Gulltown Peninsula Terrain Discussion

Emoticone11

The Dark Lord Sauron
Staff member
Hey everyone,

To close off Vale week, I'd like to open up a discussion about the terraforming of the Gulltown peninsula (on which both Gulltown and Runestone are situated) and try to crowdsource some ideas. It's no secret that I'm interested in a Southeast Vale megaproject encompassing this region, and will hopefully be putting together an app relatively soon.

I view the city of Gulltown as being very much "terrain-driven", in the sense that we have an opportunity to make the city unique by incorporating some rugged terrain into the design and layout of the city itself, differentiating it from the other mostly flat cities. I don't interpret this as necessarily meaning mountains and sheer cliffs on the peninsula (like the current version), but there are still many opportunities for creating a craggy and hilly peninsula. In any case, I think it makes sense to first figure out a "geological story" for the peninsula, terraform the peninsula, and then let the city design flow from there (the terra, of course, can be revised as necessary at that point).

As far as canon is concerned, the only geographical description I've been able to find is that Gulltown "possessed a fine and formidable natural harbor", possibly implying some sort of headland/bay landform along the peninsula.

Personally, I'm attracted to the idea of removing the mountains in the current version, while raising the base of the peninsula to create large fjord-like cliffs. Smaller valleys and streams can be added to the cliffs to create the hilly/terraced terrain for the city and its surrounds.

I'll update this thread in the future as I come up with more concrete ideas/sketches, but anyone else is welcome to share their ideas as well.
 

AerioOndos

Donkey Lord
Staff member
I'd suggest having some evidence of glacial uplift, on the northern side of the peninsula. It'd be a really cool detail to add which could be done with the pebble mixes.

In terms of scale of the bay, during the War over the Water between the North and the Vale, the Northerners burn 'hundreds' of ships in Gulltown's bay after being unable to breach the city walls. The bay also was the site of a naval battle in the Conquest.
 
I agree that it would be more interesting to have the peninsula be less mountainous and more just hilly. It also makes it more farmable and since it needs to sustain a city and one of the most powerful houses in the vale that is kind of needed.
I'd love to supply inspiration from Switzerland but I am kind of stumped since Switzerland doesn't have any coast on the sea. I suppose you could take inspiration from lakeshores, in which case I would suggest looking at Lake Constance or Lac de Neuchatel, since these are the bigger ones that aren't surrounded by mountains. However, I gotta say that these shores really don't look like seashores. As far as I know there are also no harbour towns on Swiss lakes. Towns did have places for boats of course but certainly not in the style of a coastal city like what Gulltown would have.
 

Azulejo

Aeromancer
Staff member
I think we should not dismiss a montanious Gulltown peninsula so fast, there's a lot of posibilities that come with it. When I think of Gulltown Genoa is by far the first city that comes to mind. A formidable harbor in an otherwise lacking enviroment that allowed the city to grow and become one of the most poweful centres in the Mediterranean. I think what Genoa shows us is that there's no need of a big arable area for a big and prosperous city to exist. In fact the lack of those resources, under the right cirunstances, can make a settlement turn its head to the sea and commerce, and make it prospere far more than what the lands around it alone would've allowed.

Just look at the similarities: Genoa/Gulltown is situated on a mighty harbor constricted by a coastal mountain range that separates it from the fertile lands of the Po Valley/Vale of Arryn. The lack of big areas of arable land made the city focus on commerce along the Mediterranean/Narrow Sea, as the exit for the yields at the northern areas and inland, and the main entrance for the goods of the east and south. With time the city grew and started producing its own refined goods (fine seamstresses), while not forgetting one of the main products that made the city rich and famous in the first place: marble. Yes, Genoa was a very important exporter of marble, as it was abundant in the mountains that surrounded the city, like in Carrara. The Vale is also famous for its marble.

