Building a realistic Medieval world
Posted 20 November 2010 - 09:43 PM
The order of reading is from largest scale (A whole country filled with cities, towns and villages) down to the smallest scale (Individual Buildings)
This thread is mostly for people who want to make a true megaproject. Even the largest minecraft "cities" I have seen would house only about 500 people, making them just a village by this systems standard.
Chapter 1, Type of settlements
First, you need to know the difference between each kind of settlement.
Hamlet, a tiny village, a population anywhere between 10 and 100. Typicly positioned around one key thing that employs all the population, such as a farm, mine or fishing spot. They are constructed almost entirely of wood.
Village, Population between 100 and 1000, the economy is mostly based on mining, fishing or most commonly farming. Farmers would all work on several large fields, and pay a percentage of what they grow to someone in a greater position of power. Villages often contained at least one blacksmith, pub, and a shop or two. Villages often contain a small religious building. They are mostly wood, although a few key buildings may be stone.
Town, Population between 1000 and 5,000. Towns are somewhat similar to villages, but they have a Charter permitting them to have a market. This means that many people from villages would visit towns to buy things not available in their own village, or to sell any extra food that they grow. Dirt roads would form between Towns and villages due to the somewhat frequent travel. They still have a large amount of agriculture, but there are far more services available. Towns may have wooden walls, most often around the town itself, not the outlying farming areas. Towns contain several religious buildings. It is a mix of stone and wood, preferring more stone near the centre.
City, Population 5,000-15,000 for a smaller city, 25,000 and up for a large city. Cities are less agricultural based than any other settlement, with perhaps only 50% of people actually doing any fishing or farming. Many things are traded, crafted and built. Cities usually contain at least one large religious building, a fortress, a large market, a dock if possible, and a fortress or some kind. Cities may or may not have stone walls, depending on how dangerous the surrounding areas are. And river that runs through a City will typically have embankments. Cities may be mostly wood, or mostly stone, depending on if there was a large fire sometime in its history, and the presence of nearby wood or stone.
Capital, Often the largest city in a nation. Perhaps between 40,000 to 200,000 people. Similar to a City, except with a very small number of agricultural workers, more expensive services (Like the construction of large boats) and bigger landmarks. Houses the government, whatever form of government that may be.
Chapter 2, Location of settlements
Before building a settlement, look at the following list:
Fresh Water available
Coastline for fishing
Fertile farming land
Will not flood
Easy to defend location
Room to expand
Nearby good quality stone
Room for farming
If a settlement does not have most of these, it will not grow very large. As a rule of thumb:
Hamlets have at least 4 of these, including fresh water and some way to get food.
Villages have at least 6 of these
Towns will have at least 8
Cities will have at least 9
Capitals will have at least 10, perhaps even 11
So now that you know what makes a good location, you need to know the ratio of cities to towns, towns to villages ect.
I find that having roughly 1 City, 8 towns, 64 villages and 512 hamlets works quite well. This means that each settlement will have 8 smaller settlements that are nearby, creating a hierarchy of settlements.
The following diagram shows the hierarchy for 1 town. Town, Village, Hamlet. The bottom image shows the 'Web of the hierarchy'.
Chapter 3, Travel by road
Take a look at this diagram, it shows the routes that people may travel along. Many of these routes will be too infrequently travelled to create any more that a few patches of dirt showing through the grass. The key for settlement size is the same as the previous diagram
Road building was very expensive and time consuming in the Medieval period. Most often a dirt trail (Or a load of mud) was all that you would have. Roads were also very twisty, as people avoid trees, high terrain, slopes, or anything difficult to walk through. People would not waste time removing these obstacles, and build any roads around them, making them contour to the landscape.
Roads would be at best perhaps 2 meters wide, there would never be traffic jams for any reason, as there were few travellers anyway, in the case that they were, they would just walk to the sides of the road.
In terms of road material, more commonly travelled routes would be better roads.
Dirt < Gravel < Cobblestone. Sometimes, in areas with little dirt on the surface (High erosion) the dirt may completely get worn away so you have a stony path.
