All Questions

53
votes
8answers
4k views

Is there a credible way a shapeshifter could gain/lose body mass when changing forms?

Shapeshifters are creatures which are able to, based on will or some sort of external stimuli, change between different forms while still remaining the same individual. Sometimes they retain the same ...
16
votes
11answers
1k views

What conditions could lead to an indefinitely long state of war?

Could a war continue indefinitely? I see two parts to this question: Stability A war is often unstable, in that a slight advantage gained by one side makes them more likely to win further battles ...
14
votes
11answers
3k views

Assuming magic is a source of energy that wizards have access to, how would they “bleed off” the energy when not using it?

So in many worlds, magic is a source of power that magic users can draw upon and "do stuff with" - make elemental effects (fire, cold, lightning), heal wounds, shield from arrows, light rooms, etc. ...
9
votes
3answers
517 views

Assuming you couldn't die, what effects would radiation have on the body?

I'm trying to create some more original monsters for a fantasy story and I was wondering... Assuming you couldn't die, what would happen to your body and how would you appear if you were exposed to ...
44
votes
5answers
2k views

Creating convincingly alien viewpoints

Most aliens tend to be humans with bumpy foreheads and/or pointy ears. Even when they do have differences then usually it is an entire species being portrayed as a particular brand of human. For ...
20
votes
4answers
1k views

City in a hollow tree

As a tree grows new layers are added each year so that the trunk expands in radius. The living part of the tree is a relatively thin layer on the outside just beneath the bark, and the wood further ...
5
votes
2answers
420 views

What is the most efficient data-structure to store planet elevation? [closed]

Planet elevation maps can be quite big, zooming in/out can be quite costly. I wonder if there is a most efficient data-structure used to store elevation maps such as quad-trees or any tree-based ...
14
votes
2answers
835 views

What are the known algorithms to create a planet with a subterranean cave network?

I know a few algorithms to build an elevation map for a planet, but most of them do not take into account the underground aspects of the planet (caves, tunnels, ...). Are there any algorithms to take ...
40
votes
19answers
2k views

How can I make money work across separate planets?

Over time separate countries have adopted common currencies, and a world can be imagined where a planet has a single currency. However, in building a world spanning a multiplanet system (several ...
14
votes
5answers
480 views

What factors could lead to a narrow focus of technology?

In many SF stories (or fantasy if you replace science with magic), there is one technology that is hyper advanced in one specific field, like robotics in Real Humans or in Extant, but almost nothing ...
24
votes
6answers
6k views

Are dragons cold or warm blooded?

My world is science-based with an earth-like biology. The dragons fly when they're young and then grow too heavy and can only glide if at all. They breathe fire by expelling gas and igniting it. They ...
13
votes
4answers
526 views

How can I create an enormous crater?

My world has a huge crater (4400 miles in diameter) on a world that's roughly earth equivalent so a circumference of (25000 miles), the native population don't need to know how it was formed but it ...
26
votes
5answers
6k views

Does living without access to sunlight for extended periods have known physical or psychological effects on humans?

Humans (even programmers :-) ) are used to having some access to natural light, but in a colony on the dark side of a moon or underground (for example) this won't happen. Are there known (documented) ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

What would be the main societal changes if we invented a free and unlimited energy source tomorrow on earth? [closed]

In this setting, a scientist invents a method for free and unlimited energy that is accessible to each and every one (open source, easy to manufacture...). This happens on nowadays earth. What would ...
18
votes
1answer
715 views

Difference between single-coin vs multi-coin currencies

In the real world — I am from Europe — I often hear and participate in discussions about how printing a paper 2 Euro note would have an impact on micro-economy, i.e. how it would make ...
14
votes
2answers
513 views

Ratio between planet-size and terrain elevation?

Let's imagine we have an algorithm that produce an elevation-map for a sphere. I wonder if the ratio between the planet radius and the delta between the highest and lowest altitude is a constant or ...
11
votes
1answer
286 views

Are infections necessary for human colonisation?

