Re: inside the walls

From: Ian Cooper <ian_hammond_cooper_at_...>
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 2004 12:12:27 +0100 (BST)

I'm not sure about some of this, but like anything some of this is down to personal taste.

FWIW when I wrote the 'generic' Sartarite city description I took the arrangements of Pavis as a guide (after all Dorasor presumably learnt his style there), but drew on Viking Jorvik for an understanding of what the houses would be like. Greg and others then later modified that original. There we have a model of a mixture of timber buildings that are urbanised
'steads' (gardens instead of homefields, many more
single family dwellings) with some 'stone' buildings for the rich. That's pretty much a good feel for how a
'Orlanthi' city might be.

But while there might be parts of Whitewall that feel this way overall I (and I think others) don't see Whitewall as a living city but a citadel. Think Helm's Deep more than Edoras. Think cyclopean walls of an imposing royal palace not the homes of the masses. Think dusty corridors hung with decaying tapestries and dust-covered fountains, long unused, rather than common folks hovels. Think Balazaring citadels not Pavis.

There will be few 'shops' as we understand them. Some craftsmen may work here, supporting the royal presence, but I doubt many are associated with agricultural production. My suspicion is that Whitewall imports much of its necessities, one reason why it never took off as a city. So I think that cheesemakers, tanners, dyers and the like would not be found here, far easier for them to be located close to the source of production. Think high status crafts which 'add value' to raw products instead. In addition think warehouses and importers who supply the commodities from outside. Think a great marketplace where traders come (well once came) to supply the thanes and kings.

Be careful of inns. They are to some extent an anachronism. Guests stay with the king (I know this seem suprising but go and read a few Icelandic sagas and you will quickly realise that outsiders meet with and are guests of the local bigwig. That's because it is much rarer to travel than now. There is no need for hotels for tourists, only important folks or undesirables travel. This is different in the Empire of course). If we feel the need for a tavern (probably the outgrowth of an oversupplied beer importer) let's just have the one.

Similarly its all too easy in 'fantasy' cities to throw in too many wierd elements or humour. Less is more as they say. So the marble longhouses, warrens for strange fury animals, battling Meerschaum pipe makers etc, while individually okay begin to grate when thrown together. There is a taste element here. Whatever oddities may work for you and your group may not work for others. People feel happy overelooking the one or two they don't like, but plop them on every street and folks will soon feel overwhelmed. Note that even the wacky Greg doesn't throw handfuls of wierd elements everyplace, just one or two to lighten the tone. And even then some folks complain...

Finally cities are ultimately dull. Don't try to detail every shop and every building. You will feel too encouraged to give every place a big story. Every place has a story, but they are generally local and boring to everyone else (Is Wilms Aunt Bara's favorite or Jonrik?). It is easier to say something that is more of an overview like 'a resedential area mainly wattle and daub single family hearths, but with new stone houses on the west side where rich colks have moved in for the views along the river' or the like.

Hope that helps,

Ian Cooper                                   

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