World Building

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World Building

Post by Korto » 2017-12-02 09:42am

I'm working on a new RPG world; I've pulled up an old world map I created years ago, and I'm trying to work out what it would be like--weather conditions, where would people live and what would their culture be like, stuff like that.

I realise I could just state by creator's fiat, but where would be the fun in that? I would pefer to have a definite chain of thinking from first principles up.

Here's the world map
Image

And here's the area of most interest:
Image

And a climate map:
Image

Now, for a sense of scale, that 'inland sea' is approximately 6000km across, and that peninsula a little bit left of centre has an area of around 2000000 km sq, or four times France (or about the size of western continental Europe) from the narrow neck.
The opening that connects the inland sea to the greater ocean is about 300km wide. I remember when I made the map, I was wanting this idea of tides thundering through this small gap in awesome fury. I don't know if I managed it, though. 300km seems a bit wide for "awesome fury".

History
That inland sea, and the mountains that cup it, are an extremely recent feature, geologically speaking. That was once solid (largely flat) land where the sea is (it was mostly desert, then, really), until the Mage Wars, when a mage decided to get his opponent by bringing down a meteorite strike on his position. Fortunately, the mage didn't really understand how much damage such a strike would do...so it didn't. However, it did give birth to a huge inland sea, raise up an immense mountain range, wipe out a few civilisations, and incidentally got that goddamn wizard!.
It is hard to say how long ago this happened, since they started using temporal magics. The war is ancient history, ended quite recently, and hasn't actually finished yet.


My thinking so far:
* There's a shallow warm water current being blown west towards that opening to the inland sea by prevailing tropical winds. The current can't make in in, however, due to the back-pressure from the sea, and it's turned south.
* The wind picks up a lot of moisture from the tropical ocean. That wind is then trapped by the mountain ranges that cup the sea, curls clockwise north while dumping its moisture.
* The water level in the inland sea is actually higher than the main ocean, due to the current trying to get in, and the heavy rainfall. There's a net outflow of water from the sea, leaving it less salty.
* That narrow gap would have very strong tides. Being warm and shallow, there would be heavy coral growth. It would be highly dangerous for shipping.
* There would be an upwelling on the north side of the penisula, caused by prevailing winds north creating a northerly current. There would be good fishing there. The south side, however, has a downwelling, and poor fishing.
* The entire land is very rough and mountainous. There are no large plains, although the southern tropics has flatter land than anywhere else.


There are two civilisations of concern at present. One that lives on the peninsula, and one that lives on the tropical southern coast of the inland sea (basically directly south of the penisula tip). They are both at approximately early 1400's level, and have extensive contact with each other.
* The penisula is very rough and mountainous, temperate, forested, and Western European in feel (because that's what I know and am comfortable with. Leave me alone, Chris). I'm thinking it would have lots of small states, and centralisation would be hard.
* The penisula neck is very fortified, to stop the things (sometimes refugees from the war, sometimes their distant descendants) that randomly try to get in.
* They have excellent-quality timber, and a very skilled shipping industry
* While there are some slaves, they are not economically significant, and there's even some who feel that slavery is wrong and should be ended.

* The south coast has some large, heavily populated, and very rich kingdoms. It's very fertile, they can grow abundant food, they grow sugar cane, and also have very fast-growing (but sappy and bad-quality) pine varieties. I've got a picture a little like southern India / Indonesia for appearance, the women wearing something sari-like, the men in something dhoti-like (most without any chest covering. The wealthy wear vests)
* They're a slave economy, getting their slaves from criminals and debt.
* They're economically very unequal, with great masses of poverty-stricken, and the few extremely rich
* It's a place of political intrigue, and very poisonous courts. The rulers have many children, but when a new ruler takes the throne, he has all his brothers killed to avoid challenges.


Military Technology
* They're around early 1400's tech-wise, although they were more advanced before the war.
* They don't have horses. They became extinct during the war. The only mount they have is the jungle elephant.
* There may be fantastical mounts, but nothing in significant numbers, for whatever reasons (impractical, very rare, whatever).

* Wizards are rare, mistrusted, and unreliable. The more powerful a wizard is, the looser a grip he has on sanity. None the less, they exist.
* Wizard magic works on visualising something, really believing it, and it happens. Kind of like The Secret, but for real. How easy it is to do something therefore depends on how easy it is to believe. It is, for instance, very easy to use magic to have a door be unlocked when you haven't even tried it yet and for all you know, it's unlocked. You just walk up, believe it's unlocked, and turn the handle. It's a lot more difficult to believe you can just walk straight across a chasm to the other side, and taking precautions to avoid falling to your death in case of failure in fact betrays a lack of belief and may guarantee failure. But, as long as you believe, you can theoretically do anything. (Game mechanics - the more game-useful a thing is, the harder the roll is to accomplish it.)
* It's very hard to directly affect another living thing, because you got to counter his own disbelief. For instance, it's very hard to cause someone to implode, because he doesn't believe he's going to implode. It's much easier to magically throw a real rock at him.


That's what I've got so far. I'm looking for ideas, corrections, extrapolations. For instance, if you've got 1400 AD western european tech, but no horses, what differences would there be? Would there be lightly armoured men used in the place of light horse to chase down routing enemy after your main troops have broken them?

