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Thread: Road structure and representation...

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      surfarcher is offline
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    Post Road structure and representation...

    I've been working through RobA's "Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map".

    He indicates that roads in the pre-modern area weren't straight.

    While that's true as a rule until about the 1950s there is a big exception to that. And that's where you had a major ancient empire that relied heavily on it's engineering core for support structures and occupied it's legions outside conflict for engineering construction (a way to prevent dissent - idle soldiers can foment all kinds of trouble). Obviously I'm talking about the Romans...

    My campaign is in the D&D 4e "Point of Light" setting and I have based a number of my concepts of Nerath on the Roman Empire. As a result the road system left behind by them features dead staright roads, unless insurmountable geographical factors dictate otherwise (given the use of magic this generally means something like an ocean in the way).

    Naturally these major byways don't link every town and villiage to every other - those are the kinds of wandering roads follow the path of least resistance that you would expect. But most large towns and all cities are on at least on of these imperial roads.

    The concern I have here is that representing these imperial roads in exactly the same way as non-imperial roads may look confusing and just plain wrong.

    So I'd love to hear any thoughts folks have on representing both styles of road on maps of this style.

    TIA for any and all constructive posts!
    -doug

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    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    Post True to history, but...

    Yes, Roman roads tended to be straight, when they could be, except when close to extreme geography - mountains, rivers, canyons, etc. Such could be said of some meso-American road systems as well. By and large most societies did not build straight roads until late in the modern era.

    However, do all fantasy world, have a "Roman Empire" that built straight roads in the past - of course the answer is, it depends. Many fantasy worlds do not have an historical advanced technology culture that has fallen into ruin, yet still have some straight roads as left-over architecture.

    Comparing to Earth history, you have a point, and only limited, since not all fantasy based realms are based on Earth history, near Earth history... you can't depend upon that as a "trueism".

    Interesting thoughts, though.

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      surfarcher is offline
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    Cheers GP

    I'm the DM, cartographer and campaign designer so I have a free hand... Except that I am a slave to internal consistency

    Drawing parallels between Nerath and the Romans is handy in a lot of ways and the empire only left the local campaign area about 100 years ago so their roads are still very servicable.

    But I still have the problem of placing both types of road on my map, making them distinct from one another and still aesthetically pleasing

    Right now I am thinking a light fawn/brown dotted line for the non-imperial roads and the yellow/black dashed style for the imperial roads... And am hoping it won't be too garish
    -doug

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      RobA is offline
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    Dash patterns work well for differentiating between trails, main roads, etc. you could even resort to the old double line like we use to depict highways now, rather than colour.

    -Rob A>

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    Guild Artisan Juggernaut1981's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfarcher View Post
    I've been working through RobA's "Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map".

    He indicates that roads in the pre-modern area weren't straight.
    Speaking as the kid of an engineer who now works in an engineering-type company... straight flat roads are hard to make.

    The biggest issue is time. Sure, the Roman's built lots of straight roads across plains and rolling hills. They get to anything else and they have two options: cut a hole or fill a hole. To do either one you need to move a LOT of rock and dirt. Now, even with Bigby's Interposing Bulldozer you still get issues with filling in a valley/gorge/canyon/big hole until you have a flat surface.

    So the majority of roads, run all over the place, except when you get to nice plains/rolling hills and have a very fussy organised civilisation that feels the need to move large numbers of people around regularly (i.e. Armies)
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfarcher View Post
    Right now I am thinking a light fawn/brown dotted line for the non-imperial roads and the yellow/black dashed style for the imperial roads... And am hoping it won't be too garish
    Black & Yellow are the one of the highest contrast colour combinations, hence their use in things such as crash test simulations, road signs and measuring tapes.

    I'd suggest, solid and outlined. Local roads would get the "outline" and Imperial Roads would get solid.
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      surfarcher is offline
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    Cheers everyone!

    Quote Originally Posted by Juggernaut1981 View Post
    Speaking as the kid of an engineer who now works in an engineering-type company... straight flat roads are hard to make.

