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So I'm writing a fantasy story where a giant colossus appears next to a village and is holding a giant boulder (or small mountain) over it like it's ready to drop. The boulder is large enough to shade the entire village and it's about 1,000 feet up.

What would be the ecological effects? Would you still be able to grow crops from the sunlight that ekes in during morning and night? Would the soil moisture be sufficient or would you need to irrigate? Would there be much temperature change? Would the animals go nuts?

Clarifications:

  • He is definitely just standing there. It is made of metal, something dull but goldish in sheen, no rust. It's magic, you know.

  • The villagers have climbed as far as they can on it -- only up to its waist -- as its bending on one knee and too sheer to climb its torso. They do believe it's something theological. But they know it's a curse, not a blessing, since it's holding impending doom over the village.

  • The village was there to begin with, then the colossus appeared.

  • The boulder is flat on the bottom, the exact circumference of the village. So all rain that falls would only be on the edge.

  • The village is extremely far away from the central kingdom, which just had a bit of an apocalypse which drove people into isolated villages. So no one's interested in visiting any "attractions".

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    $\begingroup$ There would be no crops because the farmers who used to work under the boulder's shadow would move away. Lack of sunshine wouldn't be the only motivator... who wants to live under a rock? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ They had a lot more land than people in the Middle Ages. The people would simply move away from the doomed village. (And medieval villages were quite small, so the shaded area would be insignificant.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 16:45
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    $\begingroup$ Can you add the area of the shadow your bolder is casting to your question, and maybe the reason why the villagers wouldn't just move as suggested. Also is it a sphere or flat on the bottom. With a sphere, rainwater may seep around it and pour down in the middle, depending on surface roughness. $\endgroup$
    – D.J. Klomp
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ There is no rain under the rock. No water no crops. Or it seeps slowly through the porous rock, then it is dripping eternally. Treat it like any cave, just with a 360 degree entrance plus religious worship. $\endgroup$
    – Anderas
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 9:04

3 Answers 3

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  1. Everyone sane would get out of dodge.
  2. The leftover crazies would start a local cult worshiping the giant/rock.
  3. If the cult gets popular, it becomes a place of pilgrimage and religious headquarters.
  4. A small community establishes itself at the edge of the colossus' shadow, looking to take advantage of the money tourists and pilgrims bring in.
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  • $\begingroup$ Honestly, I for one welcome our new boulder overlords. $\endgroup$
    – IT Alex
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 13:27
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To answer your questions:

  • What would be the ecological effects?

Plant life would not grow if the town is in shade. All large plant life requires sunlight to convert food (from the ground), water, and carbon dioxide into growth. Low-light level plants may be able to grow (moss, algae) from indirect daylight.

  • Would you still be able to grow crops from the sunlight that ekes in during morning and night?

No crops exist without sunlight except fungus. You could grow mushrooms.

  • Would the soil moisture be sufficient or would you need to irrigate?

Good point - there would also be no rainfall. Your land would be dry, unless the boulder is shaped such that rain falls still within this area.

  • Would there be much temperature change?

It depends on surrounding geological and environmental features. It would definitely be cooler if sunlight is blocked at all times as no solar radiation would count for a lot, however if it is windy, warm air would blow in.

  • Would the animals go nuts?

No, animals (I presume grazing animals) would not find it weird, but they wouldn't find any reason to be there as there would be no food.

Now for the real questions:

  • What is the colossus doing for all that enormous amount of time? Is he just standing there? Has he turned into stone?
  • Would not the villagers climb over him, and worship him, and build a city around his feet?
  • Would this not be an enormous theological attraction, perhaps even the nexus of a nation / city state, as it is every cities dream to build an enormous 1000 feet high colossus?
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    $\begingroup$ a boulder a 1000ft up is not blocking enough sunlight to prevent plant growth unless it is impossibly wide. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 16:58
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well for one nobody will stay long unless something is blocking them. plants will have a hard time growing because there wont be any significant light. its not even a mile up. some people might stay because they think its their home or something. people might settle the outskirts of the shadow but the inside will be a dark dry wasteland.

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