Candlekeep Forum
Candlekeep Forum
Home | Profile | Register | Active Topics | Active Polls | Members | Private Messages | Search | FAQ
Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?

 All Forums
 Forgotten Realms Journals
 Running the Realms
 Westgate architectural and cultural style
 New Topic  New Poll New Poll
 Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  

Magean
Acolyte

7 Posts

Posted - 16 Jan 2022 :  20:58:29  Show Profile Send Magean a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Hey everyone,

I ran a short campaign set in Westgate last Summer and I'm planning on running another one at some point. Something bugged me: what kind of fantasy city or real-world inspiration would be a good fit for flavor when it comes to architecture and general feeling?

Indeed, conveying off the atmosphere of a setting is something I consider important for shared immersion at the table (virtual or not), and I like using pictures for that purpose.

We all know Westgate is supposed to be a cosmopolitan hub of commerce, contraband and crime, not actually bound to any central power or national sentiment. Expect a patchwork of ethnic districts and seedy parts.

With that said, what's the historically prevalent style, in your opinion?

I'd be inclined to give it Mediterranean vibes, because this is how I see the Southwestern Sea of Fallen Stars. I picture Chondath as a sort of fantasy Byzantium - its people are of Mediterranean complexion, it's a cradle of civilization with a glorious imperial past now long gone, it's now (before the Spellplague, at least, do we know if it has returned since?) a decadent empire ripe with intrigue, and geographically southern with matching climate (if somewhat wet though). Turmish also has strong "Eastern traders" vibes. As for Sembia, I'd rather draw from early Renaissance Northern Italy because, obviously, of mercantile ethos (think Venice or Genoa).

So, since Westport lies in the middle, I'd expect it to be somewhat similar if more chaotic and diverse, due to its cultural openness and utter lack of urban planning. For instance, I'd see buildings made of white or yellowish materials topped with red tiles on the roofs; just think of Florence or Dubrovnik, but way dirtier and more motley.

And, granted, I'm aware the Realms aren't supposed to be derived from real-world cultures the way, say, the Warhammer universe is (was, actually), but nonetheless you need something to work with, since nothing comes out of nowhere. And I'd rather save classic "Nortwestern European" fantasy pictures for the Swords Coast or the Moonsea.

What do you think of that?

Thanks in advance.

ericlboyd
Forgotten Realms Designer

USA
1961 Posts

Posted - 16 Jan 2022 :  21:09:35  Show Profile  Visit ericlboyd's Homepage Send ericlboyd a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If you want real world inspiration, I would suggest looking at Venice or Constantinople or Alexandria. Think of port cities where multiple cultures come together and trade. The architecture, food, and clothing would be smorgasbord of competing cultural influences.

I would also suggest reading "Masquerades" by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb.

--
http://www.ericlboyd.com/dnd/
Go to Top of Page

Magean
Acolyte

7 Posts

Posted - 16 Jan 2022 :  23:00:54  Show Profile Send Magean a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ericlboyd

If you want real world inspiration, I would suggest looking at Venice or Constantinople or Alexandria. Think of port cities where multiple cultures come together and trade. The architecture, food, and clothing would be smorgasbord of competing cultural influences.

I would also suggest reading "Masquerades" by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb.



Thanks for the reference.

Venice, Constantinople, Alexandria (as opposed to Antwerpen or Lübeck): I see we concur on the Mediterranean feel. Good!

EDIT: my, but you're actually one of Cloak & Dagger's coauthors ?! I noticed, because I bought the PDF tonight and then I saw your name. Well, if that isn't literally authorized information, I don't know what is :-)

Edited by - Magean on 17 Jan 2022 00:00:04
Go to Top of Page

Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
7610 Posts

Posted - 17 Jan 2022 :  01:38:11  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Architecture is usually heavily influenced by the materials of a region. It's why some cities feature a lot of certain kinds of wood, brick, metal, or stone. It's why all the walls and rooftops tend to be the same small range of colours. It's why monuments and special buildings made with "exotic", rare, and imported materials really stand out.

Westgate doesn't seem to have any large nearby forests or quarries or mines or ruins. I can't find any "ancient" maps of the region which show what was around the city around the time it was founded. Indeed, 2E-era maps suggest it's actually near the outer tip of a large peninsula.

The city is (or was) a hub of overseas trade. Maybe they trade intrigue and intangibles now, but what real goods did they trade to pay for bulk materials during formative years? Answers to that question would suggest who the city's trading partners were, where they imported much of their materials (and architectural labourer, skills, styles) from.

The city is notorious for crime and adventure. And notorious for the unbelievable wealth of the affluent few. But it can't all be built from costly materials imported by ship and wagon, the mansions might be made of platinum-gilded marble inlays - some displayed ostentatiously, some hoarded and hidden and private - but the common folk would live in shanties constructed from whatever cheap and workable materials they can readily obtain.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 17 Jan 2022 01:52:16
Go to Top of Page

George Krashos
Master of Realmslore

Australia
6426 Posts

Posted - 17 Jan 2022 :  06:45:22  Show Profile Send George Krashos a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Magean

EDIT: my, but you're actually one of Cloak & Dagger's coauthors ?! I noticed, because I bought the PDF tonight and then I saw your name. Well, if that isn't literally authorized information, I don't know what is :-)



Yes, we're not worthy.

-- George Krashos

"Because only we, contrary to the barbarians, never count the enemy in battle." -- Aeschylus
Go to Top of Page

Magean
Acolyte

7 Posts

Posted - 17 Jan 2022 :  11:05:50  Show Profile Send Magean a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ayrik

Architecture is usually heavily influenced by the materials of a region. It's why some cities feature a lot of certain kinds of wood, brick, metal, or stone. It's why all the walls and rooftops tend to be the same small range of colours. It's why monuments and special buildings made with "exotic", rare, and imported materials really stand out.

