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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Nov 2005
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    Default Location! - inspiration for fantasy settlements

    "Why is there a village here?"
    "What's this castle for?"
    I may be cursed / blessed with inquisitive players, but I suspect these questions come up in other people's games now and then.

    I've been blogging on and off about fantasy settlements - what can you buy, how many and how far apart (especially big cities), and now finally - why they're there.

    What else can we add to the list of locations?

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Dec 2013

    Default Re: Location! - inspiration for fantasy settlements

    It would be useful to know what is produced at a location, and what is needed but isn't produced locally. That way, you can figure out the important trade routes.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Location! - inspiration for fantasy settlements

    Quote Originally Posted by Broken Crown View Post
    It would be useful to know what is produced at a location, and what is needed but isn't produced locally. That way, you can figure out the important trade routes.
    Good point - I've got some comments on that in the first blog post (Resources) and I'm planning to cover that in the next post, but you're right.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Location! - inspiration for fantasy settlements

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    Good point - I've got some comments on that in the first blog post (Resources) and I'm planning to cover that in the next post, but you're right.
    Note that resources needn't be material. Pilgrimage sites can lead increased "tourism" can lead to fairs/market fairs can establish an important stopping point for trade routes despite it possibly being out of the way.

    Likewise a convenient stopping point that touches a few trade routes can generate a settlement if only for the networking opportunities
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Beleriphon's Avatar

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    Default Re: Location! - inspiration for fantasy settlements

    Quote Originally Posted by Guigarci View Post
    Likewise a convenient stopping point that touches a few trade routes can generate a settlement if only for the networking opportunities
    Or the possibility of trading one set of goods for another and then moving on. There are a number of these settlements in the real world, particularly in the Middle East through what is now Israel, Syria and Lebannon.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Melayl's Avatar

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    Default Re: Location! - inspiration for fantasy settlements

    This probably falls under Resources, but if the land is tillable, it'll likely be farmed. If there are multiple farms in the area, a relatively centralized town would develop to provide good/services for the outlying farms and to buy what they produce. This is particularly true for hills/steppes/mountains that are terraced and farmed.

    Important historic sites might also be the cause for a town. If a massive battle was fought near a site, a town might arise around a tomb or shrine of remembrance.

    This might fall under Defense, but a town might also form near the entrance/exit to a forbidden area or object/tomb/etc that must be guarded/prevented from opening/returning.

    Perhaps the town is located where the settlers started to run out of supplies, so they stopped to secure more and just stayed...
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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Northamptonshire, UK

    Default Re: Location! - inspiration for fantasy settlements

    Thanks everyone for the suggestinos so far!

    Now, while these are all helpful and all, I was rather hoping for more fantasy-based location ideas? Most of those posted are covered in the link at the top of the article...

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Location! - inspiration for fantasy settlements

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    Thanks everyone for the suggestinos so far!

    Now, while these are all helpful and all, I was rather hoping for more fantasy-based location ideas? Most of those posted are covered in the link at the top of the article...
    Maybe someone was magically compelled to found a town. A divine community might migrate wherever their deity tells them, even if they don't know why. A guild of mages might need an out-of-the-way place to conduct their experiments, and a community might crop up to meet their needs.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGirl

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    Aug 2013

    Default Re: Location! - inspiration for fantasy settlements

    A few hypotherical scenarios come to mind, if you're looking for an "excuse for a settlement".

    - Maybe a land was quite arid for a while, and a trading post was founded near an oasis. As the climate changed, the land all around became more fertile, but the location of the trading post was already the commercial hub of the area.

    - Maybe the land was originally worthless -- the apparently valueless tract of land was gifted to [some-minor-lord] by someone else. This minor-lord built a manor house (and supporting buildings) there, which spawned a village. An unexpected discovery by a rope maker in the village led to a new type of rope which was lighter and stronger than others, and is now in high demand.

    - As a semi-realistic example, the "sand" in the area may happen to be good for metalworking. When making molds for metal objects, people typically used whatever type of sand/clay/etc was at the bottom of the local river. Some places just happened to have exactly the right types of impurities in the soil to make really good steel, while impurities in other areas meant that objects produced were brittle, or pitted, or rusted easily. Those areas with "good" sand attracted the best smiths/metalworkers and became centres of excellence for the metal industries

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    TheThan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Location! - inspiration for fantasy settlements

    Castles take up two roles. That is the role of defensive fortification, and residence for the nobility.

    With this in mind, most castles are built to defend areas, therefore they are strategically placed so the troops stationed there will have easy access to a lot of area. They are built in places that can be defended (like at the top of a hill for instance) without too much effort (and to make it difficult to attack), or have defenses built into their design that makes them difficult to assault (moats, etc).

    Now how do castles defend land? Simple, they force the enemy to expend resources trying to fight it (either by direct attack or siege). An invading army cannot just ignore the presence of a functioning castle because then the soldiers stationed there can exit and attack the invader’s rear, flank and supply train then return and be safe. This easily transfers into cities, castles protect cities in much the same way (some cities are even walled to further enhance defensiveness).

    So when you place castles, think strategically, where should this castle be in order to defend an area of land. Where could it go to make it difficult to assault etc.

    However some castles are more estates than fortifications, these are not really castles, in the military sense of the word they're palaces. They're fancy dwellings for aristocrats and nobility.
    Last edited by TheThan; 2014-05-26 at 06:08 PM.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Oneris's Avatar

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    Default Re: Location! - inspiration for fantasy settlements

    You could have settlements around areas of extraordinary phenomena: temples around the site of fissures that give off psychoactive fumes, caves where waterfalls pierce through rocks to pool in cenotes, mage schools around areas where the boundaries between the planes grow thin, mountaintop laboratories to catch the lighting, village of vassals to a nearby dragon, small settlements of people trying their luck at removing the sword from the stone, etc.

    On a more realistic side, summer/wintering grounds in the path of prey migratory paths, villages of workmen/artisans around great building projects, boom towns/ghost towns, outcast/leper colonies, campsites for academic expeditions, etc.

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