I don't know if there would be hurricanes in the inland sea, or a monsoon. Travelling north from the tropics would be fast and easy, the wind would go that way following the coast, so square-riggers, and tropical fruit and vegetables in the peninsula markets. Travelling back would be a pain. with a lot of tacking--the ships would probably be re-rigged to something more tack-friendly but even then whatever they bring back would be something not time sensitive.
I don't know what the peninsula would have that the south wants yet, though.
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Re: World Building

Post by Esquire » 2017-12-02 02:40pm

Strategically, wars take a lot longer to be decisive. Lack of horses for pursuit and logistics roles mean, respectively, that enemy armies can usually regroup if defeated and that supporting large forces in enemy territory is really, really hard - you can't win quickly on the battlefield and you can't win quickly off of it through damaging the enemy supply base. The tooth-to-tail ratio of any successful force is probably very low, with huge numbers of people dedicated to pulling wagons, etc. Raiding tactics are essentially impossible if anybody has realized that signals can move faster than people on foot (heliographs, signal fires, etc.). To win, you have to fight the enemy army in the field, win, and keep doing it, over and over, as your numbers and supplies dwindle and theirs increase.

Tactically, I think pike/halberd/crossbow blocks are probably a thing. Also Roman-style field artillery, way more than it ever was in Medieval Europe. In the ancient world, the kind of light-armored skirmish infantry you're talking about were fairly common (see: peltasts) but this works less well with 1400s-era armor; plate mail is actually fairly light and also extremely difficult to penetrate without a warhammer, halberd, or similar.

Also, given the way magic works, esprit-de-corps is hugely important, even moreso than it is now. If your men believe they're each worth twenty of the enemy, and the enemy's first thought on seeing your banner is 'oh, shit, it's the [Cool Animal] [Unit Designation] of [Place Name], they haven't lost a battle in a century," that's not just propaganda, it's actually true to some degree.
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Re: World Building

Post by MKSheppard » 2017-12-02 09:05pm

How'd you make that map with the autogen climate?
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Re: World Building

Post by Korto » 2017-12-02 10:12pm

That's a program called "Fractal Terrains", by ProFantasy.
It does altitude, climate, rainfall, and temperature. It also does something called "Gaia", which sounds very impresive, so I did it, and I looked at it, and I said "Well, that looks very nice, but what does it mean?", so I looked it up in Help and it told me "This gives no useful data, but we included it because we thought it looked pretty." :roll:

Mine's some years old. It's likely they have a better version out now. Hopefully with a better UI.
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Re: World Building

Post by Crossroads Inc. » 2017-12-03 01:12am

That is some seriously freaking amazing looks stuff!
Don';t suppose it can create and climate model "Discworlds" ?
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Re: World Building

Post by Korto » 2017-12-03 08:54am

My first impulse was to say "No", but then again, it depends.
For a start, my versions a few years old, and I don't know what the latest might have.

Secondly, there's a stack of different map projections (enough to discover that mercator--the default standard for world maps--is really shit. Hammer--what I did the top map in--is far better), and among the projections is a few that put the map as a circle, and you can have a pole in the centre.

While it might not be meant to create a diskworld, I think it might do the job. Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area (no, I'd never heard of it before, either) looks pretty good. It'll distort the lands on the outer reaches of the disk, but as it's a fantasy world, just state it's not distorted. That's how it is.
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Re: World Building

Post by Korto » 2017-12-06 08:42am

Esquire wrote:
2017-12-02 02:40pm
Strategically, wars take a lot longer to be decisive. Lack of horses for pursuit and logistics roles mean, respectively, that enemy armies can usually regroup if defeated and that supporting large forces in enemy territory is really, really hard - you can't win quickly on the battlefield and you can't win quickly off of it through damaging the enemy supply base. The tooth-to-tail ratio of any successful force is probably very low, with huge numbers of people dedicated to pulling wagons, etc. Raiding tactics are essentially impossible if anybody has realized that signals can move faster than people on foot (heliographs, signal fires, etc.). To win, you have to fight the enemy army in the field, win, and keep doing it, over and over, as your numbers and supplies dwindle and theirs increase.
If logistics are a lot more difficult (and I remember reading something once about how horses multiplied foraging ability for armies), then centralisation would be even more difficult than I thought. Maybe very much a kind of "city-state", which is a setup I like for role-playing.


I'm thinking of an idea where travelling outside the "safe lands" might wind you up in different final destination depending upon the route you take to get there. For instance, travelling first 100 miles south and then 50 miles east might wind up with you somewhere completely different than travelling 50 miles east and then 100 miles south. Places where three lefts does not equal one right.
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Re: World Building

Post by Esquire » 2017-12-06 07:13pm

Non-Euclidean cartography would be... actually not that different from historical Medieval-ish maps, which weren't so much maps as lists of places to go in which order to get to your final destination.
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Re: World Building

Post by SpottedKitty » 2017-12-06 09:27pm

Esquire wrote:
2017-12-06 07:13pm
Non-Euclidean cartography would be... actually not that different from historical Medieval-ish maps, which weren't so much maps as lists of places to go in which order to get to your final destination.
Adding to the medieval confusion, there's also Mappa Mundi, which had more a religious purpose than a geographical one.

Non-Euclidean... hmm... how about Christopher Priest's Inverted World, if you really want to mess with the minds of all that world's budding cartographers...? :wtf:

Edit: I just googled that world-maker program. Looks very nice, but also a bit expen$$$ive.
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Re: World Building

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-07 08:12am

Korto wrote:
2017-12-02 09:42am
The opening that connects the inland sea to the greater ocean is about 300km wide. I remember when I made the map, I was wanting this idea of tides thundering through this small gap in awesome fury. I don't know if I managed it, though. 300km seems a bit wide for "awesome fury".
It depends on how much of a funneling effect the surrounding terrain gives you.

