I've been working on a procedural map generator that draws cities and towns on continents and islands and I've gotten to the point where I'd like to add lists of structures to the settlements.

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I know my simulation isn't accurate to how these systems naturally develop but I have to find a balance between a realistic simulation and keeping things moving along both in development and performance. Here's how the logic progresses:

  1. Draw the world. Continents, islands, oceans, lakes. Add rivers. Add biomes (forests, mountains, grassland, tundras).
  2. Add cities on confluences and coasts a reasonable distance from each other. Draw roads between the cities.
  3. Sprinkle in towns. Market towns on road crossings, mining towns, salt towns, and stone quarries in mountains, logging towns in forests, and fishing towns in secluded havens.
  4. Determine regions by filling in the land around a city. If the number of towns in a region doesn't make sense (big region = more towns) add a single additional logging or fishing town.

Each Region ends up containing one city and several towns, usually of different town types. In the game I'd like to make with this, AI and human players conquer regions usually by capturing the city. This grants them control over the whole region, so a region will always only have one ruler. A region receives effects from the structures within their contained cities and towns. Variables like food, happiness, growth, and wealth are calculated across the entire region.

Setting is High/Late Middle Ages

Now I'd like to add a "possible structures" list (building chains) to each city and town type. My planned building chains look like this (with simplified effects):

City or Town: Both cities and towns can contain these structures

  1. Mill: food multiplier
  2. Farm: +food
  3. Brewery: +happiness +growth
  4. Castle: +defense
  5. Church: +happiness +culture
  6. Industry: +growth +wealth
  7. Well: +sanitation +happiness

City: Only cities can contain these structures

  1. Large Castle (upgraded from Castle): +defense
  2. Fortifications: +defense
  3. Theatre: +happiness +culture
  4. Library: +happiness +culture +research
  5. Market: +growth +wealth
  6. Barracks
  7. Range
  8. Stable
  9. Siege Workshop

Infrastructure: Region upgrades

  1. Roads: +movement

Town: Any town

  1. Guardhouse: +defense

Salt Town

  1. Salt Works: +salt
  2. Salt Trade: +wealth +growth

Mining Town

  1. Iron Mine: +iron
  2. Iron Trade: +wealth +growth

Quarry Town

  1. Quarry: +iron
  2. Stone Trade: +wealth +growth

Market Town

  1. Market: +wealth +growth
  2. Inn: +happiness

Harbor Town

  1. Fishery: +growth +food
  2. Military Harbor
  3. Trade Port: +growth +wealth

Logging Town

  1. Hunting Lodge: +food +wealth
  2. Woodcutter: +wood

Are any of these buildings unnecessary or redundant? Are any crucial buildings missing? Feel free to suggest additional town types, too.

Try the demo for yourself: http://olinkirk.land/realms/

  • $\begingroup$ What's your period/region basis? $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ Early Middle Ages - central, northern, and eastern Europe. $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2019 at 9:31
  • $\begingroup$ Correction: High/Late Middle Ages $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2019 at 12:11
  • $\begingroup$ That's ok, biggest change is that stage theatres are just coming into being, but they're not common. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 12:50
  • $\begingroup$ Seeing as your map has dozens of blobs it's already more accurate then most $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2019 at 14:52

7 Answers 7


Your biggest oversights: Monasteries, blacksmiths, a little out of place history, potentially a university (one, maybe two, total on the continent).

Hamlet: collection of farm cottages, might have a blacksmith

Village: Church, blacksmith, tavern

Town: Market, church, coaching inn, taverns, blacksmith, various other trades

City: Market, cathedral, inns, taverns, all trades

Castles as you like, largely wherever you like. Put them guarding harbours and mountain passes primarily rather than simply around habitations, the requirements are different.

Prior to the industrial age/age of exploration, there were no dedicated industrial towns as farming required most of the manpower and hence most towns were dedicated to farming and the market. A town might have a quarry, it certainly would if it had a castle, but it wouldn't be dedicated to it. The same goes for mining.

