Try to imagine a poor and an average medieval family, and what they would need DAILY. All those products are produced locally, in the city, or at least is sold on one of the city markets.

Remember that city-people think their city is best, and want to show it. So important buildings like religious buildings will get progressively bigger as the city grows.

For numbers you should simply google how many breads a baker can bake in a day. Let's say people eat one bread daily. That means every person in the city buys one bread a day. So let's say the baker bakes 250 breads daily (I don't know how much is realistic for a medieval baker, but 250 sounds like a lot) that means a city of 4000 has at least 16 bakers. Once again the numbers may be off, but it's just an example. However, with bigger cities, the number of rich people will rise as well, so luxury variants of normal occupations arise too... Also, big bakeries is something, one large bakery, with several personnel.

My advise, don't try to point out each artisan. In case of an RPG, just point out the special ones, otherwise don't bother, just be sure to throw in more than one bakery so you can point anyone who asks at least one, but don't even label it.

We don't need to actually BUILD that city, we just need to draw it. So our objective is believability. Citybuilding on micro-level (planning each proverbial bakery) is quite complex, but we only need to make it LOOK believable. I do like realism though, so just start thinking up some stuff an average or poor family will need.

edit: Oh, and the garrison, keep your soldiers where you need them. That means: near gates and other defensive structures.

Carnifex
02-10-2010, 03:47 PM
Ascension have made an excellent town-tutorial with advices on how to build the village/town/city:

http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?6536-Photoshop-Town-Tutorial

arsheesh
02-10-2010, 05:13 PM
Another helpful quick and helpful guide to medieval region/city demographics and economics can be found here:

http://www.io.com/~sjohn/demog.htm

as well as a great discussion within the Guild, found here:

http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?8305-Cartographical-Economics-and-Demographics-A-Guide-to-Realism&highlight=cartographical+Economics+demographics

Cheers,

-Arsheesh

su_liam
02-10-2010, 10:23 PM
As Meridius says, cities don't grow by upscaling singular facilities. A city doubles in population, it doesn't have bakeries twice as big. Also, the bigger it gets, the less likely it is that there will be twice as many bakeries. It will gain new, larger bakeries, markets and other facilities. Some of the old facilities will be repurposed or torn down. Some will continue to compete in the new larger city. I figure there would be a*P^n facilities of a size b*P^s, where P is the population served, a & b are proportionality constants for the facility type, n is the exponent for number of facilities, s is the exponent for facility size, and n+s should be equal to 1. It should be noted that P is not necessarily the population of the city, but the population of the city and the hinterlands it serves. The hinterland population will also be a function of the size of the city, so let's say, P=h*p^q, where h is a proportionality constant for hinterland size relative to city size, p is the population of the city itself, and q is the exponent of growth with respect to city size.

I'm pretty confident with my math, but I'll leave determination of proportionality constants and exponents as an exercise for the student. If you come up with some rigorous numbers, you should find a Human Geography journal to publish in. Have fun!

Aval Penworth
02-10-2010, 10:36 PM
There we go! Lot's of great stuff.

I'm not wanting to go too micro myself, but from a GM's POV when characters are wandering around a city it's nice to have a plausible array of NPC occupations and businesses. So the links thus far are very helpful.

It also helps a lot in planning a city map to know what a city of that size would need to exist at all.

On a more RPG related note, what are some fantastic and unusual city inclusions you have seen?

As a player or GM I am always getting inspiration from interesting areas I see on city maps too.

Like if I see "Enbalmers Quarter", "Queen Emelda's Sylvan Petting Zoo", "Arhad's Fighting School", "Leaguehouse of Inglorious Bastards," or "The Governor's Gryphon Rookery" on a map, there's a spate of adventures right there!

Ascension
02-10-2010, 11:06 PM
Things like that can be added anywhere, the main idea behind drawing a city is to just draw a bunch of roofs for variously shaped buildings. You don't really need to know what each building is and how many adults or children or servants live there. Save that info for special things that are of interest to the story. That being said, I'm quite anal myself so I, indeed, figure out everything about each building...but that really slows things down.

