17 May 2017

The Elf's Prisoner - Post-NaNo World Building - Architecture

Building a world after the fact.
Part 1 - The Lands
Part 2 - Militaries
Part 3 - Elves
Part 4 - Architecture is below.
Part 5 - Magic
Part 6 - Wrap Up
Of all the things I never expected to figure out, architecture was near the top.  After all, the setting has limits in what it can do with building materials.  Stone and wood can only go so far up before collapsing on itself.  But, there is magic in the world, and magic changes what can and can't be done.

Starting with the elves, since they're fresh from the previous part, each type of elf has used magic to create their cities.  The sylvan elves grew Wildwood in a forest; the dark elves grew the Sundered Chasm in a cavern; and the crystal elves formed their city from crystals.  None of those cities could exist without magic.  With Wildwood, the entire city is raised off the ground, with buildings connected by walkways.  Obviously, horses are only allowed at the stables at the cities various gates, but height restriction are now based on the trees themselves and not construction technology.  Buildings are coaxed from the trees, forming the basic layout, though other items, like doors and window panes, have to be installed afterward.  The tallest building, the Council Chambers, has a garden in the centre.  The Chambers are formed from and around the oldest tree, which branches out wide enough to let the sylvan elves place an ornamental garden in the centre.  This might be difficult to film if adapted...

In the Sundered Chasm, since there are no trees, nor room or light for them to grow, so the dark elves formed the city out of the earth itself.  Being underground, height restrictions aren't a consideration.  The central tower, home to the temple of the Outcast Queen and where the ruling families gather to argue, is by tradition the tallest structure, and must be seen by all locations of the city.  The ruling families cluster near the central tower, with each home taking its own style from the whims of the Matriarch.  The common folk live in a maze of tunnels and alleys, with homes formed as needed without planning.  The marketplace, though, was created as that, so the buildings there look more traditional, allowing the traders who come to the city to feel like they're in a familiar place.  Even then, the inns are made from a solid piece of earth, not stone or wood.

The crystal elves would have similar buildings as the dark elves, except made from crystal above the surface.  Height now does matter, if only as a way to separate the ruling families from the commoners.    Natural crystal formations dictate where housing would be, so streets are formed as travel dictates.  There isn't a central tower; instead, the Council of Matriarchs meet in a crystal formation grown from the side of a mountain, allowing them to look down upon the city when they discuss matters.

The dwarves, at least in the Realm Below the Mountain, don't bother with magic.  They carved their kingdom out from the mountain.  Areas were planned.  The Realm Below has an entry cavern where visitors can be verified before being allowed further.  Going up inside the mountain from there leads to Embassy Row, where ambassadors from other realms may set up an office to help with trade and negotiations with the dwarven kingdom.  Going down leads to the market, the main area where drawves and outsiders mingle.  Beyond the marketplace and deeper in the moutain are the shops and homes of the dwarves.  Magic isn't used to create buildings.  The dwarves excavate as needed, though this does place a limit on the size of the Realm.  The dwarven guild hall, where the various guilds send representatives, is just past the market, keeping close to where trade occurs.  The further out from the guild hall, the lower the property values; it takes more time to get from the outer edges to the hall.  However, for some dwarves, especially the miners, this isn't a problem.  The miners are closer to where they work, and they are always expanding the Realm by following veins of ore.

The dwarves have a preference towards technology, which is available to far more people than any sort of magic.  To get ore from the Realm to the sea, the dwarves built a canal system.  Transportation between dwarven realms is via a rail system, some of it with carriages pulled by giant lizards, other parts with steam, depending on how secure the area is.  More delicate goods are shipped with the rail system, avoiding weather conditions on the surface.  Ore, however, doesn't care if it gets wet.

The human settlements will follow more traditional means of building.  Castles made of stone, inns made of a mix of stone and wood, Nicean homes on stilts due to the potential for flooding along the islands' coasts.  Some areas may use magic more than others.  Colleges of magic will have magical reinforcement in place.  With humans, I'll fall back to what has been used historically, depending on the aesthetic I want in use for a location.  Few settlements will be thoroughly planned out; the grid pattern seen in North American cities core is a deliberate choice applying lessons from European cities that were more ad hoc in development.

The end result, I hope, is a world that doesn't feel like a mono-culture.  Each city, each town, no matter the nation, should have its own character, making the world itself seem more alive.

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