Questions tagged [geography]

For questions about the characteristics and effects of natural features on a world.

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166
votes
23answers
38k views

If everyone in the world disappeared except 35 random people, how long would it take for one of them to realize they're not alone?

Everyone suddenly disappears from earth except 35 people randomly scattered wherever they were before everyone disappeared. How long would it take on average for 2 or more people to meet? What other ...
105
votes
11answers
32k views

In a medieval setting, how far apart should towns be?

This is a medieval European (fantasy) setting, with the following (highly tentative) parameters: Each town is vaguely autonomous, and have their own municipal government system. Towns do trade with ...
104
votes
18answers
21k views

What would make scientists realize they were on a flat world?

Scenario: While poking around in an alien ruin, scientists discover a gateway which offers instant transportation to an Earth-like world. The Observed World: The gateway leads to an area that is ...
66
votes
5answers
3k views

Are geographically typed planets realistic?

In many science fictions we see planets which are designated by a particular terrain type. For example, Dagobah is a swamp planet, Tatooine is a desert planet, and Kamino is an ocean world. However, ...
65
votes
18answers
7k views

Ultimate Australian Canal

First of all, yes I'm Australian, and yes I am using a kangaroo to type this up. If you take a look at Australia, it's a pretty sad place geographically. Very flat, very dry, mostly desert and for ...
60
votes
28answers
14k views

Could extreme climate zones exist next to each other?

I would love to shape my planet in a way, that allows me to have an extremely cold, icy desert, next to an extremely hot, sanddesert. By "next to", I don't mean a few hundred miles apart, with ...
54
votes
14answers
9k views

Would a castle built at the top of a mesa have unusual weaknesses?

Imagine some settlers are looking to build a castle in an area of expansive plans discover a small, isolated mesa: the formation has a very steep face, rising up 10-20m. The area of this formation ...
53
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24answers
10k views

What could make an area of land be accessible only at certain times of the year?

I've looked around here a bit, but I haven't managed to find a post that really answers my question (though if there is one, please let me know). I'm trying to write a story where the two main ...
51
votes
21answers
13k views

What natural phenomena could make an island unreachable?

If an island in a sub-tropical region were to be unreachable because of natural phenomena, what could those phenomena be? The people trying to reach said island have 17th century seafaring ...
51
votes
7answers
29k views

Creating a realistic world map - Landmass formation

This question focuses on the initial creation of landmasses. What are the processes that causes land-masses to form, and continents and islands to rise up from the sea and sink back into it? How can ...
50
votes
22answers
10k views

What could prevent players from leaving an island?

I am currently building a campaign for DnD. The main plot plays out on an island the heroes are stranded on after their ship goes off track and sinks. They discover that this island is ruled by ...
49
votes
14answers
6k views

How would they learn astronomy, those who don't see the stars?

I imagine a planet similar to ours, except for two details: The presence of everlasting clouds No yearly seasons Explanation: In this world clouds are very high and thick, so that sunlight (or ...
49
votes
4answers
5k views

What would a planet spinning fast enough to allow geostationary orbit near the surface look like?

From an answer to a previous question of mine: A planet spinning fast enough to allow geostationary orbit near the surface would result in odd side effects. Any object at rest on the equator would ...
49
votes
8answers
10k views

Creating a realistic world map - Coastlines

Whenever I draw coastlines for a map, I find myself simply drawing large curves and adding in small squiggles in between, occasionally varying things a little for river deltas or small peninsulas. ...
48
votes
23answers
11k views

What scientifically would make it possible that certain large bodies of water be impassable?

What scientifically would make it possible that certain large bodies of water be impassable while others that seem very similar are able to be navigated? This is not what I am attempting to do, but ...
48
votes
12answers
8k views

How would you know your floating island was losing altitude?

The question: What realistic environmental signs would telegraph to the occupants of a floating landmass that their home was slowly losing altitude? The planet: I'm working on a story that takes ...
47
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19answers
9k views

(How) can I provide reliable water sources in a world of flying islands?

