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Thread: What's In the City?

  1. #1
    Guild Artisan Aval Penworth's Avatar
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    Question What's In the City?

    There are clearly some well educated characters on this forum, who know a lot about history, literature, geography and economics. Has there been a discussion thread about all the important elements of a city/town/region?

    I'm talking about answers to questions like..What can no town do without? Where would the garrison most likely be? How big would market places need to be to support a given town size? Etc etc etc.

    Also, what are some clever or interesting elements you have included or seen in a city?

    I'm sure that this discussion has already taken place... but so far I can't find it.
    Last edited by Aval Penworth; 02-10-2010 at 09:59 PM.

  2. #2
      Demonsozen is offline
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    Everything, in my opinion, is relative. So, if you have a big town, you need a big market. Small town, small market.

    (I'm not much of a military guy) so I don't know about the Garrison. I had a teacher named Mr Garrison. But thats about it.

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      thebax2k is offline
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    Aval, that's a tricky question to answer. I would start by going to this site: http://www.rpglibrary.org/utils/meddemog/ and looking at the bottom where all of the businesses are listed. Obviously your city does not need all of them, but if it is based on the middle ages, than it will have many of them. I would say that no city, at a bare minimum, based on history would be without merchants/a market, taverns, inns, and restaurants, a blacksmith, a temple, a well/wells and or water source, and a government structure (such as the keep). The keep/garrison will be located on the most defensible land feature in or near the city--so if there is a hill, then the keep/castle will be built on top of that. Or, if waterways and the coastline form a peninsula, the keep would likely be on the peninsula for the greatest defensability. If the area is completely flat without any natural features that would aid in defensability, then the keep/castle will likely have been built on a massive scale with multiple curtain walls and towers to command the area around it. Although its fantasy based, take a look on Dragonsfoot.org in the map section, there is an excellent map of the kind of castle that would be built in an area with few natural defenses.

    Another good answer to your question is: what do you need for your characters to further their adventures and have a place to blow off steam? A city in a game or story is ultimately a backdrop or setting for the pcs/characters within that game/story. So, make sure you have an inn/tavern, a thieves guild (and requisite sewer tunnels with nasties), a mages guild or a mages tower or towers, and plenty of locales for plot/adventure hooks. Take a look at the Citybook series from Flying Buffalo or the X Quarter series (Temple, Arcane, etc.) from the Game Mechanics. Both have loads of locales that while not necessarily mandatory for a city, provide plenty of adventure potential.
    Last edited by thebax2k; 02-10-2010 at 01:07 PM.

  4. #4
      Meridius is offline
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    Don't think too much in singularity. Big city generally means MORE markets rather than bigger markets. As a rule, you could say that market squares don't grow, but get replaced by by bigger ones, but they don't continually get bigger, rather they specialize. For example: many cities had a 'fish market'.

    Mainly think about food. That's produced locally, except for the fancy stuff. Try to imagine a poor and an average medieval family, and what they would need DAILY. All those products are produced locally, in the city, or at least is sold on one of the city markets.

    Remember that city-people think their city is best, and want to show it. So important buildings like religious buildings will get progressively bigger as the city grows.

    For numbers you should simply google how many breads a baker can bake in a day. Let's say people eat one bread daily. That means every person in the city buys one bread a day. So let's say the baker bakes 250 breads daily (I don't know how much is realistic for a medieval baker, but 250 sounds like a lot) that means a city of 4000 has at least 16 bakers. Once again the numbers may be off, but it's just an example. However, with bigger cities, the number of rich people will rise as well, so luxury variants of normal occupations arise too... Also, big bakeries is something, one large bakery, with several personnel.

    My advise, don't try to point out each artisan. In case of an RPG, just point out the special ones, otherwise don't bother, just be sure to throw in more than one bakery so you can point anyone who asks at least one, but don't even label it.

