View Full Version : Architectural styles

Titanium Dragon
2008-04-07, 09:21 PM
I'm working on my fourth edition campaign setting, and trying to find out more about architectural styles. I think being able to describe them to players will make players more interested in the differences between areas, or at the very least give me cool ideas for buildings for them to fight in/go to.

I, however, know relatively little about architecture, and thus would like your help. What are some cool architectural styles? Are there any sites which would help me construct both cool buildings and normal human dwellings for different cultures/architectural styles? Wikipedia is useful, but I'd love sources other than Wikipedia if you're aware of any.

Have any of you made up/used architectural styles in your campaigns? How did they go over with the players? Any specific recommendations you might make?

2008-04-07, 10:43 PM
Intriguing topic. For best experience you should visit old European castles and churches and Mayan ruins in Mexico.

Also, wikipedia provides already a huge source, and I doubt you'd need others. For example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_architecture

Anyway, you might want to start thinking "What did the people here look for the most". If they were superstitious, they might have been wanting to get more colored glass for some odd reason, further decoration, or such. In an environment where it is cold most of the time, the buildings would mainly be built of wood and double-layered glass windows. I know it's a lot of work to first design the people, their ways of living, and base the architechture on that, but it's worth the effort.

2008-04-09, 02:36 AM
Amazing thread. Architechture does play a big role in a good campaign, although it should stay in the background, and be felt more like a white noise, all the time. If you spend too much time describing colomns and arches your players will burn themselves alive with a takn of cherosene.

Fist thing you should hint at, but that's just for us, here, is the style you have in mind. D&D Middle ages seems to be the best bet though, so I'll start with that.

So, off the top of my head, try to understand the situation of your newborne community. Is it an agricultural one? Fishermen? Livestock? Traders? A mixture? The richer the community, the more ornate the buildings will tend to be.

Where are we? On the sea? In the far north? On a chain of mountains? In Europe, northern countries tend to have and use darker stones, and dark teals for the rooftops. In the south, lime stone and its kin are more readily available, so building will tend to be made in lighter colors. Granted, whitewashing changes that all.

Does it rain like hell? No flat roofs then. Is it a bit dry? Make up a whole new level of the city, the one above the streets.

Is it a civilization that has endured or still endures invasions and random pillagings from bloddthirsty raiders? There is likely goin to be a central fortified building or luster of buildings, which could well be called castle, in some cases. The towns will be in easily defendable spots and there should be walls.

Is it a dark country? I mean, no sun and loads of clouds? Good chance that the interior of important buildings will be decorated and abund in light tones, and be also full of windows.

How powerful is the government? How much awe does it inspire in its citizens? Or is it just a plain old resource-eater? Make a marked contrast between commoner's houses and governmental buildings, such as municipalities and churches.

I like two styles very much. Italian Gothic and the Romanic. The first has a lighter connotation than its northern european counterpart, but is still full of tips, domes, groin vaults and pointed, lancet arches that give an overall vertical impression. Cloisters, with gardens and stone wells, lemon trees and medical herbs, and huge choirs and dining halls.

Romanic, on the other hand, is more solid, severe, simple, rounded and horizontal.


Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll
2008-04-09, 06:25 PM
In my world, the seperate culture's are very much different in architecture.

The dwarves, for example, built large romanic cities in underground caverns in the mountain ranges.

The gnomes built simple wood structures,mostly huts on stilts, in the swamps.

Half-elves build mayan style, and are still adapting to a new enviros.

Human's have 2 main styles, coresponding with the two cultures; the east and the west. The west build out of wood, with small towns surrounded by a wooden palisade, and surrounding a central hall/tower. The east builds out of stone, in the ancient Greek style.

Elves also have 3 styles, this time the seperation being different climates. The elves in the great forests that dot the plains build their houses in the same style as the western humans, but an entire extended family will live in a single house/tower. The ones who live in the valleys of the mountains build simple structures out of stone, around a quarter way up the slope of the mountain, with a fortress built into the rock, Helms Deep-like. The others build in grand Neo-Gothic style, their building shapes inspired by trees and mountains.

2008-04-09, 11:59 PM
Also consider the level of technology each of your cultures has, as well as the naturl resources available to them. Island dwelling lizard folk (IMHO) aren't going to be building grand marble catherdrals.

Paragon Badger
2008-04-10, 03:58 AM
Also note changes in time-periods.

Ancient Indian architecture occasionally depicted raunchy scenes of the Hindu gods. :smalltongue: But when Islam threatened to invade just before the middle-ages, the Indian temples became much more modest, and also incorporated Islamic designs as a symbol of submission.

You can find a sample of architecture by pretty much googling/researching X buildings, with the X being Ancient Mayan, Ancient Chinese, Ancient ect. :smalltongue:

I am quite fond of the ancient south Americans, myself. Same with the deep southeastern Asians; Vietnamese and such. India has some good architecture, too.