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medieval architecture in tropical climates

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This is an interesting challenge. If you're ok being flexible with time (as D&D art often reflects a hodge-podge of eras), you could find inspiration in Batavia (now Jakarta), built by the Dutch in 1619 on the Indonesian island of Java.


It does have the "star fort" design that came about after the invention of the cannon, so you might want to make adjustments. Here are some other images:




Other Indonesian options include Fort Tolukko:



There are some other Indonesian forts that could be interesting, though many of the classic ones were built after the cannon and thus have the star fort design.

If you want to depart from history altogether, you could do worse than using Dinotopia as inspiration:




Other fantasy treatments might include Middle Earth. I don't recall how close to the equator southern Gondor is, but Dol Amroth was a city on the coast. Here's are two interpretations:




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When I adapted Shackled City to my homebrew campaign I turned it (and Sasserine) into sort of "medieval" versions of British Singapore and Malaya. Cauldron is effectively a "hill-station" in that sense.

North-Africa isn't tropical, though. It's arid/mediterranian and/or desert. Not at all humid enough to count as tropical.
Tropical is anything between 23.5°N and 23.5°s. Including the Tropical Deserts and Tropical Mediteranean climate zones in North Africa.


I probably could have posed my question more clearly. Basically what would a medieval European (or traditional fantasy) culture look like if it originated in or migrated to a tropical climate?

You probably can find something about how "Frankish" architecture was adapted to the middle east in the Crusader states. It included many things that were of local design, but with some typically European additions and modifications. So, pick a tropical architecture that you like, identify parts of it to replace with European architecture from the era you choose - try to make sure the adaptations won't ruin the advantages of the indigenous architecture for the climate - and use that as your "Colonial Gothic" style. Perhaps also look at some of the Portugese buildings from Africa from the 15th century, some still exist, and see what they were doing.


St. Augustine FL, the Spanish built a traditional European fort ... out of limestone and coral. Modern visitors are told not to touch the walls because you can rub down the chalky rock with your bare hands.

Another possibility: Chinese diaspora into the South China Sea area.

Angkor Wat (Cambodia) - building in the tropics with stone.

Spanish colonial architecture in the US Southwest and northern Mexico.


I was looking at some Indonesian buildings with curved roofing that let the heat move and cooled the buildings. I would think that castles could be the same with lots of awnings to shade the courtyards and streets. You could even design something like a termite nest that is built to allow the heat to rise out of the top and let in the cooler air from the bottom.

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