Support the GITP forums on Patreon
Help support GITP's forums (and ongoing server maintenance) via Patreon
Results 1 to 17 of 17
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    So I am following the cues from my players on what direction they want my RPG to go in. I thought the PCs would want to travel the world, but they actually like the sock shaped nation of Fumaya they are in so they are in now, so I feel that creating more detailed maps would be useful. The nation has a gazillion problems so heroic adventurers have plenty to keep busy with.

    I'm using a homebrew system. It's very similar to D&D but it's not D&D. Among other things. One of the changes I did was deflated the economy. There is no such thing as a 200,000 gold piece magic sword. The most legendary magical items in my world probably cost 50,000 gold in rare materials. My PCs are holding about 10,000 gold in hard currency and about 5000 gold in trade goods and about 20,000 gold in magical items which means they are pretty darn rich

    I set my feudal economy based on this.

    Normally, a knight's fief is likely to generate between 1000 and 3000 gold pieces worth of goods every year (after the peasants get their cut). That's usually enough money to replace his horse, armor, and weapons. You can usually tell the relative status of a knight by the quality of his horse, armor, and weapons.

    Most barons and baronesses typically have land that generates between 3,000 and 8,000 gold pieces worth of income every year.

    Most counts and countesses have land that generates between 5,000 and 12,000 gold pieces worth of goods every year.

    Most dukes and duchesses have land that generates between 7,000 and 25,000 gold pieces worth of goods every year.

    Most kings and queens have a personal demesne that generates between 15,000 gold and 100,000 gold pieces every year.

    Typically a noble's ransom value is approximately what their annual income is.

    The nation the PCs are currently in, the lords tend to average towards the poorer side of these ranges, especially the king. The previous king was a wasteful spender and a lazy manager and the current king is trying to reverse the damage done by his late father's thirty year reign.


    So nobles can get income from agriculture, timber rights, fishing rights, mineral rights, hunting rights, and in my world reagent harvesting rights. "Reagents" is the generic term I use for "stuff that can be processed into potions and other magical items." They might also control a town with varied industry and collect taxes from the burgher class.

    I figure most knights have a plot of farmland and little else, but most nobles above the rank of knight are going to have farmland plus at least one secondary resource that generates side income like a mine or some timberland, and some low value land that is mostly undeveloped (because monsters and fantasy creatures have to hide somewhere).


    Assuming Barons have such small fortified structures they barely qualify as castles, Counts have small castles, dukes have modest castles and kings have very mighty castles. Where do the castles go?

    I am assuming castles are a long term investment and a typical castle is going to cost three to five times the annual income of the land they are protecting, but that castles are capable of standing for many generations. I figure most castles are magically warded to prevent someone from bypassing them entirely with magic (my world does not have teleport spells but it does have fly and stone shape). This probably costs 5% of a lord's annual income to maintain the magic wards.

    If a lord's land includes several different types of terrain and resources, where is the logical place to build a castle. The biggest question I have is assuming a lord controls a lot of farmland, a small town, a patch of untamed wilderness, and perhaps a small localized special resource like a mine or a fertile reagent ground, should the castle be guarding the heartland of their cropland, the main population center of a town, or the special income producing resource?

    Or do you just ignore the location of all your resources and pick the most defensible spot in your land regardless of how valuable the and around it?

    A lord needs to be able to defend against hostile foreign armies, small scale monster attacks, assorted brigands (humanoid and goblinoid), subversive cults and potentially peasant uprising (though in Fumaya relations between the noble and peasant classes tend to be pretty good).

    Also, I am just barely dipping my toe into the water of Game of Thrones and Crusder Kings style intrigues, but it is feasible that lords want to defend themselves against their peers. If a valuable resource is near the border between the fiefdoms of two counts, the two counts are probably going to bicker over it despite their collective liege wanting them to get along.

    And of course fancy castles help a lord's image.


    So where is the logical or thematical appropriate place to place castles.

    I guess on a related topic, where would abandoned castles exist infested with goblins or other baddies?
    Last edited by Scalenex; 2021-02-06 at 10:26 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2019

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    *takes a swig*

    Okay, here's the thing. What's your world like? What magic does it have? What kind of monsters and creatures are there?

