Mapping Issues: How Big is Mystara?

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Mapping Issues: How Big is Mystara?

Post by LoZompatore » Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:06 pm

(To the admin: Maybe this topic should be moved to Thorf's secret project section about cartography: I post it on the main board in order to get a greater audience :mrgreen: , but feel free to move it as you like)

Moderator edit: Since discussion has died down, the thread has been renamed and moved to the mapping forum for archiving. (Previous title: "How really big Mystara is?")

While I was working about the icosahedron projection issue for Thorf's mapping project I found a severe mismatch about the nominal dimension of Mystara and the hexed map scale.

In short, here is the problem:

From HW (and the PWAs, and Ann Dupuis contribution on the Vaults) we know that Mystara is 6190 miles in diameter (3095 radius). To keep things simple let's say that it is a perfect sphere (no polar openings, no pole flattening, etc.). This means that its circunference is 19446 mi.
So, if you want to go from the Equator to a Pole (from 0° to 90° latitude) you'll have to cross 4861 mi (1/4 of a circunference).

Now, take a look at the map below. It is a merging of PWAII, DotE and CM1 maps in a 72 mi/hex scale. PWAII and DotE maps were already in a 72 mi/hex scale, so the merging was easy. I scaled down CM1 map in order to add the area around Frosthaven.

Image

The orange hex is the nortermost mapped hex available for Mystara. It does not represent the North Pole but, accordingly to HW planetary map it should be north of the Arctic Circle.
The green hex should be placed on the Equator, accordingly to PWAII map. In my opinion this map is wrong, because if you compare the coastlines with the HW planetary map you easily see that the Equator should be farther south than this. Anyway, let's say that the Equator cross the green hex.

There are 81 hexes between the green hex and the orange hex, which means that the total North-South distance shown in the map above is: 81 x 72 = 5832 mi

Which is much more than the 4861 mi "available" for the 0°-90° distance on Mystara.

How can we solve this discrepancy?
In my opinion there are just three possible solutions:


1) Mystara is a larger planet than expected; while this seems the easiest solution it arises some problems about the Hollow World and polar opening measurements (see below);

2) Hexed scale map is wrong, at every level: a 72 mi/hex map is, in truth, a smaller scale map. In general hexed maps are quite consitent with each other (e.g a 72 mi/hex on a map almost always correspond to three 24 mi/hex on a smaller scale map, and so on), so you'll have to define again the scale of the whole official set of maps;

3) Hexed maps are distorted at the higher latitudes: on the same map, an hex near the equator may measure 72 miles in the North-South direction but, at higher latitudes, the same distance across the hex may correspond to 50, 40, 30 miles and so on;


I would like to give an estimate of the re-scaling factor if options 1) or 2) are considered.

In the map below I superimposed the planetary map with a grid (in red) showing the real latidudes of Mystara as if it was a sphere represented with a Robinson projection (click the link below to download the full resolution map):

Image
http://it.geocities.com/lutetius00/Mapp ... binson.jpg

Notice that the planetary map we have is pretty in agreement with such a projection, as it was noticed in this board some time ago: latitudes, tropics and polar circles are almost coincident (incidentally, this shows that Mystara axis tilt is the same as Earth's). The northermost and southernmost areas of the grid shows where the north pole and south pole would be if Mystara was a perfect sphere, without the polar openings (which introduce a pronounced pole flattening).
These areas are approximatively in agreement also with the HW set maps showing the section of Mystara (you can extend the spherical surface over the polar openings to see where the "true" poles would be and then estimate the distance between the 90° circle of the planetary map and the "true" pole).

Notice that the northernomst planetary map latitudes (above 60° or so) do not match with the "real" latitudes of the Robinson projection due to the choice of placing the 90° line at the circle where the polar opening folds inside Mystaran crust. Anyway, given the fact that Robinson latitudes are equally spaced it is easy to estimete the right latitudes.
A rough calculation based on the map above gives a latitude of 79° (approx) for the orange hex on the top of the map, and about 3° for the green hex on the bottom of the map.

