Geography of Specularum

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AllanP
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Geography of Specularum

Post by AllanP » Fri Aug 01, 2008 10:29 pm

In looking through the Poor Wizard's Almanac AC 1012 I saw in the table of 'Average Seasonal Temperatures on page 172 that Specularum's altitude is given as 150 feet (above sea level), and it is noted "River may flood in spring".

With this potential for floods, I wonder if that may have been another reason for the installation of the Sea Gates? They may provide some form of flood defemce for the harbour (We discussed the Sea Gates in this topic).

Thinking about Specularum's altitude, I also looked at the city description in the Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure boxset. This includes:
"The city sprawls over a number of small, rolling hillocks that cradle a large lake known as Mirror Bay... One hill rises higher than the others and is known simply as "The Hill". Atop this dominant feature sits the king's stronghold."
"The king's castle perches on the highest hill of Mirros, atop a 15-foot-high eathen mound with steeply anngled sides..."


I started wondering about the lay of the land. I'm not aware of anyone discussing the elevation(s) of the city before so I put together a very "quick-and-dirty" sketch to outline what I thought might be the placement of the hillocks. This rough sketch is below
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A larger version can be found here.

To summarise:
  • I drew a "contour line" parallel to the Duke's/King's Road to indicate the probale potential flood level;
  • The colours on my sketch don't directly relate to specific heights - I just used different colours to get a feel for different elevations;
  • I assumed that the two original walled encampments that are now the Stronghold (Radu) and Church districts were also probabl;y on hillocks;
  • As the Westron Alley appears to be an original major north-south route in the city area (per GAZ1), I have inducated how the surrounding hillocks may influencedthe path of this;
I am no geographer/cartographer, so my sketch may be a bit inconsistent. Perhaps someone with more knowledge/skill could enbhance my initial outline ideas? Maybe a 3D/perspective view of the city layout?

As usual, I welcome all feedback on these rambling thoughts,
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Re: Geograohy of Specularum

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Aug 01, 2008 10:40 pm

The city on the cover to Joshuan's Almanac is supposed to be Specularum/Mirros, if I'm not mistaken. It's probably a somewhat exaggerated version of how the city looks, but it does depict it as being settled on different levels/hills.
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Re: Geograohy of Specularum

Post by Plaag » Fri Aug 01, 2008 10:51 pm

Nice representation. Karameikos KoA has a exaggerated perspective of the city on pg 127 (the caption states it as exaggerated, but shows the city as sloping upwards towards the castle.)

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Re: Geograohy of Specularum

Post by Plaag » Fri Aug 01, 2008 10:52 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:The city on the cover to Joshuan's Almanac is supposed to be Specularum/Mirros, if I'm not mistaken. It's probably a somewhat exaggerated version of how the city looks, but it does depict it as being settled on different levels/hills.
Yeah..just looked at that, and its the same picture as in KKoA.

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by Gecko » Wed Aug 06, 2008 10:06 am

AllanP- Without knowing the geology behind those hillocks and behind the formation of "Mirros Lake" (ie Glacial? Volcanic? simple differential erosion/differing bedrock resistance? etc.), I gotta say that your map looks great! Fantastic idea for a discussion thread!

Now, does any source mention anything about the geology of this region of Karameikos?

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by AllanP » Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:40 am

Gecko wrote:AllanP- Without knowing the geology behind those hillocks and behind the formation of "Mirros Lake" (ie Glacial? Volcanic? simple differential erosion/differing bedrock resistance? etc.), I gotta say that your map looks great! Fantastic idea for a discussion thread!

Now, does any source mention anything about the geology of this region of Karameikos?
Gecko - many thanks for the feedback.

AFAICR the geology of Karameikos hasn't been delvedinto... but I'm willing to be proved wrong! :)

One of the things which got me thinking about Specularum's vertical elevation was the business about The Hill being the highest part of the city with Stefan's castle on a 15foot high mound at the peak; I was trying to visualise the approach slope to the castle and wondering how long the slope was down to the city proper - the illustrations in the K:KoA are "exaggerated" and suggest that it might be quite a steep climb up to the gates :? While I appreciate that a castle will want means of deterring any invaders, it's also got to have a means of access that doesn't make the king look foolish as he abseils down, or makes it hard for invoited visitors to access.

