Four Old Castles

Castles, one of the great staples of Dungeons and Dragons! Entire books have been written about them. The blue Castle Guide has been a faithful friend for many years now, but coming up with floor plans can be difficult, especially for those of us that have never actually been to a castle. Typically I used old recycled ones that I acquired with modules.

Castles serve a function, some are built right off of the get-go, while others are just rooms that kept getting added on. Some castles protect, while other castles pamper, even if we do reuse floor plans, each castle should be unique. Lets examine four different styles and purposes of the castle.


Out in the wilderness, or on a kingdoms border things can get hairy. These kinds of castles are quickly built and then reinforced over time. The purpose of them is to protect the men inside from enemies outside. Much like a ship, these structures were not made for comfort, the best room was given to the man in charge of it while the ever changing soldiers sleep and eat together. All of the requirements of the warriors are kept within it, from stables to places where craftsmen can work. During sieges food is the weakness, so food is stockpiled. All of the nonmilitary staff serves a specific function.


This kind of a castle, while it may hold a king and his family, its primary purpose is to act as an office for government. A place of business, and that business is law and in making decisions for the kingdom. The fanciest room would be the Throne room where nobility and lords may address Royalty. While not as secure as a military outpost, this castle is strong enough to withstand most attacks, and is built slowly over the years to keep up with the demands put upon the people who work inside.


This kind of castle is very elaborate and as far as castles go, tactically weak. They are designed for beauty and grandeur, and while they are terrible at repelling enemy attacks, they do draw people. This kind of castle brags of great wealth and noble safety. These castles take artists, architects, and careful planning. People see this and have faith in your rule. A castle fit for a king is expensive to run and offers luxury to the people who must spend their lives in it. They require a huge number of staff to operate at its full potential, and last only as long as the money and prosperity of the empire does.


These grand structures are homes for gods. They are built over centuries by many different rulers. They are built for faith, either public or private. They are awe inspiring and complex works of art that serve specific purposes such as housing powerful priests, paladins, and clerics. While beautiful on the outside as well as in, they are also strong enough to survive war. These grand structures are social symbols, perhaps a wealthy man begging for forgiveness. Much like any other kind of castle which serves a king, this castle does to. A Cathedral is much more then just an oversized church, it is a place to hold records, and make decisions which effect all of the faithful. Like the romantic castle, this is meant to be seen as a beacon of progress and safety.

This is just a short description, but I hope it helps those of us who’ll only visit these things in our mind’s eye. It might be something to think about when you are drawing your maps and writing your keys. What functions are held here? While our houses suit our own individual personalities, a castle, especially an old one, will be built upon many personalities of the past which have become tradition, how can we reflect this in our keys? What were the interests of other people who once lived here? What sorts of skeletons are walled up in hidden rooms? A simple castle can be a milieu all unto itself if we let it.


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