Now, back to the options:

Choosing option 1) (enlarge Mystara's radius) you have that 79 - 3 = 76° of latitude would correspond to 5832 mi, which means that Mystara's circunference is some 27625 mi. The new radius would be approximatively 4397 mi. By comparison Earth radius is just 3958 mi, so Mystara should be actually large than Earth.
This option has a problem in defining the Hollow World polar openings. In fact, the inner measurements of the Hollow World sphere are pretty in agreement with the official radius of Mystara planet. For example, the 40 hex/mile map of Iciria, covering most of the NS distance between the polar openings shows 102 hexes in the North-South directions, corresponding to 102 x 40 = 4080 miles.
From HW set we know that the radius of the Hollow World sphere is 1895 mi, corresponding to a circunference of 11906 mi. Half of it would give 5953 mi, which is pretty in agreement with the NS extension of the continent of Iciria calculated above.
This will mean that the HW sphere should be left unchanged even if Mystara radius is enlarged. This implies that Mystara's crust thickness is increased: from the official 1200 miles to the new measurement of 2502 mi.
If you leave the polar opening measurements unchanged (1500 miles radius at the external surface, 500 miles radius in the narrowest point, 1000 miles at the internal surface) you have to stretch the length of the opening, almost doubling the radial distance.

Choosing option 2) (leave Mystara's radius as it is and change the scale map) you have that the 81 NS hexes of the map above cover 76° of latitude, which correspond to 4105 mi, so each hex is 50 miles across (and not 72 miles). You could approximate it to 48 miles/hex (my latitude measurements are, after all, an estimate) and reduce to 2/3 of the original the scale of every official map we have (72 mi/hex to 48 mi/hex, 24 mi/hex to 16 mi/hex, 8 mi/hex to 5.3 mi/hex, and so on).
This scaling would imply the re-calculation of nations' surfaces and density populations.
Last edited by Thorf on Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Marked the thread with an "issues" (question mark) icon.

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Re: How really big is Mystara?

Post by Thorf » Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:42 pm

Excellent work! :D

It seems we just keep finding more and more problems with the world maps, don't we? :lol: :?

As far as I can see, option 1 is no good on its own, because increasing the depth of the crust by that much is unacceptable.

Option 2 is also no good, because the scales of 8, 24 and 72 miles per hex are iconic scales for our setting. Besides, it also opens up that huge can of worms with the demographics, which are already a problem area.

Option 3 sounds tempting, but it would be a lot of work, and it would obviously warp the look of the northern and southern parts of the world. Of course, we're going to be squeezing those areas east-west anyway (since there is less east-west area to go around the higher up the globe you go), so this might work out okay - keep the rough shapes while reducing the scale.

I think there is also an option 4, which you seem to have overlooked, which is to combine options 1 and 2. In this case, Mystara is indeed a bigger planet, but we maintain the measurements we know as much as possible - for example the polar openings and the thickness of the crust. How can we do this? By applying your option 2 (hex re-scaling) to the Hollow World rather than the Outer World. 40 miles per hex is already a strange scale, so it might not be too bad to rescale them - although the 8 mile per hex maps would undoubtedly suffer.

All in all, and hugely surprisingly, I think I'm leaning towards option 3... :shock:

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Re: How really big is Mystara?

Post by happylarry » Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:11 pm

Not that I've got the skills to do any of the mapping, but I would go for option 3 or 4 (what would happen if we rescaled the 40 mile haexes of the hollow world to 48 mile hex?) - on the grounds that we should try to make the changes where they'll have the least impact - in the northern and southern latitudes - so norht of the landsplit river in norwold.

Or maybe it'll be a combination of a number of options - a few adjustments here and there.

My other thought is - can we accomodate the NS distance by wrapping soem of the world round towards the hollow world? It's probably a no, but just thought I'd ask

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Rimx » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:23 pm

The poster map in PWA I has 84 miles for each degree of latitudes, making Mystara 30,240 miles in circumference. This scale works very well with the Brun map I'm working on. If you increase the size of each hollow world hex to 80 miles it might fit, but it's been a while since I did the calculations.

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by AllanP » Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:56 pm

Awesome stuff guys!

I really admire your dedication to this and the fact that you don't just pointout discrepancies but spend time considering how to explain/retify them.

I think I grasp all the concepts, but don't feel that I personally am qualified to suggest a judgement on this. I'll need to read this tyhrough again (and again...)

Keep up the good work you Clever Cartographers!
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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by LoZompatore » Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:07 pm

As a rule of thumb, I would like to leave unchanged as much official information as possible. That's why I like so much the attempt to place the official maps on the icosahedron: if the attempt succeeds a great number of maps (if not all) would be left mostly unchanged, by using just a minimum of assumptions and modifications.

