Tweets: Planning a City

I’ve been having fun plowing through ideas on Doomsday/Boom Town today, & I thought I’d share.








I did some math, decided the circles need to be twice as big in radius, and also remembered apartment buildings, which I imagine will be in groupings near the center tower.

Still working on layout!

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0 thoughts on “Tweets: Planning a City

  1. Half acre lots for … a single family house? A big building? You might want to look at numbers for population density for various cities, and the types of buildings they have, vs. the numbers and size you want in your city.

    • Oh, trust me, I did a lot of looking. The lot numbers are ALL over the place for lot sizes. I decided – and Cya decided – to go originally with big lots, lots of green space, that could later be filled in, i.e., houses are a house-width-plus-2-alleyways apart. There’s a lot of single family housing, and then there will be apartment buildings nearer the center of the city. Also business buildings, probably.

      • <nod> To me, half an acre is a pretty big suburban lot. Lots in my area (which is quite dense, mostly multi-family houses with very modest yards, and I think of it as urban but not city-center density) run more like a fiftieth or a hundredth of an acre. Lots get bigger (and there’s more other green space) as you get to rings of suburbs further from the city. But even what you’d find where I am isn’t what expect in a walled city — but my model for a walled city is more like medieval London, or at least parts of Boston, not somewhere that you expect to be seriously farming inside the city walls.

        • Yeah, I admit I might have to seriously downsize my expectations as I continue to plan – gotta figure out what’s feasible vs. what I/what the character want/s. Since I grew up rural, all my settings are a little skewed.

          • You’ve got magic. You can wall in a huge area if you want. But if it comes to manning the walls to defend against ground-based and aerial and possibly burrowing attackers, a larger area to defend for a given number of defenders spreads your defense thin …

            • You do have a good point with that one. I think the 2-mile diameter outer circle is okay… even if it leaves me with 12+ miles of outer wall to patrol vs. 6+ *wrinkles nose* I’ll figure it out once I start figure out mapping.

              • Wandering in a somewhat different direction: do most people spend most of their time in the city proper, or do they work and/or live outside (agriculture, and … ?) and having living spaces or secure quarters in the city to retreat to in case of attack? A family could have a multi-acre estate and farm outside of the city, and a snug townhouse in the city.

                • I was thinking that most families – the non-agriculture ones, at least – spent most of their time in the city. There are Unknown Dangers still out there, and it’s not close enough to another former-city to be that good for scrounging, although hunting is probably still a thing.

                  • Do you have a sense of how labor-intensive agriculture is? Will a tiny fraction of your population be farmers and herders (and maybe hunters and gatherers), or the majority of it? Is there much meaningful travel for trade? Are there other industries that might want to be outside the city walls, because they stink or use dangerous processes or chemicals or need a lot of space or …? (Tanning’s a traditional stinker.) What professions and industries can exist entirely inside the city walls?

                    • Will a tiny fraction of your population be farmers and herders (and maybe hunters and gatherers), or the majority of it? Good question! I was picturing a less than a majority, but more than tiny. Is there much meaningful travel for trade? Some, and increasing as people get manufacturing back underway. Settlements aren’t all that close-by, but the city is right near a river, which will help. …other industries that might want to be outside the city walls.. Yeah, I was thinking that about tanning, etc. That or a magical solution to the stink. What professions and industries can exist entirely inside the city walls? Good question! To start with, hrrm, all the service professions a city engenders. Food production – baking, restaurants, etc Still up in the air about construction – but I know Cya only fills in a quarter or less of her city before focusing on the school. It wouldn’t be a raw-material-production hub, but maybe value-added things? Things that aren’t location-tied (i.e., growing cotton or linen is stuck to the places where those will grow, but making fine tailored clothing or pretty embroidery is not). TBH, Cya’s goals were: “build safe place.” “Invite people to live there to fill in the details, like electricians and plumbers and oh yeah I need some bureaucrats.” “Build school.” 4?? “Profit.”

