Friday, April 12, 2013

The Next Logical Step?

Just a quick post today, to sort of blurph out a few things so that they're in the atmosphere before I settle down to piecing them together later.

This, then is the logical next step:


This is Zante from the previous post, which was the largest city on the island, broken down into its "sub-groups" ... so that the 2 mile hex (really, 2.22 miles) can be accounted for in 434 yard hexes - the size of the small hexes shown above.  The question is, how does one define these "micro-hexes" ... when the infrastucture numbers that were there before have now ceased to mean anything.  This was (by the last accounting, and the page on my wiki) a Type II hex ... but that's not actually useful.

The population of Zante is 9,193.  It was founded approximately 1,600 BCE (which makes it old even for a Greek city).  The center of the city is actually 554 feet above sea level ... so that does tell us the streets are fairly steep, since the blue above IS sea.  I can also add that the city makes raisins, olive oil and that it collects and slaughters goats on the island for transport.  It also transports a lot of the other grown things on the island, oranges, lemons, cranberries, melons, wheat, honey, olives and grapes.  And of course the flint from the mine on the north end of the island.

None of this is especially helpful in guessing which of the black areas on the above map are occupied by shopkeepers, guild artisans, elite residences, slums, corrals, greenspace, shops, the market or the red light districts (with their taverns, inns and horizontal refreshments).  Nor does it tell me how much of the city is occupied by each.

Moving on with what I can measure.  Each of the small hexes above is 163,121 square feet, which equals 3..745 acres.  The area which I have (with no logic at all, just wanting to make it smaller than the hex in the last map of Zakynthos I drew) works out to about 28 hexes, or about 105 acres.  This adds up to 87.7 people per acre ... which, happily, works out to a reasonable number according to this document here.  Happy day.

That's also about 328 persons per hex.  If the average household is 7 (grandparents, parents, three children and one additional family member or servant), then that's 46 households per hex.  Interesting, but not exactly helpful.

I'm not sure if anything is.  Consider this city map below:

Glorious Lankhmar

All very stunning to look at, and really not at all to the least sort of logical scale (the building walls are dozens of feet thick, technically, even the minor buildings) ... but how is it USEFUL?  I mean, actually.  Is there that much that is gained by knowing the number of building fronts on Pimp Street between the Street of the Gods and Temple Street?  How often are you going to use that sort of information?

We generally use a large scale map to define how long it's going to take a party to travel between two distant points, so we can calculate the number of encounters, how much food they're going to eat and so on.  Are you really going to calculate how long it takes to walk from Carter Street to Ox Cart Road?  Do you care?  Or are you just going to say, "Hey you're there."  And even at that, does the destination need to be named something?  It's all nice window dressing for a Leiber book, makes you feel like you're somewhere, etc., but all the party wants to know is how much the leather armor costs.  They don't care if they bought it on Grain Street or Great Gate Road.  It's a suit of armor.  Maybe, if you cared, it might make a difference if it was bought on Cheap Street or Barter Street ... but seriously, isn't that a question of how it's bought and at what price?

And how flipping boring does it get when, as a player, you're having street names thrown at you in session after session, as a place you must get to.  I've done it.  It's cute ... but really, saying there's an address engraved in the key and "We go to the address" covers it pretty well, without there ever needing to be an actual street named.

So while I can go smaller ... and maybe work out something for what's where based on perhaps how high the group of hexes is above the city's lowest point (which seems like ti might separate the offal from the palace, as it were), someone will have to explain to me why its worth the bother.  For the present, I'm not crystal clear on that.

It's nice to know there's a cathedral in town.  Do you care where?


7 comments:

Oddbit said...

I think the question of, "Does it matter?" is an important one to always be asking.

The only people who have ever asked for specifics that I can think of were trying to game the system or just were really into knowing what NPCs looked like.

Keith S said...

I find representational maps like the Lankhmar example above pretty useful. Street and site names can evoke moods. My hometown is defined by named neighborhoods and folks here orient by those names.

The neighborhoods themselves often are centered around certain industries. So, your system's distribution data might be an excellent supplement to a highlight map.

I have several maps of German walled cities with buildings drawn in isometric projection. I use them as visual shorthand notes sometimes when describing a street or intersection to my players. Mostly, it's just flavor.

AnAxeToGrind said...

The only time I suppose you would care is if you are running some type of chase scene. Sure the players can say I am looking for a short cut to get ahead of him. Or if they are fleeing to escape thru. Having a map that they can see as you slowly uncover makes it a little more dramatic. Also having that fork in the road that they can't see the end of makes the choice to take the short cut thru the alley their choice and not a gotcha moment when they find its really a dead end.

Ithilien said...

Zak S introduces and interesting idea in his Vornheim book. There are two different ways to move around a city. When the players are performing activities such as you describe, do exactly as you say. Players don't care about the exact street they are on.

The other method is "crawling" an unknown city (or an unknown part of a city), which is much more like dungeon crawling. In this case, street encounters occur, strange streets and shop fronts are a valid part of this crawl, although mapping at that level would probably be foolhardy.

Nicolas "Ungoliant" Senac said...

I think it only matters in case of unusual events as a city ​​fire or an invasion / battle. Very rare events, indeed. But when they occur, you are glad to know where the cathedral - for example - is.

Maximillian said...

When you were describing Dachau for your online players, how much of a map did you use for your reference?

Liliet said...

We do. We do want to know where it is. We do want to know how it is named. Not even talking about fights taking place in the buildings and on the streets - who can see them? Who wants to intervene? Who can you ask for help? Where can your enemies recieve reinforcement? What will the city magistrate and guards know tomorrow about the fight? Where can you run? Where can your enemies run? Where is the river? Where are the walls?

City map is crucial if city is something more than just a location for buying stuff and talking to people who are always at the same place - which is totally unrealistic, by the way.
Maps are ALWAYS useful. They give you information, they give you ideas, they make world around you alive and full of things happening at the same time. For sandbox they are crucial.

In short, I heavily disagree with you on this matter. And I`m really interested in your responce. You are a person who persuaded me to adopt sandbox style, after all.