I have a feeling that the major street that runs from the High Tower on Mirror Bay through the Merchant District to meet Westron Alley roses gradually so that the edge of Bricktop and the Grand Market are higher than the level of the docks on Mirror Bay.

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by LoZompatore » Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:44 pm

Maybe the answer to your question is easier than it seems: the city map of Specularum shows straight (and not winding) roads connecting the harbour to the castle. This would mean that the road grade is small, otherwise merchant carts would not be able to cross the city.
I would say that the grade is for sure less than 10% (10 yards of elevation for every 100 yards travelled). Likely it is even less than this: the maximum acceptable grade for a slope suitable for a weelchair to afford it is 8,3%. I suppose you can assume that a cart pulled by a donkey is not very different from a weelchair, so the likely maximum slope of the street of Specularum should be somewhere in the 5-10% range.

Note: of course there could be higher grade roads inside a medieval town: they were built to be easily defensible and critical places were difficult to be reached by an enemy. But, in such an example, I suppose that it could not be feasible to bring food and goods inside the town by using carts or other vehicles.
Moreover, Specularum is a thriving seaside city with a very large market area, so I don't think it fits very well the description of the secluded community I gave above.
I'd keep the 5-10% estimate for the maximum slope.

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by Gecko » Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:00 pm

LoZompatore brings up a good point. Lets not let ourselves get carried away. Relatively speaking 15 feet is not that much (ie the horizontal scale on that map is 1 inch = 600 feet so if we had the same verticle scale it would be one fortieth of an inch tall). For comparison the hills within San Francisco tend to be 100 feet (Rincon hill) to 400 feet (Nob Hill) tall or so, or the Acropolis of Athens is 490 feet. (all according to Wikipedia - ya gotta love that Wikipedia :) )

Looking at some of the maps and depictions in K:KoA the stronghold does appear to be on some sort of very small acropolis or plateau or butte (perhaps originally a granitic pluton, or a volcanic plug, or something? I'm just spitballing off the top of my head here.). Admittedely we don't know how tall the hill is that the 15 foot structure is atop, but I'm thinking its not so big as I was originally thinking, i.e. definately not as steep as say the City of Riva in the Eddings books, probably not even as steep as parts of San Francisco (one of the hills there was said to be a horse killer it was soo steep that horses couldn't always pull a cart up it! Nob Hill I think it was, IIRC).

AllanP- you marked 5 hills, could we perhaps make out 2 more to make it 7 hills, since there are many real world cities said to be built on 7 hills (most notably Rome).

Let me look through some geomorphology and structural geology books to see if I can maybe get an idea/inspiration to geologically explain at least Mirror Lake if not these hillocks (off the top of my head perhaps a kettle? It doesn't look like an oxbow which would be a simple explanation. How deep is Mirror Lake/Harbour?). Also keep in mind that a "hillock" is defined as a small hill (according to my Websters) and technically a hill itslef can be quite small and still be a hill!

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by AllanP » Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:33 pm

Hi Lozampatore and Gecko -

Thanks for the suggestions - much appreciated!

Yes, you're right - I am probably getting too concerned about the slope from the castle entrance down to the Bricktop Road. I haven't had a chance to attempt a scale drawing of that. I guess if se take the 5% incline figure suggested, then assuming the castle entrance is 15 feet above Brickltop, the slope down from the castle gate to Bricktop covers a horizontal distance of 300 feet - which on measuring it oput on the map from GAZ1 does mean that incline hits Bricktop about the point where it narrows to the main route that then connects to the Westron Alley - so no real problem there! Thanks for putting me straight onthis.

AllanP- you marked 5 hills, could we perhaps make out 2 more to make it 7 hills, since there are many real world cities said to be built on 7 hills (most notably Rome).
The idea of seven hills did cross my mind after making the initial post in this topic. I guess I could see the current "hill" that covers the southern half of the Merchant District, the Old Quarter and The Nest splitting into two; and then maybe the lower right section of the current "The Hill" splitting off along the line of the road from the Farmers' Road gate...
I will ponder that a bit more and see about re-drawing the map above (but I'm going to be busy on other things for the next 2 or 3 days, so probably won't get a chance to look at this until next week...)