I agree with you that it is necessary to warp anyway the planetary map, even to place it fully on the icosahedron map, but I would like to consider the official hexed maps as "already warped" (so not to modify them), introducing distortions only in the not hexed-mapped areas of Mystara.

For this reason I would like to search for other solutions before implementing options 2,3 or 4.

Happylarry and Rimx suggested me option 5: what about enlarging Mystara as per option 1) and scaling up HW maps in order to have a crust thickness of 1200 km? This would leave the OW maps and the polar opening unchanged, while the HW maps that need a scale-changing are few in number.
The new HW radius would be 4397 - 1200 = 3197 miles, which means that half a circunference is 10043 miles. This value should be compared with the official value of 5953 miles. HW maps should have their scale increased by a factor 1. 687.
For example, the scale of Iciria map would be 135 mi/hex instead of 80 mi/hex.

Anyway, I would really like to hear from other opinions about the whole issue :|

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Gawain_VIII » Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:35 pm

DISCLAIMER: The following is purely of my own opinion which, by its very nature coming from one such as myself, will always be more correct than other individuals' facts.

I have always been an advocate of the Mystara=Earth-sized theory. Any published theories (PWA/JA) to the contrary are incorrect IC assumptions (kinda like between PWA3 and JA, Joshuan IC changed his mind of the reality of the HW).

Thorf has a problem with changing the official size of the crust... I say the official size of the crust actually promotes the larger world theory. To wit:
  • In RW geology the crust is measured from the surface to the magma--not to the core.
  • So, 1200 mi from the OW surface to the magma layer (world shield)...
  • Plus another 1200 for the HW crust (surface to WS/magma)...
  • Add another 100-ish mi for the actual thickness of the magma layer...
2500 mi. sounds about right to me. :mrgreen:
I vote method 1.
If you leave the polar opening measurements unchanged (1500 miles radius at the external surface, 500 miles radius in the narrowest point, 1000 miles at the internal surface) you have to stretch the length of the opening, almost doubling the radial distance.
The important fact here is the radius of the opening... all other measurements are derived from that, thus making them mutable features.

I still vote method 1.

BTW, any apparrant differences between Earth & Mystara's circumferences can be explained away as the difference between the perfect sphere of Mystara and the elliptical sphere of Earth... that and the whole polar opening deal. :P

All in favor of method 1? Aye?

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:16 pm

Gawain_VIII wrote:I have always been an advocate of the Mystara=Earth-sized theory. Any published theories (PWA/JA) to the contrary are incorrect IC assumptions (kinda like between PWA3 and JA, Joshuan IC changed his mind of the reality of the HW).
I never quite understood why they changed Mystara's size in the first place, actually. Anyone have any theories on that?
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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Ashtagon » Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:05 pm

The cross-sectional images of Mystara in the HW boxed set show that, were it not for the existence of the polar holes, Mystara is about as spherical as the Earth is.
I always imagined that the interior is not spherical though. That is, the distance from the inner sun to the inner equator is less than that from the inner sun to, say, the inner surface at 70 degrees north latitude. This would account for a temperature difference on the interior, since the interior high-latitude areas would actually be farther from the sun.
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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Gawain_VIII » Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:01 pm

IIRC, the HW-DMG says that the interior surface is perfectly spherical, even to the point of saying that the distance from the sun to the equator is the same as the sun to the poles. I don't recall where it is said the planet itself (OW) is spherical, but I do beleive that that bit of info is canon.

RW Earth is a little squished at the poles due to axial rotation, making the circumference around the poles shorter than the equatorial ciecumference.

If we take the HW/PWA circumference as fact, and still retain the N/S distances, than Mystara must be taller than it is wide--possible in a fantasy world (maybe the polar openings could explain it... somehow), but highly unlikely especially considering that Mystara spins on a vertical axis just like RW Earth. The centrifugal force should bulge the equator and squish the poles.

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Plaag » Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:40 pm

When it comes to this type of stuff regarding maps, I'll defer to those with more knowledge. If it means not altering any maps, then #1 seems to work by what Roger states above.

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Thorf » Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:37 am

I'm going to try to sum things up.

Problem: The official hex maps added together take up more space than the official statistics for Mystara's (outer) size. Compounding this, the inner measurements correspond well with the Hollow World hex maps.

Aim: Change as little official information as possible, while resolving this issue.

