Resources are an important part of worldbuilding. Most cities are built near commonly needed resources like large bodies of water or places with rich fields for farming. Civilization doesn’t get far if there isn’t enough resource-rich land to support a growing metropolis. This has held true in history, and it still holds true in fantasy or any other type of world-building. So, let’s take a look at some of the resources your civilization might build up around.
This one is a bit of an obvious one, but most cities don’t build where there isn’t an accessible water source. This might be a river, a major oasis, or a place with rich places to build wells. But a city must have water to survive, so no city will grow up to be a major metropolis without water to support its people.
This one isn’t as obvious, but cities may build up around places where mining for precious metals and ore can be done. This gives them a good trading resource, and it also gives them the ability to make their own currency. As a result, this is a resource that civilizations founding new cities may look for. Even if they started out as just a settlement in an area with a vein of precious metal ore, the presence of that resource often results in growth later on.
Similarly, precious stones can be another reason a place becomes home to a city. People are willing to pay a great deal to gain precious stones for any purpose from jewelry to currency for big ticket items. They can be used to trade, and in fantasy worlds, they may even be able to hold some sort of special magical ability. As this is the case, depending on what uses the world as a whole has for this resource, cities can grow up around it quite easily.
This one is another less-than-intuitive option, but some cities can grow up around salt flats because salt is a commodity and also essential for preserving food in societies with no way of refrigerating. And if you have a world where witchcraft is a thing, then maybe salt is a special ingredient for them too. It all depends. The possibilities open to you with this resource are endless, and the more uses this resource has, the more likely it is someone will want to build a city near a location with salt flats.
Another important resource is wood. Building in an area that has lots of forest offers the opportunity to build structures that might be impossible to build without it. It also allows for carving and craftsmanship that couldn’t be accomplished with other materials. It allows for the creation of paper as well, if the people living there are advanced enough to know the process for creating it with trees. Regardless, at any stage, building a city in or near a forest can provide the city with valuable resources they might not be able to access otherwise.
If your civilization is a hunting community, this one is especially important. The presence of various types of animals provides them with both food and furs and pelts to trade. As can be seen in American history, the fur trade can be quite lucrative, so even if your civilization isn’t mainly hunter-gatherer-based, it may still grow around the fur trading capacities the location offers.
This is a big one for civilizations that are settling down and trying to stay in one place. Often, the need for land that’s arid and good for crops leads to destruction of the forests in those areas so that farmers can plant their crops. This also offers a huge area of trade because farmable land allows people to grow so many different things. If that city or small kingdom owns most of the farmable land, they may become quite wealthy by trading their crops for other things neighboring cities and kingdoms have that they can’t produce for themselves. The other good thing about farmable land, of course, is that it provides a way to keep various herd animals, which can go a long way toward sustaining the civilization.
These are just a few of the many resources available, of course. However, they’re some of the common ones that cities and kingdoms may grow up around, so they’re worth mentioning. Have one you’d like to add? Feel free to leave it in the comments below!