Watchtowers (synonyms: beacons, observation towers; example toponyms: The Watchtower of Anis Nul, the Far Beacon) are towers built to observe a nearby region. Fictional watchtowers are often located on borders adjacent to enemy territory or on a frontier where they may serve as part of an early warning system against invasion or sudden attack. In fantasy worlds they are often found in ruins and may have been constructed long ago by an ancient civilization. Watchtowers are home to complacent guards and invaders silently scaling the walls.
Designing Fictional Watchtowers
Cartography & Local Terrain
Watchtowers are typically located along the borders between countries or along a frontier with the wilds. They may also be present along coasts to keep watch on the sea. While a single watchtower may suffice to guard over a mountain pass, a series of watchtowers may be used to guard a larger segment of territory and may include additional fortifications such as castles, forts, and great walls. Towns or post-apocalyptic havens may also feature watchtowers if they routinely face the threat of attack. As elevation increases their visual range, watchtowers will often be perched atop hills, mountains, mesas, or coastal cliffs. There may be cliffside pathways needed to reach them.
Fortifications & Defense
Watchtowers may be lone structures, or may be located within or near a fort or outpost. They may be protected by walls, palisade walls, moats, or other fortifications. As often watchtowers are a first line of defense and warning against an invasion or incursion, attacking armies may wish to target watchtowers and destroy them before they can issue a warning to others. Traps and alarm systems may be placed surrounding the watchtower or within it and can be used by both game-world designers those looking for additional narrative opportunities.
Watchtowers, and those that reside within them, need to be resupplied. There may be nearby towns or villages. If the watchtower is located in a remote region, resupply may be difficult and could provide narrative opportunities to explore.