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Old 08-08-2022, 01:20 AM   #31
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

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Originally Posted by Willy View Post
So yes I see this folks having a lot of knowledge about gardening and farming or preservation of food. Remember they hadnīt fridges or a supermarket, and most folk couldnīt afford buying all their food in a tavern. Or do you dine daily in a restaurant?
If you didn't prepare your own food you more likely had a room in a house and ate meals from its kitchen. This might be paying for room and board, an expensive option. But you might also be a servant, too poor to marry and likely to stay that way (even if you weren't a slave).
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Old 08-08-2022, 02:27 AM   #32
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

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No need for it, a typical iron age city HAD a lot of garden and farming lands nearby, and even most walled towns since roman times had land INSIDE the city used for gardening, only the most densest slums hadnīt.

So yes I see this folks having a lot of knowledge about gardening and farming or preservation of food. Remember they hadnīt fridges or a supermarket, and most folk couldnīt afford buying all their food in a tavern. Or do you dine daily in a restaurant?

But my question would rather be were theyīve gotten the livestock and seeds from? Not to mention supplies and tools until first harvest and a smithy is build? Refuges as they are tend to cramp their ships with people and the last valuables not with such stuff. A gift from the king?
In Roman cities, many apartments and tenements hadn't any kitchens because of the risk of fire, and people usually did get their hot food from a restaurant.
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Old 08-08-2022, 04:12 AM   #33
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

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Any thoughts on the urban planning, sociology or other aspects of founding fantasy cities much appreciated as always!
It all begins with Role playing. Ever been camping? My parents took us all camping as kids before I was out of diapers (literally). Multiply what my parents did by how ever many families you have out there, and toss in a few "families without blood ties, and you begin to see the magnitude of what is facing your first settlers.

Ever spend a night without shelter in the rain? I have. Not pleasant in the slightest. Ever spend the night without food and shelter (thankfully, I've NOT). But having a buddy who has served in the military under those conditions, it ain't fun.

So - food and water will be primary goals. Now what happened with the King? Did he say "I will give you sufficient food to get you through the first landing, send you food in shipments every 3 months, and I will lend you an expedition leader and some soldiers" or did he say "you're on your own"? That is going to have a major impact on things. Why?

Foodstuffs that are openly available to animals are going to need to be protected. Shelter is going to be necessary - which means physical work. Latrines are going to need to be necessary - and hopefully far enough away from where people are eating and sleeping. At a basic rule of thumb, four pounds of food per day per person, for a 1400 person settlement is going to be about 2.8 tons of food DAILY. Now for the bad news - do you know how much wood is required for cooking fires necessary to create meals for 1400 people? Ever wonder how much water is necessary for all the cooking and cleaning up afterwards? Then there are a fair number of children that need to be watched over. The question is always going to boil down to available "manpower". It takes manpower to cut down trees. It takes manpower to clear a field of those things that impede plowing. It takes manpower and ox-power to plow a field at least twice to make it presentable for placing seed in it. It takes manpower to handle hunting party needs as well as butchering needs once the animals are successfully hunted.

So, Adults are outnumbered by 2.5 to 1 in your scenario unles the families of 400 also include children. My parents handled five kids - so, that worked out ok - for RECREATIONAL camping, not a permanent settlement. Each adult with 2.5 kids is almost the same as two married adults with five children. Frankly, you're going to have accidents, sickness, and even abandonments where people just walk away thinking life is better elsewhere than here. Food likely will be rationed and LOST due to simple things like a skunk wandering in to the camp and just eating refuse from the meals that were not disposed of properly or quickly. Ever watch a bunch of people wander through Buffalo or Bisons and discover only too quickly the meaning of "Mess with the bull, get the horns"? City people can wander into situations that others more savy would avoid like the plague.

In the end? Tent City first is the way. Building a fortification of some sort along with ways to GUARD the foodstuffs becomes a main priority. There is a reason that palisades go up regardless of tech levels. Even African Villages create barriers of thorny brush to keep out animals and predators - so this is not something that is invented as a result of technology - it is a primary NEED the moment you have any gathering of humans who intend to stay in one place.

After that, then come the things that make life easier. Smithies are needed so that broken things can be repaired. Muddy roads need to be traversed more easily for when it rains. Higher ground needs to be built up because when it rains, water flows downhill - it absolutely SUCKS to have all of your bedding and gear soaked because you picked a low lying spot for the water to either rush through or pool around after a major rain storm. Campfires tend to get lined with stones - and if they're trench fires, someone has to start to deal with the accumulated ash from the fires (said ash can be repurposed for other needs).

So, what would you as GM, think NEEDS to be built first for the people in question once they've built their temporary shelters and defensible strong points that are likely little more than wooden forts with an 6 to 8 foot high wooden palisade? Permanent Housing? Perhaps at first, those permanent buildings are little more than storehouses for your foodstuffs (better security from animals and theft). Maybe the buildings are dual purpose - originally housing and storage sites, that eventually will be abandoned to only storage sites.

