Castle Entrance facing


Advice


Not sure if this is covered in a sourcebook, and I couldn't really find anything specific in my websearches, but...

When building a castle, lets say early stages where its intended to be a primary fortification as opposed to the centerpiece of a larger city, what direction would you place your front gate or front gate + barbican?

If your enemy was generally considered to be coming from one direction, say your western neighbor has a history over the generations of sorties in, etc. Would you place your front gate towards the west? The east? A different angle?

A benefit of the barbican + front gate situation is theoretically a bigger potential defense screen from that particular angle, understandable since that's the main way in.

Would a north or south orientation be better for a compromise of ease of friendly access (from your east, or returning scouts from enemy-west)?

Would you want your front door facing the enemy, ala, "Go for it, I dare you!"?


If you google castle layout there are lot of images to provide you with examples. Looking through them there doesn't seem to be one that is especially favored or better than the others. It looks as though it largely depends on terrain surrounding the castle and where everything is placed. I think local terrain would be much more important than which side you're nearest enemy is on. An moderately wise enemy (provided he believes you are unaware of the coming attack) will have already scouted your castle grounds and found the most favorably side to come from with the least chance of being spotted so they can move into position before hand.

If you've ever played any of the Total War series you have probably developed tactics and ideas for how you would assault a castle, and assuming an army doesn't march and meet them on the way that's exactly the sort of thing an army will do.


Unless it is a castle on the absolute borderlands, it is a key point in the community and you have to let the peasants in, and people out.


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Castles were built at locations that were defensible. Meaning, terrain dictated design. Also the design lended itself to its purpose. Defend harbor? Defend surrounding towns?

Examples of different castle designs.

Castle 1

Castle 2


Do whatever's coolest and/or whatever fits the need of your story.

Keep in mind such a castle would also want, if not need, defenses against magical incursion, magical attacks, aerial attacks, subterranean attacks ...


Flying castle is probably the best thing anyways...


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Personally, if in the northern hemisphere I would have it facing south and in the southern hemisphere I would have it facing north. That way when it snows your draw bridge de-ices faster and less of that pesky snow to shovel.


The legendary draw bridge of slipperiness, we meet again!


Satchmo wrote:
Personally, if in the northern hemisphere I would have it facing south and in the southern hemisphere I would have it facing north. That way when it snows your draw bridge de-ices faster and less of that pesky snow to shovel.

Seriously? I'm from Hawaii, we don't get snow stuff, so if you're kidding or not :P


Losobal wrote:
what direction would you place your front gate or front gate + barbican?

Towards the nearest road. Anyone who assaults a castle encircles it first anyway.


Real castles are usually compromises. It's hard to get stone to the building site. It's hard to get it to the top of the towers.

Magic changes things. Wall of Stone lets you create stone where you need it or at a lower level Stone Shape and Shrink Item let you move stone around and shape it as needed. Portable Holes are great for moving dirt or mortar.

Very tall ashlaric walls backed by earth lying at its angle of repose are close to unbreakable if a hard enough rock is used. Instead of building a keep with a curtain wall around it I think I'd go for building a keep without any defenses and then build an artificial mesa around it.

I think most divinations have trouble going through large amounts of stone, which should protect from scry and fry unless treachery is involved.


Atarlost wrote:
Magic changes things.

This is an understatement of immense proportions.

But let's ignore magic for now. As a fortification I'd first cross a moat or ditch with the approach route/road (the bridging structure should be relatively easy to destroy or remove in the event of siege), then circle the road around the outer wall preferable in an uphill direction to the gatehouse (allowing a long section of road to be under fire from the defenders along the battlements and towers of the outer walls -> ditch/moat on one side of the road, battlements and wall on the other). The gatehouse should be placed out of the LOS of the bridge over the moat. i.e. No you will not allow the same siege artillery to fire at both points without being disassembled, moved and reassembled first. The outer gate I would place at an angle so anyone entering would need to make a sharp turn as they passed inward, preventing or minimizing the ability to charge the outer gate and to minimize the space available to place a battering ram or similar siege equipment in the space immediately in front of the outer gate (even better if this area can also be destroyed or collapsed as needed leaving nothing but ditch/moat (cliff?) directly in front of the outer gate). The inner gate will also be placed at an angle from the outer gate. From here I'd break the area around the keep into 'wards' and force any invaders to circle the keep and go through further gates/gatehouses to reach the entry to the keep (again all while going uphill as much as possible). Inner walls, towers and battlements will be higher than any of the outer walls, towers and battlements (height advantage for the defender in the event the outer walls are taken). From this point the rest is compromise, as Atarlost put it, with whatever functions the castle has beyond a fortification. And one higher level caster, particularly Sor/Wiz, away from being rapidly breached.


Losobal wrote:

Not sure if this is covered in a sourcebook, and I couldn't really find anything specific in my websearches, but...