Thanks again!
I really appreciate the time people take to contribute to these discussions.
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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by Gecko » Thu Aug 07, 2008 1:34 am

Well having looked through the Explorers guide from K:KoA (which by the way- also repeats that the river and Mirros are prone to flooding) it describes the hill upon a hill that the castle is atop as an "Earthen mound with steeply angled sides" (pg. 41) so not any kind of hard rock outcrop as I was thinking. Now I'm wondering if it was artificially created specifically for the duke's castle to be built atop. Another interesting thing is that the schematic on page 42 doesn't show any entrance ramp to the gate at all! (but of course that's countered by the watercolor painting on pages 44-45 and by some of the common sense issues that have been previously mentioned in this thread).
AllanP wrote:I guess if se take the 5% incline figure suggested, then assuming the castle entrance is 15 feet above Brickltop, the slope down from the castle gate to Bricktop covers a horizontal distance of 300 feet - which on measuring it oput on the map from GAZ1 does mean that incline hits Bricktop about the point where it narrows to the main route that then connects to the Westron Alley - so no real problem there!
yup, actually on the only map I've ever seen of Specularum the scale of one inch = 600 feet would mean 300 feet would be half an inch and the distance you give between the gates and the point you mention (where bricktop narrows to the main route that connects to Westron) is closer to a full inch, so it could easily fit in there, even at a yet shallower grade.
AllanP- you marked 5 hills, could we perhaps make out 2 more to make it 7 hills, since there are many real world cities said to be built on 7 hills (most notably Rome).
The idea of seven hills did cross my mind after making the initial post in this topic. I guess I could see the current "hill" that covers the southern half of the Merchant District, the Old Quarter and The Nest splitting into two; and then maybe the lower right section of the current "The Hill" splitting off along the line of the road from the Farmers' Road gate...
I will ponder that a bit more and see about re-drawing the map above (but I'm going to be busy on other things for the next 2 or 3 days, so probably won't get a chance to look at this until next week...)
As you mentioned the hill including the Old Quarter/Nest/etc. area could be easily split into two or even three individual hills. Likewise I think the hill you have marked covering both the stronghold/Radu district and the Eastern part of the North End and North-Western part of the Merchant's district would be an extremely likely canditate to be split into two, making the stronghold district it's own hill. As for splitting the current "The Hill" I would think not. It's the tallest hill so likely is the largest in terms of horizontal spread, And I think keeping it as you currently have it makes the Ambassador's Quarters and the Hill Market area the steepest parts of the city (Giving the Ambassadors quarters the illusion of prime hillside real estate with "great views" 8-) and giving the Hill Market a secondary reason for its name), plus I think that somewhat matches with the dipiction on page 42 of the K:KoA explorer's guide IMO

My earlier hopes of figuring out some geologic/geomorphic explanation for Mirror Lake no longer seem promising. I had thought I had seen some map showing past ice-age glaciations (perhaps it was on the Italian boards at one point) And I thought I remembered it showing that Specularum was right around the terminal edge of the most southern glaciers of the Known World so I was looking for some glacialy derived explanation, but Mirror lake is far too large to be a kettle or somesuch. Like me try spitballing something out and see if it makes sense:

Maybe before the construction of the sea gates and the modern city, when the river would flood it would pour into Mirror Lake seasonally, flooding much of the area of modern Specularum, until the flood waters in the river receeded and most of that water would then flow back out to the river until just a reduced Mirror lake was left seasonally, disconnected from the river, gradually continuing to dry up and shrink until the next years flood (much like Tonle Sap in Cambodia, albeit it on a smaller scale, or like what accidentilly caused the formation of the Salton Sea in California). The ancient-ancient Traladarans new this flood bowl had good soil (like the seasonal replenishing of the Nile or the rich agricultural lands around the Salton Sea) and settled on hills near it (Modern Stronghold and Church districts) but never built in the lowlands. The sea gates were built more as flood control than naval defense: opened to let enough water in to replenish Mirror Bay during high flow periods, closed during flooding to keep Mirror Bay from overflowing the city, and kept closed during low tides to keep the water level of Mirror Bay up (but the bay still gradually dries out somewhat over the course of the year with mudflats being exposed on the rim by late winter time).

Is the above coherent??? :?