Also note that narrower straits between an inland sea and the world ocean are hardly unprecedented- consider the Straits of Gibraltar.
History
That inland sea, and the mountains that cup it, are an extremely recent feature, geologically speaking. That was once solid (largely flat) land where the sea is (it was mostly desert, then, really), until the Mage Wars, when a mage decided to get his opponent by bringing down a meteorite strike on his position. Fortunately, the mage didn't really understand how much damage such a strike would do...so it didn't. However, it did give birth to a huge inland sea, raise up an immense mountain range, wipe out a few civilisations, and incidentally got that goddamn wizard!.
It is hard to say how long ago this happened, since they started using temporal magics. The war is ancient history, ended quite recently, and hasn't actually finished yet.
Just to be clear, the inland sea in question is round, yes?

Also, if normal physics are in effect wherever not explicitly overridden by magic, a huge artificial sea excavated via impact crater in the middle of a desert will tend to boil off and turn into a huge salt flat over time. Though much depends on the extent of its contact with the world ocean; compare and contrast to the geologic history of the Mediterranean.
* The south coast has some large, heavily populated, and very rich kingdoms. It's very fertile, they can grow abundant food, they grow sugar cane, and also have very fast-growing (but sappy and bad-quality) pine varieties. I've got a picture a little like southern India / Indonesia for appearance, the women wearing something sari-like, the men in something dhoti-like (most without any chest covering. The wealthy wear vests)
* They're a slave economy, getting their slaves from criminals and debt.
* They're economically very unequal, with great masses of poverty-stricken, and the few extremely rich
* It's a place of political intrigue, and very poisonous courts. The rulers have many children, but when a new ruler takes the throne, he has all his brothers killed to avoid challenges.
This has potential, but beware falling into Orientalist exoticism. You're incorporating a LOT of "generic Oriental mishmash" features.
* Wizard magic works on visualising something, really believing it, and it happens. Kind of like The Secret, but for real. How easy it is to do something therefore depends on how easy it is to believe. It is, for instance, very easy to use magic to have a door be unlocked when you haven't even tried it yet and for all you know, it's unlocked. You just walk up, believe it's unlocked, and turn the handle. It's a lot more difficult to believe you can just walk straight across a chasm to the other side, and taking precautions to avoid falling to your death in case of failure in fact betrays a lack of belief and may guarantee failure. But, as long as you believe, you can theoretically do anything. (Game mechanics - the more game-useful a thing is, the harder the roll is to accomplish it.)
I dunno, the ability to pass through all doors because you can willpower yourself into believing they're unlocked sounds pretty useful to me.
* It's very hard to directly affect another living thing, because you got to counter his own disbelief. For instance, it's very hard to cause someone to implode, because he doesn't believe he's going to implode. It's much easier to magically throw a real rock at him.
Observation: a key part of military discipline

Have you ever read The March North by Graydon Saunders? I'm starting to imagine it as the logical endpoint of where war in this setting might end up.
That's what I've got so far. I'm looking for ideas, corrections, extrapolations. For instance, if you've got 1400 AD western european tech, but no horses, what differences would there be? Would there be lightly armoured men used in the place of light horse to chase down routing enemy after your main troops have broken them?
There were in real life. The trick is, they wouldn't be very good at it. Because ultimately, a man running for his life who's willing to throw away any cumbersome bits of armor or kit can generally outrun a man merely running because it's his job to catch a man running for his life.
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Re: World Building

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-07 02:55pm

Korto wrote:
2017-12-03 08:54am
My first impulse was to say "No", but then again, it depends.
For a start, my versions a few years old, and I don't know what the latest might have.

Secondly, there's a stack of different map projections (enough to discover that mercator--the default standard for world maps--is really shit. Hammer--what I did the top map in--is far better), and among the projections is a few that put the map as a circle, and you can have a pole in the centre.

While it might not be meant to create a diskworld, I think it might do the job. Lambert Azimuthal Equal Area (no, I'd never heard of it before, either) looks pretty good. It'll distort the lands on the outer reaches of the disk, but as it's a fantasy world, just state it's not distorted. That's how it is.
The problem is, there's more to a discworld than the map projection. The climate dynamics on a flat world are very, very different, and a lot depends on how much random magic you inject to artificially replicate features of a roundworld.
Korto wrote:
2017-12-06 08:42am
I'm thinking of an idea where travelling outside the "safe lands" might wind you up in different final destination depending upon the route you take to get there. For instance, travelling first 100 miles south and then 50 miles east might wind up with you somewhere completely different than travelling 50 miles east and then 100 miles south. Places where three lefts does not equal one right.
The big problem here is that non-Euclidean cartography in macro is merely weird, but in micro it creates bigger problems.

If 100 miles then 50 miles doesn't put you in the same place as 50 miles then 100 miles, that's merely annoying. If stepping two feet to the left and one foot forward doesn't put you in the same place as stepping one foot forward and two feet to the left, a lot of basic, routine human activities stop working sensibly. Our sense of prioprioception is off, and so on. And on the still smaller scale level, how do atoms work? How do wheels work? How does any physical object behave if space exhibits curvature noticeable on a human scale?

If the answer is "magic," well, you have to ask how that magic came to be and what act of will brought it into being, given how your setting works.
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Re: World Building

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-12-07 05:33pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2017-12-07 02:55pm
Korto wrote:
2017-12-06 08:42am
I'm thinking of an idea where travelling outside the "safe lands" might wind you up in different final destination depending upon the route you take to get there. For instance, travelling first 100 miles south and then 50 miles east might wind up with you somewhere completely different than travelling 50 miles east and then 100 miles south. Places where three lefts does not equal one right.
The big problem here is that non-Euclidean cartography in macro is merely weird, but in micro it creates bigger problems.