Now, you mentioned FANTASY. What kind of Mageborn are you thinking of? Mageborn 0 and 1? Build a few of them and see what they can do. What ever you do, don't treat people as walking powerstones. People have emotions and feelings. What happens when the first critical failure occurs involving a group of ceremonial castings? Note that critical spell failures affect EVERYONE involved - not just the lead spell caster. As for children in ceremonial spell casting - ever see how little focus some have at that tender age? That's why I use a Random die roller to determine "Reaction rolls" for the participants of the ceremonial castings. Only those whose reactions are a modified 12+ grant an energy point to the ceremony. Those whose reactions are worse, subtract energy. The means I use also includes a "reaction modifier" for when the GM believes that the people would likely FAVOR the spell being cast - but, as I've pointed out elsewhere, Farmer A can be in a bitter feud with Farmer B, and at an emotional level, secretly hopes the spells that bless Farm B's fields fail. Kid might be torqued because Momma spanked his sorry butt and hopes EVERYTHING fails.

Ah well - once you know how it starts, you simply decide how it continues from there. If you want ideas for manpower costs for things such as building walls, roads, motte and bailey fortifications, simple buildings etc - let me know and I'll respond via email, regarding those books to look for on EBAY that may help, or PDF's that are potentially useful (Such as CASTLES AND RUINS as a PDF available at drivethrurpg.com) HARN MANOR has some pretty good rules for realistic farming needs (manpower required to assart lands formerly wild per acre) along with projected yields for each bushel of grain you plant. In addition, there are Fishing rules available from Columbia Games which will specify how much in the way of fish a fisherman can garner. Remember that 2.8 tons of necessary food daily target that I mentioned? The fishing rules would be helpful. If your one mage has the ability to summon fish - the city can build a structure that lets fish in, but makes it difficult for them to leave - thereby making it easier to get fish on the dinner plate.

Hope this helps. If you want to contact me via email, simply right click on my name, select email - and SJGames will let you send me an email. :)
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Old 08-08-2022, 10:42 AM   #34
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

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Originally Posted by Dalillama View Post
In Roman cities, many apartments and tenements hadn't any kitchens because of the risk of fire, and people usually did get their hot food from a restaurant.
I know this, they had a very high population density, and the winter was seldom below freezing temperatures, the politicians didnīt want it among else.
The farer into the northern regions of roman territory you come the more houses have ways to heat the rooms, from a open fireplace to hypocausts and everything in between.

But we are speaking here about a newly founded city in a medieval style, were most households had a fireplace, for warmth and food preparation, even in the almshouses people had fireplaces, with all the risk of fire hazards. We have in my region a medieval / post medieval settlement for museum purposes, and even the poorest had a fireplace.
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Old 08-08-2022, 01:01 PM   #35
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

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In Roman cities, many apartments and tenements hadn't any kitchens because of the risk of fire, and people usually did get their hot food from a restaurant.
In ancient and medieval times it was also possible to buy your own food take it to a restaurant and have someone cook it for you. Sort of the opposite of BYOB/corkage.
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Old 08-08-2022, 01:40 PM   #36
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... pardon? You're joking, surely? Scribes/clerks/recordkeepers have been a significant element in just about every city, in every culture, from the point from which writing was invented on forward.
Certainly, clerical workers were somewhat common, but they were historically much rarer in the urban environment than craftsmen or manual laborers.

The fact that such jobs are referred to as "clerical" (or "clarks" or "clerks") is the tell; they were originally from more literate religious communities, at least in the Western world. In some cases they might be lay brothers in a religious order, but more likely they were products of local cathedral schools.

At TL3 to 5, they were sufficiently unusual that there was a real tension between "white collar" workers and more traditional laborers. Even if they weren't paid any better, the nature of their work made them different. They had different tastes and were often regarded as being effete because they didn't perform as much manual labor. Laborers also treated them with suspicion because they spent much more time in close proximity to upper management.

There's been some historical work on this topic, but I can't recall exact titles ATM.

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I don't disagree. Would you mind quoting the bit from the OP that said "suburban or semi-urban" instead of "doomed TL2 city"?
The nature of the "doomed TL2 city" is never specified. If you look at archeological reconstructions of many pre-modern cities, you'll often see space within the city walls for fields, gardens, or animal pens. Even in more densely settled cities, there will always be buildings or estates outside the walls which have more extensive gardens. That's what I meant by suburban or semi-urban.

Unless the refugees were spontaneously generated when the city fell, or they were all living on top of each other like in modern Developing World slum communities or Imperial Roman multistorey insulae (tenements), it's possible that they had sufficient space to keep a garden or a chicken run.

In any case, don't discount how close pre-modern folks were to the rural environment. Many incomers were just a generation or so removed from the countryside. (Historically, cities were where excess rural population went to die. Excess labor got soaked up by cities, with poor laborers either dying of disease or never having enough money to start families.)

Most cities were also small enough that rural areas were just a short walk away. For example, many London neighborhoods have names which indicate that they were mostly rural areas in pre-modern times (e.g., Shepherd's Bush or Walham Forest).

There would also be "commons" close to cities where animals could be grazed (E.g., Hampstead Heath in London, or Boston Commons - Boston, MA) and "parks" (managed forests) which could be used as sources of firewood and wild game (e.g., Hyde Park in London).