    We don't need to actually BUILD that city, we just need to draw it. So our objective is believability. Citybuilding on micro-level (planning each proverbial bakery) is quite complex, but we only need to make it LOOK believable. I do like realism though, so just start thinking up some stuff an average or poor family will need.

    edit: Oh, and the garrison, keep your soldiers where you need them. That means: near gates and other defensive structures.
    Last edited by Meridius; 02-10-2010 at 12:29 PM. Reason: Forgot about the garrison...

  5. #5
      Carnifex is offline
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    Ascension have made an excellent town-tutorial with advices on how to build the village/town/city:

    http://www.cartographersguild.com/sh...-Town-Tutorial

  6. #6
      arsheesh is offline
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    Another helpful quick and helpful guide to medieval region/city demographics and economics can be found here:

    http://www.io.com/~sjohn/demog.htm

    as well as a great discussion within the Guild, found here:

    http://www.cartographersguild.com/sh...s+demographics

    Cheers,

    -Arsheesh

  7. #7
      su_liam is offline
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    As Meridius says, cities don't grow by upscaling singular facilities. A city doubles in population, it doesn't have bakeries twice as big. Also, the bigger it gets, the less likely it is that there will be twice as many bakeries. It will gain new, larger bakeries, markets and other facilities. Some of the old facilities will be repurposed or torn down. Some will continue to compete in the new larger city. I figure there would be a*P^n facilities of a size b*P^s, where P is the population served, a & b are proportionality constants for the facility type, n is the exponent for number of facilities, s is the exponent for facility size, and n+s should be equal to 1. It should be noted that P is not necessarily the population of the city, but the population of the city and the hinterlands it serves. The hinterland population will also be a function of the size of the city, so let's say, P=h*p^q, where h is a proportionality constant for hinterland size relative to city size, p is the population of the city itself, and q is the exponent of growth with respect to city size.

    I'm pretty confident with my math, but I'll leave determination of proportionality constants and exponents as an exercise for the student. If you come up with some rigorous numbers, you should find a Human Geography journal to publish in. Have fun!

  8. #8
    Guild Artisan Aval Penworth's Avatar
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    There we go! Lot's of great stuff.

    I'm not wanting to go too micro myself, but from a GM's POV when characters are wandering around a city it's nice to have a plausible array of NPC occupations and businesses. So the links thus far are very helpful.

    It also helps a lot in planning a city map to know what a city of that size would need to exist at all.

    On a more RPG related note, what are some fantastic and unusual city inclusions you have seen?

    As a player or GM I am always getting inspiration from interesting areas I see on city maps too.

    Like if I see "Enbalmers Quarter", "Queen Emelda's Sylvan Petting Zoo", "Arhad's Fighting School", "Leaguehouse of Inglorious Bastards," or "The Governor's Gryphon Rookery" on a map, there's a spate of adventures right there!
    Last edited by Aval Penworth; 02-11-2010 at 12:20 AM.

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      Ascension is offline
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    Things like that can be added anywhere, the main idea behind drawing a city is to just draw a bunch of roofs for variously shaped buildings. You don't really need to know what each building is and how many adults or children or servants live there. Save that info for special things that are of interest to the story. That being said, I'm quite anal myself so I, indeed, figure out everything about each building...but that really slows things down.
    If the radiance of a thousand suns was to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One...I am become Death, the Shatterer of worlds.
    -J. Robert Oppenheimer (father of the atom bomb) alluding to The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 11, Verse 32)


    My Maps ~ My Brushes ~ My Tutorials ~ My Challenge Maps

  10. #10
    Guild Artisan Aval Penworth's Avatar
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    Sure most buildings are just filler, and most buildings useages can be decided later. However if you dont plan a major feature like a zoo, arena or a college in your city before hand, how are you going to place it in the city afterword? That's what I'm talk'n 'bout.

    Anyway the point of my last post was to invite creative and interesting ideas for city inclusions people might not have thought of themselves.

    Edit: You can't add something to your town if you never think of it. Hence my invitation for ideas.
    Last edited by Aval Penworth; 02-11-2010 at 12:24 AM.

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