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All Categories > Fractal Mapper > Maps > Fantasy > Overland
An Unusual Mill
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Before someone thinks that I've embarked on an endless series about mills … this is the second last installment. Next time around, I'll do a normal mill. Then I'll move on to other things that are essential to settlements in any credible RPG setting. A well-designed RPG settlement has all of the elements needed for people to survive there, but some of them don't need to be in every settlement. If you have a cluster of villages and hamlets all within a few miles of one another, some facilities may be in only one of them. Mills are among the things that are necessary. People need flour and farmers need feed. Every settlement should have at least a small tavern; that's where the men gather evenings and conduct local business. You need a wainwright who makes and repairs farm wagons, and you need a smithy who makes and fixes metal items and who shoes horses. If your settlement is outside of the tropics, you need a source of heating materials: Firewood, coal, peat, etc. You need building materials, which inevitably must include some lumber. If there are stone buildings, you need a quarry. If buildings have clay roof tiles, you need a kiln. If slate roofs are common, you need slate mines. Mills are just one of these essentials. Most mills will be powered by waterwheels. In coastal areas, windmills are common. There also are treadmills, but these usually are not central mills. In most cases, a treadmill will be found on a large farm that grinds its own grain and feed. The topic this time is a rather unusual mill known as the Nuns' Mill (Nonnenmühle). What's left of it is on the edge of the town of Uehlfeld in Northern Bavarian Middle Franconia. The mill was driven by a waterwheel on the Weisach Creek just west of its confluence with the Aisch River. Only vague information is available on its earlier history. In the Middle Ages, large parts of the German forests were owned by the Catholic church and administered by monasteries and convents. The Nuns' Mill was a very small sawmill run by employees of a convent, thus the name. Later, it went into private ownership. Most water-driven mills have either a top-driven waterwheel, with the water pouring from a trough into the pockets at the top of the wheel, or a bottom-driven waterwheel with paddles directly in the flow of the millstream. The sawmill at the Nuns' Mill was unusual first of all because it had a rare, middle-driven waterwheel. Unfortunately, the waterwheel was dismantled decades ago, but the drawing at the bottom of the graphical frame above shows how such a waterwheel functions. The drawing is from the 4th Edition of Meyers Konversationslexikon, published in Germany between 1885 and 1890. It no longer is under copyright protection and now is in the public domain. With time the milling operation was expanded to include a larger grain mill. This is the building in the upper right corner of our map and, in its current dilapidated state, in the center photo. This is another very unusual aspect of the Nuns' Mill. The grain mill also was driven by the sawmill's waterwheel through wooden, underground crankshafts and gears. Our map represents the real Nun's Mill of historical times as well as possible. The mill pond and millstream long have been drained, but one still easily can see where they were. A sawmill needs lumber curing sheds where newly cut wood can dry. Such sheds are roofs without sidewalls to allow free air access. The original sheds of the Nun's Mill were dismantled more than a century ago and replaced by more modern buildings. One can only guess where the original sheds were, and our map's sheds are a product of such guesswork. The sawmill and grain mail buildings of the Nuns' Mill were acquired in the 1990s by the Franconian Open Air Museum in Bad Windsheim. They were to have been dismantled and rebuilt there in 2003. Unfortunately, due to financing shortages, nothing has been done to date. As a result, these historically important but crumbling buildings may survive only in our RPG maps. The raster symbol objects used in the map above for the buildings, waterwheels, dam gate, timber and lumber can be downloaded free from the link below. They are released under the Open Game License 1.0a and can be used privately or commercially. The remaining symbols are from the CSUAC. The fill patterns can be downloaded at: www.dungeons-daring.org/jgfills.zip .

Mark Oliva
The Vintyri™ Project