Aval Penworth
02-11-2010, 01:01 AM
Sure most buildings are just filler, and most buildings useages can be decided later. However if you dont plan a major feature like a zoo, arena or a college in your city before hand, how are you going to place it in the city afterword? That's what I'm talk'n 'bout.

Anyway the point of my last post was to invite creative and interesting ideas for city inclusions people might not have thought of themselves.:idea:

Edit: You can't add something to your town if you never think of it. Hence my invitation for ideas.

su_liam
02-11-2010, 01:05 PM
Hmm. University(ies), bars, pubs & liquoraria , sports stadia, theatres(high-class opera houses to honky-tonks and burlesque shows), marketplaces(everything from enclosed shops to stands in a market-square to guys standing on a corner in Knifeside hawking stolen watches), hotels & inns, parks & greenspaces, palaces(not just of the king but of nobility and pretentious merchants), temples(mustn't forget temples), mills, dives, docks, caravansaries, barbers & surgeries, stables, wells, ditches for...stuff, and... um... did I miss anything?

NeonKnight
02-11-2010, 02:08 PM
What should a city have? Well, I have this here list of businesses kicking around that I have had for around 20 years (I know it's that old, cause it was printed on DOT MATRIX!). So, here we go:

Accountant, alchemist, animal dealer, animal trainer, apothecary (Druggist), bait shop, bakery, barber, bank, barrel wright, bath house, beautician, bindery (book maker), black smith, book shop, bordello, bowyer (bowmaker), brass worker, brewery, broom/brush maker, builder, butcher, cabinet maker, candy shop, carpenter, carpenter, carpet maker, cartographer, chandler (candle maker), cheese shop, cobbler (shoe maker), cooper (wooden cask maker), customs house, dagger shop, dairy, distillery, engineer, fabric shop, farmer's market, financier/lender, fishmonger, fletcher (arrow maker), florist, forger (gerneral metal worker), foundry(metal casting), freight company, furniture maker, fortune teller, furrier, gambling house, gem smith, glass blower, gold smith, granary, healer, herbalist, inn, jeweler, Kiln (shop for drying material), Lamp/Oil Shop, lapidary (gem polisher & engraver), lawyer, leather worker, limner (illustrator/painter), locksmith, lumber shop, magic shop, mason (stone worker), metal smith, mill, money changer, painter (of structure, not pictures), perfumery (perfume maker), potter, rope maker, sage, sail maker, seamstress, scribe, ship wright, silver smith, slaughter house, soap maker, stable, sword shop, tack shop, tailor, tannery, tavern, taxidermist, thatcher (thatch roof maker/repairer), tinker (household utensil fixer/seller), tool maker, toy shop, trading post, undertaker, wainwright (wagon maker), weaver, weapon smith, wheel wright (wheel maker), wood carve

Now, the above list is not exhaustive by any means. Other things cities need but not neccessarily be present is:

Sewer workers, town criers (herald news, etc), lamp lighters, porters/taxis (The existed in some form or another for centuries), street sweepers and privy cleaners (these people removed the waste from streets and outhouses), messengers.

In other cities, there would be slave dealers and other sorts dealing with aspects of our society that we no longer have.

Additionally, cities would have colleges, universities,churches, temples, public offices for senates, bureaucrat, mayors, nobility etc.

LutwikWienholdt
02-15-2010, 02:57 PM
A town / city grows from a small settlement to a huge metropolis. new marketplaces will be established, f. exp. if the old one is too far away or merchants will group wares. City walls will be expanded, if the new settlers beyond the walls need cover, etc. And over the years of development many houses will be used in different ways. So I don't think there's an universal list of things a town needs. It depends on the citizens, the surrounding / region (are wares imported or selfmade, which wares are forbidden, are there cultural restrictions - no alcohol, no pigs), and many many other cultural, enviromental & political influences.

Aval Penworth
02-22-2010, 05:53 PM
Well thanks everyone. We certainly have an excellent little resource here for any newcomers wanting to plan and populate a city.

Al. I. Cuza
02-23-2010, 03:00 AM
So I don't think there's an universal list of things a town needs.

