I have dug out some pics from some castle tours that I have done in the past. Here is a picture of an indoor latrine. Now I am no historian so I do not know if the wood is a mock up or whether it is old. The second is one of these Guarderobes which was added to this castle in its latter years so it might be that in mid of the medieval times they did not build these kinds of things. Anyways - I know that some of you are a long way from old castles and you don't get these pics in many brochures !
Ah, the necessary room.
I have noticed their absence in many deckplans as well, deckplans are actually my speciality. My biggest problem as a planner is that I often include too many bathrooms, even on ships. Or at least what feels like too many to my sensibilities. The funny thing is when I ask women for input they say 'not enough' and when I ask men they say 'too many', which says a lot really when you think about it. I figure as long as they are both unsatisfied, I'm probably in the right 'ballpark' if you will forgive me.
One thing a lot of people miss when they do include bathrooms is that the bathrooms and other places of running water tend to be stacked upon one another. This is not always carved in stone, but it is so much easier to run the pipes that way you might want to consider it just from a designer perspective.
As to bathrooms in the pre-modern eras, it is my understanding that there were often places for public urination because of the use for the material itself (multiple agricultural uses, wool dying and even gunpowder in the later periods; lets not get into the teeth-whitening) rather than just using the streets. In fact there are times when the cry has gone out for urine collection in the aid of defense of the city, as in a bit of Confederate doggrel: "When a lady lifts her shift/She shoots a bloody Yankee...”
For mapping purposes however, the use of a restroom in some settings might not be that horrific a faux pas. I was doing a map for an Amber Diceless game once (Castle Amber herself) and suggested that tthere was a place for the restroom. The hue and cry went out, but given that Amber rests in the center of many different dimensions and has active trade with them, I think that a running water system would be one of the first things installed into the Castle. There might not be any gunpowder in Amber (before Corwin 'thoughtfully' brought it back) but the basic functions of fluid dynamics should work and at that oint its primarily a "would they have thought about that" sort of issue.
As for High Magic, I dunno. If they have lots of magic spread about like automatic quills and such, it probably isn't entirely out of whack. In that sort of setting, magic will be used in the important/viable places whenever possible, and having an indoor toilet is much better than a thundermug or a long ass trip in the cold and snowy season to the outhouse. It would get my vote before ever-inked quills.
The upshot is: I don't think it is something to always or necessarily be avoided in a pre-modern/fantasy style setting, but make darned certain that you have other examples of running water and the materials technology that is used in that process (tech for production and maintenance of the pipes themselves for example) present for that know-it-all that tells you it "wasn't possible". For myself however, I have grown tired of the complex explanations. Sometimes even though you did plan it out it is just something that is expected not to be there and no matter how reasonable some will simply not accept it. Nowadays I simply put the outhouse outside. I have done the same for some Post-Apocalyptic maps as well given that they understand the process, but the first time the systems break down they are probably not going to be able to fix it even if they know how. Unless of course they have plenty of parts and other equipment. Actually running water was the sign of prosperity in one of my Post-Apoc settings. They knew about indoor plumbing, many NPCs vocally lusted after it for the feeling of "normalcy" it gave, but it just wasn't always possible.
Despite common belief, nobody threw their stuff out the window. quite the opposite in fact it is known that most major cities had a law against it and almost all village/ town/ etc. wouldn't allow it.
Toilets most commonly came in Three Forms:
Public Bathhouse: For the Lower and most of the middle class, A Public Bathhouse was one of the centralized plumbing fixtures, now yes people did have chamber pots which was commonly mixed with the closest thing to trash then (apple cores, rotten leather, etc.) and then they took to the Bathhouse to empty. Those for the middle class were in much better conditions.
Bathrooms: Yes a LOT of people actually had bathrooms, in richer districts the people would have essentially brick seats with holes in them, the hole would lead to a lead or clay pipe which connected to the municipal plumbing system like the romans.
Composting Outhouse: almost all rural folk had composting Outhouse's, which could be emptied and the Humanure used as fertalizer.
And theres your scatological history lesson for today.
I hate to continue this subject, but I tend to agree with Arkkeeper. Given that Ageans, Indus, Sumerrians, Minoans,etc had many homes with some type of indoor facilities 3000+ years ago, it is not inconceivable that in many locales that some way would be fashioned. I would say that other than solid rock (in which case there many still be a way) or marshland, the soil could be dug down enough for many if not all homes to have a sewer system installed and properly maintained.
Not even counting the overtly magical solutions of magic items or magical sewer keepers, there are also ecological solutions possible for some of the larger towns, namely creatures such as gelatinous cubes or the like which may be in a chamber built underneath the main city.
Man, I cant believe this thread has been ressurected again. There has been more time devoted to this topic than almost any other. Who knew ;). Anyway I believe the points are all well made.
This seems to be the topic that just refuses to flush.
I think it's time to rename this topic 'The floater'.....eeewwww!!
Well I just thought I should put in my expertise.
Personally I'm glad this thread is still active. I gives folks something to consider as they look for making maps more realistic and by extension their games. Not that I would want to roleplay the use of said facilities, but they could be an important plot point or similar.
In fact, we used a "chute" to enter a border fort in a game once. I won't go into detail, but it was quite memorable and the lengths we went through to keep from getting "soiled" were quite humorous.
What would that expertise be in? :)
Originally Posted by Arkkeeper
the pooper. lol. no I just meant what I knew about the subject thats all.