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    Allright guys, I have a big, big project I'm working on over the next three weeks, the main city of the campaign i'm going to start mid October. I've been dumping my work as I've been making it to get feedback, but the main thing I have to do is so damn big I'm massively intimidated by it.

    I've used City Designer 3 a little, enough to do the tutorial in the Ultimate Mapper's Guide, but the city I need to make is huge, and its not just a city, so I'm, at this stage, just outlining: how do I want to do this?

    I've got access to everything shy of the 2017 annual.

    What I need to Do:

    I have to map the big city in the middle-north of this pixel map (yes i know its pixel art :P the local map for the game being pixel art is kind of charming!

    Ile Du Lac Kithas, "The Isle of Lake Kithas" Is the capital of the country Kithad. The dimensions on this pixel map are 1 km per hex.

    I know about big deals that need to be in each district, and to discuss them, ill include this extremely ugly, super rough concept hex grid:

    yes, i know. its freaking hideous. I threw it together in a few minuets trying to brainstorm how to begin this project.

    Labels on here show where I want certain things.

    The west bank region (labled "Farm") is farmland, I want it pretty sparsely populated with a few farmhouses and plots of land, with the larger houses on the shore of the lake with docks

    The North bank region i want to be the most urban part of the city, the most desnley packed.

    The sub-region "slums" would be the main city docks. lac du kithad joins a few rivers, and is a economic hub of western eldra. While there's some pretty strong security in this region, there's also a lot of poverty, and people don't ask too many questions about a pickpocket stealing from the poor, no?
    Dockworkers, unskilled laborerers, the homeless, and on the end closest to "gate" region, a nice little market.

    West-north sub-region, "art" i want to be your middle to working class area, artisans, smiths, and a larger market along the coast of the lake. Main attraction here is the market, "Le Marche Internationale"

    East-north sub-region "Sir" i want to be the quarter housing most of the city guard (city barracks, military academy), and is most notable for The Bastion of the Knights of the Silver Cross, a chivalric order who's a big deal in the game.

    Center-North "gate" i want to be the main hub of overland entry through the northern forests. perhaps a few farmhouses north of the gate and some fruit orchards, but the urban part would be a hub of activity for city security Here be cannons and ballasts. The North Gate is the main attraction here.

    Okay on to the center Island...
    "Cathedral" this whole Island i want densley urbanized, slowly becoming more and more secular as it moves farther away from the cathedral. The main offices of law (courts, Parliment, The Presidential palace, and The Cathedral) are all on this island. The cathedral's the biggest deal here, but there's a lot of big deals on this island. A long time ago, the island was the whole of the city, so there should be some historic, but vestigial walls on the shores, if possible, and enough variance in community the island could be a functioning town unto itself.

    South Bank... Less densley populated than the other ones.

    "Rich Ppl" - yeah i was very creative here. This is Le District Du Lac, and all the most wealthy tend to live here, thanks to its easy sloping shore into the lake. The city banks are here, as well as some high-end merchants and jewelers. Main draw is The Inner city, right on the center south bank lake edge. Sprawling manor houses and city parks, expertly designed by a few wealthy trade houses in concert to make an eye-pleasing and tourist-drawing spectacle. Think the gardens outside of the Czar's palace in Petrograd/St Petersburg.

    "foresters" - this district almost seems like an outgrowth of the city more than part of it. its not walled like the rest of the city, and the streets are irregular. Very sparsley populated. The main city park is here, although really its just a meadow of the southern wood surrounded by a few clearings, with some nature paths and such.
    Lots of rangers and pagan witches and others who are close to nature hang their hats here.

    Finally "Uni" is the esoteric district, named for Le Acadamie' Esoterique', the largest house of arcane learning in Western Eldra (the continent this is all on) Big school, after the designs of an 18th century french university. There are other universities here too, the Acadamy of Natural Science, the Academy of Law and Civic History, and some less recognized schools. Lots of out of towners, the center of the district, between the multiple universities, is densely packed with students and other young people of privilege, but outside of the center of the district, this, too, is one of the lesser dense districts of the city.

    Allright, so... where to begin.

    I have a couple of ideas.

    1: I could say "screw trying to make this monster in city designer" and do an overland map with Mike Schley's urban symbols, just scale them up and pack them densley, with highlights at points of major intrest, then make some dungeon-level maps for city streets for encounters and such.

    2: I actually get out city designer and make a 5 Kilometer x 8 Kilometer city map...and if I do this, i'm stuck in a situation of "oh god, this is too big, I don't know how to begin...."

    Any advice? If you guys want I can post what i'm working on as I do it here...
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2017
    As for 1 or 2, that depends on how you intend to use the map. Option 1 would make more of a nice illustration than an actual map, but if you don't need street level navigation, that might be just what you need. But I think that is the most important before you start, deciding how you intend to use the finished map.
    to measure travel time at an urban level, is the primary goal. This seems to indicate I need a street map... which makes me terrified. >.>
    • CommentTimeSep 29th 2017 edited
    If travel time is important, you definitely need a street map. But you can consider not making buildings for everything, but rather simple polygons to indicate whole districts/blocks, and only map the main roads. (And then possibly detail map the most interesting blocks, something you can then do in stages). That is one way of approaching a huge map on.
    Allright, so that's not so bad. I like it. It'll be a long-term project, and I can scale down the super detail at the beginning.

    So, that leaves me with... meh... I guess i start with the topography of it? Is there a way to say, start a map as CC3 just to do the landmasses/terrain, and then switch it over to CD3 for street stuff?
    I would try to start small at first. So as to get a handle on it. Also making sure the map dimensions are realistic. That is a difficult one. Though there are lots of maps out there that are to pretty good scale.
    Remember since it is vectored graphics you can always add on. Start with a huge area, and zoom in really far using only the area you have.

    I am a big role player, make sure to not overdo the scope, cause it may never be used. So build the area the players are going to be, then the areas you want them to get to. You can always railroad them to areas you have built. Or keep them out of certain areas until you have it built (disease, infestation, scared of newcomers) It is horrible to put huge effort into an area or region and never go there.
    allright, so lets get some better concept art, a canvas I can start on.

    Cobra, I'm going to take your advice here and start with the Island and the slums, then iteratively go from there.

    Here's the whole map's terrain

    1 hex = 1 Km2
    I would try figure what your population basis would be for each area. Figure what the persons per household number would be. That would give you an idea on the structures you need, then a reference on how big each section of the city would be.

    To put it in context most Forgotten Realms fantasy cities are less than a KM. Populations of those vary (by edition) 6-7000 buildings to house a population of 45000.

    From what I see here what you could do is like Ten Towns in the R.A. Salvatore books. A bunch of towns all grouped together that rely on each other. Or you could change your scale down. Like 100 feet per hex and enlarge the center island. (just some options)
    Yeah, its a problem with doing a 18th century setting, cities are dramatically denser (thanks to improved farming technology and world trade). That's why i'm like "oh dear god...."
    I like this canvas much better, but then I'm partial to the Herman Weilink style :D