The City of Opal Island
Over in the World Maps thread I have been posting several maps from my Homebrew Campaign. In the feedback some of you have requested to see some of my other maps.
This is a map I have been working on for quite some time, and is one of my more aggressive projects to date. This was all done in photoshop with some help from a couple of other programs. Some of the textures I borrowed here and there - but I don't remember where exactly.
As always - C&C are greatly welcomed.
I don't know that I will post too many of my other city maps as many of them are not wholly my creations. Typically what I used to be prone to doing was to take an already existing map from somewhere else, and tweak it and modify it to fit my purposes. Mind you, all of my maps only ever see the light of day for my gaming table typically - its not like I am making money at this or anything. Other times, I just finds maps that suit my purposes and do nothing; for instance, Gandwarf has unknowingly supplied innumerable maps of various cities and settlements for my DnD game. ;)
Anywho - anything I do that is wholly original or at least 99% so I will post for your enjoyment. I don't believe in taking credit for other peoples' labor.
Originally Posted by Katerek
Haha, I guess a lot more people have snatched my maps to use in their games. I have no problems with that. I am curious though which maps you used?
Anyway, I really like the map so far. The cliffs and layout are really well done.
Are you going to add more buildings?
Now, the fields I don't like. They are too big and the textures don't fit in well.
Actually, I intend on using all of them eventually. Sirillion is my favorite though.
As to this map - yeah, this map is a work in progress. I do intend to add more buildings - I putz around with it every couple of days. The fields are also a complaint of mine. When I started it, I was going to go for a more realistic approach, but the utility side of me won out. I just haven't messed with them in a while.
This is a nice start to a city map that you’ve made. The buildings are very sharply delineated and remind me of some of the better Harn city maps. I echo Gandwarf in both complementing you about the relief lines (which give a very good indication as to what levels are at what height) and frowning about the fields (which don’t mesh really well with the rest of the city).
I did have a few brickbats from a realism/urban design perspective. A fantasy city can be laid out and take any shape that you want, but your city (or at least the start of it) seems less like a city and more a collection of loosely scattered streets and buildings plopped down willy-nilly without little thought for the overall design. That’s perhaps a bit harsh, but you might want to try a few things.
First, a crude or rough grid that starts near the docks (which is likely where the settlement originated from) and thins out (or not if the island is really crowded) the further away from the docks that you are. I have no idea what the population of your city is, but if its in the tens of thousands, likely every available inch of space will be used. I don’t know what program (if any) you used to design your city, but it looks like that procedural program that was floating around the Guild a few months back. It’s a great program for laying roads along ridge lines, cow paths, etc., but not as useful for laying out a city on a island, in which space is very constrained.
Take a look at Fogdown (http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/3037-fogdown.html) here on these boards by Redstar. Or take a look at the beautiful Freeport map by Andy Law (http://www.greenronin.com/freeport/2..._adventure.php). Or take a look at Yabusama’s incredible map of Lortenford at the (sadly now defunct) Gran March project (go to http://www.greyhawkonline.com/granmarch/, click on “Members pages” in the upper left and type in “bunionofvecna” at the prompt (all one word) and click on cartography, you’ll be able to get to the full sized map). In each case, you have port cities that are densely built up (and Fogdown and Freeport are both on islands) and have a rough street grid to them (Fogdown’s is perhaps a bit too gridlike for realism purposes, but its still a great map).
Second, make sure that you have at least one market near where the docks are. Depending upon the size of your city, you might have two or three. It’s a good idea to also make your markets the nexus points of several roads.
