[Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

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[Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Big Mac » Thu Dec 31, 2009 12:29 am

Robert S Conley, who invented Majestic Wilderlands (one of the Wilderlands offshoots) has put up a world building tutorial that should be really useful for anyone wanting to invent new worlds for Spelljammer campaigns.
There are still steps 26-34 to be done, so you can expect to see some more tutorials over on his blog.

This was based on an earlier tutorial of his, aimed at Traveller GMs, that was called: How to Make a Traveller Sandbox. The earlier tutorial is not quite so useful for Spelljammer (as the sort of maps you generate for Traveller are totally different from the more free-form way that crystal spheres fit together), but I think there could be inspiration from here too.

What I really wanted to see when I bought SJR4 Practical Planetology has turned out to be the sort of thing that Robert has knocked up for free on his blog!

And the expanded, follow up articles, take the individual steps and add in that essential "nerd level" detail that makes each step much easier to understand. To illustrate the process, he provides a walk-through where he builds a world (or parts of a world) as he goes through his own steps.

"How to make a Fantasy Sandbox" is apparently the system Robert S Conley used to help knock out worlds for the Points of Light setting. It is amazing to be given a behind the scenes look at the design process. There is a possibility that Bat in the Attic might be turning "How to make a Fantasy Sandbox" into a commercial product (at some point). If that happens, I think it is going to be something that would really help GMs who need to learn how to knock out new fantasy worlds that seem as three dimensional as commercial role playing settings. And I certainly think that it would join HackJammer as something that would be a must have add on to the original Spelljammer Campaign Setting product line.

One of the things that I find really interesting is the way that Robert uses a big world map to get the overall context (including working out where desert areas should be), then zooms into an area of that map that provides the sort of environment he needs and then uses hex mapping to help keep a track of all the small details.

Another thing that I find really interesting is those hex maps. I've got to say that I've never been a fan of hex maps. I've always thought they look a bit clunky and I've really preferred the way that recent MWP maps of Krynn have been tweeked to make the 60 degree roads look a little bit less obvious. But the hex maps Robert is using here really do seem to help Robert to get the world built. I'm going to need to look at my own opinion and see if I need to review it. It is just possible that if I used hex maps as a stepping stone to later designing a non-hex map, that I could make a far more effective map. This has been a particular "wow" moment for me.

Following the detail of the process, at first it looks like Robert is randomly hopping from encounter charts, maps and writing short sections of fluff (or crunch), but when you actually step back and look at the original 34 step article you can see that this is actually a really brilliant way to ensure that you build a world that works...rather than build a world that has a cool theme, but ends up having some sort of hidden flaw that you don't notice until half-way through the design process.

Following the Sandbox method, it seems like you are forced to toss in adventure opportunities, knock out history structure and build plots that tie areas together, as you go along. So if you actually try to create the sort of two-dimensional planets that we have seen in a few of the Spelljammer products, the Sandbox process, should prod you into making improvements that do nothing to take away the major themes you want to imply, but encourage you to enhance your themes with other secondary themes that will make your world a lot more workable.

The "hopping" around is actually the process that makes sure you do all the work on the different parts of your world as you go along. I suppose it is kind of like making a cake. You add in a town, a mountain and a dangerous forest and you give it a few stirs to start to mix it up. Then you add in some races and political factions and do some more stirring. I won't say that it is impossible to build a world with a vital ingredient missing, but I think the "hopping" manoeuvres would really show up the fact that your world was a "one trick pony" planet and I think that would be an early warning that would allow you to add in other stuff. More importantly, if you add in the extra stuff at this stage, it is not going to look tacked on as it will be integrated into the entire theme.

Looking at the entire process, this would seem to be something that you could use to create an entire standalone campaign setting or something that could be used to expand any canon SJ planet into an entire standalone campaign setting...which is exactly the sort of feel I've been wanting to see in SJ planets. Maybe we don't have time to create the entire planets, but with a world map and a process of building different landing sites if the players want to go elsewhere, I think we could easily use this as a way to design standard worlds (or moons) of the earth body type.