    Are there flying creatures? Then there's going to be a large amount of them underground. Are there siege units? Well, probably star forts. What kind of magic do they have to deal with ****? Like, are there storms out there which necessitate building into the sides of a mountain? Do they need to be built near a water source, or can they just conjure up water?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    Depends what you are building them for:

    To control a town or city?

    In the city, preferably on a site previously occupied by houses of your political opponents

    To protect and levy tolls on trade?

    By the river or road in question; in some cases you can make a bridge your castle

    To project power?

    In this case it's just a defensive site where your rangers, cavalry, whatever can rest and resupply before heading out into whatever area you are trying to control

    Pick a decent defensive site on the borders of the area - will probably not be near an existing settlement

    To protect a town or city?

    Probably not necessary because a town worth defending should be walled anyway

    As a place of refuge?

    Needs to be big enough for population to flee to - and to hold their animals - and also to be close enough to get to.

    As pure defence?

    Chances are the best defensive site isn't near anything worth defending and an attacking enemy can just bottle you up and then ignore you.

    As a showpiece residence?

    Has to be somewhere you want to live and where people can get to

    As an administrative centre?

    Should be close to the population it serves


    Most likely though you won't have a perfect site for "a" castle - so you might have several smaller fortifications and one or more main ones.

    This is especially true with a heredity nobility who are going to pick up odd bits of land here and there

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scalenex View Post
    Or do you just ignore the location of all your resources and pick the most defensible spot in your land regardless of how valuable the and around it?
    As noted you don't do this, for much the same reason tanking doesn't work in 3.5

    Yes you are invulnerable but the enemy can ignore you

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    A castle is a fortified personal residence.

    There would be many fortified structures on the landscape, at varying levels of expense and sophistication, but most would not be castles...they'd be forts, fortresses, stockades, palisades, walled cities, etc.

    The powerful would also have unfortified luxury residences--palaces and manors.

    So a good way to think about where castles would be is to consider the history of the setting and imagine the socio-political expedients that could factor in: where do rulers need to be to maintain their power, cross-indexed with what places are critical to military expedients (must be controlled and defended) and socio-economic expedients (must be ruled closely because of their importance to trade and diplomacy)...and both embedded in historical precedents of where past conflict and nation-building required regional control to be both militarized and to have a local ruler on-site (who does the king need to have a castle and why).

    If a family has had power in a region for a very long time, generation after generation of fortification of their traditional home base might result in a castle. Japanese castles are a great example of this.

    Castles are both defensive structures and political statements, so they tend to be placed at locations that are defensible, but also situated within or adjacent to critical urban areas and trades thoroughfares (roads, waterways, ports). On one hand, the castle is then part of the defense of the critical region, but also an stamp of ownership. The castles of Prague are a great representation of this.

    Since castles are very expensive, one way to lower the cost of creating one is to simply take an existing fortification and modify/improve it, so the castle's position reflects strategy decisions of some past conflict that may or may not be relevant. The Red Fort and Lahore Fort are both examples of this.

    It also notable that offensive fortresses--built to impose control and act as central depots for invaders/occupiers--are often available to be converted into castles as outright warfare gives way to occupation: the new political leaders need both fortified defense and to squat on critical strategic points. Edward I castle's in Wales are examples of this.

    On a national scale, there's also a bunch of factors that play out over time, amounting to: who is allowed to have how much of a castle, weighing regional stability and internal intrigue versus the priorities and budget set by central rulership. It's a part of the military budget: where to spend the most money on fortification and maintenance of fortification, and where can things be allowed to be less fortified or less maintained, to the greatest benefit of the center.

    If you're the central ruler--king or parliament or whatever--then you have to do a bunch of calculations about who is allowed to have how much military power out in the distal regions. Handing someone a fortification to control is an act of trust, handing someone a fortified residence that also has critical strategic/trade value is incredibly risky. A distal power--a duke or daimyo, etc--builidng or adding fortifications under their own discretion is possibly signallling that they're going to secede or revolt, so often there are explicit rules about who can build how much fortification that go along the rules about who controls how many armed men. While the best examples how dangerous dukes are all War of the Roses, the best examples of the internal politics of castles are all the rules imposed by the Tokugawa on the daimyo--the Edo bakufu not only setting explicit rules on the numbers and types of fortifications and castles the regional rulers were permitted, but spying on them to ensure compliance.