When building a castle, lets say early stages where its intended to be a primary fortification as opposed to the centerpiece of a larger city, what direction would you place your front gate or front gate + barbican?

If your enemy was generally considered to be coming from one direction, say your western neighbor has a history over the generations of sorties in, etc. Would you place your front gate towards the west? The east? A different angle?

A benefit of the barbican + front gate situation is theoretically a bigger potential defense screen from that particular angle, understandable since that's the main way in.

Would a north or south orientation be better for a compromise of ease of friendly access (from your east, or returning scouts from enemy-west)?

Would you want your front door facing the enemy, ala, "Go for it, I dare you!"?

Generally speaking, when it is refered to as a castle its primary role was likely defense. Things like villages and towns Then formed around the Castles as they provided protection.

You would put your front entrance in a place that is convenient for the buildingers but would be difficult for those likely to assault the castle. So my assumption is that if you have an expected direction of assault if terrain allows it your entrance would face away from there.

In RL castles were horribly expensive to build and maintain, you did not build them to invite attack.

If a castle is a centerpiece for a town at that point it is a palace and they tend to have different defense requirements.


In particular, since the actual description wasn't provided in the sourcebooks, I was considering what would happen if you took Castle Andachi located in Ustalav on the border of Ustalav and the Orclands. It was a border castle/fortress, which I'm making assumptions with:

1)Gothic style like its contemporary neighbors of the time.
2)Given its fortress intentions, its possible its motte and bailey, though most of the other castles generated in the region that are 'called castles' seem to be Keeps with Curtain Walls, but not quite Concentric Castle setups.

3)Its still noted as defensible.
4)Its located in the foothills of the border region, so I'm thinking "stone".
5)I'm also assuming its "big enough" that its haunted nature/rumor makes it the reason forces on either side aren't pushing to claim it. Its southern counterpart of the "2 remaining defensive structures of bleakwall" is a tower that's actually really close to crazy undead lichgod castle zone, so even if it was easier to clear (as a tower instead of a castle) no one in their right mind would want to try and hang out there for long.

I mean sure, I could make it anything I want, but in the event that Paizo does end up describing/mapping the thing, I wanted to try and be logical and draw on precedent of the region.


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Hmm, well at a minimum I suppose you build your castle on a Demi Plane that has Gates to another, dead magic, demi plane that can be flooded with lava, acid, or whatever. Teleport Traps are used on the castle demiplane. That has gates that lead into mountains, hills, or underground. Permanent Phase Doors that are covered by Animated Object constructs that look like natural terrain (to block true seeing) lead to the outside.

But, I guess if you are cheap then you can use a Colossal Animated Object with a Ring of Invisibility as a starting point.

If you are really cheap you could make the door out of a series of Greater Shadow Conjuration Walls of Stone. That would take some time to get through as you have to disbelieve each one and even then they have a chance of acting real.

Really there's lots of stuff you can do. But I'd avoid a design that someone can fly over, passwall through, teleport into, or the like.


Castles are tactically defensive and strategically offensive. They were built to control a territory and be a base for military operations in the surrounding area: a safe place to rest or retreat to to stock up on supplies. They were often built as part of offensive campaigns, such as the castles the crusaders built, or the many castles the English Kings built to control territory in France and their often hostile subject peoples (The Kings of England were foreigners, Norse then Franco-Norman, controlling Anglo-Saxon/Welch subjects). The razing of castles was to deny the enemy a safe place to plan offensive raids or campaigns. Leaving a castle untaken invited a counter offensive.

The most important part of a castle is being something that can be sallied from, which is to say a small army being able to strike enemies outside the walls quickly, and then retreat quickly back into. In sieges since the gate was difficult to reach it was quite possible to have the defenders make raids against the siege camp and retreat before the besiegers were able to respond.

So my response to the question asked, is it needs to be defensible, meaning the approach is guarded by the strongest defenses, and it needs to be able to allow quick in and out movements (so no super inconvenient placement). The terrain dictates the possible approaches, those areas are also the ones the enemy will be occupying in a siege. The actual facing on a strategic scale matters not at all, its about the tactical side of things. If the way into a castle on the Rhine is from the north, then the door is going to be there even if the enemy lives in the south. Besides, in a medieval society enemies and allies are fluid, add in unexpected invasions of barbaric peoples and any choice based on "our enemies are south of us" is quickly rendered obsolete.

Dark Archive

Two castles changed my mindset on defense. Nagoya castle and its enormous moats. Edinborough and its hillside fortification over the town. Stunning places to see if you get the chance.

Grand Lodge

The door is probally the weakest location you'll have. It /should/ be the weakest area in your entire wall. If its to the east, you'll have your archers firing into the sun during the morning, and to the west at night. However, at night, you'll have a whole day to see the enemy.

To avoid both, north and south is best. Then mostly dependant on the location.

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