If a human colony is set up on another planet or moon, or in an orbiting habitat, most of the infectious diseases from Earth would not be present in the small initial population. Careful screening ...
12
votes
7answers
1k views

Asteroid as a generation ship

I was wondering if it would make sense to hollow out an asteroid to use for a generation ship? Also, might it be a good idea to use hollow asteroids for any kind of long distance space ship? I'm ...
19
votes
13answers
2k views

How can magic and the economy reliably stand together?

This question assumes that in any kind of magical world, any form of magi can create nearly anything, but especially -- using only magic, can create gold, silver, gemstones, other currency, etc. as ...
14
votes
16answers
3k views

Can civilization development occur completely without faith?

Could a civilization grow or develop to advanced levels if they don't hold religious beliefs? I have just watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Who watch the watchers" (season 3, episode 4). It ...
8
votes
4answers
633 views

What natural or artificial geographical structures that could allow a large-scale true “water going down the drain” whirlpool?

As a child, I was always fascinated by the propensity of water going down a drain to form a vortex. I created a world with a global ocean where there was a narrow body of land running north-south ...
36
votes
4answers
4k views

Is there a scientifically sound faster-than-light travel system for a spaceship?

Recurringly in Sci-Fi spaceships manage to make it to lightspeed and above. Is there a scientifically plausible explanation of such capacity? How does it impact the spaceship's design and its ...
32
votes
7answers
8k views

How extensive could a habitable twilight zone be on a tidally locked planet?

If a planet always faces the same side to the sun, so that it has a permanent night side and a permanent day side, it will have a twilight zone in between the two sides. This will be a band around the ...
23
votes
5answers
2k views

How critical is it for life that a planet remains within the habitable zone at all times?

Important note: The orbits in the diagram are elliptical. They have low eccentricity so they appear to be off centre circles but they really are ellipses with the star at a focus. The habitable ...
6
votes
1answer
268 views

Why do the terms “large scale” and “small scale” seem to swap meanings? [closed]

Sometimes when someone says a map is "small scale", it seems to mean a map shows a small area, but the things are drawn large as a result, and other times it means the things in the map are shown much ...
26
votes
4answers
4k views

Less boring classifications of earth-like terrain when making maps

When creating a map for a fantasy world, I typically add broad top-level descriptions for terrain. Mountains here, forests there, a river, a swamp etc. Watch any nature documentary, and each terrain ...
22
votes
5answers
4k views

What would a habitable moon most probably look like?

We have a pretty good idea of what attributes a planet would need to sustain life and one can imagine how life might develop on a planet, even in difficult environments. I find it extremely difficult ...
46
votes
3answers
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 ...
9
votes
4answers
237 views

Foundation Component of New World

I perceive multiple distinguishable and yet interdependent components of any world. Things like: individual creatures societal constructs / interaction geography history sources of strife etc. ...
10
votes
2answers
290 views

Ensuring consistency in a world

I want to be able to apply tools or methodologies to help ensure consistency in my world. For example: Burning world Imagine a planet with a land mass around the equator on which a great fire rages ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Could venoms evolve naturally in mammals?

Venoms have evolved in certain classes of animals on Earth (notably snakes and frogs, but also fish and maybe elsewhere that I can't think of right now), sometimes for defense and sometimes (...
45
votes
3answers
12k views

Is there a maximum size an ocean bound creature could grow to?

Assuming the ocean is deep enough and not overcrowded is there any upper limits to the size a "sea monster" can grow? On land creatures are limited by gravity, they have to be able to generate the ...
60
votes
4answers
6k views

Can you simply scale up animals?

There have been a number of questions focusing on mythical creatures where the logical approach to answering has been to scale up an existing animal. For example dragon's wings can be extrapolated ...
163
votes
18answers
49k views

How could dragons be explained without magic?