    Castles as military structures also factor into maintaining borders and expanding borders of the nation--again, Wales being the cleanest example--so generally the best budgeted and newest fortifications are along borders with high tension, and borders that have expanded recently. Internal regions that are seen as stable--neither going to rebel and not likely to be invaded--can spend less on castles-as-fortifications, so the existing "castles" may have out-of-date defenses and not really function as a strategic launch point any more....but still be maintained as luxurious residences for the politically powerful that require personal security.

    In extremis...since castles are very expensive the ones that no longer have a pivotal strategic purposes, or the ones that were built in service of a rulership faction that are now eliminated or stripped of power, would be abandoned or deliberately pulled down.

    I would argue for purposes of that last question--where would there be abandonned castles--that fortresses and forts should be considered in addition to castles, because as purely-strategic constructions they're much more likely to let go because their military purpose has expired; they have no political-status value such that they'd persist as a posh residence; and they're more likely to be sited in some distant, isolated location that only became important as a zone of control during a past conflict.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2019

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    Quote Originally Posted by wilphe View Post
    As noted you don't do this, for much the same reason tanking doesn't work in 3.5

    Yes you are invulnerable but the enemy can ignore you
    I thought castles were meant to hold garrisons to force enemies to either siege them, or least a bunch of soldiers at their backs with access to their supply lines.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2015

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yanagi View Post
    I would argue for purposes of that last question--where would there be abandonned castles--that fortresses and forts should be considered in addition to castles, because as purely-strategic constructions they're much more likely to let go because their military purpose has expired; they have no political-status value such that they'd persist as a posh residence; and they're more likely to be sited in some distant, isolated location that only became important as a zone of control during a past conflict.
    Castles tend to be located along strategic waterways. Waterway position is not static. Consequently, abandoned castles are likely to be located in the high and dry after rivers have moved, harbors have silted up, lakes have gone dry, or the like. Many Central Asian fortifications were rendered uninhabitable after the Mongols destroyed the networks of irrigation canals that made the surrounding regions agriculturally viable.

    One useful option provided by fantasy in this vein is that you can have some alteration, climate change, brutal invasion, magical cataclysm, etc. that renders an area uninhabitable for one species, but perfectly acceptable to another. Hypothetical example, if elves are dependent upon forest agriculture, and the 'Rain of the Fiery Stars' turns all the region's forests into grassland, their might be tons of elven ruins, including viable fortifications, in a region well suited to colonization by humans.
    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2020

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    Historically, you would build a fortification to house a force that could exert control over an area. Maybe the castle is there to control river traffic and extracts tolls from the ferries and nearby roads. Maybe it was there to guard a bridge or river crossing. Maybe it was there to defend a coastline or major mining operation. That covers the strategic placement of major fortifications. Major crossroads and thoroughfares, major agricultural/industrial/political/cultural centers, and likely enemy avenues of approach.

    Tactically, (A.K.A. small-scale map size) we have a few factors that the military would expect you to cover to build an effective defensive position.

    Observation: your location must allow for the observation of the objective, avenues of approach to the objective, and avenues of approach to your position.

    Cover and Concealment: You must clear out anything which could obstruct your ability to see and attack points of interest while allowing you to approach those locations with speed, surprise, and violence of action.

    Environmental Factors: You must ensure that fires, high winds, floods, and other hazards do not endanger your position.

    You also need to consider force projection. How many troops do you need on hand? How many additional troops could you raise and how quickly? Can you send a detachment of troops to intercept potential hostiles in a timely manner? Can you conduct regular patrols? Can you support friendly emplacements nearby? Can they support you? How are you communicating?