If 100 miles then 50 miles doesn't put you in the same place as 50 miles then 100 miles, that's merely annoying. If stepping two feet to the left and one foot forward doesn't put you in the same place as stepping one foot forward and two feet to the left, a lot of basic, routine human activities stop working sensibly. Our sense of prioprioception is off, and so on. And on the still smaller scale level, how do atoms work? How do wheels work? How does any physical object behave if space exhibits curvature noticeable on a human scale?

If the answer is "magic," well, you have to ask how that magic came to be and what act of will brought it into being, given how your setting works.
Speculatively:

Perhaps each town had at least one magic practitioner, who was able to stabilize the local geography to some degree and prevent any magical anti-Euclidean damage.

Alternatively, non-Euclidean territories tend to be localized to boundary areas due to the effects of protective magics around nation-states. To make it a little less weird, perhaps the effects can be mapped to some degree, rather than being completely random. Say you know you want to get from Village A to City B, you pay a local guide who basically spends his free time walking through these areas and counting his steps... so you go to this rock formation, walk two miles that way, then three and a half the other way, if you see the poison bog on your right you're almost there, etc...
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Re: World Building

Post by Khaat » 2017-12-07 05:58pm

"But this was a dead end a minute ago"
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Re: World Building

Post by Formless » 2017-12-07 06:01pm

...you guys do know the definition of non-Euclidean geometry, right? Its nothing as exotic as you are making it out to be. It just means that you are doing geometry that doesn't conform to the assumptions of Euclid-- like that parallel lines never meet. And on a sphere like the Earth, parallel lines do meet. So real geography should always be non-Euclidean, and that is why there are so many competing projections around for flat maps. Unless you have the dedication to make a proper globe, no map actually has correct geometry because they are Euclidean. Which can make world building based on auto-generated maps surprisingly confusing, in my experience.
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Re: World Building

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-12-07 06:21pm

Khaat wrote:
2017-12-07 05:58pm
"But this was a dead end a minute ago"
"No, that's the dead end behind you!"
"It keeps changing. What a horrible place this is! It's not fair!"
"No, it's not fair. But that's only half of it!"
This could be useful for a GM in a tabletop game, honestly, and a way to keep simply going from A to B interesting. Particularly if you throw in interesting magically mutated obstacles and hazards. It's certainly better than just 'okay, guys, roll and if you hit over a 15 you got to the town you were walking to without any problems'.
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Re: World Building

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-07 09:33pm

Yes, though I'd say the risks of mutants and monstrosities are a better idea than having the geography be blatantly hostile. At least most of the time. The trick is, gamers will tend to instinctively view the terrain as "neutral;" if it hampers them more often than it helps them or hampers their enemies, they'll feel like they're being picked on. And they'll notice terrain hampering them more than they'll notice it hampering their enemies...

Though, again, I'm reminded of The March North by Graydon Saunders.
Formless wrote:
2017-12-07 06:01pm
...you guys do know the definition of non-Euclidean geometry, right? Its nothing as exotic as you are making it out to be. It just means that you are doing geometry that doesn't conform to the assumptions of Euclid-- like that parallel lines never meet. And on a sphere like the Earth, parallel lines do meet. So real geography should always be non-Euclidean, and that is why there are so many competing projections around for flat maps. Unless you have the dedication to make a proper globe, no map actually has correct geometry because they are Euclidean. Which can make world building based on auto-generated maps surprisingly confusing, in my experience.
The thing is, the Earth is Euclidean in three dimensions, so physics doesn't warp, and three ninety-degree turns to the left will equal one ninety-degree turn to the right. Cartography mapped onto the 2D surface of the Earth is, yes, subtly non-Euclidean on the scales that matter to medievals, but not very. Fifty miles north and 100 miles east won't QUITE put you in the same spot as going 100 miles east and fifty miles north, but the difference is much smaller than the differences caused by random navigational errors.

Korto is talking about making the warping much more pronounced, so that travelers on the Earth's surface end up off course as if the Earth had a radius of curvature of only a few hundred miles... despite the Earth actually having a surface that appears normal when viewed from a great distance, apparently.
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Re: World Building

Post by Korto » 2017-12-08 08:58am

Simon_Jester wrote:
2017-12-07 08:12am
Korto wrote:
2017-12-02 09:42am
The opening that connects the inland sea to the greater ocean is about 300km wide. I remember when I made the map, I was wanting this idea of tides thundering through this small gap in awesome fury. I don't know if I managed it, though. 300km seems a bit wide for "awesome fury".
It depends on how much of a funneling effect the surrounding terrain gives you.

Also note that narrower straits between an inland sea and the world ocean are hardly unprecedented- consider the Straits of Gibraltar.
You suggesting I could make it a lot narrower? I got to admit, when I first made the map, a few years ago, I was envisioning that someone could stand of one side of the gap, and actually see the cliff of the other side. I wonder why I didn't do that?
Just to be clear, the inland sea in question is round, yes?

