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Have you ever mapped out a town (on graph paper or mat) in playable size?


Rakumi
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I strongly recommend looking at art of the actual period.

 

Hieronymus Bosch paintings are great for this.

 

Here's his painting of a peasant wedding dance.

 

Notice that people are dancing outside in a large open space with some trees for shade, a village green. A dance hall would be an extravagantly large space to build and most large gatherings would have been outside. There are thatched-roof buildings to right and left.

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So since developing my small town, i have recently decided on a work up for a castle.  It will be the same size of the small town, 29×42.  I did a bit of research and learned a lot about castle design.  Most castles are usually in the confines of a city which sometimes the city may or may not be surrounded by a large defensive wall.  But just focusing on the castle portion in itself (and some castles are not located in cities), I will give a brief layout of what i have discovered.

 

So there is the simple massive castle structure like castle grayskull or such structures in which it is a massive stand alone building with many rooms (mansion like) and it is its own defense and is usually surround by a moat or on a hill (or both).  

 

Then you have the castle type that has a protective wall surrounding everything, an open yard in the center with small structures for supporting the grounds like for food, stables, barracks, black smith, etc.  And last you have at the far rear of the yard, the keep which is like a mini castle tower structure on the grounds where the royalty sleep.  

 

Last castle layout you have an outer defensive wall surrounding all, some common support and living structures around the inner side of the outer most defensive wall.  Then you have an inner defensive wall which is protected from those common support and living structures and now houses the more vital structures which may include either a manor or even a decent size keep for the royalty.  This layout spreads out the most and is most massive as far as land space.

 

So i have decided to go with a slight blend but more towards the single castle structure so everything is internal but with multiple rooms used for grounds support to run it all and less like a military operational design.  So my design is pretty much one square structure all enclosed save for a small inner portion behind the front gate with a center court yard with no roof (9x12).  It will contain a dungeon (6x6), a guest section for royal visits (3×6), lounge for the grounds people to relax and spend their money (6x6), a space i may turn into a stable but at 6x6, would only hold 9 horses (2x2 horse size).  It would also have a court/meeting room for royals to make decisions on politics (6x4), a kitchen (6x8), a chapel (3x6), an armory/smith (3x11),  a storage room for all goods (food, extra weapons, bedding)(3x6), a market for selling special foods and wine to the grounds people (3x3), and a shop for selling special goods like special weapons or crafted luxuries for the grounds people (3x3).  And last, the royal chambers which is total 8x21 but will cut into 4 bedrooms (4x4), one master bedroom (4x5), a hallway to connect all rooms and 4 rooms each 3x5 which i have not yet decided on but one will be a chamber for the castle's gold.

 

So i am pretty excited about this.  Its fun creating stuff.

Edited by Rakumi
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So i have been slowly adding the furniture in the homes.  I have had to practice drawing some of these items because i want it to look decent and for people to recognize what a bar stool is.  I started placing the long benches in the town hall.  Should hold about 24 - 30 people depending if i can have a 5th row of benches or if i stick with 4.  

 

 The key to recognition isn't so much good detail but making sure you establish consistency in design and execution of the illustrations - all your tables, chairs, etc, should look relatively close in design (don't bother trying to draw fancier chairs for upscale buildings,etc.).

You should have a general map key for your world with: bar stool, foot stool, bench, basic chair, fancy chair, stuffed chair and throne on it, and only ever use the same seven illustrations for them on all of your maps.

It's great to try to draw dirty cups and plates on a tavern table, or a comforter on a bed or something, but unless you're doing illustration-quality color maps, your players aren't going to be able to immediately look at your details and recognize them for what they are.

 

 

 As for your fantasy town/city, you're actually going to be need to be looking more at Early Renaissance time period for real-world comparisons rather than the actual Medieval period - the typical fantasy "town" is actually more equivalent to a small Medieval city...

 

High fantasy or even Middle fantasy rpgs assume a level of wide-spread wealth, democratization and commerce that didn't exist under actual feudal systems. You were either a dirt poor farmer, a soldier or tradesman in direct (and usually lifelong) service to a particular nobleman, or one of the priviledged few of the nobility.

It was only the rise of the merchant class and free trade between the Medieval and Renaissance periods that led to the rise of what we'd consider "modern"-style "jobs" and thus "modern"-style cities.

 

 For small "farm" villages, look up designs of late Celtic villages and forts - usually just a collection of small hut-like buildings with a larger "common house" in the middle that served as everything from town hall to tavern to entertainment venue to hotel to trade center.

Edited by Mad Jack
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Hey mad jack, 

Good advice about keeping things consistent.  I have been noticing this and have kept it all simple.  One last thing i need to work on is shelves.  

 

As far as the design of towns... I agree with you that fantasy towns are not aligned with true history but that is what makes them fun. I finished the design plans for my castle in full, I just need to map it down.... as soon as i finish with my little town.  :)

 

After doing research on castles, i can for sure tell you castles like in lord of the rings and d&d would not have existed in real time.  Or at least would be amazing feats.  But they look awesome.

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I have seen people use non-gridded areas (some of the massive, amazing gaming rooms some very well-off people have in their homes), and I've seen the DM Scotty 2.5d approach.