Of course that raises questions about the nature of the gap between the Stronghold and Church districts and between the two sets of sea gates. Shallow or deep? Has it been artifiacially dredged over the years? Do the two sets of gates operate as a sort of lock system allowing offseasonal entrance or exit to/from Mirror Bay and the river but at the cost of letting a fair amount of water in/out as well?

The low areas between the hillocks could be ancestral channels of the river (or perhaps the hillocks are moraines to re-tie it into my earlier glacial ideals).

Looking at a larger scale (8 miles per hex maps) I had noticed that Specularuam sits at the headward side of a river meander, which is where the greatest amount of erosion occurs on a river. So I had started think about that but then I realised that on the other hand I think that dipiction is due more to the tendency to place rivers along the borders of hexes thus creating the illusion of meanders on that scale where there are not meanders.

I guess a lot of this comes back to, and would depend upon the answer to your original question.... What kind of scale are these hillocks?

Of course here's another point that may ruin this whole thread :( : The sea gates are said to be oaken reinforced by steel bands right? That's not exactly waterproof... :? ... That doesn't sound like it would hold back water.... :shock:

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by AllanP » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:05 am

Hi Gecko 0- thanks so much for your further thoughts on this topic!

Some great comment there - I need a while to assimilate it all :!:

I've started "doodling" to refine my initial drawing of the "hills of Specularum", I will take your comments above and integrate things a bit more.

I was allowing for a transition point ( a level area) between the bottom of the incline from the castle on Bricktop Road before the route continues downwards...

One aspect I'm looking at is the vertical elevation - the the top of the mound on which the castle sits is 15 foot above Bricktop Road and I estimate that by the time you've got down to the dock ara near the High Tower you will have descended another 45 foot vertically if we assume a 5% gradient between the various points. So the castle mound (top) is 60 feet above the level of the dockside. (I shall have to sketch this out to make it clearer). Which then makesme ask: what's the distance from the dock side level down to the water level of Mirror Bay?Also Specularum is up river from the sea (looking at the GAZ1 Karameikos map the city is in the second hex up from the coast, so it's could be between 8 and 16 miles from the sea) Will the river continue to fall as it malesit way to the sea? I'm asking this because the PWA entry says Specularum is 150 feet abiove sea level - and on the above measurements the mound is (say) 75 feet above Mirror Bay which means the river has to descend another 75 feet before it reaches sea level...

Hope that's coherent ;) - I'm writing this "off the top of my head" at the moment.

I'll give things a bit more thought over the next couple of days while I'm travelling and after that hopefully I'll have another attempt at defining the contours of Specularum.

Hmmm...oaken sea gates........... well perhaps Teldon of the Magicians' Guildhall has something to do with the gates ' ability to act as flood defences?

Again, many thanks for the feedback
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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by LoZompatore » Thu Aug 07, 2008 3:26 pm

I would not forget the sentence from KKoA about the old docks of Specularum. I'll quote it again here:
The Eastron, Westron, and King’s Roads receive regular maintenance, the Windrush only when a major blockage or slide occurs. If they were fully abandoned, the roads would degenerate to trails in a decade, and might vanish entirely soon afterward (as has a road south of Mirros to the port’s original docks on Marilenev Bay).
Notice that the original docks were placed on Marilenev Bay which seems to be 8-16 miles far from the city itsekf. In my opinion this would imply that Mirror Bay is somewhat an artificial (and quite recent) building. If it was a natural feature of the river I suppose that it would have been much easier to build docks in it when the city was founded.

Following AllanP sketch about the five hills of Specularum we could say that the Bay Channel is actually an artificial cut that separated the hills of Stronghold and Church District, letting in the water from the river.
Water filled the bowel-like depression among the nearby hills (likely this area was a swamp before the flooding: what about the original Traladaran Church District being built close to the swamp in order to keep its undead at bay?)

I don't know if such a cutting work could be done by the Traladarans, but I think that for sure it could be afforded by military Thyatian Engineers or by the mages of Sclaras when the city was conquered in AC 900.

If the Bay Channel is artificial, this suggests me another possible use for the gates: they are a pound lock used to raise water level in the shallow channel in order to enable larger ships to move from Mirror Bay to the river (and vice versa).