    The biggest issue is time. Sure, the Roman's built lots of straight roads across plains and rolling hills. They get to anything else and they have two options: cut a hole or fill a hole. To do either one you need to move a LOT of rock and dirt. Now, even with Bigby's Interposing Bulldozer you still get issues with filling in a valley/gorge/canyon/big hole until you have a flat surface.
    Yeah my understanding was they are damned hard to make. Since we are talking Romans - they didn't go for perfectly level over distance, just smooth and straight over distance and level across width. Considering it was all powered by the human back it's pretty damned impressive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juggernaut1981 View Post
    So the majority of roads, run all over the place, except when you get to nice plains/rolling hills and have a very fussy organised civilisation that feels the need to move large numbers of people around regularly (i.e. Armies)
    Exactly where I was coming from. Those roads were built for armies and just happened to get used by everyone else. As a result they weren't always that useful to other folk. For example a good number of them in mountainous regions were unusable by merchants relying on livestock because the slopes they went up were dangerous even for soldiers on foot! And there's more. But the Legions' engineers neverthless made exceptionally straight (topview) roads.

    Even a very high level ritual caster would chew through a lot of time and components (=money) filling in even a medium gorge and I doubt it'd be perfectly flat afterwards (it'll settle over time). My thought was magic would simply be used for removal of rock and soil that wouldn't be viable by hand (think disintigrate) and to assist in support structure construction like bridges (yeah the Romans built those for their roads+armies too). So basically I've already elected to stay more or less with what the Romans did but to up the grand scale of some select structures to fit in with the scale of a fantasy world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juggernaut1981 View Post
    Black & Yellow are the one of the highest contrast colour combinations, hence their use in things such as crash test simulations, road signs and measuring tapes.

    I'd suggest, solid and outlined. Local roads would get the "outline" and Imperial Roads would get solid.
    The yellow/black dash pattern was in RobAs tute. But I think you just sold me on solid & outline.

    I'm also liking the idea of basially treating the imperial roads as the FRPG world's freeways and the non-imperial one's as regular early medieval roads (connectors between lesser population centers). For me that fits well.

    As long as it's going to look right in the end

    Thanks again for sharing your ideas all!
    -doug

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      nill is offline
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    Hi!
    The reason of avoiding straight parts of the road are that driving on the straight road is actually more tiring for driver. The driver's concentration and focus are harder to achieve and with today's speeds, accidents are more often.
    That's what when designing roads there's a limit in length of straight parts and it is actually preferred to directly connect two curves (with clothoid transition curve or similar).

    Since in ancient times there weren't cars or other fast means of transport, there wasn't reason not create straight roads where possible.

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      waldronate is offline
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    My observation on roads is that it's a tradeoff between energy and time. Classical roads tend to follow the path of least work*time between two locations. That means that they don't go up steep slopes or across rivers unless they absolutely have to and will prefer straightish segments if possible. If your culture values time more than work then roads will invest lots of work in making roads that take less time to traverse (good pavement, straight segments, architecture that bypasses slow areas with bridges and road cuts, etc.) As the engineering capabilities of the civilization become more advenced, road networks get faster until some inflection point. When things get "fast enough" and folks start whining about "envionrmental issues" or there is a major technological shift such as instant transport devices then I would expect the road networks to stagnate. In a highly-advanced civilization there might be minimal road networks purely for the sake of entertainment.

    One of the reasons that the interstates in the US are more straight than curved is (if I recall correctly) a requirement that one mile out of every three be straight so that they can serve as runways in time of war. The US interstates were designed by the military and for the military as infrastructure in case of war. Merchants then used them to reduce time to market and to destroy regional American culture. The same sort of thing happened in Roman times with the extension of the Roman road network.

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    Guild Artisan Juggernaut1981's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfarcher View Post
    Even a very high level ritual caster would chew through a lot of time and components (=money) filling in even a medium gorge and I doubt it'd be perfectly flat afterwards (it'll settle over time). My thought was magic would simply be used for removal of rock and soil that wouldn't be viable by hand (think disintigrate) and to assist in support structure construction like bridges (yeah the Romans built those for their roads+armies too). So basically I've already elected to stay more or less with what the Romans did but to up the grand scale of some select structures to fit in with the scale of a fantasy world.
    As someone who has played more Wizards than any other class, I'd have been using a 6ft stack of Rock to Mud spells, not Disintegrate. Mountainside turns to mud, slides into valley, large rocks fall after, wait for spell to end AND REPEAT. It gets you a shorter mountain (which may be useful for garrisons/fortification/defensive position buildings) and gives you a taller valley (for your road).

    But then, I also was renowned for trying to solve combats by not actually having the combat... as evidenced by the Rock to Mud trick above...
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