    All of these things come up when your talking about defensive positions from a simple trench line to a series of concrete bunkers in the mountains. Historically, major castles were usually built over a few centuries at key locations that were continually important but simulating an entire nation's worth of wars and political feuds might be a bit over-the-top. The main thing is to have fun. If you have fun with a stupid Disney castle in your low-fantasy, grim-dark, steampunk world then do it. Don't get too bogged down in the details.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    also remember that castles tend to be lagging indicators.

    Some family of Barons have been barons for umpteen generations and are deeply linked to their traditional homes....they may even share a name with the town/village that has grown up around their castle...but with some good marriages, better investments, the friendship of certain king etc....suddenly they are now dukes...sure they now hold the amount of land that comes with being a duke but they are still likely to keep their main residence at the same location even if there are now "better" places for it.

    plus there are any number of reasons to build castles. A good garrison castle that can't be bypassed (because then the garrison could cut off the invaders supply lines) should probably be near the boarders along natural invasion routes (which will probably correlate nicely to trade routes but not always) for example.

    Also castles tend to need supplies and services. Doubly true if they are also a luxury manse. So people tend to see such a place as a good place to set up a business. Now those business owners become a market in and of themselves so more people come....so older castles tend to attract a town.

    but the short answer to your question is all of the above....different castles will have different reasons.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    I thought castles were meant to hold garrisons to force enemies to either siege them, or least a bunch of soldiers at their backs with access to their supply lines.
    Ignore was probably too strong a word

    You can screen it and bottle up the garrison but you have no need to attack it

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    Good replies all around. Thank you. Especially fond of this one.

    Quote Originally Posted by wilphe View Post
    Depends what you are building them for:

    To control a town or city?

    In the city, preferably on a site previously occupied by houses of your political opponents

    To protect and levy tolls on trade?

    By the river or road in question; in some cases you can make a bridge your castle

    To project power?

    In this case it's just a defensive site where your rangers, cavalry, whatever can rest and resupply before heading out into whatever area you are trying to control

    Pick a decent defensive site on the borders of the area - will probably not be near an existing settlement

    To protect a town or city?

    Probably not necessary because a town worth defending should be walled anyway

    As a place of refuge?

    Needs to be big enough for population to flee to - and to hold their animals - and also to be close enough to get to.

    As pure defence?

    Chances are the best defensive site isn't near anything worth defending and an attacking enemy can just bottle you up and then ignore you.

    As a showpiece residence?

    Has to be somewhere you want to live and where people can get to

    As an administrative centre?

    Should be close to the population it serves


    Most likely though you won't have a perfect site for "a" castle - so you might have several smaller fortifications and one or more main ones.

    This is especially true with a heredity nobility who are going to pick up odd bits of land here and there
    This is a good baseline because all of the duke characters I made have different primary objectives so they can have castles that reflect their needs and goals.


    As pointed out, a city or town that has a reasonable expectation to be attacked should have walls. So I guess the king's castle is more of an administrative center than a defensive structure. The king's uncle (a Duke) has a castle nearby that is near the capital and is probably babysitting the land's mineral wealth which the king depends on.


    The Duke of Lower Ankle, wants to become a merchant prince serving as a middle man in trades between wood elves and dwarves and he is trying to insert himself as a middleman between rival human nations.. His castle overseas the intersection of a major road and a navigable river.
    To protect and levy tolls on trade?
    As a showpiece residence?
    To project power?
    In that order

    His vassals don't have much access to the trade routes and they are more exposed to the wilderness so they probably are more traditional.

    To project power?
    As a place of refuge? (limited extent)
    As a showpiece residence?
    In that order


    The Duke of Upper Ankle has to deal with a lot of orc and goblin raids.

    As a place of refuge?
    To project power?


    All of his vassals castles are probably built along the same lines.

    The Duke of Heel has control over some trade routes, not as busy as lower ankle but nothing to sneeze at. The Duke of Heel and his vassals intermarried with a lot of exiled nobles from a conquered land about 150 years ago and the new noble blood injected a lot of paranoia into the local nobility (and to be fair the nation that conquered them is now on Heel's doorstep). The local lords have probably been pinching their pennies in order to boost their fortifications over the last 150 years.

    As pure defence?
    To project power?
    To protect and levy tolls on trade?