Wood is an everyone everywhere operation, you need wood, you cut or gather wood, you go on with your life. Loggers might have a camp in a forest for naval ship building but it wouldn't be a permanent town.

Mills can appear in anything from a hamlet upwards, they're mostly about where a suitable power source can be found, whether wind, water or tide.

Salt and spices came from far away. Fishing is probably the only industry other than farming that could dominate a town. Efficiency in food production is not a thing until you're approaching the industrial age, the single largest industry in any region is food.

The first big brewers were the monasteries, otherwise every inn, tavern, free house or other similar premises probably brewed their own. As did every farmer, farm worker or otherwise. Brewing beer or cider is a very simple process.

Industry was largely "cottage industry" as in literally happening in every cottage in the village. Stage theatres, are just starting to be built, though travelling groups of players are more likely to be found. Libraries are really special, the chances of encountering one outside a monastery are approximately 0.

Barracks suffered a lull between the Roman Empire and the 18thC, mostly due to the lack of permanent standing armies. Castles primarily fulfill this role.

Outside cities, roads were primitive at best, it's a bad time for such large scale infrastructure. Any roads you do encounter are probably turnpikes, expect to pay a fee to travel.

A siege workshop is either the local blacksmith or entirely a game mechanic. The same is true of a range, it's a modern concept, people would have practiced their archery on the village green or in the woods. The idea of creating a safe space for such activities is entirely novel, however game mechanics have to be allowed for one way or another.

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    $\begingroup$ "Brewing beer or cider is a very simple process." - Related: homebrew.stackexchange.com ;) $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 9:53
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ On Warsaw Beer Festival we got to try old Lithuanian recipe that actually gets you drinkable beer in twelve hours. They brewed it one day and gave it to the people the very next day. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 10:13
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    $\begingroup$ I think you have a lot of good points but salt definitely was a big industry - for instance Salzburg in Austria. Salt was used in almost all foods so it was really important. Several cities in Bavaria depended on the salt trade for a big part of their income. $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2019 at 10:30
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    $\begingroup$ @OlinKirkland, If you're building entire continents then you're going to have to model some of the "far away" places these things come from :) It's probably worth looking at the percentage of the population actually involved in the trade though, I suspect it's going to be small, as you're only talking 10% urban population to start with. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 10:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Salt [...] came from far away." ABSOLUTELY NOT! Bad Reichenhall is a german city/area that was held in high regard and had significant economic power, all just because they mined salt. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 12:21

Since you are speaking about the Early Middle ages, I assume you mean the period before the 12th century. In this case a lot of your structures seem to be quite anachronistic.

There would be no theaters, universities or libraries. As have been told before, a lot of separate military structures like barracks, stables and ranges also do not make sense for Early Middle ages. I think, the better solution for game mechanics would be to use castles (or burhs) and monasteries as military and culturo-economic hubs with chains of upgrade and improvement for them (like you would be able to build school and scriptorium structures as upgrades to your monastery, but not separately).

In general, the biggest problem I see here is that strategic games often rely on resource management and long production chains. Early middle ages on the other hand had quite underdeveloped infrastructure and low population, so they tended to keep production chains as short as necessary. Say, if you need to build a viking-style knarr ship, it may be easier to establish a temporary logging camp, gather necessary pine and oak, build the ship on the beach near the forest and launch it there, instead of building a shipyard and transporting timber to it.

The question of industry is a complicated one. On one hand, speaking about the short supply chains, a single homestead would be able to support itself in a 'closed loop', so to say - farming, raising sheep and cows, producing enough food for homestead itself plus some surplus, making its own homespun for clothes and rawhide for footwear. On the other hand, being able to buy fabric, leather, tools and luxury items like ornaments and jewelry (beads, brass pins and brooches, etc.) was a nice break from it. So there were dedicated craftsmen in early middle ages like shoemakers or blacksmiths. Towns often existed precisely as trade and industry hubs - see, for example, the description of 10-11th century York. So a town can be treated as an industrial hub, where building additional craftsman will increase drain on food and corresponding resources, but also will give some boosts to nearby villages and hamlets. (Say, building one more shoemaker in town increases drain on leather and food resources, but boosts happiness for surrounding hamlets where people can now buy better quality shoes).

