I realized that mountains typically form deserts and lush areas via the rain shadow effect(in other words, most of the rain is on 1 side of the mountain forming a lush area and barely any rain gets to the other side, forming a desert).

So would the mountains in this region form a desert and thus not a good place for civilization(I mean, being underground mitigates the heat but still, the sand could be disastrous, especially for babies) or would the swampland that the Black Sword River leads to just 100 miles south be enough to not form a desert?

enter image description here Area with mountains in question

enter image description here Area 100 miles north of civilization with tributaries of the river

enter image description here Area 100 miles south of civilization that is all swamp that the river leads to.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I can't really figure out the geography from your pictures, but it looks as though you just have a few isolated mountain peaks. That won't produce much of a rain shadow effect. You need a long (probably comparatively narrow) range more or less perpendicular to the prevailing winds for that. Think the Sierra Nevada/Cascades of western North America. Also, contrary to popular myth, most deserts aren't all that sandy, nor are they always hot. Again, North American Great Basin as an example. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Feb 5, 2018 at 2:38

2 Answers 2


Prevailing winds bring rain

Rain depends, in general, on two things: which direction does the wind come from, and does that wind have rain in it.

Mountains work by removing rain from winds in a certain direction. If the winds generally move south to north, then places to the north of a mountain range are dry. This is the case with Uzbekistan in Central Asia, blocked by the mountains of Iran and Afghanistan from wet winds from the Indian Ocean. For a counter example, Nebraska in the US is in the middle of a continent, like Uzbekistan, and north of a tropical ocean (the Gulf of Mexico). But unlike Uzbekistan, there are no (significant) mountains between Nebraska and the Gulf of Mexico, so warm summer winds penetrate into the continent. Nebraska is a fertile prairie, while Uzbekistan is mostly a barren desert.

So the real question for you is, where do the winds come from, and are they wet?. That is up to you. Look at wind maps of Earth, and decide where on the planet your location is. Then you can copy the local wind patterns for the appropriate latitude and location on a continent. Once you have the wind patters, see if those winds come from an ocean, or across a mountain range. Winds off of warm oceans cause monsoonal rain; winds across mountain ranges carry little moisture; other winds are somewhere in the middle.


Desert != Unlivable... it just means it doesn't get rain.

Groundwater, runoff from the mountains, etc. can provide abundant water.

  • $\begingroup$ I never said that deserts are unlivable, it is more the sand and dust storms that would be disastrous, especially for babies if the desert is hot(which it most likely would be if swampland is near it) and the temperature if the desert is cold(which would be more likely closer to the poles). $\endgroup$
    – Caters
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 0:35
  • $\begingroup$ I feel like you are asking permission to make it a bad place to live? Desert also doesn't equal dust storms... or sand... or even severe temps... desert literally only means very little rain. Without much more details, and a weather model... the exact nature of your desert is going to be hard to pin down. If you WANT your desert to include those things (extreme temps/storms), go for it, but if you are asking "not a good place for civilization" then I would say nothing you have said so far has indicated that. Civilizations have been built in deserts since forever. $\endgroup$
    – OhkaBaka
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 16:57

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