Hidden in plain sight.
I am looking to create a city for my campaign that is extremely ordered in terms of its construction. The basic idea that I want is that the main city streets form a large magic/summoning circle that is hidden in plain sight. The problem I am having is creating this city and hiding the thing. Any attemps I have made have resulted quite poorly and the shape of the circle is obvious. So I am wondering how I can hide this thing from my players by integrating side streets etc to hide the shape. Don't have any images at the moment as I am not currently at my PC. Any ideas?
This is the rough idea of the magic cirle I want to imbed into the streets.
May be a bit difficult to hide, no?
It's a very regular shape and will be difficult to both hide (from residents in your game worlds) and show (to viewers in the real world via your map). It could be the result of a planned layout by the city founders...out in the open as you find in Washington DC and similar cities. Anyone that knows magic, and looks at a map, however, will realize what's going on.
Have you seen Iron Man? Tony Stark's blueprints for his whatsit were drawn on several sheets, containing other drawings - and you could only see the final result by layering them and holding them up to the light. You might take that idea, with part of the shape contained in the construction of the sewers, part in the roads, part in the buildings themselves. Individually you can't see what the symbol is but, taken as a whole, the thing still works like a magic circle. Then again, it'd be hard to show that on a map I think.
Hide the symbol within other streets.
Build them as streets and alley ways that cover a nicely rounded hill, and each street or alley way has a convenient gutter that runs down the middle of it. All other street's gutters nicely bypass the shape's gutters/drop into covered sewers.
When it comes time to use the great summoning symbol or whatever, someone at a temple/hidden store house on the top of the hill takes an axe to a huge store of oil barrels, and sends a wave of oil down the gutters, gives it a good ten count (or whatever it would take for the oil to flow through a good chunk of it.) and then drops a torch on it.
Whoosh, magic symbol the size of a city. You can even hide the circle inside others that wrap around the contours of the hill.
Thanks for the responses! I will look into doing several versions to see what I can come up with. I like the idea of using alleyways and perhaps not using main streets as my circle but the back streets and more sublte avenues etc... Here is what I came up with just using main streets and making a bunch of connections but it is way too obvious in myu mind still.
I was trying to disguise the circles etc as parks and public areas, and add in more streets and connections to keep the geometric thing going, but adding more confusion to the layout. I think I will have to do another version and maybe hide several smaller circles through out the city that are connected somehow. A bit more low profile... :P
Quick and crude example of what I was talking about.
The shape is still there, but by copying general elements out of it and moving them around at random, and then putting masking lines through the pattern, you basically destroy the pattern at first glance.
my first thought here about throwing people off would be the make the 3 circles into towers. Perhaps devoted to some aspect or another: temple of X, Mages guild, City Hall... or whatever else. People tend view things that are NOT there (parks and empty land) vs things that are such as buildings. Perhaps the central triangle is a pyramid or some other such structure OR even a query/pit. Of course, it totally depends on your world. The designs will be a lot more obvious with the green areas you have for empty ground. I would suggest putting buildings in most if not all of those with a few small alleys. Finally, people are fairly used to the concept of "wards" within a city (as in sub-division), so you would instead of using walkways as the ONLY means of making the design use a combination of walkways and walls, and perhaps even color code the rooftops based upon the district(depending on how realistic you want this to look). Another thing that might help break up the design and make it look more intentionally made is to have the outline be walls with the 6 points being defense towers, again depending on your world.
Sometimes, the best way to hide something in plain sight is to call attention to it. You could place some of your main governmental buildings around the central triangle and call it the the three-corner forum or something. The roads that lead out from it could be named as being points on a triangle. Instead of noting the larger surrounding triangle, instead point out the arrowhead shape made when ignore the bottom segment in favor for the two connecting to the central triangle. Don't tell anything as a whole, but point out all the elements. If you aren't working to hide them, they aren't important. Instead this is happy shape town/etc. That'd likely take care of them noticing the overall pattern while they're there.
Also, what about drawing the overall city map from a different angle or trying an isometric map? That would obscure a lot of the connections and pattern without you having to change too much. Then, instead of providing an overall map, make small neighborhood maps. If you do the smaller maps at different scales, it'd be difficult for your players to put them together.
I appriciate the replies and all the assistance! Thank-you all. I was thinking of making the 6 outter points a guard towers and perhaps a wall around the whole thing. I like the idea of adding a building at each circle and as for the centre, I was going drop a castle there. My original plan for this was to be a completely square city and somehow fit this in without drawing attention to it. Angled lines would really appear in a perfectly square backdrop... so thats a no go. I will play around with the idea of mixing up walls and walkways as part of it as well. I will certainly expland the city out beyond the confines of the circle to further throw things off and misdirect people. I am not sure an Iso map would accomplish what I want, and my players are used to getting a full topdown view of the city (As per all my previous games). Changing that up may be nice for them, though they may suspect something. In addition to that, I am not sure I have the time or skill to do one up :P I will re-work it again and see what I can come up with. Of course all of your suggestion will be quite handy in helping me improve and refine this.
Hopefully I will be able to post again soon, have a rather busy day ahead of me. :(
Oh... one other thing from a top down point of view... bridges or houses that span over a street/ally will also help break up the view. There are plenty of examples of houses/buildings built with street going through them( of course.. most such examples are fairly thin streets...)
Keep us updated on what your doing... sounds like a cool idea.