View Full Version : WIP - The Floating World

01-23-2014, 03:51 PM
Hi All,

I have been working on my first map and would be grateful for some feedback. It is for a high fantasy world - a floating continent about the size of Europe surrounded by empty void, with the sun rising through the middle of the world and magically replenished oceans cascading off the edge. Various historical empires have been magically imported to this world alongside the usual elves, dwarves and orcs, with the Romans the dominant force (explaining the cod latin names). So far I've been testing various techniques with GIMP and have produced a sample for a small corner of the world:


The idea is to do the entire map to this sort of level of detail. It is meant to be a big (poster sized) map cluttered with lots of details in the style of medieval maps, although I can see I'll need to make the text a lot bigger for continents and oceans to make them stand out. I'd be grateful of any comments, suggestions and advice before I start work on the rest of the map.



01-23-2014, 04:17 PM
This... is an amazing idea. At that scale and with those images, you're on a roll.
I have a few questions/suggestions.

Where on the continent does the sun rise through the middle of the world? I don't see anywhere that seems to look like that. For that matter, where does it set?
How do seasons work? Why is that little bit up top white? This isn't a spherical world, so it has no axis to make seasons...is there a canonical explanation for this?
Lastly, how did you do the coastlines? Just wondering.


01-24-2014, 12:14 AM
Indeed, a very cool idea. In addition to Zach's questions, I have one of my own: what other real-world cultures are you going to import? It'd be kind of cool to see Japanese shogunates alongside Roman city-states...

01-24-2014, 05:20 AM
I like the idea and the map looks promising (though I'm not fan of the cloth texture you used). The shape of the continent is quite good!

01-24-2014, 05:52 AM
Great, no... Amazing idea, Sinan! I'm seriously looking forward to the continuation of this project.

One remark though: those waterfalls seem pretty massive. In a world that answers to at least a few laws of nature, you'll have to make up an explanation for the replenishment of all that water (influx must equal efflux, if not you'd be faced with dropping/rising water levels, and you don't want that, do you).

As a matter of fact, the width of the waterfalls kinda defines the amount of magic you'll need to explain this away. I can imagine that for a relatively small amount of overflow, the replenishment could be done in the pleasantly unnoticable form of rain and river outflux (the rivers being fed by both rain and magical springs, for example). Massive amounts of water cascading off your floating world would mean a massive influx of water as well, and this would be pretty hard to explain with "normal" phenomena. You'd need huge rainstorms (somewhere on the ocean, preferably), huge upwellings of water in the ocean (resulting in massive maelstroms), etc etc etc.

Another remark about the sun + snow mystery. Like Zach, I too wonder where the sun sets (it rises in the center of the world, you say, but where exactly?). You could use this to create colder regions as well. Say the sun rises and sets at the same central (as yet unknown) location. Places closer to this location would be hotter, places closer to the edge would be colder. Extremities like this northern spike (if North is actually something that has any meaning in a non-rotating world) would indeed be colder in that case.

All in all, a lot of explaining for you to do... But that's the fun part, isn't it? ;)

01-24-2014, 06:48 AM
I agree. This idea is brilliant !

I think the empty void is not "scary" enough in this kaki colour with its texture.
But I'm looking forward to see the whole world/continent/floating land ! :)

01-24-2014, 08:11 AM
Wow, this deserves some rep! Excellent first post
and, as others are saying, a wonderful idea. I wish
I had thought of that (then again, I don't have the
skill to accomplish it).

Slightly confused about where there's to be water and
not. The places where the ocean cascades off the edge,
would these be places where a Roman could go too?
(That's another good map idea).

Simply put, this is the most creative map I have seen
in a long - no, actually, it's the most creative ever.

01-24-2014, 10:37 AM
Excellent work for 1st map or 100th map! I like the cloth texture. Looking forward to seeing more.

01-24-2014, 02:25 PM
Thanks for all the comments. I'm glad you like it and I'll keep working on it.

The idea with the climate is that the sun (which is relatively tiny) rises in the gap in the east, climbs over the equator and sets in the gap in the west. The sun rises higher in the summer with longer days, and is lower with shorter days in the winter, giving the world recognisable seasons (and allowing crops to grow normally). The part of the world along the equator is hotter, and I think the climate here should be more even throughout the year - the sun rises higher above the equator during the summer so is a bit less intense, but the days are longer. The land furthest from the equator is coldest, and has more extreme seasons. Most of the civilizations (including the Romans) will be in the northern half of the world, with the equatorial desert creating a barrier that makes the smaller southern regions more mysterious. I'll need to make this a lot clearer on the main map, although I'm not quite sure how to represent this yet.

I'm not quite sure how the weather would work in this setup. I presume the "sun" will heat the surrounding atmosphere and create an updraft which will draw in air from across the world, so the winds will be blowing towards the sun during the day, picking up water as it flows over the ocean and dumping it on the land.

The water is magically generated in a maelstrom in the very centre of the world and then flows out from there to fill the oceans. There must be some very strong currents through the straits leading to the seas and eventually over the waterfalls, and I might add in some extra sources of water - I like the idea of a few magic springs on land somewhere as well. I'm not sure if the seas are salt or fresh water - if they are salt water the salts must be generated along with the water, but that's a minor details.