My proposal would be to reduce the height of the moutains currently in Gulltown and push them as far north as posible, so they drop quite dramatically to the sea on that side, while they gently slope towards the south, where the city would be located. They would also serve as a really nice background, I'm sure. And the north coast of the Gulltown peninsula, with this new configuration, would be open to new and interesting types of settlements, like fisher villages nested on the narrow river valleys (or stream valleys, better said) that run off the mountain peaks. I would also love to see a Gulltown hinterland that, even if small, is lush and full of terraced and sloping fields and pastures, and hamlets on quite notorious slopes, with breathtaking views of the city below. Also, a mountain chain would protect the city from harsh north winds, and that combined with the south orientation would provide a quite pleasant climate, in Vale standars.

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Genoa and its bay. As you can see the city is constricted by the mountains at the back.

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La Spieza, another city close to Genoa with a similar landscape: a harbor on a montanious coastal area.

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This is the type of settlements that could appear on the northern shore, where the mountains fall closer to the sea. Little villages clinging to the mountains.

2021-12-18 (19).jpg2021-12-18 (18).jpg
2021-12-18 (16).jpg2021-12-18 (17).jpg2021-12-18 (15).jpgThis would be the type of sloping terrain and fields I would love to see at the outskirts of Gulltown. Yes, I'm thinking of quite dramatic inclines.

2021-12-18 (14).jpg2021-12-18 (13).jpgAlso there's the posibility of having a small wine industry, thanks to the south orientation.

I however understand the appeal of a flatter peninsula, as it would have more working space, it would allow us to work more on the rural areas of Gulltown and probably won't create as much problems in realtion with the scale, something that may be apparent in the proposal I'm making.

One more note, something that I would love to see in Gulltown regardless of it's geography is a city with a high presence of fish and sea related industries and foods. I think it would be a really nice detail and a unique feature for it. That might open the possibility of adding new fish related blocks, like those amazing CTM fishes done a while back, or maybe shellfish baskets, who knows.​
 
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The Genova inspiration is really great Azulejo. I guess it would just be important to not lean too much into the italian style in order to not get too close to the established Westerlands style.
I think my support for a less mountaineous peninsula is both related to the lack of mountains on the maps in the books and as far as I am aware on most other maps too (I don't know how canon these maps are so this might just be a negligable point) and that there is going to be tons of opportunities to build villages on mountain sides in the rest of the vale, both in valleys and on the coast.
Nevertheless, an upwards slope from south to north could create some very interesting and unique opportunites that make the location stand out among the rest of the mountains both in the vale and across westeros.
 
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Jakethesnake8_8

Aeromancer
Pronouns
he/him
One of my Varner castles was very vale-like. I’ll see if I can find it and post it here as a potential yardstick for style development when it comes to that. Though I won’t crowd the terra thread ;)
 
once I get to digging up those books at the library I'll try to make an overview of different farm house styles in Switzerland and try to figure out some sort of continuum for the vale that similar styles are adjacent to each other but still get some variety across the whole thing.
Please hold me accountable to do that whenever I log on! ;)
 
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Azulejo

Aeromancer
Staff member
The Genova inspiration is really great Azulejo. I guess it would just be important to not lean too much into the italian style in order to not get too close to the established Westerlands style.
Oh for sure, Genoa as inspiration would be limited to its layout and terra at the surrounding areas, nothing to do with the style.
 

AerioOndos

Donkey Lord
Staff member
I'll elaborate a bit on what I meant before with the post-glacial uplift.
The fingers are apparently glacier carved valleys and I see no reason why the Vale of Arryn wouldn't have similarly been formed by glaciers. Because of that, it would make sense for the vale to be undergoing or have undergone post-glacial uplift after the Long Night/Last glacial maximum. Because of this, coast lines would be influx and older settlements previously on the sea would now be further in land, and previously unusable land has been made available for use.

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Near Palanderbukta fjord on Svalbard.