Also, if normal physics are in effect wherever not explicitly overridden by magic, a huge artificial sea excavated via impact crater in the middle of a desert will tend to boil off and turn into a huge salt flat over time.
Well, round except for that peninsula. Exactly how the peninsula got formed, I'm not sure, but there was a lot of magic being thrown around so if it couldn't have been by the meteor, it was by something else subsequent.
Anyway, at the moment the sea is connected to the ocean, and it gets a lot of rainfall (I suspect it has a net outflow into the ocean). Even if it was to dry out, the water volume is huge--it hasn't had anywhere near enough time yet.
* The south coast has some large, heavily populated, and very rich kingdoms. It's very fertile, they can grow abundant food, they grow sugar cane, and also have very fast-growing (but sappy and bad-quality) pine varieties. I've got a picture a little like southern India / Indonesia for appearance, the women wearing something sari-like, the men in something dhoti-like (most without any chest covering. The wealthy wear vests)
* They're a slave economy, getting their slaves from criminals and debt.
* They're economically very unequal, with great masses of poverty-stricken, and the few extremely rich
* It's a place of political intrigue, and very poisonous courts. The rulers have many children, but when a new ruler takes the throne, he has all his brothers killed to avoid challenges.
This has potential, but beware falling into Orientalist exoticism. You're incorporating a LOT of "generic Oriental mishmash" features.
Yeah? Not deliberate. I haven't even looked at Oriental Asia, just at South India and Indonesia, and that was mainly for suitable clothing.
I'd decided initially I wanted a slave economy. So what were the slaves for, that they were economical? OK, they're tropical, so sugar cane. Where did the slaves come from? I didn't want them bringing them in from elsewhere, as that would suggest an 'elsewhere' where they could be safely obtained in big numbers, which didn't fit my idea of the world, so they were home-grown. So why were they slaves? Criminals and debtors, but to have that kind of numbers of crimonals and debtors suggested a lot of poverty.
And the last bit with the murderous royal courts was actually inspired by a trilogy I read recently. The story wasn't very good, but the court of one of the kingdoms stuck in my mind.

Have you ever read The March North by Graydon Saunders? I'm starting to imagine it as the logical endpoint of where war in this setting might end up.
No, but I'll check the library for it.

That's what I've got so far. I'm looking for ideas, corrections, extrapolations. For instance, if you've got 1400 AD western european tech, but no horses, what differences would there be? Would there be lightly armoured men used in the place of light horse to chase down routing enemy after your main troops have broken them?
There were in real life. The trick is, they wouldn't be very good at it. Because ultimately, a man running for his life who's willing to throw away any cumbersome bits of armor or kit can generally outrun a man merely running because it's his job to catch a man running for his life.
Yeah, the idea hasn't been well-received, although there is talk of war-goats pulling chariots in the thread I started in the History section.
The problem is, there's more to a discworld than the map projection. The climate dynamics on a flat world are very, very different, and a lot depends on how much random magic you inject to artificially replicate features of a roundworld.
It was the best answer I could give.
If 100 miles then 50 miles doesn't put you in the same place as 50 miles then 100 miles, that's merely annoying. If stepping two feet to the left and one foot forward doesn't put you in the same place as stepping one foot forward and two feet to the left, a lot of basic, routine human activities stop working sensibly. Our sense of prioprioception is off, and so on. And on the still smaller scale level, how do atoms work? How do wheels work? How does any physical object behave if space exhibits curvature noticeable on a human scale?
The peninsula and inhabited area of the southern tropics are inhabited and civilised because they're stable and work properly. Outside those areas, well, there be dragons.
The sea between the peninsula and south must also logically be safe, since there's a lot of trade, but that still leaves a lot of other territory. Although since this is for gaming, I'm looking mainly at macro effects, measured in miles; not micro effects. Without ruling out the idea there may be areas so twisted that there are micro effects.

And the origin is explained as a world-wide war by a lot of insane wizards. There's even game mechanics for how magic drives you insane (and simultaneously, more powerful. Because insanity is always at its best when linked to immense power).
Korto is talking about making the warping much more pronounced, so that travelers on the Earth's surface end up off course as if the Earth had a radius of curvature of only a few hundred miles... despite the Earth actually having a surface that appears normal when viewed from a great distance, apparently.
Or worse. Imagine you take a shortcut--go southwest when everyone goes south, and then west, becuase those who go southwest have been observed to never return--and you end up not only in a completely different place (and/or time), but merely retracing your steps is NOT the way back, because that way doesn't go there.
Safe paths to far places would be treasures in themselves.


Although there's plenty of adventuring oportunity where the landscape behaves itself. As I said at the start, that peninsula is about the size of western europe. At 1400's tech, that's world enough to keep a group occupied. If I was to try and do that amount of area proper justice, it's a lot more meat than I can bite and chew.
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Re: World Building

Post by InsaneTD » 2017-12-08 09:07am

Magic carts replace the extinct horse maybe? A wizard needs to travel from his tower out in the wilds to the city. He's lazy so normally he'd ride his horse, but it got killed.

He goes to his stable and finds the cart he had for bigger shopping trips. Thinks to himself, that will get me to town manages to belief it so.

Other options, the horse was just one beast of burden in Europe. There is also cattle/oxen, and I believe a couple types of mule/donkey. While not as good for the tactical aspect of war, they would be heavily used strategically and economically for movement of supplies and people.

Depending on how much survived the destruction, you could even have camels from the desert.

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Re: World Building

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-08 09:54am

Korto wrote:
2017-12-08 08:58am
Simon_Jester wrote:
2017-12-07 08:12am
Korto wrote:
2017-12-02 09:42am
The opening that connects the inland sea to the greater ocean is about 300km wide. I remember when I made the map, I was wanting this idea of tides thundering through this small gap in awesome fury. I don't know if I managed it, though. 300km seems a bit wide for "awesome fury".
It depends on how much of a funneling effect the surrounding terrain gives you.

