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Thread: Worldbuilding Questions: Here or There?

  1. #1
    Guild Novice Spiral Thoughts's Avatar
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    Help Worldbuilding Questions: Here or There?

    Hello my dear cartographers, felines, amphibians, and other thingies!

    I have a hodgepodge of inquiries that I must make. Gidde said I should post them here. I would really appreciate the assistance; I'm all a panick (intentionally misspelt) because I need to figure this out soon!

    1) How many towns/cities is usual for a society living in a time ranging anywhere between 16th century to the 19th century?

    2) How closely would these towns/cities be? Is it unusual to have them spaced far apart or spaced close together? Is it true that towns/cities tend to appear near water (and how rare is it to live away from water)? The impression seems to be (in novels) that societies consisted primarily of European countryside and only a few towns and cities here and there. I also heard that this impression is wrong. That is the reason behind this question.

    3) How many landmasses must exist on an Earth-like planet? In Glumdomy (planet name), there are two landmasses. One is significantly larger than the other. The larger one is Persussa (nation continent) and the smaller one is Bulldosa (nation continent and where my novel takes place). They don't have a separate concept for nation and continent, as the only two nations have full control over the only two continents. Is it plausible to have only two major landmasses? Only, only, only, only~

    4) That brings me to question four. There is another nation but it isn't considered a nation by the Bulldosing people (and I'm writing from their perspective). It is an "Island Conglomeration". My question is, how are islands formed? Is it possible for there to be a ridiculous amount of islands scattered all around the oceans, substituting for the landmasses that "should have been" there? How closely can islands be together (as in my island conglomeration)? Also, the Valazi Isles run roughly in a circular fashion around the continent of Bulldosa and I want to know if that is possible and if it is possible, what would need to happen for it to be possible on my planet?

    5) I don't understand mountains. Why are these weird pointy-thingies constantly popping up everywhere and what does that bode for Bulldosa (which has mountains in the north [I am not set on keeping the mountains to the north, I just figure, hey, mountains - to the north!])? Is it unusual to live near a mountain? If so, why? If not, why not? Is there a chance that these mountains could be volcanoes? How are those created, again?

    6) Early on in my creative process, I decided that the sky is overcast (lots of gray clouds, rumbling, and the like) nearly every day of the year (people know the sun exists, especially when it pops out of the clouds in strands, but also because it does appear in its full glory every now and again). Is this possible? How is this kind of climate even developed and how would it change the composition of the planet (specifically the landmasses)? It can't created by magic (magic doesn't exist there).

    7) I've read a lot of the river and water articles. I'm not convinced I understand them, though. Must rivers come from mountains? I intended a sharp cliff somewhere in Bulldosa with a waterfall, but I have no idea why that would even happen . . . @_@ the planet is so amazing . . . how everything works . . . how can anyone be sad knowing such beauty? @_@ Maybe it's the confusion that gets them. Is there a better place to turn to for watery formation information?

    I am asking some basic questions that I should probably know already. It's unfortunate that I never had a class in this sort of stuff (and that I didn't develop a serious interest until now). That's my defense (defensive!).

    I hope I didn't forget anything~

    Strangely,

    ~S.P.I.~
    Last edited by Spiral Thoughts; 04-06-2012 at 09:48 PM.

  2. #2
      Gidde is offline
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    Ok .... I don't have all the answers, but here's my best shot at several of them:

    1-2) In civilized lands (which usually follow water sources at first and then fill in the space around and between), you'll have villages spaced roughly at 5 to 15 mile intervals (i.e. within a few hours' walk). These villages are generally tiny farming communities (hence the countryside/farmlands you usually see). Towns and/or cities crop up much less frequently, and not closer than 30 miles or so apart (and that's pretty darn close). How many of those villages, towns, and cities you have will depend greatly upon how many people you have and how densely they're packed into the explored areas of the world/country.

    3) It really depends on how old the world is. Land plates (assuming your world has plate tectonics, which I am assuming since you said earthlike) tend to be "lighter" than oceanic plates. So what happens over billions of years is that you start with small amounts of land, but then as the tectonics happen and volcanoes do their thing, the land grows and grows. So 2 landmasses isn't unreasonable, but your world will be very young (and very volcanically active).

