[Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

“You think your people will be free? You think you have escaped me? You mortals will have nothing but war, not a moment of peace until a new God of War rises to replace me.” Discuss the Sundered Empire featured in the Chainmail campaign setting, as it relates to pen & paper RPGs, here.

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[Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Big Mac » Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:02 pm

After a map of the Celestial Imperium and a map of the Chainmail Campaign Setting was posted in a thread called Oriental Lands in Different Settings in the Oriental Adventures forum, I reposted the map at the Facebook group Flanaess Geographical Society, where Anna B Mayer hangs out.

Big Mac on Flanaess Geographical Society's Facebook group wrote:There is a thread about oriental settings on The Piazza's Oriental Adventures forum.

The map of Oerth showing the Celestial Imperium (from Dragon Annual number 1) was mentioned. (I can't get that link to work now.) There is also talk of the (3e) Chainmail setting, which one of the posters said was at the far left of the same continent that the Flanaess is on.

Is this the sort of thing you would be interested in looking at after your currrent project is completed, Anna?


As you can see, I was mostly thinking of the Celestial Imperium, but the Chainmail map was in the thread as an image an that came up on the page there.

Here is the Chainmail map to save you needing to surrf anywhere:
Image

A guy called Steven Rossi ‎~ spotted something I missed on the Chainmail map:
Steven Rossi ‎on Flanaess Geographical Society's Facebook group wrote:That is nice. I wonder why the "Southlands" of west Oerik are all desert. They are so far south of the equator, they should be jungles again, and then temperate along the bottom. There is probably some magical cause. Oerth gets alot of such things... Sea of Dust, Bright Desert, Land of Black Ice, Rift Canyon.

However, if there is no magical cause then it should be changed, and Anna is just the cartographer to do it justice!


Looking at that map, in the light of what Steven said, we have a desert that is larger than the entire Flanaess. :?

I know that Robert S. Conley had some good research about wether in his tutorials and mentioned that:
Big Mac on Flanaess Geographical Society's Facebook group wrote:Weather is a complex thing. Maybe there is nothing to cause rain clouds to rain in the Southlands. :-?

But I have to say that the "Chainmail" area is much bigger than the Flanaess, but seems to have a *lot* less going on there (geographically). It "feels" like it is smaller than the Flanaess, from the level of detail.

Getting back to the uber-desert of the Southlands, Robert S. Conley made some pretty interesting tutorials on world building called: How to Make a Fantasy Sandbox:
http://batintheattic.blogspot.com/2009/ ... ndbox.html

I'm still waiting for him to get through the highly detailed tutorials, but some of his early ones give some really good explanations on weather and how to "tweak" the geography to (realistically) make rain where other places have desert. Maybe some of his logic could make the Southlands a bit more realistic.

(I don't know if Robert's work would allow Anna to make weather maps with her 3D Greyhawk geography.)


I'm sure that Robert could build a desert logically, if he wanted, but I'm not sure if it is possible to build such a large desert in that sort of location.

And although Steven says The Southlands are far south of the equator, I'm not really sure exactly where this map fits on the map of Oerth (i.e. I'm not sure where Oerth's equator is).

Does anyone have the Chainmail material that deals with The Southlands? Does it explain why The Southlands is so big? Is it "magic", like Steven suggests?
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby ripvanwormer » Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:37 am

I don't think it's explained, no. Note that Duicarthan made a revised map of Oerth in which the desert was substantially smaller (but still probably bigger than the Flanaess).
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Eric Anondson » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:35 am

Jungles should cluster on the equator, not off the equator. Just look at Earth. Deserts then straddle the equatorial jungles to the north and south latitudes. Just like the Sahara and Arabian deserts do.

Ocean currents and mountains can break up the patterns however.

I'm not put off by the Southlands being a huge natural desert. If you look at the African/Eurasian landmass, you have one single immense desert zone from the Sahara to Arabia to Central Asia to the Gobi desert in China/Mongolia. And that's one large zone much bigger than Europe is . . . Depending on the ocean currents south of Oerth's equator, there probably ought to be some coastal pockets of vegetation. The southern most tip is nearing the temperate zone usually associated with vegetation, and it's not deep in a continental interior like Central Asia.

