1. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    Trying to create a realistic fictional world.

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Daphnes, Feb 19, 2009.

    In a fantasy world I would want a large variety to places. A desert, tundra, marsh, grassland, mountains, and forest. The problem is, I'm not sure how to realistically place them on a continent. What would be the most realistic way to organize those areas? How close should the marsh and desert be? Should the desert be in the middle, or the farthest south? That kind of thing.
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    You can look at countries or continents for ideas. Asia comes to mind since it has everything you mentioned.
     
  3. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Try looking at the world map....

    All the information you need really.
     
  4. Arrow
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    Arrow Member

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    As stated by others, using reference maps might prove helpful. I'd also add that taking some time to "map out" your own fictional world would help. This could not only ground you (lol) in the world you're creating, but perhaps open up wonderful possibilities for you.

    Happy writing!
     
  5. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    You could, as has been suggested, consult some maps.

    To go to a further extreme, though, study up on the history of Earth's various climates, and their causes. That way, you know exactly what affects what over a long period of time, and can completely make your own land.
     
  6. DvnMrtn
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    DvnMrtn Contributing Member

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    It would kind of depend on what kind fantasy world you want to build. I don't think it would matter where you place these things unless they completely didn't make sense. (Example: A Forest right beside a desert) But then again maybe the elves of your forest or whatever make it easier for trees to grow or whatever. It's kind of up to you. I don't think people reading fantasy are going to criticize your terrain placement unless you lack transition between them.
     
  7. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    Ok. Thanks for the responses.
     
  8. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    If I'm not mistaken, a forest CAN be right beside a desert, because a desert expands itself, killing everything in its path and slow becoming larger.

    (If by 'slowly' I mean, 'an inch a year'.)
     
  9. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Youd probably have foothills of grasslands for a few miles.
     
  10. ManicParroT
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    ManicParroT Contributing Member

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    This all assumes that you don't have a bizarre situation, such as twin suns or a massively slanted axis or something. Most of what you need can be found on Wikipedia.

    Deserts generally occur because of their location relative to the prevailing winds.

    Winds pick up moisture from the oceans, and when they reach mountains it turns into precipitation. This means that the one side of the mountains will usually be wetter than the other side. In the lee of the mountains you're more likely to find desert, since the water has been precipitated on the mountains. There will be a bit of greenery around the foothills on the lee side, mostly from snowmelt.

    Similarly, coastal deserts occur because the moisture from prevailing winds has precipitated on the land. The Kalahari is on the west coast of Africa because most of the moisture has been precipitated already by the time the air reaches the coast. The winds are travelling from east to west.

    Additional notes:

    Deserts occur between about 15 and 35 degrees latitude, north and south.

    Tropical rainforests generally lie on the equator, thanks to the increased temperature of the sun causing large amounts of moist air to rise and precipitate.

    The highest mountains often involve plate tectonics. The Himalayas are a fantastic example of fold mountains, caused by India pushing into the Asian continent. Mount
    Everest actually gets higher by a tiny amount every year or so.
    Basically, mountain ranges are found along fault lines.

    Tundras only exist where things are cold (ie, the poles), and there is solid land. Effectively, they require the soil to be permanently frozen, or at least cold enough to prevent trees from growing.

    Some links:

    http://www.nps.gov/archive/moja/mojadewd.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tundra
     
  11. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    The Tundra is also a result of ancient glacier activity, as it was the glaciers that originally froze the soil, and centuries underneath the ice have essentially frozen it permanently.

    One thing you can do, is to avoid kingdoms/nations defined by one geographic feature. That's about as cliche as it can get. Most nations in the world don't have a single geography, but multiple geographies. Even Egypt, which one would think are nothing but desert actually has a degree of geographic diversity. There are only a few nations in the world that can be described by a single geography or climate.
     