Also note that narrower straits between an inland sea and the world ocean are hardly unprecedented- consider the Straits of Gibraltar.
You suggesting I could make it a lot narrower? I got to admit, when I first made the map, a few years ago, I was envisioning that someone could stand of one side of the gap, and actually see the cliff of the other side. I wonder why I didn't do that?
I don't know, I'm not stopping you. ;)

If you want realism, it depends on how the strait came to be in the first place.

I will note that extremely strong currents and tides are not necessarily a good environment for coral. I don't remember how that aspect of marine biology works out, though. Maybe some do and some don't?
Just to be clear, the inland sea in question is round, yes?

Also, if normal physics are in effect wherever not explicitly overridden by magic, a huge artificial sea excavated via impact crater in the middle of a desert will tend to boil off and turn into a huge salt flat over time.
Well, round except for that peninsula. Exactly how the peninsula got formed, I'm not sure, but there was a lot of magic being thrown around so if it couldn't have been by the meteor, it was by something else subsequent.
Maybe there was a location sufficiently shielded that it withstood the meteor impact, though enough of the surrounding landmass eroded/crumbled that the resulting peninsula looked vaguely natural-ish-ish?
* The south coast has some large, heavily populated, and very rich kingdoms. It's very fertile, they can grow abundant food, they grow sugar cane, and also have very fast-growing (but sappy and bad-quality) pine varieties. I've got a picture a little like southern India / Indonesia for appearance, the women wearing something sari-like, the men in something dhoti-like (most without any chest covering. The wealthy wear vests)
* They're a slave economy, getting their slaves from criminals and debt.
* They're economically very unequal, with great masses of poverty-stricken, and the few extremely rich
* It's a place of political intrigue, and very poisonous courts. The rulers have many children, but when a new ruler takes the throne, he has all his brothers killed to avoid challenges.
This has potential, but beware falling into Orientalist exoticism. You're incorporating a LOT of "generic Oriental mishmash" features.
Yeah? Not deliberate. I haven't even looked at Oriental Asia, just at South India and Indonesia, and that was mainly for suitable clothing.
I'd decided initially I wanted a slave economy. So what were the slaves for, that they were economical? OK, they're tropical, so sugar cane. Where did the slaves come from? I didn't want them bringing them in from elsewhere, as that would suggest an 'elsewhere' where they could be safely obtained in big numbers, which didn't fit my idea of the world, so they were home-grown. So why were they slaves? Criminals and debtors, but to have that kind of numbers of crimonals and debtors suggested a lot of poverty.
And the last bit with the murderous royal courts was actually inspired by a trilogy I read recently. The story wasn't very good, but the court of one of the kingdoms stuck in my mind.
Well, the murderous intrigue court has the same characteristic feature as the Ottoman Empire (every sultan had his brothers put to death, pretty much).

It's not that you're going "Orientalist" as your origin, it's that it's easy to fall into the trap when you have exotic warm climates and lightly dressed natives and deadly decadent courts where absolute tyrants rule in barbaric splendor and teeming masses of toiling slaves and beggars.

It wouldn't take much to portray this society as, say, one of the exotic decadent 'over-civilized' Eastern kingdoms of the Conan the Barbarian novels. So just- might want to keep your eyes out.
Have you ever read The March North by Graydon Saunders? I'm starting to imagine it as the logical endpoint of where war in this setting might end up.
No, but I'll check the library for it.
It's an e-book. In my opinion it's worth it. DAMN interesting worldbuilding, even if the writing isn't quiiite A-grade.
Yeah, the idea hasn't been well-received, although there is talk of war-goats pulling chariots in the thread I started in the History section.
Well, with all that magic, giant mutant goats are a possibility. Giant mutant dogs are one I've seen suggested, though in that case you need some kind of vegetable-based crop that can feed the dogs, who have high protein requirements. Something like soybeans, maybe.
The problem is, there's more to a discworld than the map projection. The climate dynamics on a flat world are very, very different, and a lot depends on how much random magic you inject to artificially replicate features of a roundworld.
It was the best answer I could give.
The sea between the peninsula and south must also logically be safe, since there's a lot of trade, but that still leaves a lot of other territory. Although since this is for gaming, I'm looking mainly at macro effects, measured in miles; not micro effects. Without ruling out the idea there may be areas so twisted that there are micro effects.
The thing is, significant macro effects (i.e. the results are more serious than "oops, we showed up a mile north of where we thought we would on a long journey, time to do a little more walking") will come with enough corresponding micro effects to be a problem for health and welfare.
Korto is talking about making the warping much more pronounced, so that travelers on the Earth's surface end up off course as if the Earth had a radius of curvature of only a few hundred miles... despite the Earth actually having a surface that appears normal when viewed from a great distance, apparently.
Or worse. Imagine you take a shortcut--go southwest when everyone goes south, and then west, becuase those who go southwest have been observed to never return--and you end up not only in a completely different place (and/or time), but merely retracing your steps is NOT the way back, because that way doesn't go there.
Safe paths to far places would be treasures in themselves.
Huh. Escher geometry.

