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Thread: World Design Questions

  1. #11
      Gumboot is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krix View Post
    My main issue with population and civilization concerns was my own misreading of maps I've seen in other fantasy novels. They're not like Google Maps. They don't show you every little village - just the big or important ones. I think that was my biggest problem.
    To be totally honest, from the perspective of realism, most fantasy world building is terrible. Even authors praised for their realism like George RR Martin do a pretty embarrassingly bad job (they're in the business of telling stories after all, not creating a world)

    Quote Originally Posted by Krix View Post
    I found the page that Falconius linked shortly after I made this post. Gumboot's interpretation and personal insight definitely helped too.
    That document is my world building bible, and I use the excel spreadsheet created from that document (modified as needed) as my template for every state I build.

    Quote Originally Posted by Krix View Post
    Edit: Gumboot, why do you say rivers don't split? I know they do, but is it just rarer than I realize?
    It's exceptionally rare. The number on the entire planet is probably dozens.

    Note that I'm excluding deltas and multi-channel rivers (braided rivers) from this.

  2. #12
      Krix is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Falconius View Post
    Rivers may split occasionally and form small islands but they always meet up again and given enough time will go back to one channel. Where they split for real is in river deltas that empty into the ocean, I suspect because the land is too flat for one egress to handle the volume of water being emptied, and because it's so wet it has no where else to go. Here is a link to a discussion about these issues.
    Man, I grew up walking through forests. How was I so wrong about water mechanics? Thanks for that link!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gumboot View Post
    That document is my world building bible, and I use the excel spreadsheet created from that document (modified as needed) as my template for every state I build.
    It's always good to know a source is reliable. I'll definitely be rereading it again and get working on some revised drafts soon.

    As for the rivers. I never would have thought my understanding to be so wrong. I think I'd have done okay in most other aspects, but my rivers would have been completely terrible. Thanks again!

  3. #13
      Gumboot is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krix View Post
    Man, I grew up walking through forests. How was I so wrong about water mechanics? Thanks for that link!

    There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. The phenomenon of dividing waterways is called bifurcation. Divide Creek in Canada splits in two near Kicking Horse Pass, with one branch flowing eventually into the Atlantic and another flowing eventually into the Pacific. Likewise, North Two Ocean Creek divides in two at Two Ocean Pass in Wyoming, forming two creeks (Pacific and Atlantic Creek) which flow into their respective oceans.

    To quote Wikipedia:

    "An interesting aspect of geology that makes Parting of the Waters possible is that the entire drainage of North Two Ocean Creek occurs within a hole in the Continental Divide. Two separate legs of the Continental Divide completely surround the drainage of North Two Ocean Creek, with one juncture of these two legs occurring at Parting of the Waters, and the other juncture occurring high up on Two Ocean Plateau approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) due North. As a consequence, a drop of rain falling anywhere within the North Two Ocean Creek drainage has an equal chance of flowing either into the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans."

    It's worth noting that these divides happen in small creeks situated perfectly in the middle of a drainage divide. The same happens very rarely with lakes that are situated perfectly across a drainage divide, such as Wollaston Lake in Canada which has two outlets. Isa Lake in Yellowstone National Park is believed to be the only lake in the world that naturally drains into two different oceans. Thus, not only is this phenomenon very rare, but it's even more rare in rivers of the size that are likely to make it onto anything but the most localised, detailed maps.

    River bifurcation can also occur due to mankind's influence. A good example is the Nile which had a split called the Bahr Yussef which only existed during the yearly floods, when excess water would flow into an inland sea at Fayyum. During the 12th Dynasty a canal was built to increase the flow, but the channel eventually dried up and the inland sea dried up with it, forming a depression instead. More recently, a modern canal has been cut to reopen the channel and feed water from the Nile back into Fayyum.

    One important thing to bear in mind about bifurcation is that while rivers and lakes change course, position, and size over time (with news ones emerging and old ones disappearing), this is particularly true of bifurcation as any waterway with two channels is inherently unstable and one will eventually close up.

  4. #14
      Azelor is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gumboot View Post
    I'm not sure I'd completely agree with this. Villages still existed in dense networks where land was cultivated, there was just less settled land, as you say. The general guides as far as density still applied for the areas that were settled, so you'd tend to get high density areas with wilderness in between, and over time, as populations grew, that wilderness was cleared and cultivated, thus while the average population density of large regions (such as entire states) increased, the local density of cultivated areas remained pretty constant at around 180 people per square mile right through the entire period (the reason being that local population densities are driven more by grain yield). Great Britain's population may have increased significantly through the first half of the middle ages as the heavy mouldboard plough was introduced, but England's didn't increase quite as much as you suggest. There were about a million people there in Roman times (England was one of the empire's biggest grain producers), and this had increased to about 1.5 million by 1000AD and peaked at 3.5 million in 1348 (in other words it tripled over a period of about 1,200 years). The big difference is that by the 14th Century all of the British Isles was equally densely populated, while during the "Dark Ages" only Roman Britain was so densely populated with most of the remainder in wilderness state.
    Yes the density was high at some point such as in northern Italy I am sure but the techniques and tool (and climate too) also allowed higher density. So you end up having better yeild. It is said that some places saw a massive increase in population such as Flanders because it used to be wilderness before. Well that was before 1315.