Pre-modern people were also far more familiar with large animals than we are.

As the only land-mobile source of traction and heavy lifting, cities might be filled with horses (cities that banned them kept them in stables outside the walls), with constant deliveries of hay and other fodder to keep them fed and to provide bedding. There would be large numbers of people, such as ostlers (grooms), farriers, and teamsters who trained, used, or took care of horses. That experience easily translates to handling other types of large livestock.

Livestock would regularly be driven into the city in herds for slaughter, so city dwellers might see cattle, pigs, and other large animals on a regular basis. It was not uncommon for wealthier families to keep a cow for milk, a pig for slaughter, and a small flock of chickens, ducks, or geese. A common complaint in many medieval cities was pigs foraging in the streets. Poorer people might buy live animals at livestock markets within the city, and take them to a butcher to be slaughtered.

Last edited by Pursuivant; 08-08-2022 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 08-08-2022, 11:42 PM   #37
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

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Certainly, clerical workers were somewhat common, but they were historically much rarer in the urban environment than craftsmen or manual laborers.
Of course they were. But it seems that you skimmed my original post instead of actually reading it. I made a point of saying that the district/s from where the refugees came mattered. Sorry to burst the bubble of the nondescript "historical work," but many a TL2 city had significant groups of copyists, notaries, scribes, librarians and the like. 400 adults is a piddly grouping from a city of any size, and if they were scooped from the high rent district, you could easily have gotten a very disproportionate number of them in terms of the city's population.


(The funny thing is that this is quite parallel to a big scenario in my own campaign, where the PCs used a Timegate to extract refugees from a giant city that was in the process of being sacked, destroyed, and the inhabitants eaten. As it happened, touchdown was at the national library, so what they got were a lot of scholars and scribes, as well as the menial support staff, families, and a few customers and nearby pushcart vendors.)
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Old 08-09-2022, 01:34 AM   #38
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

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The characters have aided a group of refugees - about 1000 children and 400 lucky adults - in escaping by ship from a doomed TL2 city, and a neighboring king has granted them a charter to found a coastal city on one of his frontier marches. Thanks to Hârn modules I have a good map of the established city 150 years from now - but what does it look like now?

I would think that many of the recognizable features - citadel, city walls, wharfs, basilica, temples - would take a decade-plus to build, though there may be temporary construction or open-air equivalents already in their future locations. The timberwright might start doing a thriving business on day 1, but maybe the jeweller and apothecary hire out as farmhands waiting for markets and fairs to become dependable? And similarly are caravans willing to start out for Thay in the first year or do they insist on waiting for completion of the stockade?

Any thoughts on the urban planning, sociology or other aspects of founding fantasy cities much appreciated as always!
1400 people is pretty small. Really more town than city, even by ancient standards. Medieval Demographics Made Easy says that 61 people per acre was typical within a city's walls—so that's only 23 acres, less than 1/5th of a mile square. Since you say you know what the city will look like in 150 years, do your maps have a "core" that's about the right size to correspond to the original city? If not—and if "originally founded by 1400 people" is canon—it's possible the setting designers didn't entirely think this through.

In any case, while many pre-modern cities had very chaotic street layouts, especially if they grew organically from a small settlement, the Greeks (and later the Romans) would often lay out cities in a square grid when creating a significant city from scratch. See e.g. the plan for Pella.
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Old 08-09-2022, 10:41 AM   #39
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Of course they were. But it seems that you skimmed my original post instead of actually reading it. I made a point of saying that the district/s from where the refugees came mattered. Sorry to burst the bubble of the nondescript "historical work," but many a TL2 city had significant groups of copyists, notaries, scribes, librarians and the like. 400 adults is a piddly grouping from a city of any size, and if they were scooped from the high rent district, you could easily have gotten a very disproportionate number of them in terms of the city's population.
The trouble is that what you are calling a "city of any size" was a rare thing. A population of 400 adults implies perhaps 2000 inhabitants. For that to be less than 10% implies 20,000 inhabitants, which was a large city in most of history before the industrial revolution; for it to be less than 2% (which sounds more like "piddly" to me) implies 100,000 inhabitants. Athens was on that scale at the height of its power, and was shipping grain from Ukraine to support its huge population; no other Greek city came close. So a city big enough for 400 adults to be piddly suggests to me that you're talking about one of the world's major cities, one whose destruction would be a historic event.
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Old 08-09-2022, 11:22 AM   #40
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

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The trouble is that what you are calling a "city of any size" was a rare thing. A population of 400 adults implies perhaps 2000 inhabitants. For that to be less than 10% implies 20,000 inhabitants, which was a large city in most of history before the industrial revolution; for it to be less than 2% (which sounds more like "piddly" to me) implies 100,000 inhabitants. Athens was on that scale at the height of its power, and was shipping grain from Ukraine to support its huge population; no other Greek city came close. So a city big enough for 400 adults to be piddly suggests to me that you're talking about one of the world's major cities, one whose destruction would be a historic event.
Point of clarification: surely you mean 400 adult men, right? Certainly pre-modern populations often skewed young but I don't think they had a 4:1 ratio of children:adults.
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