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    Community Leader pyrandon's Avatar
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    Question Your best advice for city-building/drawing

    Friends:

    Okay, so in the future I plan to create another city-making tutorial (for the Alliance), but this time more of an article than a step-by-step tut. So I've been working hard researching medieval cities (i.e., having heaps of fun looking through books and calling it "work" )

    I was inspired by the info-rich recent posts about canal cities, so I though I'd ask if you could help me out. What are the most important factor(s) you think about when designing medieval cities--and especially medieval city maps? Plus, what are the most interesting/important historical facts you remember reading/hearing?

    I'll compile all these into the article, and there shall be great rejoicing!
    Don
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    Community Leader Gracious Donor ravells's Avatar
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    For me one of the most important factors is a fundamental understanding of negative and positive space. A must have book is Form, Space and Order by Francis Ching. It's not cheap ($34 on Amazon) but it's worth every penny er..cent.

    I'm really looking forward to your article!

    Ravs

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    For me the history, evolution, and fundamental purpose behind the city is what's most important. So often I see fantasy cities that seem to have poofed into existence fully formed.

    Why did a population choose to gather together in that place at all? How did their settlement grow over time? What resources did they have available to them during the history, both in terms of building material, architectural expertise, and, in a fantasy setting, magic? All these things determine how a city got to be where it is. They are the path along which it and its populace has tread.

    Take, for example, Oxford. The name says it all. It was originally a ford on the river Thames where oxen could cross. This caused it to become a key post along a limited trade route. Read a little of its history and you understand it has a rich past with the church, military, and so on, all of which have resulted in the city we have today.

    I take the greatest pleasure in experiencing cities (and their accompanying maps) that have a similar level of depth and verisimilitude.
    Post your maps in the context they belong in - your world! - at Eruvian.com. Be a builder of worlds...!

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    Community Leader NeonKnight's Avatar
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    Yes, Cultural aspects of the people need to be considered. For example, in a fantasy campaign, what are the racial relations between the various peoples. Are Elves and Dwarves welcomed or mistrusted. Humanoids, present or not?

    With fantasy, we knw that undead are definitely an issue, so what is done with the dead? In real world cities, we have regions/areas for the internment of the deal, whether it is in ostuaries like Ancient Judah, or huge burial pits in parts of Europe, or bone pits under Paris.

    Other examples, of city design is places like tanneries, were situated usually well outside the city districts, due to the stench of the various chemiclas used to cure the hides.

    ANd, examples of 'planed cities', the Egyptians planed a great many of their cities, especially the cities of workers who built the pyramids. These cities had streets devoted to one particular trade. Examples being 1 street of bakers, and streets of workers, tool makers, etc. See the example with a nice map of the 'Lost City' here:

    http://www.aeraweb.org/lost_city_home.asp

    Looking forward to what you 'dig up".
    Daniel the Neon Knight: Campaign Cartographer User

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    Administrator RobA's Avatar
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    Following up on what Eru posted....

    Political and geopolitical issues will also drive the development of urban development. (Now all of this assumes people are past the nomadic/hunter gatherer stages, ans is coming from some pretty dusty memories, but eh, you get what you pay for...)

    Compare, for example, the difference between an urban area in near a hostile border with that in the middle of a peaceful (or dominant) nation. The border city will be more heavily fortified, with little outside the walls and farm land will be clustered near location of protection. A lot of this will depend on the level of technology, but even if good stout walls will not protect you, people tend to feel psychologically protected inside walls.

    -Rob A>
    Last edited by RobA; 03-25-2008 at 04:17 PM.

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    Community Leader pyrandon's Avatar
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    This info is great--never thought of much of these things! Keep it coming!
    Don
    GM, Westaven
    My gallery is here
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    "Keep your mind in hell, but despair not." --Saint Silouan [1866-1938]

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    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    On the topic of verisimilitude, here's an excellent article about demographic calculations: http://www.io.com/~sjohn/demog.htm Especially note the calculators linked from the bottom of the page.

    Knowing how many of a given professional should be working in a city of a particular size can help in allocating space for various neighborhoods. In the case of a planned city, knowing just how many smiths there should be in a city of 12,000 will help you to know how long the Smith's Way should be. In a more organic city, you can spread out some basic professional, such as the bakers, and build your neighborhoods around access to that particular crafter.

    When designing a city, I typically start with the history: why did people settle here, and how did they build at first? What caused a small settlement to become a large city? How did those forces shape the way the city grew?

    There are a number of factors that might go into such questioning: its military significance, the economy of the area, the personalities of its rulers, its proximity to other cultures/rivals, local terrain, building resources, weather, food supply. Any or all of those things might need to be considered.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
    http://www.bryanray.name

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    When thinking of city development, think of a few major events that shape the city's history. if we take Florence as an example, after the Plague wiped out half it's population laws were enacted so that people had to build larger buildings to a high qualiy. They could do this because the city was still rich from it's wool trade. The result? a lot of very large well built houses in the city with more public space.

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    Guild Apprentice Joshua_101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Midgardsormr View Post
    Knowing how many of a given professional should be working in a city of a particular size can help in allocating space for various neighborhoods. In the case of a planned city, knowing just how many smiths there should be in a city of 12,000 will help you to know how long the Smith's Way should be. In a more organic city, you can spread out some basic professional, such as the bakers, and build your neighborhoods around access to that particular crafter.
    This can also be affected by geographical location. Is the city is located in or near mountains with rich veins of ore? If so then there should be lots of miners in the city (perhaps a miners quarter or specific residences for miners) as well as specific smithies/forges for smelting raw materials from rock, gemcutters, goldsmiths or silversmiths... maybe even a rock quarry nearby.

    The same if its a coastal city... Lots of fishermen! Docks, shipbuilding yards, lots of dockside taverns, a trader's market, fishmarket, entire stores devoted to netmaking, ropemaking, sailmaking, anything that goes into or on a ship. Towns that build ships should also be located near a large forest and have a significant logging operation with loggers, plainers, and carpenters.

    These are just two examples but you can see how geography effects occupations. So a desert city probably wouldn't have that many carpenters but might be famous for its glassmakers (as glass comes from melted sand). A port city might not have that many metalsmiths but might make a lot of money on tariffs levied to export a nearby city's metals. I could go on and on but I won't.

    Can't wait to see this article when its finished! Cheers!
    Joshua
    Graphic Designer
    & Amateur Photoshop Cartographer

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    Community Leader pyrandon's Avatar
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    Just sticking this in here in case this tutorial ever materializes. Bryan recently posted a link to "A Magical Medieval Society: City Guide", a free publication about cities in Western Europe, available at Your Games Now from Expeditious Retreat Press.

    http://www.yourgamesnow.com/index.ph...&products_id=2
    Don
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    "Keep your mind in hell, but despair not." --Saint Silouan [1866-1938]

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