Alternative cities in a magical world

Both of the examples below are interesting options for creating a unique city or world for fantasy adventures. A lot of good stories take an odd concept or what-if and just apply everyday logic to it to see what grows and takes shape.

Bones of the Dead

And if some legendary heroes downed a Tarrasque [stats], then this could be the template for the city that emerges from around the bones and keeps it contained. This thread about a city in the D&D universe which is built around the Tarrasque provides great inspiration for a city built around a single thing.


Then there is the Tippyverse, which is described in this very long thread about all the major cities on the world connected by teleport circles and all production is handles by magical traps. I guess they trigger a magical effect, like fabricate/create food & water/etc. It’s a world where the wizards rule all and are heavily involved with the control of the cities

Alternative Places

But even the two great examples above are still bound by the classic ideas of what a city is.

Does a city need to fill a large area of space? Can a city use magic to exist on the surface of a coin or other small object? Or drawing from the stories of the faeries, can it fill the dreams of others?

Does a city need to be bound to the material plane or can it occupy another reality? This could give rise to various planar adventures as the player reconnect cities that are in different realms with differing realities.

Do the city need to be alive? This can lead to a city of the dead (or undead), a ruined city from ancient times, or an empty automated city waiting for it people to return {Miranda from the movie Serenity}

Earthdawn, Shadowrun, Torg are all good examples of starting with a simple idea and seeing where it leads. All the best stories are What-ifs.

Character Archetypes from D&D

Dungeons & Dragons: Past, Present, and Future is running a showcase of all the character classes, which has been cool reminiscing about favoured character archetypes I’ve played and what they’ve achieved. However, it also reminds me about the limits of such systems and the various versions of AD&D, D&D where build around this. Althogth AD&D 2nd Ed did try a little variation with it’s four basic classes and multiple kits. This allowed characters that are hybrids collecting from multiple templates to create something unique.

To see some excellent examples of the character class stereotypes in popular culture (TV, film, pretty much everywhere) have a look at the showcases below;

Medieval paint recipe

A few years back now, I had the luck to help out with a painting project using a medieval recipe for the paint. Milk powder, builders lime and water. Mix up about 1 litre of milk powder and add 300 grams per litre of builders lime. It looks thin when applied. It has no real odour, an off-white colour, but can be coloured with oxides like ocher.

Zeppelin Warfare

Attack Of The Zeppelins appears to be a Channel4 production and is offered in the UK, but I can’t see that from here 🙁 However, it is on the National Geographic Channel (for the US?) and SBSOnDemand for Australia.

Design and Construction

All the Zeppelins were build using Aluminium frames because of the relative lightness when compared with iron or steel. This makes the ability to refine Aluminium a necessary precursor technology to enable lighter than air flight.

Zeppelin gas bags were made from cow’s intestines, which are relatively gas tight, loosing a little more than the modern 10-15 cubic meters per day. Typically, a zeppelin would have multiple gas-bags, so that if one failed the others could still keep the airship afloat.

During WW1, the volume of cow’s intestines needed stopped the eating of the national dish, the bratwurst. Rain on skins, would increase the weight of the Zeppelin and reduce it’s ceiling altitude.

At an altitude at 21,000 ft. the effects on the human body! are quite pronounced. The example they give in the program show that the lack of oxygen reduce muscular strength and cognitive function. (ie the presenter had problems standing and spelling words)

The Germans used sub-cloudcar, to guide the zeppelin it to the target. An operator would sit below the cloud layer and radio up directions to the hidden Zeppelin. They were loaded two types of unguided bombs high explosive and Incendiary.


To counter the Zeppelin threat the British used Sound Mirrors placed along the coast. The sound mirror was a concert structure that captures and directs sound waves to a listener, who would then direct the Flak guns. However, this proved ineffective as the gun would have to match angle and distance to score a hit.

Then the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) tried using the BE2c aircraft with a Lewis machine gun to attack the airships from below. The machine gun was too weak leaving just small holes from which the gas would leak out, but at such a slow rate that the airships could still continue with their mission.

A flaming bullet was developed for the machine gun to ignite the Hydrogen gas in the balloon. The incendiary bullets made from Phosphorous, but this did not explode the Hydrogen because there was not enough Oxygen to cause a fire.

Explosive bullets made with nitro glycogen were designed to blow holes in the Zeppelin skin. These were alternated with the incendiary bullets in the machine guns, but it still required concentrated fire (A technique pioneered by Leaf Robinson) to cause the fire to down a Zeppelin.

Additional Sources of Information

Osprey’s London 1914–17 The Zeppelin Menace provides a great over view of the Zeppelin attacks on London. Osprey has other Zeppelin related books, but I have not read them yet. The Zeppelin Base Raids – Germany 1914 and Zeppelins: German Airships 1900–40.