As well as the Romans, most of the cultures are going to be from Europe and the Near East - Persians, Greeks, Arabs, with the most advanced states from the crusader kingdoms. I think gunpowder will have been introduced, but only on a very limited scale. There will be more outlying civilizations from more distant times and places in more remote spots so they can retain their unique culture while still having some contact with the other civilizations. I was thinking of putting a Japanese shogunate on one of the far eastern islands (a land of the rising sun)


01-24-2014, 03:48 PM
Ah, I see. That makes a lot more sense now. Except it also raises some more solar questions.
If the sun is lower in the winter, wouldn't it also be closer to the land, giving it more light and radiant heat, making winter actually hotter than summer?
What mechanism makes the sun go higher/lower in accordance with the seasons? ("Magic" is acceptable, I guess.)
What happens to the sun at night? So if I were standing on the eastern edge of that little gray island in the far West, and the sun sank below the level of the land, what do I see? Is it still bright for most of the night because the sun circles back around under the continent where I can see it? Or does it abruptly go out and utterly vanish until the dawn?
Lastly, most of the land is within a few miles of an ongoing nuclear fusion reaction, so are there any problems with radiation?

01-25-2014, 09:05 AM
Cool idea as the others have said! Really nice land shape too. The best bit is that you've worked out so much of the physics, though :) I just noticed one thing that doesn't seem right, even with magic; When the sun is rises and sinks, the equator would get the most extreme seasons, because it has the biggest variation in heat. The further away from the sun, the colder it will obviously be, but it will also be more even because the distance to the sun doesn't vary as much.

01-25-2014, 09:23 AM
So I'm not real good at figuring this stuff out, but...

If the sun comes up *between* that eastern spit of land and the main body, and sets the same way in the west... wouldn't your "equator" or, rather, the tropical-type belt around your equator, be more... round? Like...


Also... how big is your sun? (And your island?) I'm just thinking about how big the space between the bits of land must be for a sun to fit throught it :o

01-28-2014, 11:41 AM
What mechanism makes the sun go higher/lower in accordance with the seasons? ("Magic" is acceptable, I guess.)
I don't think the sun should necessarily move with the seasons. It could also have different brightnesses depending on the time of the year, a bit like a (really slowly) throbbing heart. Which is a great comparison, since the sun IS after all what keeps this world alive.

most of the land is within a few miles of an ongoing nuclear fusion reaction, so are there any problems with radiation?
That's supposing the sun was an actual star. But in a world floating in the void with massive whirlpools replenishing the draining seas, a sun could be any brilliant and radiant object. No nuclear fusion required! Za-za-zing, magic! :-D

If the sun comes up *between* that eastern spit of land and the main body, and sets the same way in the west... wouldn't your "equator" or, rather, the tropical-type belt around your equator, be more... round?
I think it'd be a little more complex than that. Temperature would vary wildly with the hours of the day. A short description of the equatorial region:

At sunrise, the regions around that eastern "bay" would be immersed in sunlight.
During the morning, the eastern peninsula would rapidly start cooling off again as the sun moves further and further away. At the same time the eastern mainland would slowly warm up as the sun passes over it. Keep in mind that the amount of heat received from the sun at any given moment would be less here than at the eastern coasts during sunrise (the sun was far closer to the land then), but because of the longer exposure, the land would eventually warm up more.
During the afternoon this effect would be repeated for the western half of the mainland, while the eastern half would start cooling down again (the sun being relatively far away by now). The western coasts, until now almost entirely devoid of heat, would rapidly start warming up now, as the sun draws closer and closer
In the evening, while the rest of the land is now really cooling off, the western coasts would receive a relatively short, very intense pulse of heat as the sun passes very close and ultimately sinks below the level of the land.

Regarding the climate of regions further away from the equator: the reasoning is basically the same, except for the fact that the temperature would gradually decline as you move further north/south. Basically you could generalize by saying that extreme regions would be the coldest. The central regions would have a rather moderate climate, being warmer during the period of time when the sun is closest (eastern regions warmer in the morning, western regions warmer in the afternoon).

Also worth noting: the distribution of mountain ranges would have a massive effect on the amount of heat a certain region receives throughout the day, and thus on the climate (since the sun never moves).

In conclusion: all the above effects would be affected by three things:

the fierceness of the sun as a heat source,
the cooldown time of the atmosphere (how fast the atmosphere loses the energy received from the sun), and
the seasonal variance of the sun.

Let's break up the first two first. In case of a relatively fast cooldown, you'd need a strong heat source. This would result in a high number of different temperatures, both in terms of time and latitude. In case of a slow cooldown, however, you wouldn't need that strong a sun, and the chronic and latitudinal variation of temperatures would be relatively minor. Snow and ice would appear only at the fringes of the continent.

Also... how big is your sun? (And your island?) I'm just thinking about how big the space between the bits of land must be for a sun to fit throught it :o
I don't think we should think of the "sun" as an actual star. Any light and heat source would do, really. The sun of this world could very well be infinitesimally small. A singular point of collossal energy.

01-28-2014, 12:02 PM
I can buy that :P I was thinking of a big old ... y'know, sun... :D But if it's really little, I can go with that :D

02-05-2014, 03:57 PM
The temperature of the water coming in through the maelstrom (or other source points) is also going to have an effect. Normally, water has a moderating effect on temperature, but when you're porting in magical water streams from wherever, you can use that to add an independent cooling or heating effect. By placing warm or cold currents from water input points, at least the coastal regions can be pretty much made to be whatever is desired. If the underside of the world continues to receive heat during the "night", then that may have an influence as well. If it gets enough warming from underneath at night, you need less heat during the day to keep things warm and thus less extreme temperatures in the daily cycle.