UPD: As you shifted the period inspiration from early to high/late middle ages, here are some more structures you can have:

Cities: bathhouse, university, different industries*

Monastery: hospital, scriptorium, school

Additionally, both cities and monasteries can have watermills not for grain, but as power nodes for industries. Functionally, you can power a sawmill, a wool fullery, a blacksmith trip hammer with a water wheel. I do not know, how better to do it mechanically, though, since I do not understand, how much detail does your model have.

*industries will diversify strongly - blacksmith, swordsmith and armourer are very different professions by 15th century. Maybe instead of treating them as separate structures, you are better off speaking about the guilds present in the city. Speaking or ironworking, a smallish town would have knifemakers guild and blacksmiths guild, giving you tools and simple weapons, but a bigger city would have swordmakers and armourers guilds, that would give a fine quality arms and armor.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm gathering here that I should shift my desired time period to the high and late middle ages. I'm interested in introducing pike and shot and the industrial revolution later, so maybe it's better to skip over the early middle ages altogether. $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2019 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Olin Kirkland, that can be a good solution. Managing early medieval supply chains is much more about Settlers-style single town gameplay in the genre of 'how to best to micromanage 20 people I have'. If you want more complicated interdependent continent-spanning chains, you're better to start from something corresponding to our 13th century. $\endgroup$
    – Cumehtar
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 12:01
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    $\begingroup$ Something you said at the end sparked an idea. Instead of building industrial sites you could fund the founding of Guilds in Towns and Cities, perhaps needing as Guildhall to increase their number. Then you allow the industries to naturally grow from it rather than having a specific player placed building. Stick down a smith guild and the quality of your smithing goes up as does perhapse the number of smiths (or types there of) in a region. $\endgroup$
    – TafT
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ @TafT I'm very interested in this concept - is there a game where something like this has been done before? Closest I can think of is Rollercoaster Tycoon where you fund research in different categories to unlock new technologies. This would be similar except you're directly investing in a trade to artificially boost it in a city where you want to see it flourish. I like it as a hands off approach for players (and AI) to influence-but-not-directly-control their region development. $\endgroup$ Commented May 22, 2019 at 7:34
  • $\begingroup$ @OlinKirkland nothing comes to mind. $\endgroup$
    – TafT
    Commented May 22, 2019 at 7:58

I miss infrastructure related to animal husbandry. Pastures usually took larger area than farms, as they are less labor-intensive - even to such extent that late medieval Europe got largely deforested to make place for extensive pastures. Then there are mixed landscapes such as silvopastures. And swine can graze in forests.

Many fish ponds were built in medieval times.

  • $\begingroup$ Fish ponds hadn't occurred to me. Would you add animal husbandry to regional infrastructure or on an individual basis as an upgrade from a Farm structure? $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2019 at 10:32
  • $\begingroup$ I have no idea about game mechanics to advise either way. Historically the combination of farming and grazing depended on what landscape was there. $\endgroup$
    – Juraj
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 11:45

The period you describe is well within the Malthusian trap.

Within the trap, increased population leads to lower standards of living. Increased productivity leads to increased population instead of higher standards of living (for most).

Food, the primary product, isn't limited by farmers as much as it is by arable land. An excess of farmers results in starving farmers, or less surplus for non-farmers. Starving farmers may attempt to settle lands, join a war to become a soldier and hopefully improve their fortune, try to enter a craft, etc.

Crafts may tend towards guilds -- as the population is limited by arable land, there are only so many jobs for blacksmiths or shoe makers. They'll want to reserve those jobs for their own kids most of the time. If anyone could become a shoe maker, then the shoe maker's kids would starve, as the population excess of farmers would flood the market.

