Friday, October 1, 2010

Inspiring Architecture

My dad and step-mother renewed their wedding vows in Las Vegas this week and (thanks to parental financial assistance) I was there. Elvis was the officiant and a good time was had by all (which I think should tell you a lot about where I get my sense of humor).

What I really want to talk about here is inspiring architecture. My wife and I were staying at the Riviera, which looks like any other hotel you've ever been to, but using a maze-like casino full of slot machines for the lobby. Really? Kind of boring. My dad and step-mother were staying in Cesar's - good lord that was awesome! The grounds outside are awesome, the the casino was awesome, the attached mall was really awesome, and the rooms were pretty cool.

The mall architecture is what I really want to talk about, particularly the entrance from the street. The main area is open to the ceiling, encompassing three floors of mall and a false level above that. Doesn't sound awesome? Imagine that each floor is about two stories tall (except the top floor), the ceiling is an intricate mosaic, and the support pillars are three-story tall statues of Roman goddesses in a classical style. The floors are marble and there is a large fountain in the center. The curved escalators spiral up around a two story tall winged foo-dog.

The whole thing shouted "Temple to The Gods" (if you selectively edit out the storefronts). This was a place adventure could happen. Once I've pulled the pictures from the camera I'll post some links so you can see what I mean. And this was just in the front area of the mall. Later on we passed a different set of fountains and statuary that was just as impressive (if not as large). Sadly, the data stick ran out of space here and I didn't get all the shots I wanted.

Over in the Bellagio, they had seasonal displays, which were running an autumn theme. The effect was like an indoor garden full of over-sized vegetables (actual pumpkins the size of boulders figuring prominently). There was a pair of giant Venus fly traps that were animated to open and close their traps periodically. The effect was like a wizard's garden underground, lit by a sun that was either false or imaged from some other location (it was actually sunset at the time, which emphasized the underground feel, despite being at least two stories above the street level).

Another place that looks good on the outside was the Adventuredome, attached to Circus Circus. During the day it is this immense coppery dome structure, but at night they light it so it looks like red. From the north (from the Top of the World restaurant) it looks like some steampunk structure that has been partially unfolded (again, pictures to follow).

If you want to inspire your players with wondrous locations, Vegas has places that make good models. Check out the architecture wherever you travel for good idea seeds, if not locations you can steal wholesale for use in your games. Imaging large and the players will love you for it and remember your campaigns fondly.

Just, you know, make sure the PCs have things to do in addition to looking around. No one likes listening to a travelogue for 4+ hours.

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