    4) The answer for this flows from 3 ... since your planet is really young and very volcanically active, it's perfectly reasonable to have archipelagos all over the place. They'll be volcanic (look at hawai'i, the aleutian islands, japan).

    5) The short answer is that mountains form when tectonic plates come together, or when they break apart. Random volcanoes happen at hotspots in the earth's mantle (molten layer beneath the solid crust). The long answer is harder to just post up, but this link gives some great demonstrations of the process (and explains what I said in answer 3 about land area continuing to grow over time).

    6) This is really only possible while still having a life-sustaining planet if it's localized (look at the weather in Seattle, WA, or there's a city in northern europe somewhere that rains just about every single day, according to the discovery channel). If there's cloud cover everywhere, all the time, it'll throw your planet into a REALLY nasty ice age (not enough light gets through to warm the planet). In fact, this is how they think we ended up with a snowball earth for a while. I suppose if your planet was a lot closer to its sun this might save it from boiling, but my knowledge of those consequences is too limited to speak to. I'd suggest a single localized area of murk instead.

    7) Water for rivers comes from 2 places: the sky, or underground. A lot of rivers start in mountains because (a) they get a lot of snow, which then melts and has to go somewhere, and (b) there's a lot of pressure in the ground in mountainous areas (which is what makes the mountains happen in the first place) which forces the water up out of the ground, so you get a lot of springs. But, it rains everywhere and there are springs everywhere. So rivers can start just about anywhere, but often they'll join up with one that started on a mountain someplace.


    Hope that helps!

    Oh, and I know I sent the link via the pm, but for the sake of those reading because they have similar questions, please check out the resources located here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/sh...ding-Resources and here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/sh...world-building

    There's some good stuff in there, and those are just the two most recent threads. A search on "worldbuilding resources" or something similar on the guild forums should yield a plethora of information.

  3. #3
      jbgibson is offline
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    I'll add a (c) to Gidde's 7 (a) & (b) points - also, moist air as it rises - like approaching a mountain range and getting pushed up and over - tends to cool. Cooler air can't hold as much humidity, so some falls out as rain. Thus the upwind side of ranges tend to be wetter, and the downwind sides tend to be drier - what's called a "rain shadow". If your prevailing winds are from mostly the same direction year-round, then maybe the downwind side is outright desert. If the wind patterns shift during a year, then you just get different drier and wetter seasons. If said mountains are getting their moisture in winter, and it's cold enough to snow, then that snow melting months later may even out the stream flow, even if the summer pattern for the snowy area is drier.

    The main reason you get the impression rivers spring from mountains is that water DOES flow from higher ground to lower. So if there IS any high ground, that's no doubt where *some* streams start. But in a flat-ish bit of territory, the bit of plains that's ten feet higher than others will be a source. A cool side effect of this is that you can imply even slight elevation distinctions just by your river network.

    A possible solution for your #6 could come from an amplification of your #3. To wit: just how extensive are these two continents? If the area you're focused on is in *just* the right latitude with the right topography you could get a whole bunch of clouded days. Too, high-altitude haze could obscure a clear view of sun and stars, even when lower-level clouds part. Say, the 'natural' temperature of your planet was chilly, and a period of increased volcanism (per Gidde's #4) is currently spewing a fair bit of greenhouse gases -- you might be in a geologically-brief period of artificial warmth, with atypically high cloud cover. Too, whether cloud cover blocks sunlight (for the aforementioned chill effect) or retains heat (for the currently-feared earthly greenhouse effect) is a matter of the kind of clouds, altitude, and global coverage. I can imagine situations where certain latitudes got 'too many' clouds, with the balance of the globe getting random weather patterns and plenty of sun to keep the seas warmed. A largely-water-covered world will have climate that's moderated mostly by the oceans, even if the land gets weather that would push things to extremes. So again - how big and where are these two landmasses? And do you mind the islanders having a different view of the sky (clearer) than the continental folk?

