So this topic became relevant to me while working on my first map Paidixira. I have a continent with two major desert regions, one of which is waaaay north of the equator. This forced a decision between whether to redo that section of the map, putting forests and grasslands in their rightful place, or to make up a story to explain the existence of such a misplaced desert. Im more a writer than a cartographer, so I went with story. My path of least resistance was to contrive a war in which Ares (this is a world run by the greek gods of our universe) burned with pillars of fire the land so completely that nothing could ever grow there again and the land eroded into a giant sandpit.

Putting aside how possibly inaccurate and unrealistic this particular scenario is, I want to know how relevant you think this tactic is. Are the mistakes or eccentricities of a map legitimate grounds for a writer or game master to build plot and backstory? At what point can outside parties no longer suspend their disbelief? Is there any worth to taking sides in the arguments for story based maps, map based stories, or realism? What kind of rules must you establish before you can even make a map? Am I a total noob who missed this conversation before?

Whaddyall think?