    The Duchy of Arch is the breadbasket for the whole nation. They don't have a lot of natural defenses. They don't have to deal with monsters or orc raids much but if the neighbors to the south invade, this is where they will probably do it.

    As a place of refuge?
    As an administrative centre?
    To project power?
    As pure defence?


    Only recently have they begun trying to improve their fortification.

    The Duchy of Toe is filled with a bunch of elf loving tree huggers. It's the least populous realm and has a lot of woodland and a lot of druids. Once in a while, but not often, some nasty monster sneaks past the druids requiring the duke and his vassals to step in and defend the populace.

    To project power?
    As a place of refuge?

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

    Join Date
    Jan 2021

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    It really depends on what the Lord is trying to accomplish by building his castle. Castles are extremely expensive, so most people won't build unless they have a good reason. They probably want to be close enough to have easy access to the sources of their wealth, as well as serving as a reminder to the peasants as to who is in charge.

    Given the tiny holdings you describe, most lords will probably have something more like a fortified McMansion than an actual castle, probably initially built out of wood, with subsequent generations replacing the wood with stone as funding allows.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    There are basically three kinds of castle: those used to defend, those used to control movement, and those used to project power.

    So, defensive castles are intended to keep people alive until the attackers are gone. They will be located in hard to access locations with layered defenses. Masada and Machu Pichu come to mind. These have more in common with Tibetan Llamasaries than with European castles.

    The walled, turreted castle with a keep so common in Europe existed to exert control over trade, with a secondary function of being along a likely invasion route. The little castle on Loch Ness and almost any other castle in Europe was one of these. They are strongly defended. But their primary purpose was to collect taxes.

    William the Conqueror was a big believer in the idea of the projection of power, and so he built castles in enemy territory which forced the enemy to fight on their own ground. These castles could be used as supply depots and as bases for striking forces, but their primary purpose was to be force multipliers. The enemy had to attack them before they could carry the fight to him, and relatively small garissons could wreak havoc on much larger attacking forces. This was also the strategic role of the stockade forts of the American West.

    Outside of these roles are the estates, mansions, and palaces of the wealthy. These structures may have had a secondary role as a castle, but their primary role was as a way to impress. Windsor comes to mind.

    As another poster suggested, the powerful may have more than one castle. Let us presume a monarch has a royal palace. Its purpose is as an administrative center, with a secondary function as an official residence. Thus its inner keep is isolated from the rest of the palace with controlable access.

    The monarch also maintains a summer residence on a sheer mountaintop at the end of a well defended alpine valley.

    In addition, the monarch's ancestral home is situated on a knoll where a major river is forded by a trade road.

    Over the years raiders from wilder lands gave the frontier settlers a hard time, and so the royal army built a series of garrison forts along the borders which are titled to retiring officers as newer forts encroach upon wilderness territories.

    Governments that have been in power longer tend to collect castles because maintaining one is damned expensive, and as a central government subsumes the responsibilities and taxing authority of the lesser lords, they become the only ones capable of covering the expense. Most of the castle ruins in the world are ruins due to lack of maintenance rather than because of successful sieges.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipjig View Post
    Given the tiny holdings you describe, most lords will probably have something more like a fortified McMansion than an actual castle, probably initially built out of wood, with subsequent generations replacing the wood with stone as funding allows.
    The nation of Fumaya has a lot of problems and not a lot of wealth, but they do have something going for them. Their brewers are famous for their high quality ales. Largely attributed to naturally filtered water springs, but it also helps that the farmers have a lot of cold weather grain crops and have generations of experience cultivating barley and hops.

    They share a long border with a dwarf nation and a tiny border with a second dwarf nation.

    Put these two things together and Fumaya can hire skilled highly dwarf stone masons for cheap.

    Fumayans can probably save 10% when building and improving stone castles versus most other human nations.


    I guess in Fumaya most castles will either be to project power or provide refuge.