There could still logically be extremely dry zones like big parts of India that are dry most of the time but suffer monsoon seasons from the proximity of seasonal ocean currents, providing civilization sustaining vegetation only along river valleys, these areas would still be drawn up as "desert" in such a small scale map.

That all said, I would be redrawing the southern portion in the southern temperate zone not an outright desert. At the minimum I'd reimagine it more like a savannah or steppe or grassland.

Finding logic in Greyhawk geographic maps is an exercise in inventing. ;)
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby night_druid » Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:59 pm

The interior of large continents are generally going to be desert; its simply too great a distance for moisture to reach the interiors from the oceans. That said, I'm not especially fond of the Chainmail setting; all of the countires a freak'n huge (similar in size to Great Kingdom...at its peak!). The whole thing could (probably should) be scaled back to an area not any bigger than Keoland. I got the sense that the setting was more "let's carve up this map into a half-dozen kingdoms" without realizing the scale on the map is like 1" = 1,000 miles or somesuch nonsense.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby BlackBat242 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:13 am

Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?


Because the creators wanted it that way.

And that's not being snarky, the only way you can find out why those who wrote it up made it desert is to ask one of them (or find an interview or article where they explained why)... our speculation here is just guessing, and does not provide the actual answer.


Whatever you come up with is fine for you, and explains things for your world.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Eric Anondson » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:25 am

Um.

Huh.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Big Mac » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:32 am

ripvanwormer wrote:I don't think it's explained, no. Note that Duicarthan made a revised map of Oerth in which the desert was substantially smaller (but still probably bigger than the Flanaess).


That is a great map!

It is a real shame that it is "broken" on the north and south poles and is not the correct shape to wrap around a sphere. Apart from those minor issues, I think this is the best detailed map of Oerth that I've seen.

Eric Anondson wrote:Jungles should cluster on the equator, not off the equator. Just look at Earth. Deserts then straddle the equatorial jungles to the north and south latitudes. Just like the Sahara and Arabian deserts do.

Ocean currents and mountains can break up the patterns however.

I'm not put off by the Southlands being a huge natural desert. If you look at the African/Eurasian landmass, you have one single immense desert zone from the Sahara to Arabia to Central Asia to the Gobi desert in China/Mongolia. And that's one large zone much bigger than Europe is . . . Depending on the ocean currents south of Oerth's equator, there probably ought to be some coastal pockets of vegetation. The southern most tip is nearing the temperate zone usually associated with vegetation, and it's not deep in a continental interior like Central Asia.

There could still logically be extremely dry zones like big parts of India that are dry most of the time but suffer monsoon seasons from the proximity of seasonal ocean currents, providing civilization sustaining vegetation only along river valleys, these areas would still be drawn up as "desert" in such a small scale map.

That all said, I would be redrawing the southern portion in the southern temperate zone not an outright desert. At the minimum I'd reimagine it more like a savannah or steppe or grassland.

Finding logic in Greyhawk geographic maps is an exercise in inventing. ;)


Great logic, Eric. I like the idea of there being more things if you zoom in on the map. And I think you are right about the need to invent stuff.

night_druid wrote:The interior of large continents are generally going to be desert; its simply too great a distance for moisture to reach the interiors from the oceans. That said, I'm not especially fond of the Chainmail setting; all of the countires a freak'n huge (similar in size to Great Kingdom...at its peak!). The whole thing could (probably should) be scaled back to an area not any bigger than Keoland. I got the sense that the setting was more "let's carve up this map into a half-dozen kingdoms" without realizing the scale on the map is like 1" = 1,000 miles or somesuch nonsense.


The scale does seem a bit odd to me too. But then again, if you look at North America, compared to Europe, you have Canada, the USA and Mexico all on a much larger scale than France, England and Spain.