The only possible disadvantage with this process is that it is going to make our attempts to design water worlds, air worlds and fire worlds seem less good than our earth world designs. But I think we may be able to have a look at the individual tutorials and talk over what we would need to change to deal with planets of different elements.

LAST EDIT: Tutorials XVIII added.
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by AuldDragon » Thu Dec 31, 2009 11:20 pm

I skimmed the first couple, and it looks good. It reminds me a LOT of the 2nd edition World Builder's Guidebook, which is a very similar concept, and a very good release overall. One of the nice things it has is random tables to help fill out parts that you don't have specific ideas in mind for. :)

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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Big Mac » Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:40 am

AuldDragon wrote:It reminds me a LOT of the 2nd edition World Builder's Guidebook, which is a very similar concept, and a very good release overall. One of the nice things it has is random tables to help fill out parts that you don't have specific ideas in mind for. :)
I hadn't seen the World Builder's Guidbook before. I think I'll check that one out.

There are some of the Sandbox tutorials that link to exteral pages with tables (and even computer programs). I've got a feeling that if this ever gets converted into a book, there will be a lot more detail.
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Big Mac » Sun May 30, 2010 1:24 am

I've added steps XII-XIV to the top post.
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Azaghal » Sun May 30, 2010 5:24 am

Thanks Big Mac didn't see those were out yet.
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Chimpman » Sun May 30, 2010 4:27 pm

These are great articles! Thanks for sharing them with us.
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Big Mac » Sun May 30, 2010 6:02 pm

Azaghal wrote:Thanks Big Mac didn't see those were out yet.
It has been ages since the last update (because of the magnitude of the work for this step), so I had kind of lost track. Interestingly, Robert's pace gives a clue that some parts of the world building process will be easier than others.
Chimpman wrote:These are great articles! Thanks for sharing them with us.
No problem, although all the credit goes to Robert S. Conley.

I'd love to know what Night Druid thinks of the sandboxing system. And I'd love to know what some of our map experts make of the process.

Has anyone got any clues for tweaking the process to make it more SJ compatible? I'm figuring this will only work for spherical worlds with Earth-like weather...as it stands.
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Dave L » Sun May 30, 2010 8:26 pm

Big Mac wrote: Has anyone got any clues for tweaking the process to make it more SJ compatible? I'm figuring this will only work for spherical worlds with Earth-like weather...as it stands.
That was my guess too - axial tilt and direction of spin would change things too.

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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Azaghal » Mon May 31, 2010 12:20 am

Dave L wrote:
Big Mac wrote: Has anyone got any clues for tweaking the process to make it more SJ compatible? I'm figuring this will only work for spherical worlds with Earth-like weather...as it stands.
That was my guess too - axial tilt and direction of spin would change things too.

Been thinking. :geek: :lol: Okay, if water worlds, fire worlds and air worlds have mass and rotation then the currents would be similar to the basic "earth world" diagram. Ie, clockwise in the northern hemisphere, counter in the southern.
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Big Mac » Mon May 31, 2010 11:15 am

Dave L wrote:
Big Mac wrote: Has anyone got any clues for tweaking the process to make it more SJ compatible? I'm figuring this will only work for spherical worlds with Earth-like weather...as it stands.
That was my guess too - axial tilt and direction of spin would change things too.
Sure.

Direction of spin, is the easiest of the two. A "retrograde direction of spin" (or backwards day) would just take Robert S. Conley's air and sea currents and flip them both over (i.e. make them a mirror image).

