Monday, April 8, 2013

Domain Management: Land

My biggest problem with dealing with land is coming up with a notion of scale. How much land should we account for in the system. Some part of me wants to just hand wave, but I know that'll eventually come back to bite me at some later date.

I think as a rule of thumb, I'll use "a day's travel across" as the maximum for a single spot of terrain. We'll assume that an easy day's travel involves a horse, or roughly 20 miles, or given a perfect square 400 sq. miles, or 400,000 acres. Immense, yes, but reasonable. Sure, some places might be a bit bigger, some a bit smaller, but that seems reasonable enough to use as a rule of thumb. This puts it on the small side of an U.K. county, which I'm okay with as that allows us some room to play with additional terrains to make a bigger county.

So using that, let's pull some land types, stealing mostly from a Birthright adaptation for 3.5:
  • Wasteland - Desolate, can't support any real existence. You might be able to find a few people who eke out an existence here, but you wouldn't want to be one of them.
  • Desert/Tundra - Little rain, little to subsist on, no real ability to build cities, or even villages, without the addition of some feature that allows for it (River/Oasis/Lake/Coast).
  • Mountains - The land of windswept peaks and cliffsides. Ore and stone are most prevalent here.
  • Forests - Deep heavily wooded forests stretching for miles, and places the light never touches the ground.
  • Hills - Little mountains, rolling hills, stone and ore can be found here, as well as the ability to raise some crops.
  • Plains - Flat open land without anything to break the wind, perfect for raising crops, raising animals, building cities, and thus very much desired and fought over.
Are there any that I'm forgetting? Things such as coast, rivers, I'll save for features and do that up later this week.

Right now I'm trying to avoid numbers till I figure out what I need to figure into my needs and wants.


  1. How about islands? While they may incorporate some of the other land types, they have their own considerations as well, especially depending on the size.

  2. What other considerations would you put in there? I'd probably call them forested, ala jungle, or mountainous depending on the type of island it is.

    Looking at Hawaii, the inhabited islands run 4000 sq mi to 70 sq mi with three of 7 inhabited running between 500-700 sq mi. which would each be about 2 terrain features each.

  3. One thing I see missing are the wet places; deltas, swamps, tidelands. While somewhat forested, they present unique challenges to travel. They also tend to have densely populated clusters, and then large tracts of un-usable wetlands. I'd look at Tidewater, Suffolk in particular, for something of what I'm thinking of.
    I think you could easily adapt the WWF’s Major Habitat Types into something useful. A table breaking each down by density of population centers, established travel routes, climate factors (both mundane and extreme), and if elevation is a factor in travel should cover all your bases…god I’m a geo-nerd.

    Here's my cut and paste from wikipedia's Biome page -

    The WWF major habitat types are:
    01 Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests (tropical and subtropical, humid)
    02 Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests (tropical and subtropical, semihumid)
    03 Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests (tropical and subtropical, semihumid)
    04 Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests (temperate, humid)
    05 Temperate coniferous forests (temperate, humid to semihumid)
    06 Boreal forests/taiga (subarctic, humid)
    07 Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands (tropical and subtropical, semiarid)
    08 Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands (temperate, semiarid)
    09 Flooded grasslands and savannas (temperate to tropical, fresh or brackish water inundated)
    10 Montane grasslands and shrublands (alpine or montane climate)
    11 Tundra (Arctic)
    12 Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub or sclerophyll forests (temperate warm, semihumid to semiarid with winter rainfall)
    13 Deserts and xeric shrublands (temperate to tropical, arid)
    14 Mangrove (subtropical and tropical, salt water inundated)

    1. I think that might be more complicated than I'm willing to get at this point and stage, but I'll definitely keep this list in mind - because each of those 14 types will then need other decisions, but yes, I do need to add swamp.

      Remember, this is nominally for a D&D derivative game, which means all innate abilities can be broken down into 6 stats and 3 derived ability scores, I think I'll survive with 7 basic land types, and I'll add some features to compensate and provide variety.