On another note, you may figure some Mirror Bay features from this port capacities article written by Heard:

http://www.pandius.com/portcap.html

Specularum is a D2-II port, which means that it has an average port capacity (D - 2000 Hull Points), average dock size (2) and average clearance (II - 180 Hull Points or less: it gives also a "measure" on how deep the port is).
Notice that the city of Alpha has the same features of Specularum, and the former is considered an excellent seawater port in CM1 module, so maybe the clearance of both cities is on the "deep side" of the "average".
If we find similar information about other ports in official supplements (Minrothad GAZ?) we can figure out the carachteristic of Mirror Bay by comparison.

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by Hugin » Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:05 pm

LoZompatore wrote:Notice that the original docks were placed on Marilenev Bay which seems to be 8-16 miles far from the city itself. In my opinion this would imply that Mirror Bay is somewhat an artificial (and quite recent) building. If it was a natural feature of the river I suppose that it would have been much easier to build docks in it when the city was founded.
Another possibility is that silt settles between the bay and the river. Historically, i.e. pre-Thyatian involvement, the bay may have only been used for shallow draft vessels such as river barges and smaller ships while anything larger had to follow natural river channels that lead farther north between the shore and the island.

Since the Thyatians took an interest in the bay, they monitor the silt build-up and dredge the channel when needed. Perhaps the gates were developed to minimize this silt by restricting river water from entering the calm channel and settling. It may not be shown but I'm sure the bay is also feed by small creeks and such.

Another afterthought is that the city's sewers should be built to empty into the river and not the bay to reduce shallowing of the bay.

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by AllanP » Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:02 pm

A couple of interesting posts from LoZampatore and Hugin and the nature of the channel from Mirror Bay to the river.

I note the comment about the bay is also fed by small creeks and such - I'd been wonderingabout "fresh water" in the city, but guess it mainly comes from wells - XSolo Lathan's Gold mentions a city well. I can't quite bring myself to add inlets to Mirror Bay...

Also city sewers emopty in to the river and not the bay... - it's K:KoA that mentions the trenches i the center of streets that drai into sewers, isn't it? I guess the sewer outlets must be beneath the city wall on the eastern side of the Church District south of the boat jetties marked just south of the sea gates. They can't empty below the wall east of the Stronghold District (north of the sea gates) because from that position they could flow doenstream and into the bay.

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by Plaag » Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:58 pm

AllanP wrote:I note the comment about the bay is also fed by small creeks and such - I'd been wondering about "fresh water" in the city, but guess it mainly comes from wells - XSolo Lathan's Gold mentions a city well. I can't quite bring myself to add inlets to Mirror Bay..
Underground rivers and streams can serve both functions...allows water to empty into the bay and is the reason for wells in the city.

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by AllanP » Sat Aug 09, 2008 8:46 pm

Thanks to the constructive comments received I've been doodling again at the contours of Specularum.

Having taken the suggestion of the "seven hills of Specularum" I realised that they needed to be inside the original city wall - otherwise an attacker would gain a certain advantage if one or more of the hills extended beyond the city fortifications. (The outer wall wasn't constructed by Stefan until he arrived inAC972). As a result, the area covered by some hills has shrunk and "The Hill" has expanded a bit, but I think I've got something fairly workable which caters for the mahor routes being determined by the placement of the hillocks. So I now have The Hill, a hillock in the Stronghold District, a hillock in the Church Dostrict, 3 hillocks in South End (part), Old Quarter (part) and The Nest, and 1 hillock in the North End (part).

I've taken the 150 feet altitude from PWA as being the point where the Westron Alley running north to south meets the east-west road from the docks; this seems to be a natural point for the "centre" of Specularum c. AC1000. Consequently, I calculate that the the top of the mound on which the castle sits is at an altitude of 185 feet, and the dockside level is at 90 feet altitude. (The city is 8-16 miules inland upriver from the sea coast.)

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A larger version of this can be found here

Any feedback would be welcomed.
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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by Hugin » Mon Aug 11, 2008 5:37 pm

Personally, I'd rather see a "Seven Hills of Thyatis" instead. But there's nothing wrong with doing it for Specularum either.

