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Thread: Tips for Worldbuilding

  1. #31
      Tomalak is offline
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    Excellent post, a commendable combination of science and simplicity. I would like to point out that, while laregely review, I did find parts of it educational as well as interesting - in my classes it was never deemed worthwhile to explain where plates came from in the first place, as modern geographers are more interested in what they are doing now (although, I am not a Geology student...). So you've taught me something - thank you.

    I was hoping to hear something about how to approach this from a creation perspective. Your guidelines are very well planned for what to do with your boundaries, but do you have any advice on planning those boundaries in the first place?

  2. #32
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    Thanks Tomalak, glad you liked it.

    Can you explain a bit more what you were hoping to hear? I'm not sure I understand your question. Do you mean the process of designing the layout of landforms across a planet?

  3. #33
      Vellum is offline
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    TheHoarseWhisperer I must have missed the updates you've been posting I'll read through this once the kitchen finishes kickin my butt Briefly looked at the tectonic info, this is something of interest so I will read in more closely as soon as I get the chance, thanks for the info.

  4. #34
      Tomalak is offline
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    What you have posted is a great explanation of the forces involved and how they interact - one of my personal difficulties in mapmaking is having a place to start. Blank pages don't work well for me, which is why I usually start my maps with a PS filter - it's something to work from. When looking at tectonic movement, I have trouble figuring out how to draw those early plates. Do you have any advice for the early process?

  5. #35
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    Alright Tomalak, I'll try to keep this brief (said optimistically), but hopefully you'll find it helpful.

    1. a good place to start is with a piece of paper, a pencil, and an eraser. Sometimes you don't even need the eraser. Basically, just draw lines. More and more lines. Start with long lines - maybe one line which goes from one side of the page to the other, while making waves and arcs. Then add another line that comes off the first and doubles back to hit it again. And add more lines. Then add some more lines. Don't go overboard, obviously. I find it helpful to have a map of Earth's tectonic plates in front of me, just to give a sense of how many plates there are, their shapes and their sizes. But the main point is, draw. Don't overthink (it is a serious problem). Just draw. If you get nervous when you see a blank piece of paper, destroy its blankness. Paper is cheap, practice is good. If you draw on a computer using a mouse, your lines might wobble a bit. That's good. You can undo things if they don't look right (that's really really good). I think it's worth drawing on paper and on a computer. They are different and doing both will help develop your mind. When you see what you have drawn, and when you compare it with what you know about tectonics, you'll start to see the mistakes, and where it still needs work. So that's just a general piece of advice.

    2. this is a bit more specific. What's the PS filter you use? Is it Render Clouds? I sometimes use render clouds, and it's good because it looks natural and it is random, which is fun. So, I'm going to assume you have a randomly generated set of landmasses/continents. Here's something to try:
    - look for places on your map which might mark tectonic boundaries. For example, if you have a long narrow sea (such as the Red Sea or the Mediterranean) that might mean the continents are tearing away from each
    other, so put a divergent boundary through there.
    - look for areas of coastline that are not too jagged (don't have too many inlets, peninsulas, bays, etc.). The west coast of South America is a bit like this. That is where a mountain range has been thrown up over a
    convergent boundary, so put one of those along that area.
    - look at the oceans. Are they large and roundish (like the Pacific) or long and rectangular (like the Atlantic). If the former, they might be sitting on their own plate, so you draw a line that goes around the ocean, not
    necessarily keeping close to the edges (again, keep an eye on an Earth map); if the latter, they might be the result of a rift that got too big, in which case put a divergent boundary running most of the way down the
    middle.
    - if you have islands in the middle of nowhere, they might be sitting on either a convergent or divergent boundary. Islands which are long-ish (eg. Papua New Guinea, Japan, Cuba) are on convergent boundaries (if you
    have one side which has a jagged coastline and the other side of the island is smooth, you know which side to put the tectonic boundary (see above); islands which are round (like Iceland) are rarer and often sit on
    top of divergent boundaries (the same place as the mid-oceanic ridge from the previous point). Add the lines as necessary.

    If you do those things, hopefully you will now have a handful of tectonic boundaries placed. Now start joining them together, and adding more as necessary. Remember, tectonic plates will usually not cut straight through a continent.

    If you're still having difficulty, you can just draw a line around each of your continents so that they all sit on their own plates, and then divide up the ocean afterwards. This won't give you a perfect tectonic map, but it might help you get started. After that, you can edit as much as you want until you think it looks right.