Well, again, if physics is consistent and space is that warped, nothing much could function there, including inorganic chemistry. If physics is not consistent, fine. On the other hand, note that in this case, reclamation is likely to be a thing: you could, with patient application of the right means, gradually straighten things out.
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Re: World Building

Post by Khaat » 2017-12-08 04:46pm

Or it could be as simple as "no one has ever gone there" being a low-magic effect that keeps the less-motivated away. They lose the track/bearing, they take the wrong fork, they used a fake map, the map-maker obfuscated the true route. Getting there becomes not only a factor of "50 miles east, 20 miles south", but also "expect to see the sunken city when you come over the last of the hills" (because otherwise, it's concealed by the jungle that extends from here to the ocean).

That meteorite could have thrown out some interesting magnetic artifacts that confound compasses nearby. "Don't trust your compass, follow the stars."
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Re: World Building

Post by Korto » 2017-12-09 08:59am

Escher geometry. I like that description.

I'm not going to get too hung up on what ill effects it could have biologically, unless it's useful to me. These game worlds commonly have lizards the size of small hills flying and breathing fire, with no explanation of where all the food to support that comes from, or who cleans up the shit (imagine the size of the dung-beetles! :shock: ). A little bit of hand-waving is expected.
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Re: World Building

Post by Bedlam » 2017-12-09 10:45am

Korto wrote:
2017-12-09 08:59am
or who cleans up the shit (imagine the size of the dung-beetles! :shock: ).
I imagine a larger number of normal sized dung beatles would do it, beatles in Elephant dung arn't bigger than those for zebra dung. Although it would explain the existance of giant beatles in the Monster Manual.

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Re: World Building

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-12-10 09:42am

I like the idea that in a world where magic runs on expectations, places people don't go very often are harder to find because no one consciously expects them to be there. Or because the inhabitants don't expect to be found...
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Re: World Building

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-12-10 04:30pm

Hey. I wonder if giant beetles could work as mounts for some of your more exotic societies? Granted in the real world it doesn't work because there's no way insect anatomy can do well scaled up, but if straight-up magic is involved...
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Re: World Building

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-12-11 05:11pm

Korto wrote:
2017-12-02 09:42am
I'm working on a new RPG world; I've pulled up an old world map I created years ago, and I'm trying to work out what it would be like--weather conditions, where would people live and what would their culture be like, stuff like that.

I realise I could just state by creator's fiat, but where would be the fun in that? I would pefer to have a definite chain of thinking from first principles up.
But what about the fine tradition of SF authors lazily pulling things out of their arse? :)
Here's the world map
Image

And here's the area of most interest:
Image

And a climate map:
Image

Now, for a sense of scale, that 'inland sea' is approximately 6000km across, and that peninsula a little bit left of centre has an area of around 2000000 km sq, or four times France (or about the size of western continental Europe) from the narrow neck.
The opening that connects the inland sea to the greater ocean is about 300km wide. I remember when I made the map, I was wanting this idea of tides thundering through this small gap in awesome fury. I don't know if I managed it, though. 300km seems a bit wide for "awesome fury".
I'm not sure either, but I like the overall appearance of the setting.
History
That inland sea, and the mountains that cup it, are an extremely recent feature, geologically speaking. That was once solid (largely flat) land where the sea is (it was mostly desert, then, really), until the Mage Wars, when a mage decided to get his opponent by bringing down a meteorite strike on his position. Fortunately, the mage didn't really understand how much damage such a strike would do...so it didn't. However, it did give birth to a huge inland sea, raise up an immense mountain range, wipe out a few civilisations, and incidentally got that goddamn wizard!.
It is hard to say how long ago this happened, since they started using temporal magics. The war is ancient history, ended quite recently, and hasn't actually finished yet.
So your world was basically Pangea until some psychotic mage did a number on it? Interesting. I've had similar thoughts regarding the design of a fantasy world.

Have you done some research into climate and life forms of Permian/Triassic-era Earth? It might prove useful.

I do wonder how your setting has survived at all, though, if both timeline-alteration and extinction-level bombardment are commonly within the means of mages. An asteroid impact on that scale would have effects that would put a full-scale nuclear exchange to shame. In fact, I'd hazard a guess that an impact sizeable enough to create a 6,000 kilometer crater would utterly exterminate all life on Earth (or anything above single cells, anyway). By comparison, the K/T impact which wiped out the last of the (non-avian) Dinosauria left a 200 kilometer (or was it 200 miles?) crater, and apparently offed about 65% of all species (although their is some evidence that biodiversity was already declining for other reasons before the final blow*).

It might be good to set some pretty hard limits on how common this sort of magic is, and consider specifying magical countermeasures that would limit the damage. Or have the impact simply shatter a small land-bridge and create a channel to the oceans (flooding the interior of the continent) rather than having it actually make a 6,000 km. crater.
My thinking so far:
* There's a shallow warm water current being blown west towards that opening to the inland sea by prevailing tropical winds. The current can't make in in, however, due to the back-pressure from the sea, and it's turned south.
* The wind picks up a lot of moisture from the tropical ocean. That wind is then trapped by the mountain ranges that cup the sea, curls clockwise north while dumping its moisture.
* The water level in the inland sea is actually higher than the main ocean, due to the current trying to get in, and the heavy rainfall. There's a net outflow of water from the sea, leaving it less salty.
* That narrow gap would have very strong tides. Being warm and shallow, there would be heavy coral growth. It would be highly dangerous for shipping.
* There would be an upwelling on the north side of the penisula, caused by prevailing winds north creating a northerly current. There would be good fishing there. The south side, however, has a downwelling, and poor fishing.
* The entire land is very rough and mountainous. There are no large plains, although the southern tropics has flatter land than anywhere else.
If your goal is to create dramatic genographical set-pieces for your story, it certainly sounds as though you've succeeded. :D

I can't offer much insight on the scientific plausibility of such geography, certainly not compared to some of our other board members, but I expect that the effects the terrain will have on the ease of troop movements in warfare will be quite severe, especially if the seas are highly stormy and the channel between the ocean and the inland sea is all but impassable. This will be compounded by the logistical issues caused by lack of horses that Esquire for one mentioned.