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by AllanP » Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:36 am

Hugin wrote:Personally, I'd rather see a "Seven Hills of Thyatis" instead. But there's nothing wrong with doing it for Specularum either.
I followed Gecko's suggestion about "seven hills" as per earlier in this topic. Most of Specularum's "hills" are small, just hillocks; but I would agree that Thyatis City would definitely have seven major hills. I look forward to someone working on the elevations of that city ;)

I hope the lack of comment on my version 2 sketch means that people are generally in agreement about my depiction of Specularum's contours... :?:
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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by Gecko » Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:09 pm

AllanP wrote:I hope the lack of comment on my version 2 sketch means that people are generally in agreement about my depiction of Specularum's contours... :?:
99%+ yes. I would of liked to have seen the ambassador's row area (just NW of the stronghold) be steeper, but yeah it looks good. It makes the merchant district suprisingly steep (not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that mind you, makes me think of a smaller slope version of Riva from Eddings's world) and thinking more about it- it matches the general impression from that exadgerated (sp?) painting that was mentioned earlier in the thread. So good work AllanP! 8-)

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by AllanP » Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:59 am

Gecko wrote:
AllanP wrote:I hope the lack of comment on my version 2 sketch means that people are generally in agreement about my depiction of Specularum's contours... :?:
99%+ yes. I would of liked to have seen the ambassador's row area (just NW of the stronghold) be steeper, but yeah it looks good. It makes the merchant district suprisingly steep (not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that mind you, makes me think of a smaller slope version of Riva from Eddings's world) and thinking more about it- it matches the general impression from that exadgerated (sp?) painting that was mentioned earlier in the thread. So good work AllanP! 8-)
Wow :!: Thanks for that score, Gecko - it's good to know my ramblings are appreciated :oops:

re Ambassadors' Row being steeper - well I'll take that into consideratiion when I next refine that diagram; it might be possible...

re: the Merchant District being steep - I was trying to get a balance between the depiction of the city in K:KoA, etc and locating the hillocks; I may do some more calculations yet..., but it "feels" right at the moment.

I'm having a few PC (computer not Player Character!) problems at the moment so am on my back-up machine. (CPU seems to be overheating so I need to investigate adding an extra fan...) and may not be dabbling with this for a bit...

regards,
AllanP
"...a wanderer on the streets of Specularum"
My Specularum website includes Specularum City maps and FC1 Work In Progress

yellowdingo
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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by yellowdingo » Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:29 pm

Interesting Contour Maps

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Ville Lahde
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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by Ville Lahde » Tue Feb 17, 2009 11:40 am

Thanks for the map. I was also relieved to see that I can still track the old irrigation channel
(no longer in operation and long since filled in) in my adventure "Lament of the Wavering Bard"
among these hillocks!

:D

Ville
The only sin is selfishness. So said the good Doctor.
- Iain M. Banks

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AllanP
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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by AllanP » Tue Feb 17, 2009 11:53 am

Ville Lahde wrote:Thanks for the map. I was also relieved to see that I can still track the old irrigation channel
(no longer in operation and long since filled in) in my adventure "Lament of the Wavering Bard"
among these hillocks!

:D

Ville
Ville -

You must tell us more about "the old irrigation channel". Such information may help in further mappinmg and background to the city.

regards,
AllanP
"...a wanderer on the streets of Specularum"
My Specularum website includes Specularum City maps and FC1 Work In Progress

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Ville Lahde
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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by Ville Lahde » Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:18 pm

A quote from the adventure (the full version is at the Vaults). This of course was written long long before I even found the Vaults (1994), and I only had GAZ 1 to go by.

"PART TWO: The Elder Guardians

At the time when the inner city walls were built, an irrigation channel stretched from the Mirror Bay to the northwestern fields. The channel was important to the farmers of the area, since they had never found enough wells. (For a reason long forgotten, they called this dilemma "the Water-Diviner's Curse".) During the droughts the channel would become vital.

A bridge was built over the channel, and a city guard house by it. At that time the channel separated the residential areas or the poor and the noble folk, so the bridge was well-guarded. During an exceptionally dry year the poor people of the city rushed en masse to gather water from the channel, which would eventually threaten the water supply of the farmers. Famine was looming on the horizon. In the "Night of the streaming blood" the bridge guard had to turn its weapons against their own sisters and brothers, when a mob of desperate people tried to "steal" water or loot the houses of the nobles. The guards killed dozens and dozens. Torn by the memories of this deed, these ten guardsmen jumped to the channel, with boulders tied to their necks. The crop of the farmers was saved, there was famine, but the bitterness of the bloody night remained. Nobody remembered the guardsmen with gratitude.

