In the world I'm currently working on, there are several species of sentient creatures: humans, elves, dwarves, merfolk, centaurs, and avians (winged humanoids). I need to figure out how I could have a capital city that allows all of these species to live side by side.

To clarify a few things:

  • Centaurs are the tallest, and dwarves are the shortest. Centaurs are (currently) about a few feet taller than the average human. Dwarves are around 4 feet
  • The merfolk that would live in the city are called Shallows. They are slightly based off of dolphins and whales, being able to breathe out of water and hold their breath for a long time. Drying out is of no issue.
  • The technology of this world is at the same level as ours.
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    $\begingroup$ It would probably look like Holywood. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ Since merfolk have fish tails, how do they move about on land? (Radically changing subject: there's a neighborhood near me named Azalea Gardens.) $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 1:36
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    $\begingroup$ Funny enough, there's actually already a show that focuses on humanoids, centaurs and merfolk living in modern times. It's called A Centaur's Life, and it's a manga and anime about a world where evolution happened a bit differently and humans were replaced by catgirls, angels, centaurs, satyrs, merfolk and giant antarctic snake people. Check it out, it may give you some ideas. Namely, they made it so the merfolk and humanoids could inhabit the same area if it was covered in semi-shallow water. It also shows a lot of the ways centaur bodies need to be accommodated. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 1:54
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    $\begingroup$ Have you watched the movie Zootopia? The capital city incorporates animals as large as elephants and as small as Mice, as well as Ice, Jungle and Desert regions. It could be a nice point of reference. $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 0:26
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    $\begingroup$ You might be interested in What should centaur dwellings look like? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 9:42

4 Answers 4


in the world i'm currently working on, there are several species of sentient creatures: humans, elves, dwarves, merfolk, centaurs, and avians (winged humanoids). i need to figure out how i could have a capital city that allows all of these species to live side by side.

Merfolk -- being aquatic with fish tails -- just can't live on land, even though they can hold their breaths, because there's no way for them to move around.

As far as the rest of the species:

  • the ground doors will have to be big enough to let centaurs through,
  • there must be upper doors and landing pads for the avians,
  • most every staircase (especially those in public buildings) must be triple-wide, with three sets of stairs, having widths appropriate to horses/centaurs, avians/humans/elves and dwarves,
  • transport tubes for the merfolk, and
  • the populations will naturally segregate (since birds of a feather do flock together), so not every building will have the features described above.

Naturally, the tubes won't be anything like like Futurama's aerial Tube Transport System, but it'll give you an idea on how merfolk can live in and move around the city.

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I would say a cross between Venice, the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore with tunnels/a mountain nearby and a forest. While there is no segregation they do have their traditional homes. Humans live mainly in the city, dwarves the tunnels/mountains , and centaurs and elves the more forested areas.


the mossy forests

Gardens by the Bay

  1. I would expect that the roads would likely have sidewalks or side lanes for the centaurs to use and there would be either canals alongside them or pipes under them for the merfolk. However, not all streets could be designed like this, so it would be restricted to the main ones.
  2. There would need to be common areas where the three different types of people could interact with each other comfortably. Pools with walls and water levels that come up to shoulder height for Dwarves with seating around them seem like a way that merfolk could "stand" eye to eye with humanoids, and if the area around the pool is open enough, centaurs would not have difficulty getting around people.
  3. Public buildings would need some way for both centaurs and merfolk to get to different levels, if the buildings have more than one floor to them. They are public spaces, after all, so they need to be open to the whole public. Pipes that let merfolk move up and down and ramps instead of stairs are what comes to mind for me.
  4. If the city has public restrooms, then there's going to need to be facilities that can accommodate your three main types: humanoids, merfolk, and centaurs.
  5. Each group would require a special division of police to deal with the criminal element in their midst. A centaur cop can't chase a merman through the water canals and pipes, after all.
  6. A well designed city is going to make sure that land dwelling people can't stumble into a canal and centaurs aren't going to bump their heads going through a door.
  7. There would likely be businesses that tried to cater to all three categories of people while others only catered to one type. It could be a result of racism, or it could just be that catering to three body types is really expensive, so most small businesses can't afford to do it without going bankrupt. Malice isn't the only motivation that could account for it, after all.
  8. If merfolk move through pipes, then those pipes will require some sort of light source in them, unless merfolk can see in total darkness. Also, the pipes would have plenty of signs showing where they led and probably have hubs where a bunch connected to each other.
  9. I expect that centaurs would prefer open spaces where they can stretch their legs, so big parks would be natural things to find in this city.
  10. It seems logical that centaurs would make good mail couriers and deliverymen, as they can carry more than a humanoid and wouldn't need a vehicle to get around. However, there would probably be spaces for them on buses and some vehicles designed for their exclusive use. Likewise, merfolk could have pipes with water moving through them so all they have to do is let the current carry them along without doing any swimming of their own.

Those are my immediate thoughts. I hope they help.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd think elevator locks rather than pipes for the merfolk. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ That would make sense, too. I suppose it would depend on what sort of building they were in and what the needs of the structure would be. A pipe where the water is pumped upward without stopping would make a great "express elevator," for example. $\endgroup$
    – user53529
    Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 20:48

A coastal town

Accommodating land based creatures like centaurs and humans is trivial. You might have special road lanes for each species, and housing designed to the needs of each, but the obstacles here not significant.

The real obstacle is accommodating merfolk. Housing sea creatures far in land, is challenging if there are not rivers and such leading up to it. Even then space can become a issue if the city has to keep expanding lakes and so on to accommodate a growing population. This is not even considering the problem of feeding these sea folk far in land if they live off a diet of fish or some such, and eat up the local supply.

So it makes much more sense for the town to be coastal. In a coastal town you can have half of the town be on land, and the other half of the town be in the water. In the water you can have underwater buildings (strictly for seafolk), and various boats floating on the surface that can act as shops, embassies, etc (for everyone). Such boats can mediate the space between land lubbers and merfolk. On the land side we can have canals (like Venice) allowing movement into the land part of the city to a reasonable degree.

This set up lends it self to a basic trading economy as well. Seafolk can feed the land lubbers with fish, and the people on the land can provide the things that only they can make easily; worked metals, bricks, etc.


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