Of course there isn't. But there certainly is a list of basic buildings you will find in any city, and there is another list of possible things you could find. For me personally it is hard to think of a city out of frame. That's why I always get backtracked. For me to be able to draw a city, I must have all the details about the land it is in, the trade routes that go through, the resources that exist or have to be imported. I have to think about the different races that exist in the world, what their role is and if they are so important, that they need a separate neighborhood. Then comes the history. Like many of you said, you should be able to see the growth of a city. Small outdated buildings may be torn down, newer ones build on top of them. Wars or fires may devastate the city, making room for areas were the ruler could plan the city in strict geometrical patterns, etc...

In my opinion a city is the hardest mapping objective one could think of.

NeonKnight
02-23-2010, 01:06 PM
Of course there isn't. But there certainly is a list of basic buildings you will find in any city, and there is another list of possible things you could find. For me personally it is hard to think of a city out of frame. That's why I always get backtracked. For me to be able to draw a city, I must have all the details about the land it is in, the trade routes that go through, the resources that exist or have to be imported. I have to think about the different races that exist in the world, what their role is and if they are so important, that they need a separate neighborhood. Then comes the history. Like many of you said, you should be able to see the growth of a city. Small outdated buildings may be torn down, newer ones build on top of them. Wars or fires may devastate the city, making room for areas were the ruler could plan the city in strict geometrical patterns, etc...

In my opinion a city is the hardest mapping objective one could think of.

Exactly.

Something I try and always incorporate into my cities that I seldom see in any other cities is (beyond my usual complaint of buildings that are never cramped together) is a sense of versimilitude. Where are the granaries for the storage of food/grain? These should often be located near the docks for easier transport. Another thing is the tanneries. Far too often I see these situated within the city walls, somewhere they would never be situated. Tanneries, because of the sheer stench of the chemicals they worked with were often relegated outside the city walls, and in a location where the prevailing winds would put them downwind.

These are just a couple of examples any city mapper should contemplate and perhaps do a little pre-mapping research on.

Xyll
02-23-2010, 02:00 PM
The issue with mapping a city and determining real values is all based on what type of city you are making. To build a city in a fantasy world would indicate a different set of values due to the possibility of magic or just a different concept of how things should flow together. To model a different race or culture on a middle age European design seems absurd. Also you are assuming human baseline technology. Also perhaps a dictator requires building codes that would have never existed. The options are endless and to apply real world limitations on a fantasy world is kinda silly unless that is the style you want.

I do agree that most cities should be built small then expanded based on growth much like Cyotemax did on his town.

Al. I. Cuza
02-23-2010, 02:57 PM
Well, a city didn't even have to expand. Some cities were planned and build by large wealthy states from scrap (these are the ones with strict geometrical patterns).

And of course it is stupid to apply only real world limitations. But you have to make the city believable. Some limitations may apply, even if they are fantastic ones. I for one don't like to think only of cities in medieval times, but also in ancient times, maybe even the Victorian or Napoleonic eras. You have to start somewhere, even if the city is set in a completely fantastic frame. And to explain every illogically placed building or resource, etc.. through magic is something I don't like to do.

Xyll
02-23-2010, 03:44 PM
Unless you label every structure it should be assumed to fill the roles proper to the area. Besides who ever said city builders had to be logical :)

Sorry do not want to fight but strict thinking in a fantasy world often irks me such as the river police. :) but that is another story.

Al. I. Cuza
02-23-2010, 05:14 PM
It's probably mainly about how fantasy your world really is. Clearly you can build a world, where rivers flow up the mountains or where the rules of physics and economics generally don't apply. The question is just how difficult you want to make it for yourself and the ones who will use your maps/read your stories/play your campaigns.

Larb
02-23-2010, 09:13 PM
As you may have noticed from my own maps, I tend to draw all the buildings individually, but I don't want to name every single one. I DO want to be able to point out a specific building, which I think it different. For example for my galbrin map, I have a list of the important buildings and merchants. I also plan out my cities with these important buildings in mind.

But I'd never try and name every single building in a city (a village is different because there are far fewer buildings). Not only because it's very time consuming, but also because it leaves less room for expanding on things later.