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Worldbuilding: Maps

28 December 201212:59AMworldbuilding

Matt went down to Esperance for Christmas with dad. He got back yesterday at about 4pm. I am telling you this because it means that he wasn't here for Christmas so he still has presents under the tree. And I'm telling you that because I need to have a little complain that he decided to jump up and down on my bed at half past seven in the morning shouting "IT'S NOT CHRISTMAS, IT'S NOT CHRISTMAS, COME DOWN AND WATCH ME OPEN MY PRESENTS."

Dick. (lol jks. he makes life much more interesting. he 'bought me', in his words, "an african slave child" for christmas, which manages to combine a remarkable level of selflessness and courage with new highs of political incorrectness. like i said. he makes life interesting.)

Anyway, I'm up now, so let's make some maps.

Maps.

Alright. Let's make a map.

As I said yesterday, deserts are cool. Or, hot. Whatever. And I kind of want one to be my main geographical feature. So I think I'll stick one right here in the middle.

Which, by itself, isn't especially fascinating. I mean, it'll be filled up with ruins and temples and so forth later, but I'm not going to put them on the map at this point. Aside from the obvious treasure seeking, tomb plundering, etc., what I need to create is a reason to go into the desert. And I think that reason is trade. I mentioned trade caravans yesterday, and having to escort one across the desert is as good a reason as any to go into the desert.

So, we need a reason for a trade caravan to cross the desert. Firstly they need somewhere to go, so there needs to be civilisation on both sides. And second, it needs to be the easiest way across, which means there must be something nastier than the desert blocking the way around the desert. I'm thinking either mountains or a particularly dangerous ocean. Or maybe both?

(yes, i am aware that this is as ugly as sin.)

I'm not sure, geographically speaking, how you end up with a desert right next to a sea. From what I know, the best 'explanation' I can come up with is that the mountains create a rain shadow, and that the wind for some reason only goes north. That explanation will have to do, because that has exhausted literally my entire knowledge of geography. And actually, there are some places on earth where the desert goes right up to the ocean. So it must be possible, even if I don't understand it. That's enough for me.

Anyway, that explains the desert caravans. The mountains are impassable, for serious freight at any rate, and futher north there's just more desert and then very treacherous ocean, followed by yet more desert on the other side to get to your destination. Abracadabra, trade caravans.

The cities, then, have to be built where they are for some reason. Okay, I lied before: I know one other thing about geography. Cities are usually built where they are because of availability of fresh water. That could easily be provided by some mountain streams.

Okay, now we're getting somewhere. There's enough here to extrapolate some stuff about what's going on in the region. The cities closest to the desert, and the Desert Road, are obviously going to be trade hubs. This leaves the other cities as the sources of their trade goods. It only makes sense to cross the desert if the other guys have something you really need though. The western cities obviously have more arable land, and a larger river system, so they're probably net exporters of food. Considering the massive desert, they probably grow some plantation wood as well, since there aren't any naturally occurring forests. The east side has to be food poor, but is rich in the materials of industry, stuff like coal and iron - and what the hell, let's put the intellectuals over there as well.

And I think there's enough there to work with. I'll come back and add more detail as I need it though, obviously. If you're interested in my hideous scratchings, here's an editable version.

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