Possible Solutions:

1) Change the crust and polar openings. Assume the hex maps to be the most correct information we have, and expand out from there. Increase the overall size of the Outer World from the official measurements.

Pros: We can keep the scales of the hex maps (both Outer and Hollow Worlds) the same. Our ideas of area and scale of individual countries and areas of the world will not change.

Cons: The crust will be much thicker than the official figures suggest. Possible problems with underground-based cultures; the official placement of the Shadow Elf Territories changes from 600 miles underground to 1250 miles underground. The polar openings may also have to be changed.

2) Change the Outer World. Maintain the official measurements of the Outer World by rescaling (downscaling) the hexes.

Pros: We can keep the official measurements of the world. Visually this will not change the world, and no changes are necessary for the Hollow World, the crust, or the polar openings.

Cons: The land areas of the Outer World will decrease significantly, and we will have to drop the iconic scales that we're used to (8, 24, 72 miles per hex). Moreover, in order to fit with the official measurements, we may have to adopt complex numbers (5.6 miles per hex and such) as scales.

3) Change the extreme north and south of the Outer World. Adapt the extreme north and south of the world in an attempt to maintain the official size figures

Pros: Most well-known areas will remain the same. The extreme north and south are already distorted east-west, so squashing them north-south too may actually help them to retain their familiar shape.

Cons: The main problem is the potential difficulty of this option. The extreme north and south of the world will need to be squashed, and these are already problem areas. Also of course the extreme north and south will be warped. Especially on a map without east-west correction, the shapes will be different from what we're used to. Moreover, Norwold is firmly within this area - especially Frosthaven and the far north.

4) Change the Hollow World. Assume the Outer World hexes to be correct, but maintain the official measurements for the crust thickness and polar openings. Rescale the Hollow World maps to compensate.

Pros: 40 miles per hex has never been a very familiar scale (it wasn't even written on the original maps!), so it's less hard to change.

Cons: The size and areas of the Hollow World will be changed rather severely. The 8 mile per hex maps will also have their scale changed, which is undesirable. We'd probably end up with 67.5 mile per hex and 13.5 mile per hex maps.

Edit: It occurred to me that each of these options is sacrificing one thing in order to keep everything else as we know it, so I added what is being changed right at the start of each option to make things clearer.
Last edited by Thorf on Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by multizar » Thu Jul 17, 2008 5:53 am

I vote for option #4. The outer world is far more important to me than the hollow world. 99% of my adventures happen in the outer world so changing the scale of the hollow world would not pose any problems in my campaign. :D
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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Thu Jul 17, 2008 8:45 am

Thorf wrote:Cons: The crust will be much thicker than the official figures suggest. Possible problems with underground-based cultures; the official placement of the Shadow Elf Territories changes from 600 miles underground to 1250 miles underground.
Just a note on this: the 600 miles/halfway underground thing is something that comes from the Hollow World boxed set, and is not at all supported by Gaz13; I'm really not sure where Aaron Allston got it from (except that he may have just been trying to explain the weird gravity well in the City of Stars by putting it in the middle of the World Shield).

Aside from the fact that putting them that far down really, really makes it entirely unlikely that they'd have any sort of commerce with either the Outer or Hollow Worlds, again- it just doesn't mesh with the information given in the Gazetteer. IIRC, the Ann Dupuis PWAs also rectify the HW goof-up by putting it back where it is supposed to be- only a few miles under the crust of the Outer World, rather than smack in the middle of the crust.

EDIT: Just double-checked to be sure, and yeah- Ann Dupuis' Shadow Elves Territories (in PWA 1012, at least) is listed as being only 6,000 feet below the surface, which meshes with the Gaz, which has Troll Lake in the under-Broken Lands about 1,300 feet above the Way of Fountains in the Cavern of the Stars.
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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by LoZompatore » Thu Jul 17, 2008 9:21 am

I also vote option #4: in my opinion HW info are much more expendable than OW ones. I've never set very few (if any) adventures in the HW setting and I suppose this is a general trend among Mystaran players and DMs. The Outer World is by far much more important...
Moreover, if we enlarge the Outer World surface, maybe it's a good idea to enlarge of the Inner World area, too: the same cultures would require larger spaces.

Given the fact that some official data has to be changed anyway, what about setting up a poll about this issue? I don't know how to do it, but it seems to me that many of you are able to prepare it.

