... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Quarter System

A quick little post about a concept: I've seen many fantasy books and games that refer to towns and cities divided into "quarters", but haven't seen anyone formalize the idea. It's a quick, no-frills way of designing towns. Here's my simple take:
  • one quarter of the town is for common laborers and food providers;
  • one quarter is for necessary craftsmen;
  • one quarter is for merchants and/or nobles and any others who control the town;
  • one quarter is for whatever the town is notable for: a town with a strong academic interest will have a scholar's quarter, which could also contain a temple district; a town with mining interests will have a quarter devoted to refining, working with, or trading in metals.
These are arranged around a hub, which may be a lord's keep, a marketplace, a central temple (if the town has a uniform religious structure,) or even something as simple as a bridge across a river that splits the town.

Each quarter might actually be larger or smaller than others; they do not have to be literal quarters, just conceptual quarters. Each quarter can be divided into four border districts around a central core, and the contents of each district can be based on what the district is bordering; thus, the temple district in a scholar's quarter might border the central hub, to make general access easy, or the merchant's quarter might contain a petty merchant's district that border the commoner's quarter.

The "thieves' quarter" will probably be a district in the commoner's quarter, in whichever position seems like the least desirable. In a really corrupt city, the entire quarter might be considered the thieves' quarter, with one district being considerably rougher than the rest.

4 comments:

  1. "they do not have to be literal quarters, just conceptual quarters."

    I think 'quarter' in the sense of part of a town is more like "officer's quarters" or "general quarters" as on a ship, and just means where some group is located or stationed. So definitely more on the conceptual line rather than a literal 1/4th or even anything remotely close to 1/4th.

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  2. No confirmation, but the term may have come from the division of Jerusalem into four parts along ethnic/religious lines. "Living quarters" comes from an entirely different French word than "quarter" meaning "one-fourth" : ├ęcarter means "to set apart or at a distance", so it's a conceivable alternative.

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  3. Though I do agree with the system, I think it's just easier to call them districts instead.

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  4. @Talysman: can you email me at oldschooljump(at)gmail.com?

    Thanks.

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