Roads & paths are routes that people or vehicles may take between locations. The roads and paths of fictional worlds connect cities, towns, castles, and ancient ruins. They may meander up the cliffs of mountain ranges, cross perilous bridges over raging rivers, or be the main trade route between prosperous nations. Roads & paths may be washed out, blocked, passable at only certain times of the day or year (due to tides or weather), or be sites of daring roadside ambushes. They are home to travelers, pilgrims, traders, and highwaymen.
Designing Fictional Roads & Paths
Roads and paths take the most efficient route between cities, towns, and other important locations. While normally this would be a straight line, fictional worlds often have difficult-to-navigate regions and terrain features which impede direct travel. Roads and paths will curve around hills, they will be forced to cross rivers only at bridges, fords, or ferry crossings, and they will surmount mountain ranges not at the peaks, but at mountain passes. Lakes, deserts, wastelands, and other inhospitable terrain may be obstacles that roads and paths simply go around. Over time roads & paths may shift as easier routes are discovered or created. This may lead to abandoned and overgrown trails that are no longer in use.
Fictional roads and paths often have interesting features. They may possess hazardous cliffside pathways that meander through mountain passes, or perilous bridges that span rivers, crevasses, or chasms.
Maintenance & Patrol
Frequently used roads and paths, such as those between major destinations, are often larger and better maintained. Important trade routes may be patrolled by a guard, especially if they are prone to highway robbery. This means there may be outposts or forts along the road.
A collapsed nation or one rife with corruption may have roads that are not well maintained while a rich country or one that relies on trade via its’ road network may have better infrastructure.