About the crust thickness: years ago I made a topic in the IMB about how unrealistic is to travel on foot the 1200 mi crust thickness from the OW to the HW (and vice versa) and that is really likely that migrants and travellers made the voyage through some magical aids (of Immortal origin, I'd say). If you are interested I can translate it and post it in the message board.

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Thorf » Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:07 am

Sorry to shoot you guys down, but I don't think "I haven't used/don't use the Hollow World much, so I don't mind it being changed" is a good argument. :P Some people do use it, and changing it drastically would probably not be very popular with them.

Option 2 screws up the Outer World too much, and option 4 has the same effect with the Hollow World. Therefore, the only options I think we can really choose are 1 and 3.

I still think 3 may be acceptable based on the results of our curvature solution. Michele, I know you don't want to change the hex maps, but if we don't squeeze the existing northern areas at all, they are going to be way out of proportion with the rest of the maps as we know them - and the remaining parts will be even more squashed as a result. On the other hand I'm still eager to see any proposals you have for this, and I definitely trust your judgement. So I'll wait and see. ;)

In any case, even if 3 may turn out to be acceptable in the end, 1 is undoubtedly the simplest right now - and probably the most universally acceptable too. After all, who really cares about the thickness of the crust? It's a well-known statistic, but it's not going to shatter anyone's dreams making it bigger. And as for the polar openings, it seems likely that we will only really have to change the numbers, not the all-important visual look of the holes.

So it looks like I'm with Roger on this, with the proviso that I think 3 might be worth exploring depending on the outcome of the curvature issue.

Lastly, Michele touched upon an issue at the beginning of this thread that I have been wondering how to respond to, or what to do about.
LoZompatore wrote:(To the admin: Maybe this topic should be moved to Thorf's secret project section about cartography: I post it on the main board in order to get a greater audience :mrgreen: , but feel free to move it as you like)
I would be glad to host this thread in the Geographic Mapping sub-forum of my project. As I have stated, it is my hope that it will become a repository of mapping knowledge for us to refer back to, so this is precisely the kind of post I want to see there.

It's true that more people may read it if it's in the main forum, but I would like to think that most if not all those interested in these issues will already be reading the Geographic Mapping forum. Moreover, here in the main forum it will eventually be lost among other unrelated threads, whereas in the mapping forum it will never be lost as such (due to the relatively small number of threads), and it will be among friends of a similar nature.

My final opinion, however, is that I have no right to expect people to use my sub-forum if they want to post in the main Mystara forum. Therefore, I humbly suggest that the discussions continue here in the main forum for now, but that we move the thread to the Geographic Mapping forum at some later date when discussions have died down, or come to an end entirely. :)

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Ashtagon » Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:23 pm

It seems to me that the absolute simplest solution i to assume the official diameter of the outer world is wrong. If the equator-pole distance is known to be X, the equatorial circumference can't be anything other than 4X (assuming a near-perfect sphere). We can just add some extra ocean in the far seas area around where Zyxl/Arm of the Immortals / Eastern Skothar is.

This solution would affect the crust thickness, the overall diamter, and the size of the far ocean. don't think anyone's campaign would be affected by this.
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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Thorf » Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:18 pm

Andrew, can you split these posts off into a separate thread? They're a bit off topic for this one.
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Thorf wrote:Cons: The crust will be much thicker than the official figures suggest. Possible problems with underground-based cultures; the official placement of the Shadow Elf Territories changes from 600 miles underground to 1250 miles underground.
Just a note on this: the 600 miles/halfway underground thing is something that comes from the Hollow World boxed set, and is not at all supported by Gaz13; I'm really not sure where Aaron Allston got it from (except that he may have just been trying to explain the weird gravity well in the City of Stars by putting it in the middle of the World Shield).
It seems quite obvious to me: it's the natural explanation for the strange gravity of the City of the Stars, as you say. It is a pretty irresistible explanation, and he may not have thought much more about the consequences of putting them so deep.

Also, I think you're exaggerating in saying that it's not at all supported by the Gazetteer. There is only one throwaway reference to depth (the one you provided), and otherwise it's just stressed that it's very deep at various places. On the other hand there's also the fact that an expedition was made to the Hollow World, which they mistakenly believed to be the surface. It's pretty hard to explain that one unless they are much deeper than just a few thousand feet.