    And lastly - I can't stress this enough - remember that planets are round. If you have a border going off the east of the map, make sure to continue it on the western side; if you have one going into the north or south, that is slightly more complicated, but I explained all that in the previous post.

    Does that help? Let me know if it doesn't, or if you're still having problems.
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  6. #36
      Catfish is offline
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    This is a great guide! I just found it today, and read all of it in one sitting. HoarseWhisperer, I find your writing easy to read and very informative. I will definitely be thinking more about tectonic plates when I design maps.

  7. #37
      Tomalak is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHoarseWhisperer View Post
    Alright Tomalak, I'll try to keep this brief (said optimistically), but hopefully you'll find it helpful.

    1. a good place to start is with a piece of paper, a pencil, and an eraser. Sometimes you don't even need the eraser. Basically, just draw lines. More and more lines. Start with long lines - maybe one line which goes from one side of the page to the other, while making waves and arcs. Then add another line that comes off the first and doubles back to hit it again. And add more lines. Then add some more lines. Don't go overboard, obviously. I find it helpful to have a map of Earth's tectonic plates in front of me, just to give a sense of how many plates there are, their shapes and their sizes. But the main point is, draw. Don't overthink (it is a serious problem). Just draw. If you get nervous when you see a blank piece of paper, destroy its blankness. Paper is cheap, practice is good. If you draw on a computer using a mouse, your lines might wobble a bit. That's good. You can undo things if they don't look right (that's really really good). I think it's worth drawing on paper and on a computer. They are different and doing both will help develop your mind. When you see what you have drawn, and when you compare it with what you know about tectonics, you'll start to see the mistakes, and where it still needs work. So that's just a general piece of advice.
    This. This is exactly what I needed

    Quote Originally Posted by TheHoarseWhisperer View Post
    2. this is a bit more specific. What's the PS filter you use? Is it Render Clouds? I sometimes use render clouds, and it's good because it looks natural and it is random, which is fun. So, I'm going to assume you have a randomly generated set of landmasses/continents. Here's something to try:
    - look for places on your map which might mark tectonic boundaries. For example, if you have a long narrow sea (such as the Red Sea or the Mediterranean) that might mean the continents are tearing away from each
    other, so put a divergent boundary through there.
    - look for areas of coastline that are not too jagged (don't have too many inlets, peninsulas, bays, etc.). The west coast of South America is a bit like this. That is where a mountain range has been thrown up over a
    convergent boundary, so put one of those along that area.
    - look at the oceans. Are they large and roundish (like the Pacific) or long and rectangular (like the Atlantic). If the former, they might be sitting on their own plate, so you draw a line that goes around the ocean, not
    necessarily keeping close to the edges (again, keep an eye on an Earth map); if the latter, they might be the result of a rift that got too big, in which case put a divergent boundary running most of the way down the
    middle.
    - if you have islands in the middle of nowhere, they might be sitting on either a convergent or divergent boundary. Islands which are long-ish (eg. Papua New Guinea, Japan, Cuba) are on convergent boundaries (if you
    have one side which has a jagged coastline and the other side of the island is smooth, you know which side to put the tectonic boundary (see above); islands which are round (like Iceland) are rarer and often sit on
    top of divergent boundaries (the same place as the mid-oceanic ridge from the previous point). Add the lines as necessary.

    If you do those things, hopefully you will now have a handful of tectonic boundaries placed. Now start joining them together, and adding more as necessary. Remember, tectonic plates will usually not cut straight through a continent.

    If you're still having difficulty, you can just draw a line around each of your continents so that they all sit on their own plates, and then divide up the ocean afterwards. This won't give you a perfect tectonic map, but it might help you get started. After that, you can edit as much as you want until you think it looks right.

    And lastly - I can't stress this enough - remember that planets are round. If you have a border going off the east of the map, make sure to continue it on the western side; if you have one going into the north or south, that is slightly more complicated, but I explained all that in the previous post.

    Does that help? Let me know if it doesn't, or if you're still having problems.
    Yes, I use render clouds. Again, this is really great - I cannot thank you enough for breaking the tought parts down for me.

  8. #38
      SaberDart is offline
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    This is a great thread! Right up the alley of what I'm trying to do with my world! I'll throw in my thoughts as I go, and reading all or yours! So far, very interesting and brain teasing, and I'm only on page 1!

