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Thread: Your best advice for city-building/drawing

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      pyrandon is offline
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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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      ravells is offline
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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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    Eru
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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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      NeonKnight is offline
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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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      RobA is offline
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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 03:17 PM.

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      pyrandon is offline
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    This info is great--never thought of much of these things! Keep it coming!
    Don
    GM, Westaven
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      jaerdaph is offline
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    Here's a link to an older article called A Guide to RPG Mapmaking by Denis Tetreault:

    http://melkot.com/mechanics/map-guide.html

    I thought it had some great advice for making city maps.

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    Eru
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    Oh, one thing I've learned from Jürgen Hubert, who has created a world all about cities, is that having a strong visual theme is also a good idea. In Jürgen's case, the cities in his campaign setting are all based around a common visual theme, the Nexus Tower - these massive magical towers at the hearts of cities and metropolises that draw upon the very life force of those near them.

    Personally, from a roleplaying perspective, I think it is a good idea to have a central feature for key cities or locales that acts as a verbal cue to the players, something that they are always reminded of by the GM whenever they visit. In most cases, it might be visual in nature - a fantastic tower, a tremendous bridge, or the like. In other cases it might appeal to some other sense - a certain smell, the dampness of endless fog, or even a sense of foreboding.

    While my earlier post addressed the verisimilitude of a city, GMs shouldn't forget the amazing cityscapes side of fantasy, if they have the opportunity for it.
    Post your maps in the context they belong in - your world! - at Eruvian.com. Be a builder of worlds...!

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      NeonKnight is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaerdaph View Post
    Here's a link to an older article called A Guide to RPG Mapmaking by Denis Tetreault:

    http://melkot.com/mechanics/map-guide.html

    I thought it had some great advice for making city maps.
    I read his article, and very good. The only thing I had in complaint of his article was the down-thinking he had on CC2/Profantasy. With a stock CC2 program, no add-ons or anythng else, I could make an exact replica of his Greyhawk Map. But, that's me

    It also seems he has not looked beyond a base CC2 program or any of their suites of software (Dungeon Designer, City Designer, etc)., but critiques of CC2 aside, it had a lot of useful information as well as I agree, most of the city maps from The Fate of Istus mode publish by TSR are abyssmal! YUCK!

    To me, it would be critique the user not the software in CC2's case, but I agree, programs like Autorealms is very limited, and personal thought on Dunjinni is the maps look nice....too nice for an adventure key, but great for miniature gaming etc.
    Last edited by NeonKnight; 09-11-2007 at 10:40 PM.
    Daniel the Neon Knight: Campaign Cartographer User

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    Any questions on CC3? Post them with CC3 in the Subject Line!
    MY 'FAMOUS' CC3 MAPS: Thunderspire; Pyramid of Shadows; King of the Trollhaunt Warrens; Demon Queen's Enclave

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      jaerdaph is offline
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    My thoughts exactly, NeonKnight. But I agree, if you look past the CC2 bashing, there is a lot of useful info in there.

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