As with most official sources, I think it's safe to say that the official position on this is blurry at best, outright contradictory at worst. ;)
Aside from the fact that putting them that far down really, really makes it entirely unlikely that they'd have any sort of commerce with either the Outer or Hollow Worlds, again- it just doesn't mesh with the information given in the Gazetteer. IIRC, the Ann Dupuis PWAs also rectify the HW goof-up by putting it back where it is supposed to be- only a few miles under the crust of the Outer World, rather than smack in the middle of the crust.
I'm not so bothered about having them that far down personally. It certainly adds to the isolation. But I do appreciate that 600 miles straight up is going to be a very long journey, making contacts with the surface world(s) extremely tenuous at best. (Again, this has advantages as well as disadvantages...)
EDIT: Just double-checked to be sure, and yeah- Ann Dupuis' Shadow Elves Territories (in PWA 1012, at least) is listed as being only 6,000 feet below the surface, which meshes with the Gaz, which has Troll Lake in the under-Broken Lands about 1,300 feet above the Way of Fountains in the Cavern of the Stars.
You didn't check Poor Wizard's Almanac II, which keeps the 600 miles thing. :P It seems that the timeline of this is as follows:
  1. GAZ13 - Slightly ambiguous, but with one clear reference to the ceiling of the City of the Stars cavern being 2600 feet (plus the depth of a "shallow" underground lake) underground. (So probably 2600 plus 10-100 feet, plus 2000-2500 feet to the floor of the cavern = 4610-5200 feet, if my calculations are right.)
  2. Hollow World Set - Clearly places (relocates?) the caverns of the Shadow Elves in the very centre of the crust, 600 miles down.
  3. Poor Wizard's Almanac I & II - Both books continue the 600 miles straight down thing from the Hollow World Set.
  4. Poor Wizard's Almanac III - The depth is revised to 6000 feet below the surface of the world.
Anyway, I should have said "an official placement of the Shadow Elf Territories" rather than "the official placement of the Shadow Elf Territories".

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Hugin » Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:27 pm

Well, to get my voice in here, I have to vote for #1 with influences from #3. Our official hex maps demand Mystara to be larger than stated and I'm not about to use re-scaled OW hex maps. As Ash said, add ocean to the Far End Sea and also wrap extreme north and south into the polar openings as well as squashing them.

Oh, and I also vote for the shallower Cavern of the City of Stars. I think the trip to the Hollow World was via being lost and through magic. IMHO, being in the World Shield would make one weightless within a fairly wide region. I'd much rather have magical cavern nearer the surface than have the extreme difficulty of having the Shadow Elves so far below the surface in a region I don't believe would behave as the Cavern is described.

At 6000 feet below the surface and traveling through tunnels that average a 2% grade would require a journey of 51 and a half miles. At 600 miles and an exhausting average grade of 10% the journey would be 6000 miles on foot and take somewhere around two years.

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Gawain_VIII » Thu Jul 17, 2008 3:59 pm

Considering that the SE caverns cover an area almost as large as the KW itself, and that different caverns (of varying sizes) are connected by a series of tunnels... who is to say that the SE caverns dont extend from -6k ft down to -600 mi at different places?

Also, IIRC, the HW's Schattenalfen wasn't necessarily a SE expedition to the OW that acciedentally found the HW, but rather a "lost" expedition that was deliberately led off-course by Atzanteotl. Additionally, that missing expedition became the HW's Schattenalfen--they never returned to the caverns--so how long it took to travel, or how far they travelled is, I think, mostly a moot point.

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by LoZompatore » Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:48 pm

You are going to persuade me about voting for option #1. After all, the polar opening shape and the crust thickness are not such an important feature of Mystara. ;)

Polar openings are mapped just in the HW set, they are not hexed and for sure they are subjected to many distorsion problem nevertheless: I suppose that stretching them further in the radial direction would not add so much modifications to the setting...
A different crust thickness is not such an important issue, too. 1200 or 2500 miles are a very long road to travel anyway: I completely agree with Hugin's estimate about the real distance a traveller would walk in order to reach the other surface without magical help and supposing a reasonable slope.