So my idea was for Gulltown's peninsula to have hills with a ridgeline or lines between Runestone and Gulltown. Shett and Royce were both kings so it would make sense they both have resources enough to support two separate small kingdoms including metals, enough timber for large fleets and food.

I'm not opposed to the Genoese inspiration and think it could be integrated into a representation of a city subject to post-glacial uplift. There could be the large bay and defensive wall between the dock and the city itself with the city hemmed in to the north by the hill line. How to integrate the pretty major change over time could be if the oldest parts of the city form an old town separate from newer infrastructure built in the past 6 thousand years. An old First Men proto-city that has been updated and built on top of with the Gull Tower nearby and a few large manses for incredibly wealthy Essosi from days past, since GT has always had trade with the free cities and is probably the most reliant on them of all the Westerosi cities (GT 'suffers' during the major Essosi conflicts like the Daughters' War).
This proto city would be roughly shaped around where the bay once was, with some buildings that were once warehouses potentially gentrified and turned into manses, public offices etc.

Then there could be a new town much further down hill with a large square, maybe a cloth hall like Wroclaw or Krakow. This 'new town' would have developed around a now settled coastline. I'd really like to see steep paths and houses clinging to the hill edge and the whole city hemmed by some form of barrier to the north, like Genoa, which would be a lovely reference to the old Gulltown, though nowhere near as severe.

One of the main issues that will occur is having a sizeable bay while not overcrowding the peninsula, intruding on the Bay of Crabs/Cracklaw or pushing out Runestone, which is one of the major houses of the Vale. How far does everyone think that the peninsula could be extended southwards? GT is currently smaller than White Harbour, which it is canonically larger than. To give enough room for both projects on the peninsula it might be necessary to extend the eastern headland south maybe 100 blocks or so?
 
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Enah

Warlock
I'd been fooling with trying to steal into incorporating GT and RS into a megaproject too D: but hadn't thought I could do it. I made a map a while back that I haven't finished, and thought a rivery bay with flatter terrain (hills not steep mountains) of course, I had inspirations drawn elsewhere than Italy lol.

Screenshot (331).png
 

Emoticone11

The Dark Lord Sauron
Staff member
Thanks for the responses! I'm loving the ideas so far.

Azulejo , I think you make a pretty compelling argument for having more mountainous terrain on the peninsula, though the Genoa inspiration does fall into the scope of what I meant by "hills". I really just meant that I don't imagine any high-altitude biomes or snow caps on the peninsula. Any hills/mountains on the peninsula would be the lower foothills of the Wickenden-Redfort mountain range, with the peninsula having been created during the glacial process that formed the Vale of Arryn. Some of your images - particularly this one - actually capture pretty well the type of terrain I had in mind.

AerioOndos the glacial uplift idea is an interesting one. I think direct signs of glacial uplift (like the rebounding beach) will be pretty difficult to represent in practice. I'm also not sure if the rate of rebound would be enough to result in a consequential increase in landmass over the time period since Gulltown was founded. But I do like the idea of having an old town which is now further inland, bounded to the north by hilly/mountainous terrain, with newer parts of the city beneath it on flatter terrain. I think a marine terrace landform could be a way to link these ideas together, such as the following example from the south coast of Wellington, NZ:

2880px-Coast_south_of_Wellington_by_Phillip_Capper_Flickr.jpg


Tongue-Point-by-John-Steedman-Flickr-edited.jpg


I'm not sure it's feasible to extend the peninsula to the south at all, given our scale. We'd run the risk of Gulltown being visible from Ruthermont, which would just be awkward. However, keep in mind that we'll have a lot more space for the city and sprawl once we remove the giant nearly-vertical snowcaps that are currently taking up about a third of the peninsula, so I don't think it should be necessary. One thing I am thinking of, though, is reducing the size of the bay between Ruthermont and the peninsula, which would allow a more natural connection between the Wickenden-Redfort range and the lower foothills on the peninsula.