I have humans who live in a world filled with floating islands. These islands span all heights in the planet: from the core to the upper atmosphere. The problem I have is that most of these islands ...
46
votes
9answers
15k views

Are there any real world examples of where a desert and a swamp meet each other?

I am building a world with many deserts and swamps. So a simple question: Are there any real world examples of where a desert and a swamp meet each other? Deserts and swamps are vastly different ...
43
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18answers
11k views

City made of glass in a desert?

My world has a city of glass found along the outskirts of a desert. I decided on this because sand can become glass and so it was a huge resource that could be used for building. However, the concern ...
40
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6answers
5k views

Where should I land my invading fleet?

I need to land about a thousand heavy troop transports and some supporting spacecrafts, somewhere remote and preferably underpopulated. I've watched your television broadcasts and seen how previous ...
39
votes
16answers
6k views

A realistic option for enclosing a geographic area

So in many games you have regions that are bordered on all sides by impassible geography of some sort or another. This has always bothered me as necessary but also acts as a reminder to pull you out ...
39
votes
4answers
8k views

How (un)likely is a split of one major river into two others?

I inherited a worldbuilding project, and the former authors liked some things that seem unrealistic. One of them is that one of the world's biggests rivers splits into two other rivers some 300-400 ...
35
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13answers
7k views

Can a river be put under enough pressure to jet straight up for a mile?

I've been mulling over an idea for my preferred RPG setting, and I wanted to check if anyone knows the following: Is it possible for a river to flow underground for miles, and then suddenly be put ...
35
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12answers
7k views

Creating a realistic world map - Countries Borders

From previous questions, I made a nice mass of land, which was enriched up until the drawing of precise coastlines. But all that nice lands looks a bit empty. In my world, I want to make it alive, ...
33
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6answers
6k views

If a patch of desert were magically displaced to the middle of a forest, what would happen to the whole forest after certain periods of time?

First of all, I am tagging this with the magic because this phenomena is not a result of something natural. What would happen to a whole forest region if a patch of desert magically appeared at its ...
32
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28answers
12k views

If my world is flat (obviously not possible) how would I explain the edges?

I don't want my world to be infinite, that would be a pain to draw maps for. And I need it to be flat (for a slightly unrelated reason). How would I explain why none has looked over or seen the edge ...
32
votes
12answers
8k views

Where in Europe can I detonate 100 kt (non-nuclear) not to harm anyone?

Reality check: Protagonists of my story have a scientific device of a peaceful purpose. Unfortunately, despite the peaceful purpose, activation of the device, as a side-effect releases about 100 ...
31
votes
5answers
11k views

If Sweden was to magically float away, at what altitude would it be visible from the southern hemisphere?

If a chunk of land mass the size and position of Sweden took off and floated away in a straight line, exiting the atmosphere and orbiting earth, at what distance would it be visible from, let's say, ...
31
votes
15answers
2k views

What geographic characteristics for a world would be needed/be most beneficial for airships to be a common mode of transportation?

Airships are a hallmark of countless steampunk and dieselpunk constructed universes. Of course, in our world, they were around for a short while. I want to know what effects geographical circumstances ...
31
votes
3answers
7k views

Creating a realistic world map - Erosion

Once geological processes have created a landscape a number of factors come into play in order to reshape it. This includes weather and climate effects such as wind, rain and ice reshaping the terrain....
30
votes
13answers
6k views

Semi-accessible continent

I have a bit of a problem. My largest dragons have a flight range of over 1000 miles, but I have another continent that is only reachable by ship significantly closer (just over 750 miles). I can't ...
29
votes
7answers
841 views

How can the terrain of a large area change abruptly in a short period of time?

By "short period of time", I'm referring to the timeframe of weeks to months (not days or hours). For example: at the start of one day the land is flat, but after a few weeks or months there is a ...
28
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17answers
7k views

What could be a valid reason for an entire section of a continent to remain unexplored and undiscovered, by the rest of the world in medieval times?