Axial tilt would do things a bit differently. I've got a few books about writing science fiction. I'll have to have a skim through them later, to see if any of them can help. But we already know that the extreme tilt - a pole facing the sun and a pole facing away from the sun - is what is going on with the planet Radole. (We do have to be careful if we look at sci-fi world creation books, because we already know that Spelljammer doesn't really use real-world "habitable zones" and that means that a large number of real-world things do not apply.)
Azaghal wrote:Been thinking. :geek: :lol: Okay, if water worlds, fire worlds and air worlds have mass and rotation then the currents would be similar to the basic "earth world" diagram. Ie, clockwise in the northern hemisphere, counter in the southern.
You are right. Water worlds have a "surface" that is very much like the sea of an "earth world" (apart from a few weird ones that have no atmosphere or airy-water that people can breath). So I would expect them to take on Robert S. Conley's air and water currents, as per his first detailed tutorial.

Fire worlds would probably be very similar, with surface fire moving like sea currents. I do wonder how much the internal heat of the world would overide the warming effect of the sun (to change the air currents), but as the sun adds something, the air-current directions would probably be the same.

Air worlds don't have a sea, lava sea or land to go below the air. So I'm not sure what would happen there. Perhaps they would have Robert's air currents, but not the sea currents below them. We do know that the planet Ababeth has layers of air. They have fairly defined borders. Perhaps other air worlds could have less defined layers of air (so that we can inject some calm areas where floating islands can be landed upon).

Out of the three types of non-earth worlds, I think that water worlds are probably the most easy for people to visit. Perhaps they should be the first non-earth world that we try to sandox.

However, I'm tempted to start the ball rolling with Plata, as we have three pretty good maps, one of which has the hexes that Robert's system needs for sandboxing.

EDIT: I'm not sure those hexes are at the right scale. I might need to re-read the tutorials, to see what size hexes Robert is using.
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Big Mac » Mon May 31, 2010 1:39 pm

I've been so delighted with the Plata maps of both AuldDragon and Dave L, that I've decided to pick Plata as a planet to test out Robert's sandboxing methods.

The thread is called: [Planetology] Sandboxing Plata.

Please continue to discuss sandboxing (in general) here, as I want to keep the Sandboxing Plata thread on topic, as much as possible.
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Tauster » Mon May 31, 2010 7:15 pm

I know this is not quite on topic, but since you're talking about climate here, I figure it fits more or less... If the moderators deem it useful to split it off, please feel free to do so.

A few days ago I was thinking about the problem(?) of worlds on outer orbits (i.e. worlds that are far away from the sun) havint extremely long "years": In real world, we think of " one year" in two ways:

On the one hand, it is the time that our planet earth takes to complete one roundtrip around the sun. Lets call this an orbital year for the discussion. A Mercury year is much shorter, a Mars year slightly longer, a Pluto year much, much longer. Nothing wrong with that that, so far. If a year in a crystal sphere on an outer world - say, H'Catha in Torilspace - takes a hundreds of Toril-years, thats fine. The problems begin when we include the second way of thinking about a year: the time it takes to complete one cycle of seasons. Lets call this a seasonal year.

Because now we suddenly are in a difficult situation: If we apply this logic, we have to give those outer worlds seasons that are decades of standard orbital years long (i.e. 365 days) - and come up with feasible ecosystems (IF we are designing worlds that are more or less habitable by "standard" creatures, that is....) where life can somehow cope with climate extremes we don't even know from the most extreme areas of planet earth.

Here's one possible solution - and I'd like to hear what you think about it:
Our own real world seasons come, as far as I know (and I'm not an expert in that field, mind you) from the axial tilt of earth. For whatever reason, earth completes one spin around that tilt in exactly the same time it takes to complete one circle around the sun. In other words: orbital years equal seasonal years.

But why can't an outer planet spin (or tumble, if you prefer that term) several times on it's way around the sphere's primary? That way we can have short seasons ('short' in relation to the orbital year) that result in rather normal climates AND have planets on outer orbits with extremely long orital years. In such a scenario, an outer world can go through seasonal decades or centuries on one orbital year. Obviously, in most cases for the groundlings of such a world the seasonal years would be far more relevant than the orbital years (barring any weird astronomic effects...).