Third, I’d move what looks like your temple?/manor? cluster (buildings marked 1-8, 15, 30, 32, etc. on the map) and move it into the center of town if it’s the temple quarter. Urban temples and shrines in the ancient days (as well as churchs, masjids, and ashrams in the modern one) tend to be built near central points of a city so that they can easily be accessed by worshippers (there are many exceptions to this, but in general its true). Your temple cluster (if it is that) is somewhat out of the way. If it’s a cluster of noble buildings, I would still move it out of the way, as that area (looks like the highest on the island) seems ideal to locate a fortress, castle, or citadel. (I do like your idea of have the nobles/great merchants/high muckety mucks of the city on the heights and the lower riff raff closer to the sea—that feels natural)
Fourth, speaking of fortresses or citadels, your city does not seem to have many military structures (or at least structures recognizeable as such). I have no idea how dangerous the waters around it are, but I would locate small fortresses or towers around the perimeter that could be fitted with ballistae or catapults (or provide a good vantage point for spellcasters) to drive off pirates or enemy fleets. Given the height or heights of most of the island, only the lower area near the docks and the water might actually have to be walled.
Fifth, I would make sure that there is a warehouse district located near the docks. Shipping and fishing are the lifeblood of your settlement. There’s simply not enough space on the island to grow the crops needed to feed al or even most of the residents. Thus the docks (perhaps you might want to include a drydock or two) are very important and a storage area to hold all those goods and produce (even temporarily) is equally important. Take a look at the western side of Freeport to see what I am talking about, Mr. Law did a great job incorporating both fantasy and elements of realism into his map of Freeport.
Concluding, you’re more than welcome to take my advice with a grain of salt. If your player’s are happy with the map that you already have, than stick with it. But if you want a location that is both memorable and pleasing to the eye, try out a few of my suggestions.
Personally, I think it looks pretty interesting; aside from the fields. I didn't read all the way thru bax's post so my comments are based more on aesthetics.
I find that good fields are incredibly difficult to do. I think that for me, Torq is the only person I have seen who has put in fields which work well with the map. I'm still trying!
First off - WOW! Thank you for such a wonderfully detailed response!
The willy-nilly appearance is kind of intentional. Originally, this island began as a loose collection of several disparate groups seeking refuge here during a war. They each built their own encampments which have in turn, over time, become individual settlements. Also, I have a whole mess more of buildings to come.
1) I like your idea about a rough grid near the docks. Which is in fact, where one of the major camps originated from. This island is massively populated. It is actually located at the center of a freshwater lake that is mildly geothermally active. It is pretty much the 'center of the world' for my campaign. I didn't really use any specific program to design the city - though I did use that generator to create several 'streets' (mainly because I was too lazy to draw all the squares). Though, to be honest, I have gotten away from that recently and gone back to hand drawn.
Thank you for the links BTW! Fogdown is one of my all time favorites, and in fact, I use it as a basis for another major city in my campaign.
2) Good point about the markets. I totally agree.
3) That area is in fact a temple mount. I have to keep it where it is due to events that have already taken place in the campaign. Though to be fair, when this is completed, that will be centrally located. The bulk of the island is all city.
4) Some of the buildings on the island do represent fortress like buildings - or at least they are supposed to. Since it is a freshwater lake that is surrounded on all sides by a single country - of which Opal Island is pretty much the capital - there has never really been the need in game for a wall.
5) I love the idea for a wharehouse district. Thank you! Now I just need to decide how I want it represented.
Thanks again for the tremendous amount of advice! I really appreciate it and more is very welcome! I will post my progress as it develops.
Since this is technically a WIP thread, I thought I would post this.
The following image is the original map I did for Opal Island (pencil and paper) several years ago when the first PCs discovered it. This is what the island looked like in it's pristine state - before they started settling it, and later - using it as a refuge during the first orcish invasions.
The small square in the wood in the upper right indicates the location of the ruins that were all that stood on the island.
After some of the comments received I went and tweaked my city map a smidge. I tried to incorporate several of the ideas, as well as tweaking the fields a bit.
I would love to hear any feedback you have.
The area near the docks is looking a lot better. Myself, I would cram the island full of buildings and roads. At least the parts between the docks and the huge building almost in the center of the island. Where is the legend to the map by the way?
The fields still look a bit off... they are also huge compared to the smaller houses! If the fields belong to different farmers I would expect them to be a lot smaller.