As a non-guild farmer you'll still want to make your own shoes and shoe your own horses or tools, as the experts may be too expensive for a poor farmer. Someone who owns the farming land, on the other hand, may want to use experts.

Land split between all children leads to impoverishment as generations pass unless productivity keeps up. Land passed to the eldest leads to a constant surplus of younger siblings for monastery work or war, or willing to pay a guild for the right to apprentice if you are wealthy enough.

Trade is expensive. The rocket equation applies to all muscle-based transportation; suppose it takes 100 kCalories to carry 1 kg X distance. 1 kg of sugar is 4000 kCal; so every X distance you are consuming 2.5% of your kCal in transportation costs.

So for each transportation link, you'll want to pay attention to the kCal per kg per km along it.

High quality roads reduce it, as does water based transport (poling, going down stream, or using animals on the shore to pull). Ocean sail-based transport is also kCal efficient; you just need to feed the sailors (and repair the craft).

Food quickly becomes impractical to transport, especially off rivers. On rivers, preserved food can move around a bit (pickles and cheeses), but even then I'd expect most preserved food to be used later in the same year.

Luxuries ship better, as does salt. The Tin trade crossed Europe going back to ancient times.

In short, what I'd do is rotate your economy to be based off the kCal. Population will expand until malnutrition at a given kCal level hits, then level off. Plagues will cause your Population to plummet, which may result in a kCal income dip, but much less than the Population dip would indicate.

Preserving food has a cost, but is needed as you don't get new food at all times. All forms of preserved food will rot, sometimes faster than others. Famine triggered by Blight is always a possibility. Little ice ages, where the climate dips colder, will cause your kCal income to plummet.

Specie is going to be rare. Your wealth won't be usually measured in it; at best it can be used for trade, but trade as mentioned is expensive. Economies won't run on it.

Having a "sink" for excess population in each "class" of people will matter. Monasteries where you are celibate can help prevent starvation. Regularly rounding up troops for warfare is also a way to deal with excess population, and can even deal with excess nobility, but having the economy to feed and gear those soldiers may be challenging.

Of interest it getting out of the trap.

The first nation to do it with the Netherlands. A while later the British Isles started it.

Excess wealth, like the Renaissance, is also a way out for some people. Trade using boats and caravans, forming a bottleneck between two areas with distinct resources. The population will still be limited by the food you produce mostly, but with Specie will mean you can do things like buy refined goods (weapons) and go and use them on other people.

A black death will trigger a massive increase in living standards for people, which can also trigger population transfer to cities and more commerce. When there are too many people, convincing already-starving farmers to sell food is hard (and requires oppression usually, which is expensive). When there are Calories to spread around, selling them horses, horse shoes, plows, leather shoes, etc becomes more a more viable way of getting food from them.

  • $\begingroup$ Today, I learned what the word "Specie" means! I was seriously confused until I Googled it... $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 19:00

Draw roads between the cities.

And therein lies a real problem with your design. Roads were generally very poor quality until at least the 17th century. People could walk them or drive animals along them, carts could transport small amounts of light goods, and carriages could (with some discomfort!) transport rich people and a small quantity of their possessions. They did not provide significant transport infrastructure around a country though. Mainly they just served as a marker that you were going in the right direction, not actually as an easier way to walk than the land around.

If you wanted to transport any goods for any distance, the only realistic method was by water. Rivers and coasts were how everything got around a region. If you didn't have access to waterways, you were essentially cut off from all significant trade.

For your purposes, you may want to consider roads to be better than they historically were, but you really should make waterways much more significant. Trade routes are absolutely going to follow waterways, and any road-based trade routes will only be short hops from a "hub" city on a waterway. If you're applying weightings to decide where to put towns, all cities will be on coasts or rivers, all logging/quarry/market towns will be on coasts or rivers (and harbours, of course!), and there should be a very strong weighting against any other town existing any distance from a coast or river.