Here's another possible solution (and let me say in the first place that I don't like that one really much; I'd rather prefer the first idea...) - Variate the rotation speed of a world. Worlds on outer orbits could travel much faster than those nearer to the primary and thus don't need as much time than they would need when they'd have to travel with 'normal' speed. I don't have any clue how rotation speeds vary in real world astronomy, and I suspect that this 'solution' would be seen by players as a quite 'lame' effort of the DM to try to keep his bookkeeping as simple as possible (which isn't anything a DM can be blamed for, btw). It just doesn't look very believable, if you present it as the only solution...
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by AuldDragon » Mon May 31, 2010 8:29 pm

Tauster wrote:Our own real world seasons come, as far as I know (and I'm not an expert in that field, mind you) from the axial tilt of earth. For whatever reason, earth completes one spin around that tilt in exactly the same time it takes to complete one circle around the sun. In other words: orbital years equal seasonal years.
Earth's axial tilt is always in the same direction, regardless of where it is in the orbit. If it moved, you'd either always have the same seasons, or it would be a lot more crazy than four seasons. The only change is a periodic shift in the degrees (from ~22 to ~24.5 over something like 40,000 years, but the direction stays the same). As far as I know, none of the planets in our solarsystem have an axial tilt that changes direction. The axial tilt is held stable by the sun's gravity and the planetary rotation. I suspect a wobbly direction of rotation would probably indicate something really bad is going on with a planet in question (think of a top right before it falls over).

That's just for our solar system though, using real world physics.

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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by AuldDragon » Mon May 31, 2010 8:34 pm

One other thing to note: a moving axis would make navigation on the planet incredibly difficult (no pole star or similar to use as a reference point).

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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Tauster » Mon May 31, 2010 8:43 pm

...damn, I knew it was too good to be true! :( ;)
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by AuldDragon » Mon May 31, 2010 8:47 pm

Tauster wrote:...damn, I knew it was too good to be true! :( ;)
Well, that WAS jusr real physics. Fantasy physicsdon't have to follow the same rules. :)

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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Big Mac » Mon May 31, 2010 10:11 pm

Tauster wrote:I know this is not quite on topic, but since you're talking about climate here, I figure it fits more or less... If the moderators deem it useful to split it off, please feel free to do so.
This seems fine here. It is the Plata thread I am trying to protect from getting derailed.
Tauster wrote:A few days ago I was thinking about the problem(?) of worlds on outer orbits (i.e. worlds that are far away from the sun) havint extremely long "years"...
I'm not sure I actually agree this is a problem.

If for example the north hemisphere of an outer planet gets colder for 300 years, and a gigantic ice cap spreads down from the artic and covers a third of the north side of the planet, then that just gives us a world that somehow needs to be able to cope with that.

I'd agree that Robert's sandboxing tutorials may well not take 300 year freezes and 300 year thaws into account, but they could provide us with some interesting side-effects that wouldn't be available on a world that was in an Earth-like orbit.

Imagine, for example a lich who is being hunted down, and who hides his ship in a "seasonal town" that is within one of these "periodic frozen zones". He could hide out in a fortress that is designed to remain intact while periodically frozen or maybe even seek out a cave in the side of a mountain that is due to be burried by 10 mile high glaciers. He could sit under the ice waiting for the people who are hunting for him to die of old age and then emerge later to carry on with his evil plans.

Or we could have monsters (and maybe even races) that live normal lives, but are able to be totally frozen without dying. The entire ecosystem could go into suspended animation for half the orbit of the planet. (In D&D terms, when suffering cold damage, these creatures could take "subdual damage" and then when they drop to zero hit points, they could just cease to have a metabolism. They would not be dead, but would also not be alive. They would just lie there for 300 years and then start to recover from "being knocked out" when the temperature got warm enough that they were no longer taking damage.)

