Wednesday, June 8, 2011


My job for today is to finish my article for Knockspell Magazine on Constantinople as the source for a fantasy city. It's going pretty well, with a summary of pre-Roman history, then a timeline running from Constantine's elevation of the city into his Imperial capital, and then sections describing the most interesting elements of the Medieval city rather than tracking the history itself. For purposes of creating a fantasy city, it's the themes rather than the linear history that will be the most important creative tool for a Dungeon Master.

Some time ago I started taking notes on Constantinople after reading the novel "Sailing to Sarantium" by Guy Gavriel Kay, which I highly recommend. Since the main city in my campaign is "Cyprandium," it's all grist for the mill. I'm filling in the gaps in those notes and turning them into an article with some commentary about how one might choose to employ the various elements in terms of gaming. I am not, however, focusing very much on how the city would "logically" change as a result of being in a world where magic is more or less common, since I think all Dungeon Masters tend to apply that kind of logic to a very differing degree, and also make their cities at very different power levels.

Anyway, that's the task for today.


  1. I have a fantasy equivalent of Byzantium/Constantinople (late era, complete with siege and shrinkage of the population) in my campaign too. It's a city definitely pregnant with fantasy rpg possibilities. Glad you are on the job with this.

    If you haven't found a copy (it's difficult to find and out of print) Robert Graves' novel Belisarius has some of the best descriptions of the city.

  2. Sounds very cool - looking forward to it.

  3. Here's a fun podcast on all things Byzantine:

  4. I have now finished the rough draft of the article -- I was further along than I thought. This means I will put it aside for a day or so and then look at it with a colder read for the editing run.

  5. I just finished Sailing to Sarantium, literally last night. It was great. I'm looking forward to the article.

  6. Darn it - you're one session too late! My players just visited my equivalent of Byzantium at our last session this past Sunday. They had never visited the city before in 10 years of actual game play.

    I'm a history buff so I did a lot of research beforehand to give it the proper "color" but also included a bunch of other stuff to make it specifically tied to my campaign world.

    The main part of the session consisted of everyone taking turns seeing "Istanbul, not Constantinople."

    Totally looking forward to reading your article - it will definitely help as my players plan to be hanging out in the city for awhile.

  7. I really like Suleiman the Magnificent's Istanbul, with its multiple layers of conquests and different populations and ghettoes, but to each their own. I don't think you can go wrong with the biggest, dirtiest, most complicated and least summarisable city in the known world.