(Example http://cutsinger.net... ... t_path.JPG)
To determine road material, it is useful to try and work out what the daily traffic might be. The following diagram assumes that a Hamlet has 1 person travelling to the town every day, and a village has 10 people travelling to the town every day.
This shows the flow of people, its like the flow of rivers, with tributaries and such merging to form one main river. Quality roads will not be built along a path that is rarely travelled. A dirt path with small patches of exposed dirt (Barely followable) can form with just two daily travellers, a decent dirt road may take 10, and gravel roads are only likely to be built if there are over 30 daily travellers. Cobblestone roads likely have over 200 daily travellers, and will probably only form along roads between towns and cities.
Chapter 4, An example hamlet.
With the past three chapters, you may have no idea where I am going with this, so I will give you an example hamlet.
The hamlet contains four homes for peasants and a Inn (Being the thing that employs a good part of the population). The population is 31, people had large families back then.
The Inn is owned by a rather rich Freeman who managed to get enough money to buy the land here and rent it out to other Freemen (Instead of those freemen paying rent to a baron or knight) which is somewhat rare in a feudal society.
There is a stream running through the town with a wooden bridge made of several tree trunks tied together crossing it. There is a gravel road running along the town too, which gets about 20 people passing through daily (Who often stop at the inn when travelling to the nearby town.)
The farms here use 3-field crop rotation. They are very fertile, and have good water supply.
Overall, this settlement has 7 of the features described in chapter two. Given time, it could grow into a village (But only after the decline of serfdom. Serfdom had almost completely died out in the UK by 1500 because people were often able to pay their lord to be released)
Chapter 5, How to layout Villages
Hamlets and villages have small populations, and were often constructed of wood. They contained perhaps only a blacksmith and an Inn.
First, you will need to decide on a layout, depending on the geography of the area this can be different. Layouts for settlements of this size are often rather spread out, with dirt paths between most buildings, and perhaps a few gravel paths near the centre. If there is a cobblestone road running through the settlement, any services will be positioned along that.
The number of buildings is dependant on the population. I suggest one house for every 7-10 people (Big families) and one service (Blacksmith/Inn/store) per 100-300 people. Villages will often have one religious building, and perhaps a storehouse. Finally, villages will have a manor where the lord lives.
Farms will be positioned around the village. Farming performed by serfs typically meant spending half their time farming food for their lord, and half the time working their own patches of land. 3 Field crop rotation was the norm.
If there is a decent sized river or a coast, fishing is also a potentially profitable source of food. Mines may be set up, but only in villages or hamlets near larger settlements where stone will be needed. Villages which mine are more likely to have stone buildings.
1.To lay out the settlement, begin by putting down any major road or river that runs through it. Then place in the largest two buildings, which will often be a manor and a church, in a off-centre location.
2. Place any stores or inns along either the largest road, or in a central location.
3. Begin scattering homes around. Leave a empty area near the Manor and Church to act as a village square
4. If you wish, you can designate several homes to be deserted. Often deserted home will be in a scattered group, because the inhabitants died of disease.
5. Place dirt paths where you think the most traffic is likely to flow
6. Place all the farms to one side of the village
If you do all this correctly, your village should look something like this if you have a population of about 400:
Light brown : Path
brown : house
Dark brown : Abandoned house
Yellow: Religious building
You can see the edge of the farms in the bottom right of the image
Chapter 6, How to Lay out Towns
Towns are much larger that villages, but follow some of the same rules.
Many of the images in this chapter are too large, so along with the image I have provided a link to a full sized version
1. Begin by placing several villages on your towns 'Outskirts'. These will more or less follow the same rules as standard villages.
2. Link up all the villages roads to meet in the centre, which will be the centre of the town.
3. If you have done this right, you should end up with this:
I got lazy and copypasta'd three Identical villages. DO NOT DO THAT YOURSELF.
So far, the population of this town is 1200, and I want to have a total population of 4000. I will need to place about another 350 homes. Along with that the market will contain fourteen shops and inns. I will have a small fortress, 2 small religious buildings and one statue in the centre of the town square.