Or how about a race of people similar a werewolves, that turn into creatures able to live in that sort of cold. A search of the area would reveal barbaric-like people who wear little to no clothes, civilised-like people who wear normal clothes, artic-folk that wear animal furs and some sort of creature that is like a bi-pedal polar bear. And with the life-span of them being similar to humans, they may not realise that all these forms are the same single race of people. They may not realise that they have gone through this cycle of heat and cold for thousands of years.

You see a problem - I see an opportunity to do something unusual.

But for the sake of the argument, I'll assume there is a problem and go with it.
Tauster wrote:Here's one possible solution - and I'd like to hear what you think about it:
Our own real world seasons come, as far as I know (and I'm not an expert in that field, mind you) from the axial tilt of earth. For whatever reason, earth completes one spin around that tilt in exactly the same time it takes to complete one circle around the sun. In other words: orbital years equal seasonal years.

But why can't an outer planet spin (or tumble, if you prefer that term) several times on it's way around the sphere's primary? That way we can have short seasons ('short' in relation to the orbital year) that result in rather normal climates AND have planets on outer orbits with extremely long orital years. In such a scenario, an outer world can go through seasonal decades or centuries on one orbital year. Obviously, in most cases for the groundlings of such a world the seasonal years would be far more relevant than the orbital years (barring any weird astronomic effects...).
AuldDragon said, this is impossible in the real-world. And in the case of The Earth (and all the planets in the Solar System) that is true. The spinning motion of a planet, makes it work in a very similar way to a gyroscope. As he said, our planet's axis points at the Pole Star The gyroscope-like nature of the Earth's spin makes it want to keep doing that.

There are slight variations in the direction that our planet spins in. The Pole Star was not always above the North Pole. If you scroll down the page of that article, you will see a gyroscope that is pointing in different directions (the picture says precession on it). The Earth actually has precession too.

For more details on precession you need to read the Wikipedia article Axial precession (astronomy) (and maybe do some more research from the sources in the citations).

From what you said in your post (the bit I snipped) it would seem to me that you want to design a planet with a crazily high level of axial precession. In a science fiction universe, I'm sure that that would somehow stop the planet from being stable. Fortunately for you, SJ is fantasy and not science - and you can run with seemingly wonky ideas.

So you could make a planet that does what you want it to do. It could have an orbital year that was 10,000,000 days and a seasonal precession period that was 365 days. But, as I said before, I don't think that outer planet orbits "break Spelljammer", so I think that you should build this sort of world "because it is cool" and not as a "band aid" device.

In fact, you could sandbox an entire crystal sphere, where all the planets (somehow*) had a precessional effect to give them a 365 day year (even if they had the sun hugging orbit like Mercury) and a moon that, from the surface, looked exactly the same size as the sun. If you did something like that, the gimmick would be taken to the max and would stand out to anyone who came from another sphere (but would be totally ignored by the local sages "because every world works like that" and they think your questions are stupid).

* = Its magic, the gods, the Juna or whatever. Who knows?

I don't think we "need" precession. But as an option (to go into the random things that could be done with a planet), I don't think your idea is such a bad thing.

However, if you do decide to work with precession, don't ask me to help you with the mathematics, needed to counteract the normal year and impose a new one! :P
Tauster wrote:Here's another possible solution (and let me say in the first place that I don't like that one really much; I'd rather prefer the first idea...) - Variate the rotation speed of a world. Worlds on outer orbits could travel much faster than those nearer to the primary and thus don't need as much time than they would need when they'd have to travel with 'normal' speed. I don't have any clue how rotation speeds vary in real world astronomy, and I suspect that this 'solution' would be seen by players as a quite 'lame' effort of the DM to try to keep his bookkeeping as simple as possible (which isn't anything a DM can be blamed for, btw). It just doesn't look very believable, if you present it as the only solution...
In the real world, celestial bodies are influenced by gravity (just like everything else). Just as you fall downwards, towards the ground, The Moon also falls down towards the ground. But in the case of The Moon, it is on a heading travelling past The Earth and the two directions combine to make it fall past The Earth. That isn't a totally accurate description, but it will do for the purpose of this conversation.