Perhaps there is some sort of logic to the size that I don't understand yet.

BlackBat242 wrote:
Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?


Because the creators wanted it that way.

And that's not being snarky, the only way you can find out why those who wrote it up made it desert is to ask one of them (or find an interview or article where they explained why)... our speculation here is just guessing, and does not provide the actual answer.


Whatever you come up with is fine for you, and explains things for your world.


I don't think you are being snarky, Jon, but isn't the entire point of a forum to have discussions about stuff? :?

If no information is available, you can only go on a best guess.

An interview or article would be great, but I know very little about the Chainmail setting, so I'm not even sure where to start.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:10 pm

AFAIK, it was never explained (or even mentioned, really, despite the proximity to Drazen's Horde). It could be natural, or it could be a Sea of Dust type thing- the Demon War between the elves and demons could have deforested the region, for instance, or perhaps it's where the body of Stratis fell when he was defeated, and the cataclysm of his death (or a death curse) flayed the land. Maybe it was even a meteor crash.

(For the last two, Malhavoc put out some good supplements on how to implement such things in Requiem for a God and When the Sky Falls a few years back. They're D20, but for the most part are mechanics free. Seems to me there was also a recent either 3E or Pathfinder style "Death of a God" supplement from someone, but I'm not sure.)
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:13 pm

Also, to echo what Eric Anondson said above, though it looks like it is some kind of barren, sandy wasteland, perhaps it is more along the lines of somewhere like Arizona, which while desert, has a wide variety of flora and fauna, and also features some of the most diverse climate and geography anywhere.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:17 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:I don't think it's explained, no. Note that Duicarthan made a revised map of Oerth in which the desert was substantially smaller (but still probably bigger than the Flanaess).


I've always liked that map, since it keeps the Chainmail/Sundered Empire stuff intact, as well as incorporating some of the other elements of the Dragon Annual map, puts Erypt (from the Desert of Desolation trilogy) somewhere, etc.

Some of the misspellings bug me, though (such as Dritzen's Horde, as opposed to Drazen's Horde). I wonder if they were intentional or accidental.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Eric Anondson » Sat Oct 29, 2011 8:47 pm

Was there only ever one map of the [Chainmail] region? Are there sub-regional maps? Since my expertise in the Chainmail sub-setting is minuscule, is there a comprehensive online compendium of setting details?

Is there a high quality scan of it for download somewhere?
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:48 pm

Eric Anondson wrote:Was there only ever one map of the [Chainmail] region? Are there sub-regional maps?


To my knowledge, that's it.

Since my expertise in the Chainmail sub-setting is minuscule, is there a comprehensive online compendium of setting details?


A while back, I posted all the info I'd managed to glean from the Dragon Magazine articles on the Chainmail setting. That's the extent of my knowledge of it, though. I never bought/owned any of the Chainmail materials, so I couldn't say if they had any more setting information contained in them than the articles did.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Big Mac » Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:46 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Eric Anondson wrote:Since my expertise in the Chainmail sub-setting is minuscule, is there a comprehensive online compendium of setting details?


A while back, I posted all the info I'd managed to glean from the Dragon Magazine articles on the Chainmail setting. That's the extent of my knowledge of it, though. I never bought/owned any of the Chainmail materials, so I couldn't say if they had any more setting information contained in them than the articles did.


I can't quite tell how Sundered Empire relates to the map. Is all of the northern bit of the Chainmail map, or were some areas able to remain outside of that empire?
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:20 am

Big Mac wrote:I can't quite tell how Sundered Empire relates to the map. Is all of the northern bit of the Chainmail map, or were some areas able to remain outside of that empire?


I'm not exactly sure where the term Sundered Empire came from in relation to the Chainmail stuff; as near as I can recall without rechecking the source material, there were actually several Empires/Kingdoms/Nations in the region. I expect the Sundering is more in reference to the chaos that transpired among the nations with the death of the god Stratis. Not sure why there's only a singular Empire referenced, though. Then again, it could be referring to the Empire of Ravilla that it refers to, although I can't think offhand of why it might be considered Sundered.