    That said, still on page 1, so sorry if this has already been said but I want to get my thoughts down now before I log off.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheHoarseWhisperer View Post
    There are two reasons one tribe will attack another: self-defence, population pressure. Note, this is all probably simplifying these processes enormously, but go with it, it does make sense.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rodan View Post
    Another issue would be environmental; famine, diease, drought, and earthquakes flooding.
    You both have some pretty good reasons for the beginning of Empire, but a few additions/subtractions. War takes a lot of people, and people take a lot of food. Thus disease is not a likely war starter, at least not the kind of war that builds mighty empires. Also famine is unlikely, unless the target is still fertile and/or well stocked. If the latter, then the conquerors run the risk of depleting the reserves and preemptively aborting their empire building potential.

    Additional causes are a culture that is based on raiding deciding to put down roots in the acquired territory (Arabs to the Sassanid, Ottomans supplanting Byzantine, Mongols replacing everyone); shortage of some supply or resource needed or strongly desired by the initiating nation; and outside pressure, where a people are forced to flee from some horde that is invading their ancestral lands (the Avars, Magyars, Huns, Turks, Mongols, etc all drove waves of people before them into the lands they hadn't quite gotten to yet).

    Quote Originally Posted by TheHoarseWhisperer View Post
    Hence, the empire rolls on. Historically, every empire has continued to grow until it either meets a stronger opponent than it (Persians v Alexander; Aztecs v Spanish; arguably Napoleon v. Russians/British/Prussians etc) or it overreaches itself, and collapses under the strain (Romans, Ottomans, Islamic caliphates, Mongols). Every new province needs to be secured with troops, administrators, etc. And they all need to be paid.
    Just a minor argument here, depends on the Caliphate in question. The Rashidun fell to civil war, and the victorious Omayyad collapsed from internal revolution as well. And the then victorious Abbasid from external pressure in the form of the Mongols. I'll cede the point to you regarding the Ottoman and Fatimid Caliphates though! =)

    Also, adding a reason for collapse, internal incoherence/lack of political unity. Alexander's Hellenic Empire became the Diadochi states, Genghis Khan's Mongol empire became the Kipchak, the Chagatai, the Ilkhanate, and the Yuan. With those two examples, thiscause seems to me particularly likely when the Empire is massive and founded quickly by a single great leader with several powerful generals and no clear heir.

    Aaaand, that does it for my input from page one. I'll finish the thread tomorrow!

  9. #39
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    @Tomalak: no worries. You're welcome.

    @ SaberDart: thanks for the praise. Those are some very good points you make; I can't disagree with any of them. I was going to comment on your suggestions, but I don't think I really have much to add. Environmental factors could contribute to empire-building, even if they are not the decisive factors (eg Vikings in Iceland and Greenland during the Medieval Warm Period); Hungary, Moorish Spain and Mughal India are some more examples of raiding cultures putting down roots; the search for a particular resource can be illustrated with the British and Indian tea or the Dutch and Indonesian spices (although they were looking for commodities rather than strategic resources); people fleeing another aggressor - I meant to include this myself, but apparently forgot, so thanks for adding that one.

    I don't know much about the Omayyad or Rashidun, but is it possible that their internal problems arose from the expense of maintaining a large empire? Rome was already falling apart from within before the Germanic tribes appeared, and that was largely because the Empire was too cumbersome to easily govern. I think that's true about empires built by one leader, and it's usually because the empire grows too large too quickly, and so there is no chance for a civil administration to be developed. The empires, therefore, are shortlived. Just goes to show, doesn't it - bureaucracy is a good thing.

  10. #40
      SaberDart is offline
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    @TheHoarseWhisperer: good point with the environmental contribution. I'd still be leery of crediting the environment's contribution as being resposible, but I can totally see how it might make it easier for an invader to establish themselves, or for an extant empire to fend off invaders.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheHoarseWhisperer View Post
    I don't know much about the Omayyad or Rashidun, but is it possible that their internal problems arose from the expense of maintaining a large empire?
    Not really, at least not for the Rashidun. That collapse was mostly political intrigue. That first caliphate was ruled by the immediate successors to Muhammad: Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman, and Ali, and there was a succession debate right off the bat between Abu Bakr and Ali. The Caliphate collapsed when Ali's son Hassan ceded the throne to Omar's powerful cousin Muawiyah (who ruled from Damascus, and had quite the army at his command). When Muawiyah died Hassan tried to re assume the throne, but Muawiyah's son Yazid killed him, cementing the new Omayyad Caliphate in Damascus.

    But, I suppose the Omayyad fall could be seen as overreach. So, fine. You win. =P However, the problem was less expense, and more oppression/poor governance in the fringes/cultural differences with the fringes. Which I suppose is a good additional reason for collapse, cultural incohesion.

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