    For that matter, do you need the entirety of both continents to be habitable? A bit of imagineering with climate and weather patterns could probably get *some* of each near-perpetually cloudy, even if other parts have this mythical "full sunshine" thing going on. There's parts of Earth without good aerial photography precisely because they have clouds so much of the time.



    Hmmm - for your #2, town spacing, I'd want to know if these continent-spanning nations have been unified a long time, or if there was a heritage of smaller political units? Reason being, artificial boundaries like political borders can disrupt otherwise logical locations. Say, a fertile plain might 'logically' support one really big market / gathering city, but if there were antagonistic or even just competing nations dividing the area, *each* might have its own big city. Even simple geological separation could do that - opposite sides of an unbridgeable river might have separate big cities just a mile apart.

    A further deciding condition is what historical level is your land's development? If travel is all afoot or by rowboat, settlements will generally be smaller and closer than if one has railroads and steamships.

    While human habitation demands water, we're a cantankerous species, and significant urban areas DO happen in inhospitable areas. One just has to have a reason for them to be there - doesn't have to be explained in your story lines, you just have to have some idea - because those hidden reasons will have visible consequences for society. Rich mines? Religious significance? Tourism? Trade route across inhospitable areas? Too much water can make things just as dicey for urban accumulation as too little - bayous, swamps, and deltas tend to be sparsely settled.

    Don't be daunted by all this worldbuilding - be elated! You can build soooo much richness into a setting this way, when less energetic or less spiral-shaped minds :-) make do with vague idealized medieval western-European countryside. To be fair, some of those authors just need a middling-believable setting for interaction between characters whose nature or plot doesn't demand any detail of setting. Not me. I NEED the setting to spawn the characters and situations. I let a world grow, and situations arise, THEN I decide what likely would happen.

    Back on #7 - you can get some landforms by fault-block shifting. Picture a levelish area, with two cracks parallel. Drop the middle bit a few hundred feet, and you can have some dandy cliffs around a valley. Push the middle bit up, which geological processes can do, and you can get a big raised plateau. If it's big enough to gather lots of rainfall, then rivers leaving it could have spectacular waterfalls. Dandy places for waterpowered mills too, by the way. Some continents have raised areas inland with coastal plains, and a significant escarpment between - much of the eastern seabord of the US is like that.

    Btw I heartily approve of the avatar. Have fun with the worldbuilding!

  4. #4
    Guild Novice Spiral Thoughts's Avatar
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    Preface: I made a little doodle to give an idea of where I imagined the continents and islands. I doodle it knowing that I have no skill whatsoever; I also doodle it with the clear intention of changing whatever needs to be changed to make my world realistic, interesting, and right (Right here refers to the feeling of duty to the story that I get when writing about something. The story supersedes any other consideration that I have. And thus I'll know when the world is right. At present, it is not, hence the thread creation). I actually have pretty low spatial intelligence, not to totally use Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences as a crutch, and as such I don't scale very well and tend to be rather rudimentary with my perception of shapes. My art teacher will attest to this, I'm sure. I'm not one to get trapped by a label, though, so I am willing to work on this area of weakness.

    Worldbuilding Questions: Here or There?-glumdomy.jpg

    to JBGIBSON:

    1)
    I NEED the setting to spawn the characters and situations. I let a world grow, and situations arise, THEN I decide what likely would happen.
    I am similarly concerned with the development of my world. The world must tell me its story, not the other way around. Actually, my novel's story came about as I began to develop Glumdomy more. I had some bizarre idea in mind at the start but I realized that it didn't work; however, the world of Glumdomy, which I had created for this bizarre idea, was fascinating to me. I decided to write a story inside that world and *TA DA* my protagonist appeared, ready to be interesting.

    2)
    Hmmm - for your #2, town spacing, I'd want to know if these continent-spanning nations have been unified a long time, or if there was a heritage of smaller political units?
    Very good question. You're right! This affects a lot! And I totally had a longer message here explaining this and that about my world, and then I realized how all of it was incredibly irrelevant and masturbatory. In summary, I came to the realization that I don't have an issue with my settlement placement. I have two hyper-controlling rulers to work with *WINK*.