How can a part of a continent (super or other) remain unexplored by the apparently civilized majority? The undiscovered part must be habitable but inaccessible, by land or sea, so that the rest of the ...
28
votes
11answers
24k views

Explaining uphill rivers scientifically?

I see this in so many maps. Normally, the water flows downhill because of gravity but here it is the opposite, rivers will go above the hills. When you mention this incoherence, the authors refuse to ...
27
votes
7answers
4k views

What natural protections could a small oceanic island have against tsunamis?

In what ways could an island be protected from tsunamis, given the following constraints?: It lies in the middle of the ocean, at least several hundred kilometers from the nearest continent. It does ...
27
votes
5answers
6k views

What would Earth's Land look like in the year 3000? would there be any significant changes at all in 1000 years?

I've tried researching this question myself, but the only data I can find is over huge timescales, like situations where the continents have reformed back into a Neo-Pangea. I'm not looking for any ...
26
votes
12answers
20k views

Is it possible for an ocean to have a river flowing from it into a lake?

I am designing the geography of a lake in which two rivers flow. Should it have a river flowing from it to the sea or vice versa?
25
votes
7answers
4k views

What are the ley lines this nomadic people uses to follow the same path year after year?

In the world I'm building, there is a race of people whose main shtick is that they can detect the magnetic fields of their planet and use them to navigate. In one of their cultures, the people are ...
25
votes
12answers
9k views

Can planets die of old age

I was wondering if planets die after a certain amount of time, perhaps because of decay? If this is the case, how do they die and how long does it take? Do they implode? Explode or perhaps just fall ...
24
votes
11answers
7k views

Is it possible to get permanently scarred by the sea?

My story takes place in an archipelagus in world X, inhabited by people X. In the shores of the capital city of that archipelagus, there is a bay of deep, dark waters. It's supposed to be dark and ...
23
votes
8answers
7k views

How can a valley surrounded by mountains be fertile and rainy?

We all know about Rain Shadow - And if you don't now you do - and that the inner side of a mountain as compared to the ocean would be drier. Now a worldbuiding problem going around that phenomenon. ...
23
votes
11answers
5k views

Building a city on top of, alongside and inside a coastal cliff

The capital of the society my story revolves around is built on top of a cliff, similar to the White Cliffs of Dover (pictured below for reference). For story reasons, they settled in this location ...
22
votes
18answers
8k views

What would be a reason that two superpowers at war would not claim a perfectly good island?

I'm writing a story that involves two superpowers at war. The main character has made a base on a large, unoccupied island that is easily accessible by both superpowers. Would there be a good reason ...
21
votes
17answers
6k views

What is the viability of trains on planets covered in water?

I want to write a science fiction book on a planet mostly covered by ocean, but I also want to incorporate trains into my story. However, it seems that with advances in ship and plane technology, ...
21
votes
5answers
5k views

Are tropical fjords possible?

I'm currently working on two connected continents for the world I'm building. They've created a convergent boundary where they meet, which has given rise to an east-west mountain range, in addition to ...
21
votes
1answer
2k views

Tool to simulate climate & weather effects

I am looking for a tool that can be used to create worlds with a realistic (= physically plausible) climate and surface given general terrain shape, or can at least assist in such a task. My ideal ...
20
votes
7answers
5k views

What would it take for an island to sink and rise yearly and naturally

So I'm writing a book and need help to better explain this island that sinks, more on that in a moment as I give you the basic build of the planet... First, its a world on a very tilted angle. the ...
20
votes
6answers
6k views

Can mountains ever transition abruptly to plains?

I'm trying to write a story where the main characters discover the wreckage of a spaceship in the fields that border their town to the west. To the east, there's the end of a large mountain range. ...
20
votes
5answers
3k views

The Reality of a River World

In a setting I am presently working on, I have envisioned a world similar to Star Wars' Takodana, in that its water is mainly in the form of large rivers, or smaller seas (I generally picture it ...
20
votes
10answers
4k views

How large can a volcano be?

A key part of the plot in a story I'm working on revolves around the main region being on top of volcano that is set to erupt. The trouble is that the region in question in my setting is roughly the ...