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Thread: A question on structure size

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    Guild Artisan Gracious Donor LonewandererD's Avatar
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    Default A question on structure size

    Okay this is a question that has really being bugging me, we've all seen them, those MASSIVE fortresses and palaces that are just so epic that they scream high fantasy. However, I can't look at them without questioning would they even be able to stand up in real life, and as my understanding of physics is somewhat limited I through the question over to the learned members of the guild. Would it be possible to build structures like this that bound by the laws of real world physics?

    I ask because I want to have some sort of massive, ornate and iconic structure at the heart of the Dal capital and I won't know what my size limits would be; if it helps the Dal mainly use brick and heavy wooden beams in construction with large stone blocks being used as foundations or in defensive structures. I provided some examples below that I have found while wandering around the net. I remember it being mentioned somewhere that structures made of stone are limited in how big they can be become because the stone would begin to sink, is there a way around this? I suppose a simple solution be to simply carve it out of a mountain, like Tolkien's Minas Tirath, as the mountain itself would act as a solid foundation but what if I wanted to build from the ground up?

    It's not a major question, just a question I would greatly appreciate some insight on. Please remove this thread if it's innappropriate for this forum.

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      Vile is offline
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    Well, some of those would be feasible in stone - if they were mostly solid stone. Think Japanese castles, which are mostly a massive stone block wall backed with rubble and fill, and a wood-and-plaster fairytale castle built on the resulting platform(s). A lot of European gunpowder-era forts have the same principle. So your fantasy fortress would be mainly solid for most of the lower portion, with the exception of a few staircases and tunnels, perhaps.

    They only sink into the ground if there is nothing solid under the foundations, you would want to build all of those on solid bedrock.

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      jfrazierjr is offline
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    As Vile said, all of these are actually possible given solid foundation support. The only one that I can see that might not be(easily) possible without magic is the last one. Either the far side has series of switch backs to ascend(or this side are so small we can't see them), the mesa has a ramp or switchbacks inside a partially hollow interior base, or the building materials were moved up magically.
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      wlievens is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfrazierjr View Post
    As Vile said, all of these are actually possible given solid foundation support. The only one that I can see that might not be(easily) possible without magic is the last one. Either the far side has series of switch backs to ascend(or this side are so small we can't see them), the mesa has a ramp or switchbacks inside a partially hollow interior base, or the building materials were moved up magically.
    Maybe the building materials were made in situ when they stripmined the top of the mountain?
    They'd still have to get there of course.

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      DevinNight is offline
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    I think if you look at real buildings like Westminster Abbey, you'll see that quite large buildings can be constructed. Keeping in mind the Westminster has very tall walls with very little inside for strength, which is why it has all the flying butresses. If you were to add floors some additional supports and outbuildings connected by raised walkways that structure could easily rival most fantasy buildings.

    The thing that always holds me back is.. why would you need a building that large, what do you do with all the rooms, what purpose is it being built for?
    Then even less important for mapping but really important for gaming, is how would this really large building work in a game situation?

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      jfrazierjr is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by wlievens View Post
    They'd still have to get there of course.
    Heh.... my brain is sitting here thinking of a REALLY long rope ladder...It would tend to discourage unwanted visitors...
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      moutarde is offline
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    This a wikipedia link, so take or leave it, but there's a section in the Tower of Babel entry concerning the height of the tower, where it quotes a book that has some info on how tall the tower could have been before the weight of the stones above would have simply crushed the stones below.

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      ravells is offline
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    This is worth a watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXt2-xi2yLc

    I saw the whole programme over Christmas, he was saying that one of the problems with stone is that the higher you went, the larger the base had to be to stop the whole thing toppling over. Hence the design of the pyramids and the flying buttresses (which are base extensions) to ensure that the whole structure was kept under compression (stone is no good under tension).

    I love those massive fantasy buildings. I guess we all have our 'credulity breaking point' and on this subject mine is beyond Pluto. Give me cities with populations of millions and just one field, give me 600 foot high statutes! Give me vast populations living in underground caverns with no natural light! (Tolkien's dwarves must have all had rickets)! I love it all!!

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      ravells is offline
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    This is an interesting read: Skyscraper Necropoleis of the future! That would make a really cool addition to a fantasy city (and would make sense). In fact.....I think I will put one in the city I'm building at the moment! Thanks LoneW!

    And at the 2006 Venice Bienniale, South Korean architect Chanjoong Kim recently proposed “The Last House,” a skyscraper cemetery where a cell phone call could light up the specific receptacle of your loved one’s remains, so you could view them from a distance.

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      Talroth is offline
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    The first one appears questionable, but not completely impossible.

    The second one appears completely impossible. Those spires are way too thin and way too tall. Shrink most of it down a fair bit, and it should be fine, if still a rather questionable layout.

    The third is one I can't really decide on. There isn't much detail to suggest how big it is actually suppose to be. But if it really is at the closest point it could be, then it appears feasible.

    The fourth looks completely reasonable, except for the main gates, which I would have expected to be smaller. (It appears reasonable as it appears to simply be carved out of a hill. The upper dome would be hard to construct in that fashion, as I would have expected more support on the outer wall, but it would hold if the interior was suitably columned.)

    The last isn't going to happen. Two main things are wrong with it: 1 the base doesn't look like anything I've seen in natural stone, it looks like a tree. 2, it is way too tall for its height, running on rough guesses, I can't see something like that forming in nature beyond 1/3 of its height. The sides are far too vertical, and it would shear off at the first seismic event. (If not a strong wind)

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