The Earth is falling towards The Sun and so is Jupiter and the other planets.

I suggest you look for a website about designing science fiction solar systems, as that will help you experiment. (Just bear in mind that you need to toss any information about habitable zones, as we don't use that - at least not normally).

Now, if you read that sort of stuff, you will see that making The Earth heavier, will make The Moon "fall faster" and therfore orbit quicker. And making The Sun heavier will make The Earth and Jupiter orbit faster (and give both worlds shorter years).

So (with real-world science) you can give outer worlds a shorter year, but that change would also give inner worlds a shorter year. Doing one without the other is not possible. Not in the real-world.

But as AuldDragon said: "Fantasy physics don't have to follow the same rules."

I read a great "how to write science fiction book" that had a chapter called "Step aside Mr Einstien, you are standing in the way" and I have to say that "trying to make Spelljammer follow real laws of physics" sometimes gets in the way of a cool idea.

In fact, this is why I really don't like the use of the word "physics" (which comes with real-world baggage that drags SJ into phlospophical debates) and try to use "laws of nature" (which allows the GM to say: "this is how the local gods set up the laws of the universe" and encourages players to observe and analyse what the GM is doing - instead of heckling it).

So if you want to create a crystal sphere, where the outer worlds race along at a speed so fast, that a spelljamming ship has to get in front of the planet and let the planet "catch up", I say go for it. It sounds like a cool idea. Don't kill the cool idea, by trying to give me 10 pages of info-dump to explain why it goes faster than normal. Just wink and say: "it must be magic or something" and let the PCs try to find out.

Anyhoo, what I am getting at is that both your ideas are valid ideas for altering Robert S. Conley's sandboxing process (and they could both be the basis of a really interesting world - or sphere), but I don't think that either of them is an "essential" idea.
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Azaghal » Tue Jun 01, 2010 1:35 am

Air world currents: Real Life example is Jupiter, we can actually see the currents in motion so no problem there.

Fire Worlds: We would also have a convection effect as the heated core material rises and the cooler crustal material falls.

Remembering its "Fantasy physics" I would say that some planets have very long seasons and others don't, for the purposes of longer rotational periods. Just depends on how we want to work it.
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Big Mac » Tue Jun 01, 2010 1:44 am

Azaghal wrote:Air world currents: Real Life example is Jupiter, we can actually see the currents in motion so no problem there.
Good point. But, now I need to find some diagrams of air currents below the surface of Jupiter. I want to know if it does the same thing all the way down to the core, or if differences in depth are as interesting as differences in latitude.
Azaghal wrote:Fire Worlds: We would also have a convection effect as the heated core material rises and the cooler crustal material falls.
True. And this would happen with the atmosphere too.
Azaghal wrote:Remembering its "Fantasy physics" I would say that some planets have very long seasons and others don't, for the purposes of longer rotational periods. Just depends on how we want to work it.
Yep. The rule of cool! 8-)
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Azaghal » Tue Jun 01, 2010 1:59 am

Big Mac wrote:
Azaghal wrote:Air world currents: Real Life example is Jupiter, we can actually see the currents in motion so no problem there.
Good point. But, now I need to find some diagrams of air currents below the surface of Jupiter. I want to know if it does the same thing all the way down to the core, or if differences in depth are as interesting as differences in latitude.

I think is I remember my astronomy right the different layers are expected to have different currents due to mass of elemental make up.
Azaghal wrote:Fire Worlds: We would also have a convection effect as the heated core material rises and the cooler crustal material falls.
True. And this would happen with the atmosphere too.
Azaghal wrote:Remembering its "Fantasy physics" I would say that some planets have very long seasons and others don't, for the purposes of longer rotational periods. Just depends on how we want to work it.
Yep. The rule of cool! 8-)

Always cool :ugeek: 8-) :lol: is the rule!
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by AuldDragon » Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:53 am

Big Mac wrote:
Azaghal wrote:Air world currents: Real Life example is Jupiter, we can actually see the currents in motion so no problem there.
Good point. But, now I need to find some diagrams of air currents below the surface of Jupiter. I want to know if it does the same thing all the way down to the core, or if differences in depth are as interesting as differences in latitude.
I'm not sure if we really know. One interesting thing is that the storms have different densities than the surrounding cloud bands; there's one big one that occasionally disappears below the cloud layers and resurfaces later.