                    • I was picturing a less than a majority, but more than tiny. I argue at least those folks will want their primary living space to be near their farms (if they’re not teleporters, anyway). Hauling an hour out of the city (by foot? horse? magic carpet?) to milk the cows at dawn is even worse than getting up at dawn to milk the cows. 🙂 Do you want room inside the walls to bring all or some fraction of the livestock in in case of raid or war? (I’m assuming threats range from raiders to monsters to invading armies?) Is the tech level such that harvest season pulls a lot of people who normally work in the city out to help? It wouldn’t be a raw-material-production hub, but maybe value-added things? You’re planning a city. Why plunk it down somewhere that doesn’t have at least some raw materials available? Even agricultural goods count, but having metals, coal, wood, or even good stone or clay is useful. Or natural gas or oil if you have the tech to handle and process it. This is IIRC somewhere in what’s currently the US? If it’s too cold for cotton, you can probably grow linen, but the retting process is slow and stinky. More out of town industry. How about sheep or goats for wool? (And milk and meat.) Silkworms? Spinning, weaving, and sewing can happen in the city; dyeing can be another stinky/polluting one, depending on what tech you’re using. Food production: I’ve always seen grain mills outside of cities, but that may be a function of convenience of power or transportation which may be less relevent if the city has Sufficient Power and/or ~all the food is going in to town anyway. Meat processing in any quantity needs to deal with waste products. (“Dump them in the river” is a much used answer but not exactly good for water quality.) Cooking and at least some preserving can happen in the city. Power? Water, solar? Coal, wood, petrochemicals of some sort? Fission, fusion? Magic? Just for the city, or is there infrastructure to deliver power to farms and may eventually outlying settlements? Is the power-plant or equivalent in the city proper? Service jobs can be in the city, baring housecalls to outlying farms. Healthcare, teaching, childcare, repair and maintenance of all sorts, …? Construction may eventually shift out of (the original walled part of) the city as it grows. (I’m assuming it’ll be reasonably successful and keep growing? Though perhaps at some point it spawns outlying towns rather than spilling into the immediate area outside the walls. Or are population control measures in the plans?) ETA: Woodworking, furniture making. Metalworking. Papermaking, printing. Glassworking. Weapons making. Combat training. Do they have tech for plastics? Refrigeration? Possibly vast chunks of this are papered over by magic, but I’ve no idea how that scales in your ‘verse. Insufficient civil engineering fu. I will fail some of the ‘survival’ class. 🙂

                    • Okay, so, the city is built for expansion – with almost everything inside the walls as agriculture to start with and then, as it turns over to more houses, agriculture (and thus farm houses) beginning to move just outside the walls. (Preserve Plant Matter is a great Working; you can have grain silos and shelves of fresh vegetable matter stored in the city center from when you have Lots of Agriculture Land and dole it out slowly, and it will last indefinitely) The space between the outer walls and inner walls could be used for livestock grazing/stabling/storage in times of attack. Tech level is… variable. This is post-apoc; if Cya can Find harvest machines, she will, and she should be able to find them, and then Find someone who can repair them for her. This is somewhere ~ 120-180 miles from the Ranch, which is in Wyoming. <.< I have to go find Cap's original post to have a specific location for the Ranch, then I can pick a city she rebuilds. (more in second comment)

                    • Preserve Plant Matter is a great Working How does it compare in setup and maintenance cost/effort to conventional tech? Is this a big thing someone with the right skills can do once (over days/months/…?) on a big warehouse and it works until someone breaks it, or is this something a bunch of specialists are going to need to do regular maintenance on, or …? Read: how much can you cheat on realism with magic? One friend who’s a Harry Potter fan notes that if muggles are going to be scared of wizards, transmutation of elements (into, say, above-critical-mass quantities of fissionables) is much worrisome than individual nasty death spells, but nobody ever seems to worry about that … which is in Wyoming A great place for a ranch, but it’s the second-least dense state (after Alaska) … presumably there are reasons for that, though that whole apolcalypse thing may change that. (Heh. The bits of Wyoming I’ve been to are very much not flat (fine for grazing, annoying to problematic for plowing). Suddenly I have a very different visual of the locale. Probably neither is correct.)