    According to my book of history, here are the population number for England (Scotland excluded)

    1100 :1.1 million
    1250: 2 millions
    1350: 4 millions
    1400: 2 millions
    1550: 3,5 millions

    I think it's still a big increase

  5. #15
      Krix is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gumboot View Post
    There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. The phenomenon of dividing waterways is called bifurcation. Divide Creek in Canada splits in two near Kicking Horse Pass, with one branch flowing eventually into the Atlantic and another flowing eventually into the Pacific. Likewise, North Two Ocean Creek divides in two at Two Ocean Pass in Wyoming, forming two creeks (Pacific and Atlantic Creek) which flow into their respective oceans.

    To quote Wikipedia:

    "An interesting aspect of geology that makes Parting of the Waters possible is that the entire drainage of North Two Ocean Creek occurs within a hole in the Continental Divide. Two separate legs of the Continental Divide completely surround the drainage of North Two Ocean Creek, with one juncture of these two legs occurring at Parting of the Waters, and the other juncture occurring high up on Two Ocean Plateau approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) due North. As a consequence, a drop of rain falling anywhere within the North Two Ocean Creek drainage has an equal chance of flowing either into the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans."

    It's worth noting that these divides happen in small creeks situated perfectly in the middle of a drainage divide. The same happens very rarely with lakes that are situated perfectly across a drainage divide, such as Wollaston Lake in Canada which has two outlets. Isa Lake in Yellowstone National Park is believed to be the only lake in the world that naturally drains into two different oceans. Thus, not only is this phenomenon very rare, but it's even more rare in rivers of the size that are likely to make it onto anything but the most localised, detailed maps.

    River bifurcation can also occur due to mankind's influence. A good example is the Nile which had a split called the Bahr Yussef which only existed during the yearly floods, when excess water would flow into an inland sea at Fayyum. During the 12th Dynasty a canal was built to increase the flow, but the channel eventually dried up and the inland sea dried up with it, forming a depression instead. More recently, a modern canal has been cut to reopen the channel and feed water from the Nile back into Fayyum.

    One important thing to bear in mind about bifurcation is that while rivers and lakes change course, position, and size over time (with news ones emerging and old ones disappearing), this is particularly true of bifurcation as any waterway with two channels is inherently unstable and one will eventually close up.
    Wow... I was so wrong. I guess most of the creeks I saw in my youth were almost always dried up and I just assumed they were 50/50 dividing and joining. It makes sense now that I think about it. This has been very informative and very interesting!

  6. #16
      lordhypno is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gumboot View Post
    My first bit of advice would be to decide right at the outset how far down the realism rabbit hole you want to go. If your fantasy world is nothing more than a pretty backdrop to your story, the details really don't matter, realism (within reason) doesn't matter, and you should just go with what you want to go with.

    At the opposite end of the spectrum you can meticulously create a fully realised world in intricate detail.

    I personally tend towards the more realistic side of things, so I've put pretty extensive work into these sorts of things. I'd never do it any other way, but it's worth pointing out that going down that route means a LOT of extra work. And I put "lot" in capitals for a reason. Seriously, you cannot underestimate how much work it is.

    To answer your specific questions above though:

    The first thing is to understand the structure of feudal medieval living, and the different classes of habitation, because they're quite distinctly different. Towns and cities are not the same thing, at all.

    The first thing is that both towns and cities are significantly smaller than what you or I think of as towns or cities, and the second thing is that villages are much larger than you or I think of them.

    Medieval society existed in dense networks of villages, about 2-3 miles apart, in every direction. The villages only stopped when they encountered land that couldn't be cultivates. Villages were quite large, typically around 700-1,000 people.

    Towns appeared at random, in the midst of these dense village networks. The primary purpose of the town was to serve the immediate area; it was a central trading centre for the villagers to buy produce that they couldn't make themselves, and to sell excess grain/wool/fruit/whatever their village produced. As such, towns were quite small, and there were a lot of them. A typical medieval town will only be between 1,000 and 8,000 people.

    Cities are a different beast all together. While towns serve regional trade, and emerge based on local requirements, cities serve inter-regional trade, and emerge based on the routes that feed goods into the towns. Typical sites for cities include points where routes to multiple towns meet, and ports and harbours that bring in goods from overseas.
    .

    Also don't forget that some towns spring up where travelers rest or at crossroads a small inn in between two major cities on a trade route could eventually turn into a town

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