    The densely populated areas cannot realistically have everyone hide in a castle with all of their livestock but the sparser populated areas could probably do that.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    WhiteWizardGirl

    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    For the more military-focused holdings, another point to keep in mind is the sort of threat which the castle is supposed to project force or offer protection against. In real life, the major concerns were:
    • Raiders: The first form of warfare was the raid. In this model of warfare, the goal is to have a bunch of your top warriors sneak into the other guy's land and steal everything you can before the other guy's warriors can counter-attack. Everything is ambushes and counter-ambushes; most actual fights are a one-sided massacre. The goal of fortifications here are to make it difficult to move through your lands quickly and without being spotted. Expect short walls stretching across the countryside and manor houses with a single tall tower to keep watch from. This is probably what the Upper Duke of Ankle and his vassals have, with the actual Duke having a much nicer manor. If the duchy is especially prosperous, they'll have a network of signal towers. If they used to be wealthy but have fallen on hard times, except bandits and goblins to be living in the old signal towers now.
    • Sieges: Here the expected threat is a large and organized army gathering up outside your house and trying to starve you out. This is where you see the motte-and-bailey castle design, with a big stone building on a hill and tall walls around it - the classic image that most people imagine when they think feudal castle. One of the important goals here is to be able to hold out during a siege - that means keeping all of the key industries inside the walls along with a large (ideally underground) storage space to keep food, cisterns and other provisions for an extended siege. Depending on how magical your setting is, this might also mean a temple to the lord's favourite god, in order to secure miracles (especially healing and create food/water) during times of dire need. Conversely, if you're trying to project siege-power, what you really want is a centralized administrative hub - two or three dozen knights in your court doesn't really cut it, you need peasant conscripts to man the walls and encircle the enemy.
    • Crime: A major concern for a feudal lord is the fact that they are a single person who can only really enforce their will as far as their armed retainers can see and reach. If the local farmers are hiding part of their harvest in order to avoid paying taxes on it, they can only really do something about that if the farmers in question end up coming within reach of one of the lord's enforcers during the harvest season. As such, any lord who can manage it will want to maintain any key bits of infrastructure (mills, wells, granaries, etc.) in a centralized location where all of the farmers will be forced to present themselves (and their harvests) for inspection by the officials the lord has posted there. The same general idea applies to other sorts of taxes - forcing all of the boats to pass through a certain checkpoint along the river, or posting guards at all of the entrances to the central market so that taxes can be collected whenever the merchants show up to trade. Likewise if the lord is trying to stamp out a cult or heresy - simply build a single central temple and demand that all of the peasants use it. Any other resource that the lord wants to control can be treated similarly. A single authorized wizard who lives in a tower rented from the lord? A grove for the sanctioned druids on the king's lands? A central courthouse? Sure, all of that works.
    But in a fantasy setting, you might also care about:
    • Apex Predators: Most fantasy settings have some sort of giant animal or monster that eats people living out in the woods. Maybe it's a troll. Maybe it's a giant tiger. Either way, there's a certain interest in having a place where everyone can gather together at night while the lord's retainers or the hired heroes go out to slay the beast. This has some overlap with the needs of anti-raid defense (in that spotting the thing coming and being able to launch a counter-ambush is very important) and with the needs of anti-siege defense (in that you want everyone to gather up at a central location where they can be protected), but differs in that the duration of the crisis is usually only a week or so and that there's relatively little need to man the walls with a massive number of conscripts - just enough knights to kill the dire tiger (or whatever) if it shows up. The big features here are having enough room to put up everyone on cots for a night or three and having a giant bell or something to call everyone to the rally point.
    • Flying Enemies: IRL feudal fortifications were not built with flying enemies in mind. A system of border checkpoints is not going to keep hippogriff bandits from stuffing all of your valuables into a sack and flying off. Even a really tall wall isn't going to cut it against a dragon who can fly over said wall. People don't really want to live in an enclosed bunker full time, but they probably do want to have the buildings where they hide their valuable goods and vulnerable people from attackers who attack from the air. This is honestly one of the better excuses for underground dungeons: as shelters to hide the townsfolk in the event of a dragon attack. This ties into Apex Predators and Siege above. After all, if everyone is supposed to gather up and take shelter at the rally point when the warning bells ring, the rally point might as well be the place with the covered roof and the underground food storage cellar.
    • Spawn: Fantasy settings often have monsters which can turn other people into monsters. Zombies are a classic, but D&D also has shadows, vampires, wights, werewolves and a smattering of brain parasites and mind control fungi lurking in the bestiary. To the degree that this is or has ever been a concern in your setting, it should also be a concern for the people who are building fortifications. If Shadows are a thing, the monster shelter should be buried 12' deep so that ethereal critters can't phase through the ground and turn the entire shelter into a killing zone. If vampires are a problem, there should be ways to easily expose significant portions of the castle to sunlight. If Ghoul Fever is a thing, the building should be structured in such a way that different sections can be locked down and forced into quarantine.
    • Magic: Lords generally are not going to want their enemies scrying on them to see what they're up to. They're also not going to want uninvited guests (or dangerous enemies!) teleporting into their homes. If it's possible to curse someone using their blood or hair, the lord is going to make arrangements to have their own leavings incinerated. Whatever potentially dangerous magic which exists and and can be defeated using precautions, a prudent lord will endeavor to take said precautions. Maybe this means keeping all of their secret papers in a lightless room, and learning to read via braille. Maybe it means lining the walls with lead, if that foils divinations. Maybe teleportation can't cross running water, so they set up pumps around the moat. They're already building an entire castle, so some extra metal or water wheels probably isn't going to break the budget. Conversely, if there are magical benefits that a lord can benefit from (crop fertility spells, magical protections, ley lines, etc.) the lord is probably going to take those into consideration. If including a shrine to the Rain God in your castle means that the Rain God smiles upon you and prevents droughts, any lord who doesn't do that is going to be regarded as a neglectful master at best.
    Last edited by Grek; 2021-02-12 at 09:09 AM.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    It had taken twenty rangers twenty years to map the lands of the Northmarch in sufficient detail, but Archmage Denstil was now putting the final spell on it. Deep below the tower of Corith the Earl of Northmarch observed the completion of the work he had commissioned.