                    • Food production – yes, I think the grain mills & such will have to move outside the city. I’m sort of picturing it ending up with Mickey Mouse ears – a wall for the power plants, a wall for the waste treatment ponds, a wall for the grain production. Power: starts out from just the city, combo of hydro & magical coal/oil?? plants that were there before the war, with some solar panels as she can Find those (but those are gobbled up whenever anyone finds them, sooo) And it’s outside the city, see mickey mouse ears. I hope it’s reasonably successful! Having a school, safety, an economy, food, and /electricity and running water/ help a lot. No population control; this is post-apoc. If people outgrow her city, she can either do like Inner Circle and add more rings, or build nearby. PRINTING! I was thinking of that on the way home today. Books, art. Fancy things, entertainment. Also, I was thinking of mining landfills for plastics. Recycled plastic = polyester.

                    • magical coal/oil?? plants that were there before the war See comment above: can they just magic up fuel? Is that efficient? If so, I’ll argue for natural gas over oil or coal. It’s not as energy-dense, even compressed/liquified, but it burns relatively clean and if you’re up for the extra plumbing, it can be piped directly to where it’s going to be used for heat in addition to being used to generate electricity. (I <3 my gas stove. There's one place in my area that uses a coal-fired oven to bake pizza, which I find a little odd (and not nearly as nice-smelling as wood-fired), but it's also a thing.) At the price of even more plumbing, any of the fuel-fired plants will give you steam for heating as a side effect. Books, art. Fancy things, entertainment. Bread and circuses! And bonus points for maintaining literacy. Also, I was thinking of mining landfills for plastics. Recycled plastic = polyester. I’m prety sure that’s work for industrial machinery, not something that can be done by hand. Maybe something that can be done with magic? (Some plastics recycle well, and other you can’t get the same quality of material the second time around. I don’t know the plastics well enough to know which are which, but for an analogy, metals and glass recycle beautifully, if at high energy cost, while wood doesn’t recycle well at all, and cotton rags become paper becomes lower quality paper becomes molded pulp becomes mulch, IIRC.)

                  • (I have walled city design on the back burner for an unrelated project. So seeing what someone else is thinking about it is very useful!)

              • How tall is the outer wall? If it’s tell enough, or if towers are added on the wall that would allow guards to see out further. And there are the various technological and magic methods of watching for intruders. Scrying, radar, panning around with sensitive shotgun mikes, stealthed guard positions a ways outside the walls, that friendly little village two hills over that has a direct line to whoever handles security for the city… Considering there’s magic involved I also wonder how far down the walls go. I’m just picturing some guy trying to dig under the wall, getting deeper and deeper… coming out of his tunnel when he runs out of supplies only to find people waiting for him. “We were wondering how long it would take for you to give up. And damn it, my bet was on your coming out tomorrow morning.”

                • heeheehee. They go down quite a bit. “control” and “earth” are two of Cya’s best Words. And they go up – I’m not sure. I don’t have a good enough sense of scale to really understand that well.

      • Random thought: there are multiple levels of walls. Are individual residences also set up to be defensible? You might wind up with individual walled complexes with large courtyards if you want green space in the city but are also thinking about fighting in the streets.

  2. One of these days I should start looking at my fantasy mega-city thoughts, which grew out of an old pre-(for me)-internet forum’s short lived attempt to put together a “D&D City with a population of one million citizens.” My main corner of creativity in that was coming up with an orphanage/long-term-care home for children of adventurers. (When two couples who were former adventuring colleagues of a wizard both die, the wizard finds himself guardian of a handful of children… and within a few years wakes up one day to realize his property is one part wizards tower to ten parts orphanage.)

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