    3)
    A further deciding condition is what historical level is your land's development? If travel is all afoot or by rowboat, settlements will generally be smaller and closer than if one has railroads and steamships.
    They travel mostly by train. The roads aren't very sophisticated and have been largely abandoned in favor of improving trains, their railways, and the like. Almost everyone rides a train when they need to get somewhere; wagons never were invented (I have reasons for these strange things). Nearly every settlement has a station nearby to use; there are only about 2 to 4 that do not and that will be corrected within the century or perhaps shortly after. I have a fascination with trains, as you might have guessed from my avatar (and thank you for your avatar approval; it makes me feel better about myself. )

    As for travel by water, I imagined that they had boats, but who knows, maybe they have "Sky Trains" to take them over the water. Maybe Subtrainmarines to take them into the water *totally making fun of myself right now*. Let's say that they have some decent ships; nothing special, but nothing too basic. People living on the islands have rowboats, though, to be completely stereotypical.

    4)
    Back on #7 . . .
    The paragraph following the above words has utterly confounded me. I found the analogy confusing, which may stem from my impaired ability to visualize space (Yes, another lame excuse!).

    5)
    The main reason you get the impression rivers spring from mountains is that water DOES flow . . .
    the paragraph following the above words was extremely helpful; thank you! I shall take these things into account when deciding upon my evil (I said EVIL!) rivers. Only, I must ask; I intend for there to be a lot of forest on Bulldosa. Should there be more rivers to account for this? Disregard the next sentence. I also intend to call the forest "The Dark Forest", where only "EVIL" lurks *again, making fun of myself, though this time more obscurely*.



    6) In response to your 7 (c): I don't know if this is possible, but Bulldosa doesn't have any deserts. How do all the things you said work in concert to make this possible and what does that bode for the continent at large? I also didn't imagine any snow on the continent, but I am pretty sure that there has to be snow somewhere and that I'm a dork. I hope this helps you help me.

    7)
    A possible solution for your #6 could come from an amplification of your #3. To wit: just how extensive are these two continents? If the area you're focused on is in *just* the right latitude with the right topography you could get a whole bunch of clouded days.
    I know that Persussa is fairly large, whereas Bulldosa is somewhere between the size of Germany and the United States (but closer to Germany). Perhaps the Bulldosa continent is just the first bit "to fall off" of Pangaea or something?

    7a)
    Say, the 'natural' temperature of your planet was chilly, and a period of increased volcanism (per Gidde's #4) is currently spewing a fair bit of greenhouse gases -- you might be in a geologically-brief period of artificial warmth, with atypically high cloud cover.
    I am really feelin' this solution. I think this is what is happening. But where would human evolution be in relation to this (if speaking about our Earth)? I understand that volcanoes would be the trend of Mother Nature at this early stage of the world and I feel said volcanoes fit symbolically with the nature of society in Glumdomy.

    7b)
    A largely-water-covered world will have climate that's moderated mostly by the oceans, even if the land gets weather that would push things to extremes. So again - how big and where are these two landmasses? And do you mind the islanders having a different view of the sky (clearer) than the continental folk?
    A largely-water-covered world will have climate moderated mostly by the oceans . . . understood. Now what does that entail for my dear planet if it were so? I am perfectly fine with the islanders having a clearer view of the sky; it fits them absurdly well. Yes, my story says 'yes'.

    Did I miss anything that you said? I'll respond to Gidde in my next post (I'm going backwards).

    ~S.P.I.~

    P.S.: I love lists. I also love signing my signature, even though I know it is unnecessary for me to do so.

    P.S.S.: I totally forgot. See the group of dots directly beneath Persussa? Those little dots represent the island conglomeration of Tarragol. The islands can be moved all about the ocean, I don't mind, but they do need to stick together.
    Last edited by Spiral Thoughts; 04-08-2012 at 02:55 AM.