4. Start the town itself by placing a town square, I chose to place mine on a the crossroad.
5. Place any shops along the edge of the town square.
6. Place any defensive buildings, such as a small fort, nearby.
7. Place one religious building in a central location, and build the other one about 1/2 the Town radius from the center.
8. Connect all the buildings you have built so far with cobblestone roads, since these will be the areas with high traffic.
9. Begin scattering dirt paths randomly
10. Scatter homes randomly, wealthy peoples homes will be closer to the center.
11. If you are going to have walls (Only about 20% of towns will) build them around the town area itself, not the village style outskirts.
A completed Town might look like this. Walls are added to show you what they may look like, and are dark grey. In this towns case the walls were recently built as there is quite a bit of empty space inside the walls.
BTW, I got lazy part way through and started making every home an identical square. In a later chapter I will describe how to manage a project like this and make sure that every building is unique.
Chapter 7, Organising a project like this
The logistics of running a project like this are MASSIVE, and even more complex if you decide to do it over SMP. However, I have thought of a good way to build all this stuff, and make every building unique, without huge complexity.
The system involves giving people several jobs:
Settlement Planner (Admin): Decides where every settlement, from hamlet to capital, is sited
Geography Planner (Admin): Decides where the mountains, hills and rivers go
Building Planner (Moderator): Lays out plots for people to build on
Road Builder (Moderator): Constructs the roads between settlements. This has its own rank because the road planner should have a good understanding of how roads contour to the landscape and materials used.
Worker (Average player): Builds stuff in the plots, Builds stuff that the Geography planner lays out.
Here is an example of how a hamlet is built:
1. The settlement planner goes and picks a location for the Hamlet. He leaves on a sign how many buildings there should be of each kind. If a warping mod is in use, he should also set up a warp point
2. A Building planner takes a look at the sign, then lays out plots (Which I will describe later) for all of the buildings
3. A few workers each go and take a look at the plot, take the materials provided, and then build buildings inside the plots
What are plots you may ask. Well, plots contain 3 things
1. A outline for the plot
2. A chest containing building materials allowed for the plot
3. A sign describing the kind of building (For example, Small church, or Lower-Middle class house)
The outline for the plot creates an area (In meters square) and the materials decide how grand the building can be, from an overcrowded hovel to a grand mansion with huge gardens. In plots with few materials for a large plot, single story buildings with large gardens are more likely to be built. In plots with many materials for a small plot, people will build multi-story buildings with no spare space.
The benefit of this system is that it gives a large amount of options for the Workers creativity, but still limiting them to a realistic house size and value.
I have created a ton of lookup tables for materials and plot sizes.
Poor = Serf, peasant, slave, unskilled labourer, apprentice
Lower-Middle = Artisan craftsman, Merchant, Skilled labourer
Middle = Master = Craftsman, Store owner
Upper-Middle = Minor noble, Lord, Guild owner
Upper = King, queen, Major noble
These tables only list ammount of cobble and wood, feel free to add in a few extra glass, tree trunks, and decoration for Middle class homes and higher.
To be continued with additional tables
Posted 20 November 2010 - 10:20 PM
Edit: Will be getting around to fully reading it all after dinner. Just skimmed it quickly at first.
Posted 20 November 2010 - 10:32 PM
Posted 20 November 2010 - 10:36 PM
This gives a population density of perhaps about 10 per KM square. This assumes that the terrain is flat, no mountains or unsuitable areas to build. A more realistic country would likely have another 100,000KM squared of area that is very scarcely populated due to mountains or other reasons.
The current minecraft map generator is not suitable for this kind of project, as even the largest continents end up being about 5km long before they hit some snaky ocean. You would need to use some mass Map Editor in order to get the terrain flat, and then build hills, rivers, oceans, land personally.
The only project having to do something similar is probably that Middle Earth project, but this is on an even greater scale than that.
Posted 20 November 2010 - 10:40 PM
Posted 20 November 2010 - 10:46 PM
This is supposed to be realistic, beyond what most people would consider realistic in a game. You could put this shit in a factual book and it would apply to real life too.
We are only limited in realism by the fact we have to use cubes.
Posted 21 November 2010 - 10:53 PM
Posted 21 November 2010 - 11:52 PM
That's our world map!