Westgate doesn't seem to have any large nearby forests or quarries or mines or ruins. I can't find any "ancient" maps of the region which show what was around the city around the time it was founded. Indeed, 2E-era maps suggest it's actually near the outer tip of a large peninsula.

The city is (or was) a hub of overseas trade. Maybe they trade intrigue and intangibles now, but what real goods did they trade to pay for bulk materials during formative years? Answers to that question would suggest who the city's trading partners were, where they imported much of their materials (and architectural labourer, skills, styles) from.

The city is notorious for crime and adventure. And notorious for the unbelievable wealth of the affluent few. But it can't all be built from costly materials imported by ship and wagon, the mansions might be made of platinum-gilded marble inlays - some displayed ostentatiously, some hoarded and hidden and private - but the common folk would live in shanties constructed from whatever cheap and workable materials they can readily obtain.



Good post. Yes, available maps don't depict any large forest in the Dragon Coast peninsula, so wood is probably relatively expensive.

Regarding quarries however, I doubt what large-scale maps we've at hand would bother showing any. Besides, if the peninsula is relatively dry flora-wise - think bush, scrubland, garrigue to stick to the Mediterranean theme, some stone pine, cypress and cedar forests - I'd imagine it to be hilly and rocky enough to provide relatively cheap stone to the local dwellers. Think of Greece or Mediterranean islands, basically.

EDIT: there's the Gulthmere Forest to the South. As per the 3e FR campaign setting, "this wide, tangled forest divides the Dragon Coast from the Vilhon Reach. It is a sprawl of rising uplands dotted with cedars and pines, eventually giving way to the Orsraum Mountains to the South (...) The lion-god Nobanion ceaselessly roams the wood to protect it".

Which confirms two things:
-with cedars and pines, we're definitely in dry Mediterranean-style lands
-there's a nearby source of wood but it's dangerous to collect from it.

Edited by - Magean on 18 Jan 2022 18:24:33
Go to Top of Page

ericlboyd
Forgotten Realms Designer

USA
1961 Posts

Posted - 17 Jan 2022 :  14:24:20  Show Profile  Visit ericlboyd's Homepage Send ericlboyd a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

quote:
Originally posted by Magean

EDIT: my, but you're actually one of Cloak & Dagger's coauthors ?! I noticed, because I bought the PDF tonight and then I saw your name. Well, if that isn't literally authorized information, I don't know what is :-)



Yes, we're not worthy.

-- George Krashos



Spoken from the cheap seats in Gnomeville, Impilturd. ;-)

--
http://www.ericlboyd.com/dnd/
Go to Top of Page

TheIriaeban
Master of Realmslore

USA
1037 Posts

Posted - 17 Jan 2022 :  16:00:14  Show Profile Send TheIriaeban a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just a couple things. There are hills mentioned outside of Westgate so there may be ones rocky enough to be used as a source of stone. However, that may not even matter since fired bricks have been around for 1,000s of years. They would just need a source of suitable materials to make them. Given the labor needed for the stone, I would hazard to guess that only the rich use stone to build while the rest use bricks.

"Iriaebor is a fine city. So what if you can have violence between merchant groups break out at any moment. Not every city can offer dinner AND a show."

My FR writeups - http://www.mediafire.com/folder/um3liz6tqsf5n/Documents
Go to Top of Page

Magean
Acolyte

7 Posts

Posted - 17 Jan 2022 :  17:06:09  Show Profile Send Magean a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by TheIriaeban

Just a couple things. There are hills mentioned outside of Westgate so there may be ones rocky enough to be used as a source of stone. However, that may not even matter since fired bricks have been around for 1,000s of years. They would just need a source of suitable materials to make them. Given the labor needed for the stone, I would hazard to guess that only the rich use stone to build while the rest use bricks.



Good point. AFAIK lower class buildings in Ancient Rome (insulae) were largely made of brick.

And now thinking of insulae and their propensity to collapse or burn, I'm also thinking of real estate moguls selling cheap houses only to buy the ground even cheaper when they collapsed, then rebuilding them on the cheap and repeating the loop. Crassus made a fortune in this way. And now I think I've got my villain, thanks for getting my mind's gears working :-)
Go to Top of Page

BlackAce
Senior Scribe

United Kingdom
353 Posts

Posted - 22 Jan 2022 :  23:00:07  Show Profile Send BlackAce a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's been a few years, but when my party went to Westgate I pulled out 2e FR Adventures and then I gathered all I could find on medieval Genoa. It has pretty much everything you'd need; a large cosmopolitan port city, a deep harbour, close proximity to mountains, and rich real-world history to crib from. In fact, if you flip a pre 20th-century map of it horizontally, it's a very good match to the silhouette map from FR: Adventures too.

I'll say this much for 4th edition, it got me over my reluctance to break from canon...
Go to Top of Page

Magean
Acolyte

7 Posts

Posted - 25 Jan 2022 :  20:58:35  Show Profile Send Magean a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BlackAce

It's been a few years, but when my party went to Westgate I pulled out 2e FR Adventures and then I gathered all I could find on medieval Genoa. It has pretty much everything you'd need; a large cosmopolitan port city, a deep harbour, close proximity to mountains, and rich real-world history to crib from. In fact, if you flip a pre 20th-century map of it horizontally, it's a very good match to the silhouette map from FR: Adventures too.



Great advice, thanks.
Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
 New Topic  New Poll New Poll
 Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
Jump To:
Candlekeep Forum © 1999-2022 Candlekeep.com Go To Top Of Page
Snitz Forums 2000