IE, there is no actual "Sundered Empire" region. It is just a term that was applied- for whatever reason- to the whole area covered by the Chainmail miniatures game/rules. Sort of like the Red Steel setting, or Birthright, etc.

In any case, the Chainmail articles and game supplements only dealt very cursorily with the history, and dealt solely with the regions that are named on the map in the original post. Anything outside of those regions never got dealt with, to my knowledge, and even within the broad regions I'm sure there is a lot of room for additional development.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Big Mac » Thu Dec 15, 2011 1:24 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I can't quite tell how Sundered Empire relates to the map. Is all of the northern bit of the Chainmail map, or were some areas able to remain outside of that empire?


I'm not exactly sure where the term Sundered Empire came from in relation to the Chainmail stuff; as near as I can recall without rechecking the source material, there were actually several Empires/Kingdoms/Nations in the region. I expect the Sundering is more in reference to the chaos that transpired among the nations with the death of the god Stratis. Not sure why there's only a singular Empire referenced, though. Then again, it could be referring to the Empire of Ravilla that it refers to, although I can't think offhand of why it might be considered Sundered.

IE, there is no actual "Sundered Empire" region. It is just a term that was applied- for whatever reason- to the whole area covered by the Chainmail miniatures game/rules. Sort of like the Red Steel setting, or Birthright, etc.


It does seem that Chainmail is the name of the rules (like D&D is the name of the RPG rules) and Sundered Empire is the name of the campaign setting. The name does seem to imply that there once was a multi-country empire that split up into the smaller nations of the Chainmail area.

If it isn't explained, then I suppose it is most similar to Dark Sun that...well...has a sun that is dark.

Cthulhudrew wrote:In any case, the Chainmail articles and game supplements only dealt very cursorily with the history, and dealt solely with the regions that are named on the map in the original post. Anything outside of those regions never got dealt with, to my knowledge, and even within the broad regions I'm sure there is a lot of room for additional development.


I suppose with Chainmail being intended for miniatures combat, they probably intended the area to be a bit similar to the Greyhawk Wars, but sticking it at the other end of the uber-continent that the Flanaess is on, means that you can have a war brewing there, without it messing up the GH-lite RPG area. :?

I would love to see the individual countries within the area expanded (by experts) at some point. I think part of that should be the creation of that big empire that gets sundered. But those countries themselves are pretty big and some of them may once have been smaller kingdoms that merged over time.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Big Mac » Thu Dec 15, 2011 1:25 am

However, to get back to the Southlands, it does seem to be something that is no so connected to the Sundered Empire. I'm not sure if they were intending it to be used for camel cavalry combat units. :?
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby night_druid » Thu Dec 15, 2011 1:39 am

Big Mac wrote:However, to get back to the Southlands, it does seem to be something that is no so connected to the Sundered Empire. I'm not sure if they were intending it to be used for camel cavalry combat units. :?


I think it was more "we have a huge area to fill in. What's the easiest way to do that? I know! A big desert!"
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Dec 15, 2011 4:15 am

I think to some extent, a desert of some size was always intended to be placed down there. On at least one map (the Dragon Magazine Annual #1 map) the nation of Erypt was placed there; Erypt, being of course, the locale of the Deserts of Desolation series.

It does seem to be rather large in size, and I don't recall offhand whether any particular mention/use was made of it in Chainmail material.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Havard » Thu Dec 15, 2011 5:59 pm

What's the exact name of the book that details this subsetting? When I search for D&D Chainmail I get all sorts of results...

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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby night_druid » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:05 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:I think to some extent, a desert of some size was always intended to be placed down there. On at least one map (the Dragon Magazine Annual #1 map) the nation of Erypt was placed there; Erypt, being of course, the locale of the Deserts of Desolation series.


Desert of Desolation was set in the SE corner of the Forgotten Realms.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:50 pm

night_druid wrote:Desert of Desolation was set in the SE corner of the Forgotten Realms.