Dragons are a grand classic of fantasy. For this question, let's assume we're talking about the following stereotype: hatches from an ostrich-sized egg and can grow to mountain size if nothing limits ...
19
votes
6answers
2k views

How do I figure out how many people my domed city on a hostile planet can support?

I have a colony of humans on Mars, living in enclosed cities to maintain breathable air. (If they need to leave, they suit up.) Assuming modern-day technology, how do I figure out how many people a ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Does the Kardashev scale have points below zero?

There's a Kardashev scale in which Earth civilisation is at 0 (the lowest) level with all following levels being purely hypothetical and describing civilisations more advanced than human. Is there ...
15
votes
4answers
334 views

What qualities are necessary for an effective herd creature?

What qualities about a land-dwelling creature are absolutely necessary to maintain an effective herd of that creature for food and/or resources? Assume this is an earth-like environment.
15
votes
3answers
417 views

What is a good reference size for a settlement?

I have been sporadically building a particular world, mainly by developing its cultures with events (often paralleling Earth history) and individuals, rather than shaping the cultures beforehand. One ...
14
votes
9answers
1k views

How could a Dyson Sphere be destroyed through natural causes?

I would like to destroy a Dyson Sphere so it leaves big chunks of scrap metal with no habitable zones left, but still with enough structure to hold building-sized blocks. The destruction shouldn't be ...
22
votes
2answers
1k views

Settings formed by Uncontrolled Terraforming of Venus and Mars via Portals

If two circular portals of 2 meter (arbitrary) diameter were created allowing uninhibited flow between surface atmospheres of Venus and Mars, what would be the environmental effects on the two planets?...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

How to make different cultures with different naming styles but common language believable?

For a roleplaying world, it is highly favorable to have some common language spoken by all the possible playable races or nations, so that the players could play different characters without having to ...
12
votes
2answers
413 views

Would a roof over a ship's board hinder operation of the ship significantly?

Related to: How would rudder protection against water elementals affect ship's performance and How would sails from a fireproof material affect ship's performance? Most real-world ships from say 14th ...
22
votes
2answers
631 views

How would sails from a fireproof material affect ship's performance?

Related to: How would rudder protection against water elementals affect ship's performance In a world with ordinary magic, military ships should be prepared for enemy fireball-hurling wizards. Is ...
18
votes
5answers
18k views

What factors determine a planet's gravity?

In Science Fiction we often see the protagonists exploring all sorts of strange new worlds with no apparent discomfort to the variations in gravity. What factors determine how strong the gravity will ...
24
votes
7answers
3k views

How can I make steampunk airships less flimsy?

I've been thinking about a steampunk style world where a lot of the transport is done with balloon powered airships. Obviously there are conflicts and I'm trying to think of ways these craft could be ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

How important is fire? [closed]

Fire (or the ability to create it) is often cited as the spark of civilization, it is so revered that its inventors are legendary figures in mythology. Practically speaking, fire can: Keep you warm, ...
10
votes
7answers
2k views

Is the world of a Roguelike RPG plausible?

In this context, I will define a Roguelike RPG world to be a world where a lone adventurer fights scores of monsters who drop magical weapons, armor and artifacts that the adventurer may pick up, use, ...
15
votes
4answers
815 views

How to establish values of metal coins?

In real world, it is commonly thought that gold is the most valuable, then silver, then bronze (which is an alloy), etc. But it happens that uranium is more expensive than gold, even if there were no ...
17
votes
1answer
849 views

How would rudder protection against water elementals affect ship's performance?

In my world, there are two countries constantly in cold or warm war with each other, and one of them has quite a lot of magi in their army. In my RPG campaign, the party is sailing one of the best-...
16
votes
5answers
5k views

How do I put a rectangular map onto a globe?

I've spent time hand-drawing, and then scanning, and colorizing a world map using Paint.Net. The map uses a rectangular projection (something like an Equirectangular, Plate Caree, or Behrmann ...

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