The channel bridge and its guards appears in the middle of the marketplace during the rush hour. Ten ghostly men, donned in ancient armour and wielding halberds, stand on the bridge. A piece of rope is hanging from their necks, and they are crying bitterly. Even though the channel itself has been filled long ago, after good wells were found, the ground where the channel used to go gets a crimson hue. The people who are nearest to the ghostly image can hear the sound of running water and screams of anguish."

If one wants to use this and keep with the description, the channel could easily run from the Bay and along the hillock of the Stronghold district towards
the present-day Merchant District and towards the Foreign Quarter. The nobles of the old story would most likely be ancestors of the Radus. The Bridge would fit nicely in one of the main marketplaces in the Merchant District, I think.

Man, I can't wait to try that old sweetheart of an adventure on my present group! It's always been my favourite creation.

Ville
The only sin is selfishness. So said the good Doctor.
- Iain M. Banks

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Re: Geography of Specularum

Post by Scarecrow » Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:37 pm

Firstly my apologies for resurrecting this long dormant thread but it felt an appropriate thread to continue rather than create a new one.

I've been considering running some old Basic D&D red box for my group. Give them a taste of the good old days (before any of them were born!!!) and Karameikos seemed like an excellent place to use as a campaign setting so I thought I'd work up a nice bird's eye illustration of the city. Searching for info on Specularum (now apparently named Mirros), lead me first to the above topographical images and also to this thread.

My plan is to first create a 3D block model of the city to use as reference, for drawing over. Of course, I'd love to do a fully detailed, textured 3D model of the city that one could run about, but it would probably take the rest of my life, so I'll settle for a paintover :) - something like this one I did for a friend's campaign:

Loudwater Player's map

I've long since given away my copy of GAZ1 and so I found some images of the various maps online.

I rescaled them to 1 pixel = 1 foot and overlayed them with the above topographical map.

As a side note, here's an interesting discrepancy: I scaled the Stronghold map to 1px=1' aswell and overlayed it. Once this is done, it is substantially smaller than the plan on the map. This isn't a surprise as it's quite possible that the plan on the map wasn't drawn to an exacting scale, just 'close enough'. However, I re-sized the GAZ1 map so that '1 inch' = 500 feet (instead of the 600 shown on the map), and the Stronghold plan overlayed almost exactly!

If you take the map for K:KoA and scale it similarly, Mirros is only about 2/3 to 3/4 the size of Specularum despite being the same map!

So, for arguments sake, I'll stick with the '1 inch = 600 feet' scale of the GAZ1 map and just give the Stronghold a little more breathing space.

Once I had my scales all sorted, I drew up an elevation which I'll share with you here and it pretty much confirms what's been discussed above. Quite a shallow incline and the hills are more like subtle undulations in the terrain rather than the sharp rise in the illustration mentioned (which makes Specularum look much smaller than it should be and places the Stronghold more around 400-500 foot above sea level, if not more.

I've resized this one so that 1 pixel = 8 feet (1/8th the original image)

The lower blue line is Sea Level, the upper, River level at 90' - decided upon above, and then the green line is the elevation cut through the Stronghold and the bay and across the river.

Image

So, I then went on to start creating the 3D block model, and whilst it's really quite rough, I thought you might like to see some screenshots:

An aerial shot of the city looking NorthWest. I angled the light steeply so that you can get some idea of the 'hills':
Image

A view from the river giving a more realistic idea of the lay of the land and the size and position of the Stronghold:
Image

A view from the Guard Posts (9) at the docks looking up the main road to the Stronghold:
Image

A view from the Stronghold gates looking out across the bay and the river:
Image

I'll do some updated versions of these once I have some block buildings and walls put in.

Oh, as a side note, I made the Stronghold walls about 39 feet tall, which Wikipedia claims is an average height for a defensive curtain wall. It also says that they are usually about 9 feet thick, but the plans of the Stronghold would have it otherwise. Unless there are any strong objections, I'll probably make the city walls the same height.

Crow

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