where do cities go?

African Civilizations by Graham Connah

African Civilizations by Graham Connah

it is interesting to note that many of the savanna urban centres appear to have grown up at environmental interfaces, between transportation systems. Thus at Timbuktu goods were transferred from camel to canoe and at Kano from camel to donkey. (page 141)

When you’re drawing your map of the world, put cities at the border between two terrain types. That’s where traders change from one type of transportation to another. For instance, horses come in the north gate of the city, and camels go out the south gate.

It’s well known that cities grow up along coasts and rivers. That’s where ship- and raft-based travel meets road travel. But that’s just the most obvious example of this general rule.


6 Responses to “where do cities go?”

  1. Aoi says:

    This is a really good point. Do you know of any resources or do you have any ideas (particularly, any adapted from a fantasy setting – airships and all that) of what kinds of transport might be used over different kinds of terrain? Again, very cool!

  2. katre says:

    Cool looking book. I think all D&D campaigns should be informed by anthropology.

    (Also, ha ha, I found your blog. Nothing can hide from me!)

  3. paul paul says:


  4. Claire Claire says:

    I guess airships would work kind of like airplanes–they need a relatively flat, open terrain to land on & take off from. Not too close to cities, mountains, forests, etc. Actually, the Final Fantasy games would be a pretty good source for interfaces between fantasy transportation systems: in FF1 (the US FF1; I make no claim to understanding the original numbering) you can’t land your airship on forests or rivers, right? But your canoe can go up a river in a heavily forested area. So a clearing at the end of a river that has been traveling through a thick forest or jungle would be a natural place for airships to dock and for travelers to do airship/canoe transfers. You could imagine something similar with airships/camels in a desert, depending on whether you thought airships could land in a desert. Maybe near an oasis, where a lot of caravans would tend to stop to water their camels and themselves!

    Later Final Fantasy games have similar rules about chocobo travel, etc., so I guess they deal with a lot of different types of magical transportation logistics!

    katre, I am interested to learn about the methodology you used to find the blog!!

  5. Rory Rory says:

    Surprisingly, we’re the NUMBER 1 search result when googling “blog of holding”.

  6. […] Africa is a great D&D inspiration: I've written about it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. So I'm pretty excited to see that Kevin Crawford, who did […]

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