    It was a map. Its scale was one inch to the mile, and it was rendered in a vertical scale as well as horizontal. He had been told the caverns beneath the terrain had been rendered as far as they had been mapped.

    "It is done," the old wizard said.

    The Earl had not noticed when the chanting stopped. "It looks the same," he said.

    "Come take my hand, milord."

    The Archmage stood where two grey-brown ribbons converged and became a thicker band which twisted away across the floor.

    When he touched the wizard's hand the floor expanded away in all directions. Three hills grew up around them. Hills studded with buildings. One of the buildings crowned the tallest hill: Corith. The Earl stood in the market of his city looking up at his own tower.

    "Are we there?"

    "Yes. We are there, in the Map Room. What we see is a projection around us."

    The old knight flinched as a pony-cart passed through them, and he noticed the bazzar was populated.

    "Are these people..."

    "This is what is happening now. You can stand on any point of the map and observe what is going on at that place at that time."

    "Let me try," the earl said. He took a step, oriented himself, and was suddenly on a wide, dry plain. A large herd of horses grazed in the distance.

    The earl smiled.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Laserlight's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Virginia Beach VA
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Where should fantasy feudal lords put their castles?

    Reasons for ruined castles:
    1. The family dies out and the claim isn't clear, or the family lives elsewhere and doesn't have enough money to keep "the old house" in good repair.
    2. It was damaged during a siege and never repaired
    3. The border changed enough that it was no longer on a frontier and therefore no longer needed for defense.
    4. The central government ordered it slighted, either as a preemptive move against a potentially rebellious lord or as punishment afterward.
    5. The stone was taken for other projects.

    Chateau Gaillard had several of those happen. It sits above the Seine, controlling river traffic between Paris and the sea. It was taken by lengthy sieges several times, left uninhabited, occupied by bandits, slighted in the late 1500s, stone taken for use by the local monastery.
    Junior, half orc paladin of the Order of St Dale the Intimidator: "Ah cain't abide no murderin' scoundrel."

    Tactical Precepts: 1) Cause chaos, then exploit it; 2) No plan survives contact with...(sigh)...my subordinates.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •