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Thread: Distance in Maps

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      Carbus is offline
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    Default Distance in Maps

    Hello guys, one of my main questions about cartography is the scale of maps, and the distances inside it. When I start making a map I always end up with question like "How big is a town acceptable? 5-10-50 km wide?" or "Between two cities, what would be an acceptable distance? And for village? castles?" Obviously each fiction map can have it's own rules and differences, but I'm going for a common ground for the start. So do you guys now any book, tutorial, article or even a post here in the forum that can help me? Thanks a lot!

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      Larb is offline
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    I can't really point you to specific books as it's actually a more complicated question than it might first seem. You're probably going to have to do a bit of digging to find answers to all your questions and you'll find it it's not the same for every culture, place, and time.

    But basically it comes down to things like transport and most transport is walking if we're going with a traditional medieval fantasy setting. Cities often saw big changes in size when new transport options became available, which is why they tended to be small up until recently. You have to walk between the market/bakery and your place of residence/work to get food. You don't wanna be walking 5 miles there and 5 miles back if possible. If you're traveling from town to town along a well used road, you'll find villages at least within a days walk of each other.

    In regards to castles, they have a err... "zone of control" or sphere of influence I guess you can call it. So you can only send out soldiers so far if you expect them to fight the same day. That's why the high density of castles in Wales was effective in bringing it under english control.

    But the circumstances can be different from place to place! So I'd start by thinking "how long will it take me to walk there".

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      Larb is offline
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    Oh, and the average human walking speed is between 3 and 4 miles per hour. I think that is on even ground. Obviously terrain, health, and whatever you're carrying will impact that.

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      Carbus is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larb View Post
    Oh, and the average human walking speed is between 3 and 4 miles per hour. I think that is on even ground. Obviously terrain, health, and whatever you're carrying will impact that.
    Thank you for the response Larb, I know it's a difficult question, but you managed to give me some guidance! I always struggle in the terms of, how acceptable is it to have two major cities next to each other...but thanks again for info on walking spped, and the castle zone of control!

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      ravells is offline
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    If you look in the Reference Material section of the site you'll find stuff on the population sizes of cities over time plotted against their geographical size. I know I posted something there a long time ago which some scholarly research article on just that subject.

    If I remember rightly if you are talking about medieval cities, a square mile was considered pretty large and could hold tens of thousands of people.

    For city and town spacing it's pretty easy, just look at an old map. There are lots in the Reference Material section, check out the stickies there.

    Here is some info

    (Google Books is a goldmine)

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