Of course, certain types of magic could bypass such restrictions.
There are two civilisations of concern at present. One that lives on the peninsula, and one that lives on the tropical southern coast of the inland sea (basically directly south of the penisula tip). They are both at approximately early 1400's level, and have extensive contact with each other.
* The penisula is very rough and mountainous, temperate, forested, and Western European in feel (because that's what I know and am comfortable with. Leave me alone, Chris). I'm thinking it would have lots of small states, and centralisation would be hard.
* The penisula neck is very fortified, to stop the things (sometimes refugees from the war, sometimes their distant descendants) that randomly try to get in.
* They have excellent-quality timber, and a very skilled shipping industry
* While there are some slaves, they are not economically significant, and there's even some who feel that slavery is wrong and should be ended.

* The south coast has some large, heavily populated, and very rich kingdoms. It's very fertile, they can grow abundant food, they grow sugar cane, and also have very fast-growing (but sappy and bad-quality) pine varieties. I've got a picture a little like southern India / Indonesia for appearance, the women wearing something sari-like, the men in something dhoti-like (most without any chest covering. The wealthy wear vests)
* They're a slave economy, getting their slaves from criminals and debt.
* They're economically very unequal, with great masses of poverty-stricken, and the few extremely rich
* It's a place of political intrigue, and very poisonous courts. The rulers have many children, but when a new ruler takes the throne, he has all his brothers killed to avoid challenges.
I feel like you might be falling into a bit of a cliché here by making the Western-based society more socially progressive and less authoritarian(?), although its not terribly overt.

It makes sense to me that the two main civilizations/cultures would grow up around the central sea (which would presumably have a milder climate and facilitate trade), much as we saw a flourishing of civilizations around the Mediterranean sea in the real world.
Military Technology
* They're around early 1400's tech-wise, although they were more advanced before the war.
* They don't have horses. They became extinct during the war. The only mount they have is the jungle elephant.
* There may be fantastical mounts, but nothing in significant numbers, for whatever reasons (impractical, very rare, whatever).

* Wizards are rare, mistrusted, and unreliable. The more powerful a wizard is, the looser a grip he has on sanity. None the less, they exist.
* Wizard magic works on visualising something, really believing it, and it happens. Kind of like The Secret, but for real. How easy it is to do something therefore depends on how easy it is to believe. It is, for instance, very easy to use magic to have a door be unlocked when you haven't even tried it yet and for all you know, it's unlocked. You just walk up, believe it's unlocked, and turn the handle. It's a lot more difficult to believe you can just walk straight across a chasm to the other side, and taking precautions to avoid falling to your death in case of failure in fact betrays a lack of belief and may guarantee failure. But, as long as you believe, you can theoretically do anything. (Game mechanics - the more game-useful a thing is, the harder the roll is to accomplish it.)
* It's very hard to directly affect another living thing, because you got to counter his own disbelief. For instance, it's very hard to cause someone to implode, because he doesn't believe he's going to implode. It's much easier to magically throw a real rock at him.
Okay, that's a decent magic system, with some useful limits. Would that also severely restrict mind-control magic, then? I'd guess so.

And I guess that could explain my other big question- if magic literally runs off the wizard's capacity for self-delusion, it would explain why with great power comes great instability. :wink:

This sounds a bit like Dresden Files magic, although that system is more complex and at times contradictory. In that setting, mortal magic is connected to the will of the caster, and you can't do something with magic unless you believe that it is right to do it. This is part of why the use of Black Magic tends to involve the caster going rapidly insane.
That's what I've got so far. I'm looking for ideas, corrections, extrapolations. For instance, if you've got 1400 AD western european tech, but no horses, what differences would there be? Would there be lightly armoured men used in the place of light horse to chase down routing enemy after your main troops have broken them?
Yes, I expect that there'd be heavy use of light infantry/skirmishers in place of cavalry for harassing/scouting/raiding (the roles usually assigned to light cavalry in pre-modern armies, in other words).

You might want to look at some of the more infantry-based forces of the pre-industrial world, though I can't think of any real-world force that was that infantry-reliant at that tech. level.
I don't know if there would be hurricanes in the inland sea, or a monsoon. Travelling north from the tropics would be fast and easy, the wind would go that way following the coast, so square-riggers, and tropical fruit and vegetables in the peninsula markets. Travelling back would be a pain. with a lot of tacking--the ships would probably be re-rigged to something more tack-friendly but even then whatever they bring back would be something not time sensitive.
I don't know what the peninsula would have that the south wants yet, though.
Timber, since you specified that as a resource of theirs'? Furs (different wildlife)? Fish, since the people their seem to have a tradition of shipbuilding/seafaring? Its mountainous, so maybe rare precious metals/minerals?

*I was recently rereading The Dinosaur Heresies by Robert Bakker (a somewhat outdated but still very interesting work) and encountered a theory that the dinosaur extinction was at least partly caused by ecological disruption due to falling sea levels, and the subsequent interaction of species via land bridges that would not normally interact.

I wonder what the effects would be of the reverse- an unexpected new sea cutting off regions that were previously connected by land?

Some research into biology/paleontology, and mass extinctions in particular, might be very useful for your setting.
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