Spotlight on Design 16 – Natural Roads

Designers have found many ways to make roads in Stronghold, from simple paths of dirt or pebbles to elaborate boulevards created from walls lowered to street level. A few mapmakers, though, have incorporated the landscape into their road design, which is a very realistic and refreshing approach.

Bismuth’s Haut-Koenigsburg features pebble-lined paths throughout. This particular one is interesting because it leads into an area of low-lying hills, where it breaks off into two directions, dictated by the lay of the land.

It turns out to have strategic value as well. Turning the map and zooming in shows the fortifications manned with crossbowmen.

Lurking Horror (aka littlegloomy) created a map with unique gameplay, The Death Of The King. When this game begins, a lone archer sets off to reach the castle, pursued by several knights. His route is preordained, through this trench cut into the hillside.

This flattened close-up shows the archer turning to make his valiant last stand.

In Secrets of Sylvandell Ch 5 by Sulis, a heightened road cuts through a marshy valley, fortified with wood walls.

One aspect of making routes from elements of the terrain is to make sure that the AI figures actually use them. There can be roads leading every direction in the map, but if the peasants prefer to walk next to the road rather than on it… then it doesn’t appear very realistic. Sulis’s map succeeds in this regard, as he used the wood walls to cut off a possible alternate route through the marsh. The result is clear – an iron worker crossing the land bridge to reach his mine.

One excellent example of using the terrain to create routes is Dunwifit’s appropriately named Ye Olde Trade Route. In this map the castle sits upon a plateau. Gates on either end provide access to the road, which is cut into the hillside on one end, and gently slopes to the valley floor on the other. It is very easy to imagine a lord positioning his castle in such a way as to control the trade route!

This second screenshot from Dunwifit’s map shows the route leading to the valley. There is more to the route, so I would recommend downloading the map to see it in its entirety.

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