  5. #5
    Guild Novice Spiral Thoughts's Avatar
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    To Gidde:

    1) Your response to my Q(1 - 2): Thank you so very much for this helpful information. After careful consideration, I realized that I knew the answer to this question already (ambiguous statements, dun dun dun!!!).

    2) Your response to my Q(3 -4): Aha! A very young world sounds like perfection's maker! Volcanoes are only on islands, correct? I imagine that the Islanders would absolutely DETEST volcanoes. Um . . . I hadn't conceived of Tarragol having any volcanoes. Is it necessary (realistically speaking) for the island conglomeration to have volcanoes? I love archipelagos; woo hoo! I also love the story potential of my world. I have a dozen or more ideas floating in my head like archipelagos on a very young world (see what I did there? ).

    3) Your response to my Q(5): So basically I need to decide where my plate tectonics are located. That sounds . . . well, I don't know; is that easy or hard to contrive? I'll read your link and see if that helps me with the question. I'll also do a search for "realistic plate placement".

    4) Your response to my Q(6): Do your assertions change in light of JBGIBSON's response or do you still advise for me to rethink the whole cloudy-life thingie? I think the distance to the sun is an interesting variable. I wish we had someone who knew more about it to tell us if this is really a viable option. I can do a search but I doubt that I'll find my answers that way.

    5) Your response to my Q(7): Ahhh . . . well I am starting to get my head around the water flow thing. As I understand it, lakes are formed because water collects in basins? Is that right? I am going to read those links you provided to me via PM; I am embarrassed to not have read them before, but I was busy celebrating my birthday (bowling and lasertag, woo hoo!).

    Thank you for enduring my incessant questioning.

    ~S.P.I.~

  6. #6
      Hai-Etlik is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spiral Thoughts View Post
    1) How many towns/cities is usual for a society living in a time ranging anywhere between 16th century to the 19th century?
    The density of such towns times the area they are spread over. For the density, see the next question, not that it will help much.

    2) How closely would these towns/cities be? Is it unusual to have them spaced far apart or spaced close together? Is it true that towns/cities tend to appear near water (and how rare is it to live away from water)? The impression seems to be (in novels) that societies consisted primarily of European countryside and only a few towns and cities here and there. I also heard that this impression is wrong. That is the reason behind this question.
    Very highly variable depending on social structure, technology, natural resources, etc.


    3) How many landmasses must exist on an Earth-like planet? In Glumdomy (planet name), there are two landmasses. One is significantly larger than the other. The larger one is Persussa (nation continent) and the smaller one is Bulldosa (nation continent and where my novel takes place). They don't have a separate concept for nation and continent, as the only two nations have full control over the only two continents. Is it plausible to have only two major landmasses? Only, only, only, only~
    The amount of land is fairly fixed as there is a fixed amount of lightweight "continental" crust It varies a bit with sea level (The Bering Land Bridge, Doggerland), flexing of the continental plates (Hudson Bay), aggregation and uplift of material from oceanic subduction (The American Cordillera), and from undersea volcanoes breaking the surface (Iceland, Japan, Hawaii). What land there is though is made up of "chunks" called "cratons" and they shift around, sometimes splitting, somethings smashing into each other. Right now Africa is splitting up and India is crashing into Eurasia. There is a bit of a tendency for a cycle where most of the land comes together at once in one giant supercontinent, and then it all splits apart again. So two major landmasses is fine. Right now earth has two major landmasses, the Americas, and Africa-Eurasia, with a few smaller independent chunks (Antarctica, Oceania).

    Single early modern level nations controlling entire supercontinents completely enough and for so long that the concepts of continent and nation are completely merged seems extraordinarily unlikely.

    4) That brings me to question four. There is another nation but it isn't considered a nation by the Bulldosing people (and I'm writing from their perspective). It is an "Island Conglomeration". My question is, how are islands formed? Is it possible for there to be a ridiculous amount of islands scattered all around the oceans, substituting for the landmasses that "should have been" there? How closely can islands be together (as in my island conglomeration)? Also, the Valazi Isles run roughly in a circular fashion around the continent of Bulldosa and I want to know if that is possible and if it is possible, what would need to happen for it to be possible on my planet?
    Some islands are hills/plateaus on flooded sections of continent, like the British Isles. The rest are the tops of undersea mountains.