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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Big Mac » Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:30 pm

AuldDragon wrote:I'm not sure if we really know. One interesting thing is that the storms have different densities than the surrounding cloud bands; there's one big one that occasionally disappears below the cloud layers and resurfaces later.
Generally, I would suggest going for the rule that doesn't make the entire world totally uninhabitable.

But it is a big universe, and it would be OK to have different types of airworld weather.

Come to think of it, it might even be fun to (purposely) go against Robert's air circulation diagrams on an earthworld, to create one with winds that go over the north and south poles. These winds could circle around the planet over the period of 365 days and be the cause of cold and hot seasons on a world with no axial tilt.

In fact we could defy any of Robert's rules...for the sake of doing something different that we thing is interesting. (Although, generally, I think wwe should stick with them all.)
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Chimpman » Tue Jun 01, 2010 11:17 pm

Great thread and great ideas being discussed here - I think I'm just about caught up here (then it's off to the Plata thread ;) ).

I'll just parrot the comments that Following the Sandbox rules is probably a very good point to start with when creating a new world, but we shouldn't be afraid to break any (or all) of them if the need arises.

Another thing to keep in mind, we may be able to keep the steps in place, while changing the physical specifics involved. For example, take the air current template and replace it with a totally different air current template and then see what we come up with. The "step" remains the same, but the results that it generates could be completely different. On smaller worlds for example, maybe there aren't as many air current bands. On larger worlds, perhaps there are more - or even bands where no air currents exist at all!
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Big Mac » Sat Jun 05, 2010 7:26 pm

Chimpman wrote:Great thread and great ideas being discussed here - I think I'm just about caught up here (then it's off to the Plata thread ;) ).
I'm going to need a list of names, if that thread gives us enough material to write a mini-campaign guide for Plata.
Chimpman wrote:I'll just parrot the comments that Following the Sandbox rules is probably a very good point to start with when creating a new world, but we shouldn't be afraid to break any (or all) of them if the need arises.
I agree. I think that we can overturn the laws of physics, or even the normal way that D&D works if that helps create a cool theme for a world. But I, for one, would like to know what I was doing, when I was breaking rules, rather than doing something because I didn't understand things.

Robert's system might work really well for us on certain planets (especially spherical planets in an Earth-like orbit) and it might work really badly for other planets. I guess we won't find out until we try it out a few times.
Chimpman wrote:Another thing to keep in mind, we may be able to keep the steps in place, while changing the physical specifics involved. For example, take the air current template and replace it with a totally different air current template and then see what we come up with. The "step" remains the same, but the results that it generates could be completely different. On smaller worlds for example, maybe there aren't as many air current bands. On larger worlds, perhaps there are more - or even bands where no air currents exist at all!
True. I think that asteroids are (generally) not supposed to have very aggressive weather. And with larger airworlds (or other worlds with atmospheres) you get the option of having anything from calm to devastation.

If we ever built an air world with floating continents, I could see us needing a totally new form of world map, that was something more like the maps that are used to plot the positions of planets in a crystal sphere (or the moon tracking chart that Dragonlance uses). The normal sort of map that Robert's step one suggests, would be a bit pointless in that case.
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Re: [Planetology] Bat in the Attic "Sandbox" tutorials

Post by Big Mac » Sun Oct 10, 2010 8:29 pm

Robert has been at work again. I've added links to tutorials XV, XVI and XVII. Nice to see he is finally on step 25! That step 24 is a tough one!
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