Saturday, May 19, 2018

Building Stavanger with Blocks

If you've not been following along with this series, you'll want to start with this index post, with a list of the foregoing content relative to what's written below.

The next goal would be to create an urban map of the dev-5 Stavanger that we've described, made of building blocks, then apply some of those base needs that those blocks need in order to create player experience and adventure.  Remember: we're not making the town for its own sake, but as an interactive tool ... something the players can walk through and thus become invested.

Before getting into that, however [and sorry for the tease], I must address some relative points regarding scale and the actual town of Stavanger ~ because whatever system I might try to create, it is never going to reflect, or simulate the real world.

This is a google image of Stavanger's downtown, centered on the oldest building in the city:

Note how we're allowed to call the Norwegian name, St. Svithun's Domkirke, "Stavanger Cathedral," but
we're still required to pronounce "Qatar" as cutter.  Pedantry is inconsistent and stupid.

St. Svithun's Domkirke
According to my reading, the church was built between 1100 and 1150; with the principle architecture and towers in place by 1125.  It creates a problem for me that I'll address later, but that's not important just now.

The reader may recall that I had settled on a block size of 3.7 acres for my town map hexes ... and that has been a devilishly hard thing to conceptualize.  Thankfully, Google Earth has come to the rescue.  The circle above, centered on the cathedral, is a space of 3.7 acres.  Which is rather clear.

Additionally, I've come across this marvelous document, discussing (among other demographic things) the number of persons per housing unit in various cities, as well as the number of rooms per housing unit, in obscure places around the world.  I have come across several references to low density villages possessing four housing units per acre; and the document here gives me reason to settle on a convenient number of 2 to 5 residents per housing unit (as it gives data for very low development parts of the world, such as Gambia and Malaysia-Sabah.  It's not a fully reliable number, but it is ballpark enough that if I say that a primitive culture might have 32 to 80 persons per urban game block, I'm not utterly talking through my hat.  This may not matter to some, but it matters to me.

Okay, let's get around to mapping Stavanger.  I know this is the part that starts to get out of control.  Everything up to here is conjecture ... but we are, effectively, going to build an adventure, and we're going to need a map to do it.  I'll see if I can't give the reader some tools to handle the problems that arise in creating an interesting framework upon which to hang pre-made adventures and on-the-fly adventures alike.

Let's start by superimposing the map above onto a field of hexes:



Now, all the hexes are the size of "blocks."  We can decide from here how dense the village of Stavanger is going to be.  We know from the links, and other content that I've covered, that 225 people per block would be very dense; some of the blocks above, of downtown modern Stavanger, probably are that dense.  But our village will be a lot less so.  I've suggested that 32 persons per block would be the low end; that 80 would be high.  I've already described long houses in a previous post, saying that there are three in my Stavanger of 892.  We can say that those three each have 80 or so people; and then stipulate, say, the independent family dugouts have an average density of 32 per block.  And I said that Stavanger had 553 people.

That makes 13 blocks; 3 big ones and 10 smaller.  Good enough.  But where do we put them?  Randomly scatter them over the map?  That's a very poor idea; we have a map of an actual place.  We can do a little forensics and decide for ourselves how to arrange those blocks ~ and use some of what we already know about Stavanger to do it.

So here's Stavanger again, only now I've muted the real city so that I can label some of the local colour that we can take into account:


If this is your fantasy world, you can always take any real place from anywhere in the world and deconstruct that place a little.  That's all I'm doing here; I'm just taking advantage of the real Stavanger to create a fictional one.

I have no idea if the land between the lake (Breiavatnet) and the sea was swampy; but that seems likely, particularly as the modern images show the lake shore and the sea shore have both been encased by concrete.  I'm suggesting, then, that 0402 and 0403 are left empty ... except as places where fishing boats could be landed during the night, where they could take advantage of the tides (which are not a great change, but critical).  0402 could be a mud flat, barely a foot above sea level, which might rise enough to let the fishing folk ease their boats out in obedience to the tide.

The best access to both the sea and the flat would be 0301 ~ which becomes the future market, someday.  That's a good hex for the fishing folk's long house.  The hunter's longhouse can be nearby, where present government buildings are ... with fair access to the fresh water of the lake and the forest.  A grouping of lodges (the secondary density blocks) can encircle the hexes between these two longhouses and the forest, following around the edge of the lake.

The present location of the church (which will be built 200 years later) can serve as the shaman's longhouse.  The access to the sea is up to us.  We could stipulate that the mud flat extends into 0401, 0501, even 0601, cutting the shaman's house well off.  That could serve the shaman's purpose, however; the shaman is, in a sense, the balancing power against the hunters and chieftain, and certainly doesn't need access to the sea.  We can then stack the remaining lodges behind the shaman and have our village laid out (knowing why it was built that way).

I'll let the reader think about that for a bit, while I go and make a map ... then we can get into further methods of sorting out our adventure building.

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