    5) I don't understand mountains. Why are these weird pointy-thingies constantly popping up everywhere and what does that bode for Bulldosa (which has mountains in the north [I am not set on keeping the mountains to the north, I just figure, hey, mountains - to the north!])? Is it unusual to live near a mountain? If so, why? If not, why not? Is there a chance that these mountains could be volcanoes? How are those created, again?
    Mountains are associated with boundaries. When continental plates come together, they both get pushed up. The Himalayas and associated ranges are the best example of this. Where an ocean plate subducts under a continent, the continent gets pushed up, and scrapes up the top layer of the ocean along the forward edge, further inland, you'll also get volcanoes. The American Cordillera (The Rockies and associated ranges) formed this way. Where an oceanic plate subducts under another oceanic plate, you get an arc or cluster of volcanoes. The Aleutians, Japan, and the Philippines are all results of this. Tripple junctions where three boundaries come together are particularly significant, Japan sits on a pair, and the Philippines sits on THREE triple junctions. The Azores were also formed by a Triple Junction. Finally there are hotspots which just cause volcanoes to appear anywhere. Hawaii, the Kerguelen Islands, Yellowstone Plateau, and possibly Iceland are all results of hot spots, Iceland is also on the divergent boundary between North America and Eurasia.


    6) Early on in my creative process, I decided that the sky is overcast (lots of gray clouds, rumbling, and the like) nearly every day of the year (people know the sun exists, especially when it pops out of the clouds in strands, but also because it does appear in its full glory every now and again). Is this possible? How is this kind of climate even developed and how would it change the composition of the planet (specifically the landmasses)? It can't created by magic (magic doesn't exist there).
    I really don't see how you could manage that for the whole planet, or even a whole continent without a serious application of magic, or rendering it completely inhospitable, like Venus.

    7) I've read a lot of the river and water articles. I'm not convinced I understand them, though. Must rivers come from mountains? I intended a sharp cliff somewhere in Bulldosa with a waterfall, but I have no idea why that would even happen . . . @_@ the planet is so amazing . . . how everything works . . . how can anyone be sad knowing such beauty? @_@ Maybe it's the confusion that gets them. Is there a better place to turn to for watery formation information?
    They must flow strictly downhill, but need not come from mountains. Since mountains tend to induce rainfall, and are the highest points, they do tend to be the origin for a lot of rivers, particularly on their windward sides.

  7. #7
      Gidde is offline
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    I'm happy to see the plethora of information you're gathering, I hope it's helping you

    It's overwhelming me though, so I'm just going to stick with the questions you specifically asked me:

    2) Yeah, I think your archipelagos would have to be volcanic if you are going with the young world hypothesis. But ... your islanders will actually have a love/hate relationship with them, because while a volcano can be incredibly destructive, it's also EXTREMELY good for life, making the best soil in the world. For example, Hawai'ians both revere and fear their volcano goddess for both bringing and taking life (I'm oversimplifying a bit here, so if anyone knows more about that topic please feel free to elaborate).

    3) Developing plate tectonics is simple, but not easy There are several threads that have gone through the process if you peruse the world/regional wip forum. However, keep in mind that a young world (if you do decide to go that way) will have some crazy plate tectonics. If it's extremely active, there will be a lot of little plates that haven't yet merged the way the ones on earth have (this is my conjecture, so I may be wrong. It just seems logical to me).

    4) Actually, yeah. jbgibson's hypothesis sounds reasonable enough to me (for a novel, it doesn't necessarily have to be completely realistic, just somewhat believable. Witness the years-long and unpredictable nature of the seasons in a Song of Ice and Fire).

    5) For the water cycle, I should have pointed it out to you before but neglected to do so. Check out the How To Get Your Rivers in the Right Place sticky in the tutorial forum. It's incredibly helpful to understand rivers and lakes.