  12. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Saying i HATE this, is an understatement (though it seems a lot worse in certain video games)
     
  13. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    Oh, well I was planning on doing that. lol. The Lizardmen of the desert, the Dwarves of the mountains, Elves of the forest, Frogmen of the marsh, ect. Substitute Lizardmen and Frogmen for cooler names. Boghoppers and Raptors perchance. Yettis of the Tundra.
     
  14. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Movies too. Honestly, why would any group of people choose to settle Tatooine? There's nothing there, literally! Talk about an economic dead zone.

    Geography is major in shaping civilizations. People like to settle near water (if cars or aircraft are unavailable). Dense forests, deserts, and tall mountains are natural barriers to human civilization and you'll notice that these features and thick rivers are very common as borders (Europe and older Asian kingdoms before the Colonial Era are prime examples).

    You don't have to go totally into it, but when considering what your world looks like, also consider how the geography would shape population migration. Ten minutes of thought could greatly help you create something that feels more natural than a massive fortress citadel built at the top of a mountain (Granted, fortress citadels on top of mountains are totally sweet :p).
     
  15. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your right

    My states border is a river (both north and soth) and the township area i live in is pretty much incased with escarpments on one side and the coean on the other..
     
  16. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since it isn't going to be Earth, the actual locations don't need to be exactly the same. If you want it to follow the same basic rules as Earth, it does make sense that the closer you get to the poles, the colder it will get, and the hotter areas are going to be more central. In the long run, since it is not the real world, as long as you are not being roo ridiculous, if you believe it, we'll believe it.
     
  17. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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  18. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    The issue of locating biomes on a planet is very complicated. As others have noted, one major factor is latitude--the distance north or south of the equator. You're more likely to find pine trees in a taiga forest near the poles, for instance.

    Another useful bit of info is the suggestion of wikipedia. By searching for "biomes" you will find information on all the various climate and life details. Precipitation, temperature, geology...



    On a more concept note: Single races inhabiting single biomes is very cliche. What is your experience in the fantasy genre? Who and what have you read?
     
  19. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    I'm not sure if I can name many specifics. I've just heard things like elves live in forests, and dwarves live in mountains.

    It's done in games. Like in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. You have Zoras living in a river and lake. You have Kokiri in the forest. You have Gorons in the mountains.

    In games there are sometimes specific areas. So they put a native tribe in that area.
     
  20. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing fiction is not the same as creating a role-playing game. I love rpgs. But they are very different from fiction. I think that before you look too deeply into creating your own world, you should learn about the other worlds already out there and how they work. The most effective writer is someone who has read extensively in the genre they write.

    "Elves live in forests" is a cliche in many ways. First, elves are not an obligatory fantasy race. Second, not all elves live in forests. Third, being told that "elves live in forests" is not going to help you create your own world. If you do choose to have elves live in forests, you must know why. What is it about the forest that makes it good for elves? How would they get enough food to support high civilization? Where do they get raw materials? Ditto with "dwarves in mountains".

    It's also important to remember that a "race" does not live in only one place. At least not civilized ones. Humans live all over the world, for example.
     
  21. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    True. Civilization by its own nature will expand into any habitable location it can find. Humans are a very flexible and adaptable species. I would think any intelligent race would have a similar nature because it's their intelligence that makes them adaptable. They can work their way in anywhere and will expand slowly until something gets in their way (at least until they think of a way around it. The ocean can bite my sanded wooden hull! :p).
     
  22. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even better, someone came up with a concept for a modular floating series of residences. Micronations of the world: To the sea!
     
  23. Daphnes
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    Daphnes Member

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    I may wind up making a race for every terrain anyway, just because I like it. Some travelers will go to other lands, but the main capital would be in the one terrain.

    Thanks for the help, though.
     
  24. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    As the writer, that is your perogative. But I feel it is only fair to warn you that this idea will be seen as cliche and unrelaistic by many readers. That does not mean you shouldn't do it. If you can make it work, I'll read it.
     
  25. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I don't believe you have to mention all those to have a realistic world. If the MCs never go to or think about the desert why force it into your story?

    Personally I think one of the things that make a world most believable is when the line between good and evil is blurry.
     

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