I misspoke; Desert of Desolation, the supermodule, was set in the Realms. The three modules that originally comprised the Desert of Desolation campaign- I3 through I5- were not set in the Realms. IIRC (it's been a while since I've seen/read them), they were set in a generic "desert/Egypt" setting, but were assumed like most 1E modules to take place somewhere on Oerth. Also, IIRC, the "Erypt" region on the Dragon map was where those three modules were to have been placed, had that region ever been developed.

I could be wrong about that last bit, though that is my recollection.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:53 pm

Havard wrote:What's the exact name of the book that details this subsetting? When I search for D&D Chainmail I get all sorts of results...


The Chainmail miniature rules were where things were introduced, though I didn't/don't own those (any of the various sets) so I don't know how much- if any- of the setting was developed within.

Everything else came exclusively from various Chainmail articles in Dragon magazine (of which, I think I am missing one or two). That is where I believe the bulk of the setting development- such as it was- came from.

Unfortunately, the original articles linked in one of my posts above aren't easily accessed via the link, due to the current change in the Piazza's location. You'd have to add the "/thepiazza/" part manually to the link to access them. The timeline article that I wrote up several years back lists which issues of Dragon magazine I referenced, though.

There might also be some (hard to find) articles on the WotC website about it, although I think all those were rules specific rather than setting oriented. I know that there was also an Underdark Chainmail set that was planned, but my recollection is that it never actually came out (although I do see there is an article and pictures of it on the WotC website), so there was an Underdark region intended for the setting.
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:10 pm

From the horse's mouth himself (Chris Pramas, one of the designers of Chainmail):

Chris Pramas wrote:
The best setting info appeared in a series of articles I wrote for Dragon Magazine. These are the relevant issues:

The Empire of Ravilla, issue #285
Ahmut’s Legion, issue #286
The Armies of Thalos, issue #287
The Gnolls of Naresh, issue # 289
People’s State of Mordengard, issue #291
Drazen’s Horde, issue #292
The Free States, issue #293
Underground Scenarios, issue #294
The Children of Nassica, issue #295
The Ebon Glaive, issue #296
Exiles from the Vault, issue #298
Soldiers of the Last Order, issue #315


I have most of those- which is where I gleaned what little info I could for the setting; definitely missing a couple though. Some have more setting info than others (which are more rules focused). Apparently, future plans including the aforementioned (cancelled) Underdark scenario expansions would have been cavalry, dragons, giants, and yuan-ti.

I've always wondered if any of the scenarios from the various expansions might have had some more info on the setting (even if just as names and such, if not actual historical/cultural context).
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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Havard » Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:39 pm

Thanks 'drew!

I will have to dig through my Dragon collection and see which of these I actually may have :)

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Re: [Chainmail] Why is The Southlands all desert?

Postby Big Mac » Sun Dec 25, 2011 4:11 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
night_druid wrote:Desert of Desolation was set in the SE corner of the Forgotten Realms.


I misspoke; Desert of Desolation, the supermodule, was set in the Realms. The three modules that originally comprised the Desert of Desolation campaign- I3 through I5- were not set in the Realms. IIRC (it's been a while since I've seen/read them), they were set in a generic "desert/Egypt" setting, but were assumed like most 1E modules to take place somewhere on Oerth. Also, IIRC, the "Erypt" region on the Dragon map was where those three modules were to have been placed, had that region ever been developed.

I could be wrong about that last bit, though that is my recollection.


Seems that you are saying that, Desert of Desolation, like Kara-Tur, was built for Greyhawk, but moved to Forgotten Realms.

Is there any sort of canon link in I3-I5 to nail them down to the Erypt area or Oerth? Is there an explanation (anywhere - either in the I3-I5 modules, Dragon magazine or something else) to explain how a party would get from the Flanaess to The Southlands?

Are there any changes in the reprint to replace generic (assumed Greyhawk) locations and groups with Forgotten Realms ones? Or have they built an area of Toril around the Desert of Desolation canon?
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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