    One other point that you had asked earlier ... you asked about humans on a young world. This is the weak link in the young world theory; you mention that there's no magic, but is there high science, maybe even high science that isn't there anymore? Because you need a way to seed them, they won't have developed naturally. Maybe they're a colony and terraformed the world but then regressed. This may also help with the cloud cover thing. I write fantasy, so I'd use a Gate

  8. #8
      Joshua is offline
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    This will only help address the first two points, but it's an incredibly easy read and chalk full of a lot of valuable information. It's one of my favorite resources for this kind of thing:
    http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/blueroom/demog.htm
    It's "Medieval Demographics Made Easy" by S. John Ross. Good stuff.
    Yes, I'm colorblind. But my pink fields and orange forests are avant garde!!

  9. #9
      jbgibson is offline
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    re: your # 4) confusion about my #7 reply -- is the picture at Wikipedia's fault-block article worth a thousand words? I'm certainly up for a good thousand-word explanation, as the denizens here can attest :-), but the pic might be more efficient. A broader version of the same phenomenon can create continent-spanning valley systems - does the cross-section at the Great Rift Valley article make sense? As a chunk of crust - a tectonic plate - is pulled apart, long strips can collapse downward. If Bulldosa needs one or more honkin' big waterfalls, would Victoria Falls do for a model? Drop a big river over the edge of the Great Rift Valley, and that's what you get.

    Now, if Bulldosa (tell me the capital city is named Catapilla! ) is about one UG (Unified Germany) in size, or at most a couple of UGs, then it might be a challenge to get enough riverflow to make a truly massive wide waterfall. You could rig it so it's mostly one big drainage basin, OR you could go for *height* instead of breadth. I don't know what you want to use the waterfall for, so I can hardly advise there.

    Really, if your only landmasses are 1-2 UG and 3-6 UG in extent, you're talking something like a 99%-water world with couple of largish islands. If you want closer to a 1-CUS (Continental US) and 2.5 CUS pair of continents, you're still talking only 2-4% of your planet being above the waves. If you're going to want fidelity to how a water-planet would behave (beyond the scope of the present reply :-) ) , OK. If you want things to be more like Earth, you could always suppose a huge Terra Incognita ( Glumma Incognita? ) 'round on t'other side, with wide enough oceans separating it that the denizens haven't figured it out. If your fairly weak seafaring situation makes that plausible, okaaaay, but I'd figure a tech level of steam trains would go with at least a general knowledge of the rest of the globe.

    From http://seasonsinthesea.com/may/phys.shtml I glean "Note: If you've ever flown or sailed across the Pacific in summer, you may have noticed a nearly continuous cloud cover over the ocean between California and Hawaii. This is the top of the marine layer trapped beneath the Pacific High. This continuous cloud cover not only makes it tough to do celestial navigation. It also hides the jet contrails that some sailors tried used for navigation when sailing from California to Hawaii in the days before Satnav and GPS." ... there's a reason for a generous swath of sea to be overcast. Inland, Earthly tropical areas have semicontinual cloud cover, so what say you draw those landmasses on your Glumdomy Globe both in the 25- or 30-degree band N and S of the equator.

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      rdanhenry is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spiral Thoughts View Post
    They travel mostly by train. The roads aren't very sophisticated and have been largely abandoned in favor of improving trains, their railways, and the like. Almost everyone rides a train when they need to get somewhere; wagons never were invented (I have reasons for these strange things). Nearly every settlement has a station nearby to use; there are only about 2 to 4 that do not and that will be corrected within the century or perhaps shortly after. I have a fascination with trains, as you might have guessed from my avatar (and thank you for your avatar approval; it makes me feel better about myself. )
    Trains don't eliminate the need for roads or for wagons (or wagon-equivalents). When rail came in, a lot of folks expected to see a decline in the horse, but actually there was a great increase in the number of working horses, because while the train allowed a much greater movement of material, it isn't practical to run a rail to every shop or other shipping location, much less take the train there, so there was a great need for horse-drawn wagons to do the "last mile" delivery. You need something to perform this job in your world.

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