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Old 08-06-2022, 04:24 PM   #1
muduri
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
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Default what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

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!
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Old 08-06-2022, 04:29 PM   #2
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

Some sort of motte and bailey stronghold on the highground. Sawmill, forge, storage for harvest.
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Old 08-06-2022, 04:51 PM   #3
Anthony
 
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

Well, the fact that it's fantasy might change the rules, but for the most part cities formed by accretion: you have a nucleus that attracts people to the site (most commonly a port; mines and strategically valuable fortifications are also common) and then the other businesses accumulate around that because it naturally becomes a center of trade.

In the particular case you describe, I would guess at the strategically valuable fortification: the king assigned them a section of border that could conveniently use some extra people to keep it secure (or, depending on your perspective, a chunk of land he just wants to steal) but probably isn't intrinsically all that high value (or he'd give it to his own people), so figure it's a border fort with a trade market.
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Old 08-06-2022, 05:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

A few ideas off the top of my head...

1. Since it's a coastal location (per OP), give it a set of simple wharfs and/or piers, with some small-ish storage buildings (more barn-sized than true warehouses, at least for now).

2. Housing -- people need a place to rest. Maybe one or two inns, for itinerants.

3. An open market -- lots and lots of little stalls and tents, selling a variety of (mostly common) goods.

4. A few taverns and/or eateries. One or two bakeries, perhaps.

5. Stables and/or stockades. If more than one stable, then also consider a blacksmith (or even without a stable, still consider the smithy).

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-06-2022, 05:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

One of the first things they will need is a place to get together...a public house, basically. Following that, they might want an inn, to have a place for any visitors that might show up. It doesn't have to generate an income, but if it can at least pay for itself, that's a good thing that will allow the new city to spend its own money on its growth.

The inn serves the purpose of showing to outsiders that the town means to stick around, and it planning on being there for a long time. Having a place for visitors to stay accomplishes this, and, if the visitors tell their friends what a nice place it is, can gain inhabitants or tourists later.

But let me back up a bit....

A tent city is likely to come first: they are easy to set up, and provide at least minimal shelter. At this point, communal fires/kitchens would be set up. A first aid/hospital tent will be set up, as well as a camp administration tent. So, basically, a refugee camp. Inevitably, one tent will end up being the bar/tavern tent. I suppose it's also possible that the kitchen tent may double as this, but historically they tended to be separate.

A palisade would be built around the tent city, or at least a part of it, for some basic protection. Possibly even some elevated platforms that could be built up into guard towers later could be built.

Once basic security, shelter, and food are taken care of, actual building can commence. Fields can start to be tilled/worked. Depending upon the time of year, they might need to get seed into the ground immediately, or might have to wait for the correct season. If the latter, they will need to acquire food from elsewhere.

Work crews will be sent out to fell trees, and a sawmill can be set up. If by a river, the sawmill could be situated there. Otherwise, it will be the type that uses a two man saw, one up top, the other underneath in a trench to make planks and beams for construction.

Permanent structures are next. The order could vary, but common houses would likely be first (meeting house, kitchen, tavern, warehouse, store, barns etc). Then would come the individual houses.

It's highly likely that at first everyone helps with the building construction. Unless they are busy in the fields trying to grow enough food for everyone.

There is a lot more to this, of course. Building an entire community isn't easy or fast. This will be the work of years, and some families may be in tents for a long time (if the climate is cold, families may be sharing structures until there are enough to go around).
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Old 08-06-2022, 05:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

Since you said fantasy, do they by any chance have an earth mage? A mage with Shape Earth and Earth to Stone, or even just Shape Earth, could make a sizeable difference to the amount they can build in a given time.
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Old 08-06-2022, 05:18 PM   #7
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fwcain View Post
A few ideas off the top of my head...

1. Since it's a coastal location (per OP), give it a set of simple wharfs and/or piers, with some small-ish storage buildings (more barn-sized than true warehouses, at least for now).

Hope this helps.
Franklin
Historically 90+% of Coastal Cities get founded where a river empties into the ocean. Benefits of Ocean/Coastal trade and trade from the watershed of the river. River also a source of fresh water and has other benefits.

Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Richmond, New Haven, San Fransisco, Seattle, New Orleans, Mobile, for the US just off the top of my head.

Just a Geo/Historical note...only question for the GM would be 'Is the population density such that all such good spots were already gone?' Cities and towns tend to start at those locations first. As the population rises even coastline without useful rivers, estuaries, bays and habors eventually fill in.
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Old 08-06-2022, 05:24 PM   #8
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

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Originally Posted by muduri View Post
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?
Some of that answer depends on how socially coherent the refugees are as a group. Do they have a strong identity? Otherwise, I would expect the "big city" specialty merchants to strike out on their own to look for towns big enough to support them but not so big that they have existing competitors.

You may need a recruiting drive in any case, to make up the necessary trades that don't happen to be represented among the refugees. Perhaps the guilds in the kingdom are overcrowded, and would welcome the chance to split off some of their redundant masters (or, more likely, senior journeymen who haven't been allowed to become masters but could be promoted right away).

Quote:
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?
Depends on whether the site is on an established caravan route, and where they would have stopped before it was chartered. I doubt that caravans would open a new route until the town is well established and thriving. You could save yourself some hassle by having the new town site encompass a pre-existing caravanserai, whether an actual building or just a known open site on a level spot above the coast or estuary.

Quote:
Any thoughts on the urban planning, sociology or other aspects of founding fantasy cities much appreciated as always!
A thousand children for four hundred adults is quite the skewed ratio, depending on the age structure, and especially if most of them are orphans (which seems likely). Something should be done to organize them, so that the olders can look after the youngers and free up adults to do the building. This might be a good role for (e.g.) the apothecary, if he is committed to stay with the group.
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Old 08-06-2022, 05:44 PM   #9
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

One thing you very much need, for that size, is a market square. The locals can sell things back and forth, and merchants and other visitors can set up booths there.

Another thing is a shrine. In a world with supernatural powers no community will forgo the means of appealing for supernatural help.
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Old 08-06-2022, 06:01 PM   #10
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Default Re: what does a recently founded fantasy city look like?

Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenH View Post

A tent city is likely to come first: they are easy to set up, and provide at least minimal shelter. At this point, communal fires/kitchens would be set up. A first aid/hospital tent will be set up, as well as a camp administration tent. So, basically, a refugee camp. Inevitably, one tent will end up being the bar/tavern tent. I suppose it's also possible that the kitchen tent may double as this, but historically they tended to be separate.
Yeah, this place is essentially a refuge camp. They will start building, but initially it's a pile of tents.

The first wooden structures are determined by what the governing and organizing authority is. A military group starts with a fort or tower. A religious group starts with a meeting house.
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