Moreover, the 600 mi depth for the Shadow Elves is quite an exception for the subterranean races of Mystara:

- From GAZ6, Rockhome dwarves do not inhabit settlement deeper than 160 feet (50m) under the average sea level: actually they live under the mountains, not under ground. Anyway, notice that from GAZIII dwarves who invade Oenkmar show that they are able to live at major depths than this;
- From GAZ10, the Broken Land complex is not deeper than 1500 feet (450m), where the city of Oenkmar floats above the lava lake;
- From CoM, the whole Graakhalian complex is not deeper than 1150 feet (350m);
- From GAZ7 it is said that the Falun caverns are modeled on the US Jewel Cave complex; this complex is not deeper than 750 feet (250m);

For this reason I think that GAZ13 approach, which places the shadov elves at 6000 feet (1800m) under sea level, is much more reasonable than the original one. Even so, using Hugin's approach about underground travelling, the travel from the shadow elves territory to the surface would require 2-3 days on foot.

Back in topic, I change my vote and suggest option #1.

I still think 3 may be acceptable based on the results of our curvature solution. Michele, I know you don't want to change the hex maps, but if we don't squeeze the existing northern areas at all, they are going to be way out of proportion with the rest of the maps as we know them - and the remaining parts will be even more squashed as a result. On the other hand I'm still eager to see any proposals you have for this, and I definitely trust your judgement. So I'll wait and see.

Thanks. I agree with you about the inevitable distortions issue: I would like to finish the 72 mi/hex map and see if it is possible to put it in the icosahedron without having to change too many details. I must admit that I'm not quite sure about it: there is a long strip of hexes at the same latitude going halfway through Mystara from the Immortal's Arm to eastern Minaea. Depending on the latitude at which we place them they will cross many icosahedron breakings, so maybe distortions are inevitable. I'll try to post some results as soon as possible ;)


[super geeky mode on] About option #1: Moreover, I made a little calculation with the proposed new measurements fro Mystara with option #1 (4400 mi radius and 2500 mi crust thickness) and I've found that such a planet* would generate a gravity on the external surface almost equal to that of the real Earth. You don't have to introduce super-dense lava layers and so on: rock density and the planet interior would be pretty similar to Earth's.
The anti magic shield would be kept without any problems, while gravity on the inner surface would be kept with magical methods (IIRC gravity inside such an hollow sphere would always be zero), but you would have this issue anyway, even keeping the HW as it is now.

* I considered it as a hollow sphere, without the polar openings.
[super geeky mode off]
Last edited by LoZompatore on Fri Jul 18, 2008 8:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Gawain_VIII » Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:02 pm

Does this mean that I win?!? :mrgreen:

*ahem* I mean...

It certainly looks like method 1 is quickly becoming the preferred method of resolution.

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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:19 pm

Ashtagon wrote:We can just add some extra ocean in the far seas area around where Zyxl/Arm of the Immortals / Eastern Skothar is.
That could also be used to fill in the "Sea Kingdoms" spot on the old Master's Set map.
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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:27 pm

Thorf wrote:Also, I think you're exaggerating in saying that it's not at all supported by the Gazetteer. There is only one throwaway reference to depth (the one you provided), and otherwise it's just stressed that it's very deep at various places. On the other hand there's also the fact that an expedition was made to the Hollow World, which they mistakenly believed to be the surface. It's pretty hard to explain that one unless they are much deeper than just a few thousand feet.
There are also numerous references to the dwarves of Rockhome (as LoZompatore notes- they do not live that far beneath the surface of Mystara) and the humanoids of the Broken Lands having contacts with the SE- not to mention all the campaigns against the SE in the PWAs themselves. That, plus the one "official" statistic we get about the Way of Fountains being fed by runoff from Troll Lake seems to make it pretty clear to me that the SE caverns are not remotely as far down as Allston put them.
You didn't check Poor Wizard's Almanac II, which keeps the 600 miles thing. :P It seems that the timeline of this is as follows:
Actually, I couldn't find PWAII, but thought I recalled the info from 1010 was kept the same there. Since the old TSR policy was "most current information is canon" I went with the 1012 info over the previous almanacs.

In any event, the point was that for me, Option #1 is the most satisfying, and the SE caverns thing really isn't IMO and for the reasons presented, an issue in changing the thickness of the crust. Which really seemed to be the major point of contention against option #1.
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Re: How really big Mystara is?

Post by Ashtagon » Thu Jul 17, 2008 8:04 pm

For the shadow elf caverns, I personally favour the ~6000 foot depth version. Even if we take the midway between outer and inner worlds as canon, it makes no practical difference whether it is 600 miles to a surface or 900 miles - it is still a journey that'd take longer than any campaign has time to allow for, unless you assume the entire party has teleport-style magic available (not unreasonable for a party, but it makes large-scale society-level interaction impossible).
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