Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shadow's Apex Part 13: Planetology (Shape, Size, & Water)

Last time, we looked at the first chapter of the World Builder's Guidebook, reviewing a little of what I've already established as the direction of the campaign and fleshing out a few theme related details. The first section of chapter two takes about the broadest perspective possible in designing a campaign setting: deciding the size and shape of the whole planet. As I said earlier, this doesn't seem very useful to me at the moment, but I'll run with it anyway and see what happens.

Shape and Size
First, the shape. If I rolled on the table, I could end up with all kinds of shapes (sphere, cylinder, polyhedron, plane, etc). Although none of this is likely to matter anytime soon, we'll just arbitrarily say that the world is spherical.  Next is size. I'm going to assume that the planet is roughly the size of Earth. The chapter makes note of how large Earth is and how one will never need a planet so large for a roleplaying game because there is no way the characters will explore all of it. Bullhockey, I say. More space only means more options, so Earth size Vidarr will be, 8000 miles in diameter.

This section should help guide me in figuring out how much of the planet is covered in water and how to create a rough sketch of the world based on how much water there is. No, thank you. Instead of going through all this trouble, I believe I'll skip this step and randomly generate a world map through a fractal mapping program. My personal favorite is Planet Editor, which can be found here. Even with my personal void of knowledge on fractal mapping programs, I was able to generate the following world map in just a few clicks. I first clicked randomize, then generate, then scrunched up my nose at the landforms it gave me, then repeated the process and was very pleased with this result:

 This, I can work with.

I haven't yet finished chapter two, but today's work is going to have to be cut short. Looking ahead to the rest of the book, I doubt that I'll finish any of the other chapters in a single post like I did last time. We shall see. Next time we'll look at seismic activity and the climate.
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