I am personally with dsmiles.  I've done a few metropolii (scale was 1 square=20 feet, still took up 15 pages), as well as some smaller cities and a few small towns.  I would love to have an open floor space to be able to make a really large city diorama....  but that's just a pipe dream for me.  My house wouldn't fit it... and my wife already hates me enough! :zombie:

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A long time ago, when D&D 3e was still relatively new, I used Fractal Mapper to design a city. I had a basic concept, started to add roads, then buildings, and slowly realized I could pack a lot of buildings in a small area and have it look like many European cities.

 

So it went from a town with lots of room to a relatively dense city of hundreds if not thousands (I forget the numbers), with a town centre, plenty of "quarters", lots of named places and people of interest (mundane and magical), a brief history, and a binder full of details. And since the map was digital, I was possible for me to print it off on multiple sheets and tape them together.

 

This was the sort of project where if I knew how many hours I'd sink into it, I would've reconsidered the whole deal.

 

In a way, I did too good a job. When I was DMing my group, I had so many little tidbits of local lore that the players spent nearly all their time in that city, completely ignoring the main adventure I prepared. We had roleplaying sessions where not a single fight happened and only a day had passed, nothing died for XP, and even the barbarian's player was having a blast. I practically had to force them to go out and get back to adventuring. I look back on that time as being one of my best DMing experiences. Never had I improvised so much in such a short period. I had put so much work in it, that everything easily came to me.

 

And just reading this thread give me the urge to go back and update that map, and dream of one day making a scale model of it.

Edited by Cranky Dog
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Darkmeer, you could always down scale a bit as far as how grand it is and you could pull off a small town or even a city in playable scale size.  Just get some gaming paper, cut to section sizes that would fit on your gaming space and then multiply how many you have.  So for example, if you made a small town on a 30x40 size sheet, make 5 or 6 of them and that would make up the city.  You would play on one scene at a time of course.  

 

Cranky, how big was your city when you printed it out in pieces and taped them together?

 

I have a question about my castle blue prints I am creating.  I am trying to decide between the last rooms I am placing in it.  So here is what I am deciding between.  I have a market and a shop in the castle each 3x3 in size and a blank 6x6 space I was thinking about turning into stables.  Now I do not have a library in my castle and most castles have a library.  I have been debating between placing the stables or a library in the 6x6 space.  But then I thought, do I need the market and shop?  They were there more for visitors.  But then how many visitors would be visiting a castle that would have to pay for their own things (obviously not a visiting noble)?  So... I can only have 2 of 3 of these things.  So which one between market/shop (both are divided spaces but count them as one because they are really small), stables, or library?

 

I actually could fit a library in one of the many rooms in the royal chambers section, but then the only people who would be able to use it are the royal family.  Is it common for the castle library to only be usable by the royal family?

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 I have a market and a shop in the castle each 3x3 in size and a blank 6x6 space I was thinking about turning into stables.  Now I do not have a library in my castle and most castles have a library.  I have been debating between placing the stables or a library in the 6x6 space.  But then I thought, do I need the market and shop?  They were there more for visitors.  But then how many visitors would be visiting a castle that would have to pay for their own things (obviously not a visiting noble)? In a real castle there would never be a market or shop. But, in  a fantasy castle sky's the limit.  So... I can only have 2 of 3 of these things.  So which one between market/shop (both are divided spaces but count them as one because they are really small), stables, or library? A castle would always have a Smithy to go with the Stables and the stables are a must.

 

I actually could fit a library in one of the many rooms in the royal chambers section, but then the only people who would be able to use it are the royal family.  Is it common for the castle library to only be usable by the royal family? Yes, and their favored guests.

Answers Inserted.

 

Could there be a second storey over the stables? Maybe half the 2nd storey is a hayloft and the rest is the Constable's stores (storage) but he is allowed to sell provisions and equipment to adventurers (with prior approval from her Ladyship or the Castellan or whoever).

 

And put the library somewhere safer, in the keep, on a high floor.

 

Edit: forgot to add: Medieval markets were usually temporary things. Renaissance markets were more permanent, but either was more likely to happen (be set up) just outside the castle's gates....and would be packed up, swept away, or looted in the event of an assault or siege or state of war.

Edited by TGP
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I've been a long time user of Campaign Cartographer (CC3). I will do my cities, towns, etc in CC3, and then if I need an actual battlemat, I will print out the needed section(s) and tape them together. I even went out and bought a wide format printer that can handle 13"x18" paper to make that part easier.

 

Here is a link to a portion of the city that is central to my co-DM and I's current campaign:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=743706268982136

 

This one is from an earlier campaign:

http://iskitaan.heismann.net/DeercrestSouthQuayMap

When I create my countries, cities, towns, villages, etc, I tend to use S John Ross' excellent article "Medieval Demographics Made Easy" and one of the many web site random generators based on it.   Whether or not it's entirely historically accurate is irrelevant to me, what it does do is provide a very consistent framework for me to build my fantasy worlds with. 

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Cranky, how big was your city when you printed it out in pieces and taped them together?

It's been years since I last took it out, and it's currently in my folks home in my old bedroom.

 

From fuzzy memory, I *think* it was 4x4 sheets of standard paper. At quarter inch equalling 5 ft? Now you really got me curious again. I'll have to bring that stuff back with me next time I visit the homestead.

 

Like Kristof, I made use of random generators to populate the place. It really felt like it had a life of its own.

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