Movement of soldiers will typically be quicker along roads than regular country, because they're walking. Rivers probably won't speed them up, but they can move very much more quickly along the coast in ships.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Aren't you ignoring the Roman highway system? $\endgroup$
    – Marbrand
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Brizzy there were many things the Romans did that then weren't done for 1800 years. Good roads and concrete among them. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 6:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Brizzy Not when the setting is the Middle Ages, no. By that point, good quality roads were so long gone, there wasn't even folk myth about how much better they were. $\endgroup$
    – Graham
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 21:46

You need to think in terms of "source" and "delivery/consumer." Your source provides a raw or produced material + jobs. Your delivery produces an effect (like happiness) + jobs. Whether or not the jobs (and the detail) are important depends on how complex your economy will be.

  • Breweries (beer) -> Pub, restaurant, tavern
  • Winery (wine) -> Pub, restaurant, tavern
  • Distillery (whisky, spirits) -> Pub, restaurant, tavern

  • Marshes (peat -> fuel) -> Market

  • Marshes (peat -> fertilizer) -> Farms (increased productivity) -> Market
  • Forests (wood -> fuel) -> Market
  • Forests (wood -> construction) -> Market
  • Quarry (stone) -> Castle (improves roads, fortification, etc.)
  • Quarry (iron) -> Market
  • Quarry (copper) -> Mint (increased economy)
  • Quarry (silver) -> Mint (increased economy)
  • Quarry (gold) -> Mint (increased economy)
  • Stable (horses) -> Farms (increased productivity) -> Market
  • Judiciary/courthouse (law and order)
  • Tanner (leather) -> Barracks (improved armor)
  • Smokehouse (food preservation) -> Market (improves food supply)
  • Well (water) -> Market
  • Fletcher (flying weapons: arrows, spears) -> Barracks (increased attack)
  • Guild house (increases productivity of identified merchant/worker type)
  • Clothier/bootmaker

Rats... I'm out of time. Cheers.


All of the above plus:

I feel "industry" is too simple: I would made a distinction between three industries:

  • Industries that refine materials: a mill (grain > flour), smelteries(metal>ingots), butcheries (cattle > meat and skins), tanneries(raw skins>leather). These industries tend to be near the production, so you will find mills near fields, ironworks near mines, tanneries near butcheries, and butcheries near population centers.

  • Industries that produce necessities: blacksmiths, basketmakers... these will be found in any population center larger than a hamlet (a hamlet will either self-manufacture the necessities or will trade them for the produce).

  • Industries that produce luxury items: fine clothes, shoes, jewelry... those industries will only be found in larger cities that can sustain gentry, nobles and aristocrats. I would include any kind of refined product here, including military related as armors and swords.

I haven't included a cloth mill in the list because save for the richest (in european context, in other contexts it may vary), all families crafted the cloths for themselves. It was usually an exclusively female occupation and did take a lot of time. So while clothiers existed, they were usually only for nobles and the rich.

  • $\begingroup$ Pastures/butcher could appear in the town and city category alongside the mill as an option. Like maybe something like Fields -> Pastures OR Wheat Fields. Then butcheries and mills can improve the output from pastures/wheat fields $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2019 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ Ironworks are associated with the development of cannons, which are late medieval. You're expecting simple forges prior to that. $\endgroup$
    – MSalters
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 12:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MSalters, english is not my first language so maybe I used the wrong word? I did not want to use "refinery" but basically anything that cleans the metal and processes into ingots. Would "forge" be more appropiate then? $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2019 at 12:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @OlinKirkland yeah, I saw you put the mill in the list and I wanted to note that this would maybe better be handled as "industry" than by itself $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2019 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Stormbolter: The word isn't wrong now, but ironworks date to the Industrial Revolution. The earliest forges indeed date back to the early middle ages. I don't think they were generally processed into ingots; that's a level of standardization not seen until later. $\endgroup$
    – MSalters
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 14:01

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