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Thread: Size of a City

  1. #1
      Khairn is offline
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    Post Size of a City

    I'm working on my first city, and have been unhappy with the scale that I have used for the size of the city, and was looking for some guidelines or tips.

    The actual city is Corbhen, The City of Mists that is situated in the kingdom of Ord, for those of you who are familiar with the Iron Kingdoms setting. Its a fantasy / steampunk city of originally 100,000 people, but is now down to approx 50,000. The city is described as being walled with a few sizable buildings that are used as landmarks (Castle, Cathedral and Coliseum). Its an old city that has been built, conquered, almost destroyed and rebuilt more than once. Technology level is set at about the early Renaissance.

    So my questions are something along the lines of the following ...
    What would be an "appropriate" size for a city of 100,000? 5 Square km? 10 Square km's? Is there a "rule of thumb" that you use?

    Thanks in advance for the help.

  2. #2
      jfrazierjr is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Khairn View Post
    I'm working on my first city, and have been unhappy with the scale that I have used for the size of the city, and was looking for some guidelines or tips.

    The actual city is Corbhen, The City of Mists that is situated in the kingdom of Ord, for those of you who are familiar with the Iron Kingdoms setting. Its a fantasy / steampunk city of originally 100,000 people, but is now down to approx 50,000. The city is described as being walled with a few sizable buildings that are used as landmarks (Castle, Cathedral and Coliseum). Its an old city that has been built, conquered, almost destroyed and rebuilt more than once. Technology level is set at about the early Renaissance.

    So my questions are something along the lines of the following ...
    What would be an "appropriate" size for a city of 100,000? 5 Square km? 10 Square km's? Is there a "rule of thumb" that you use?

    Thanks in advance for the help.
    Thats not so easy a question to answer. A lot of it depends on social, political, and technological levels. For example, is there a caste system where merchants, nobles, and commoners are separated? Do large extended families live together? Are buildings compact, largish, or span multiple levels? Is there city planning done or was the city built haphazardly? What type of natural resources are around? Is timber or stone plentiful? Is man made masonry available and fairly inexpensive?

    Generally, lower income merchants would probably live either above or in a back room in their shop, while higher income merchants may have a seperate house or compound and perhaps rent out a room over/behind their shops to a store "manager". The number of levels of buildings would also drastically change the landscape. For example, image having a shop with a back room for one employee(and perhaps a wife and child), 2nd level for the owner and his family, perhaps including his parents and wifes parents, and a 3rd level for additional employees or perhaps rented out dwellings.
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  3. #3
      Hoel is offline
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    Why not compare it to some real-world city?
    Tell me when you're planning out the defences and I'll take a look at it. Might have a few pointers.

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    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    London was around that size in the 1500's. No time to look for a map at the moment, but if I recall correctly the famous English cartographer John Speed lived during that century.
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    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Didn't someone post a link somewhere in the forums about city planning?

    I tried doing a search, but couldn't seem to some up with anything.
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      ravells is offline
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    Ah that may have been the first chapter of the city design book I'm writing. It's in the tutorial section. Link Here.

    I must get a hurry on with chapter 2.

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    @Ravs - Yeah pretty sure that's what I was thinking of.

    *Cracks Whip* C'mon get on with Chapter 2 already!
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  8. #8
      NeonKnight is offline
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    Yeah, there was a topic some time ago. I can't remeber which sub forum

    But with a city, the thing to remeber is in most cities at that time, the majority of the population lived in apartments, usually consisting of one or two rooms (think the old B&W Christmas Carol movie with Alaister Sim, and that was a relatively rich person). Only the truly wealthy could afford an entire house.

    Also, with population, the question is, what is that 100,000 or even 50,000 is refering to? Just residents? What about guards & watchmen? children or just adults?

    These are other questions that need answering.

    So, if 10% of the 50,000 is Guards then they would be housed in large barracks/garrisons etc.

    So, you would have 45,000 people. if 80% of that population is adults (either single or mated pairs) that then is 36,000.

    Of that, lets say another 70% live in communal apartment blocks housing, with the remaining 30% consiting of wealthy families, & their associated staffs.

    25,200 (the 70% mention above), live in apartment blocks. If we assume 80% of them are married, that reduces the figure down to 20,160. We can then divide that by a half 9as they would likely live together ) to 10,080 people. These people leave in apaprtment tennaments housing say 20 families in multi story dwellings, so 10,080/20 is 504 building for appartments give or take.

    again, these numbers are not hard & fast (I simply came up with them as they make an internal sense), but it would then give you an idea of how large a city of 50,000 people would be.
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  9. #9
      Khairn is offline
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    Thanks for all the tips.

    Ravells, that guide is excellent. Its presentation on positive and negative space is very easy to follow and is helping me out immensely! I'll keep you in the loop as I work things out.

  10. #10
      ravells is offline
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    Cool, I'll look forward to seeing what you come up with, Khairn!

    *Cracks Whip* C'mon get on with Chapter 2 already!
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