Posted 22 November 2010 - 02:22 AM
You just inspired me to try to make a medieval world
^ A true sign of creativity ^
Posted 22 November 2010 - 02:48 PM
Showing your work...indeed. Just Wow. Little of this is totally new information to me, yet where i just kinda keep thigns shelved you put it al together and made a reasonable layout. Appreciate the depth you went to.
Gonna have to try this. Granted it won't be 'authentic' since I'd probably use gravel for pathways since dirt grows over anyhow (and I like being able to figure out where stuff is instead of guessing). Hmm... Maybe sand would work for 'dirt' paths.
Then again I'm also the sort of person that would sit and line each path with torches so there's light to see by. Not authentic at all, but *shrug*
Want something to read? Got ten minutes to kill? Here you go!
Posted 22 November 2010 - 04:06 PM
But there should be private incase of griefer!
Posted 22 November 2010 - 04:34 PM
> On the Cozworld.com server our main focus is building a Medieval themed
> world. We still have some structures though from when we first made the
> server that need to be removed. Gradually it's coming together, I wouldn't
> say its 100% authentic.
> That's our world map!
Its perhaps about 5% authentic
The wooden buildings in the streets look OK, but a layout like that would only occur in a city. The size of what you have here is a large village. It has a unrealisticly huge fort for the size of the village (The fort takes up 60% of the space). Far too many torches everywhere, far, far too many landmark buildings (About 20% of buildings here would count as landmarks). The area is too flat, nobody back then would of been able to flatten that much land.
Far too many large structures for such a small settlement. The roads are too straight.
This is the stereotypical view of a medieval world that I often see in video games. The real life version is a lot more plain (Many buildings being similar), and does not have a grid layout of roads.
In the US, many roads are straight. In Europe very few roads are perfectly straight, and even in city centres straight roads are rarely arranged into a grid. The United States never had a medieval period.
Posted 22 November 2010 - 05:02 PM
You mention many times that dirt roads need to be used but how is that possible without grass growing on it? I'd personally opt for using gravel but you state that that would be rarer. Design-wise surely we'd have to use gravel for our dirt paths and cobblestone for our gravel paths, then stone blcok or half-blocks for cobble paths.
I'm interested in how you'll make a village of unique wooden buildings also. Wood is generally a hard block to turn into a house in an aestheticly pleasing manner imo, especially if you want it to scale and don't want your peasants living in mansion houses.
I'm really liking this thread though, serious food for thought... I'm currently building a mountain in my world but once i'm done terraforming the local are i might start pushing along this road.
Come on baby,
Don't fear the creeper,
Posted 22 November 2010 - 05:14 PM
Chapter 7, City Building
Chapter 8, Construction of houses
Chapter 9, Construction of larger buildings
Chapter 10, How to run a project like this.
My idea for chapter 10 is to have 5 ranks
Terrain builder: Organises construction of mountains, rivers, hills, oceans ect...
Large scale planner: Decides on the location of buildings
Building planner: Places plots for people to build on within settlements
Worker: Builds buildings
Road builder: Specialist road builder for making realistic roads.
Building planners would set up plots of a certain size. These plots would have a chest in with a certain amount of materials. For example, 7x7 plot, 150 wood, 1 door. Then workers can build houses in whatever way they want within the plot and with the materials they have. This ensures that the houses are all unique, but are the correct size and value for their owners and location.
In terms of building aestheticly pleasing wooden houses in villages, YOU DON'T.
Wooden houses in villages were not good looking. Most often it was a wooden hut, with a leaky roof and bare dirt floor. In this would you would not have buildings scale up. Players don't go around upgrading their homes, it would need to be relatively static once built. If you do want nice wooden houses, mix in a few tree trunks, those can look nice if used correctly, another good way is to make the bottom 1 meter of each wall out of cobblestone.
About building roads. Perhaps notch should and a Right Click function for the shovel that permanently removes grass from a block (Compressing the dirt so it cannot grow). Half block roads would be extremely rare, perhaps only in the richest part of the capital city. Only Roman roads could be considered similar, and in the medieval period there simply was not enough time, money, materials or technology to do that.