Case Study #3 in World Building - The Art of World Building
Apr 232018
Case Study 3—Mountains and Murder

In this case study, we look at the impact of mountain ranges on terrain and sovereign powers. If following along with the maps online, expand the following sovereign powers sections: Erizon, Marula, Pell, and Siara.

The Winds and Rain Shadows

In the map below, the equator lies just to the south (off the edge). This means the prevailing winds are westerly. On the map’s right side is a large, north-to-south running mountain range, the Marula Mountains, which acts as a rain shadow that causes the desert to its left. The Nemon Mountains (also on the map’s right side) have a similar effect, causing another desert on their west, called Pell Pass. The War Peaks to the west would once again drain water from the atmosphere, leaving none to fall on the wider Anamaer Plain, which is wetter due to some moisture from the Sea of Fire to the south, resulting in grasslands instead of desert.

Some of this is open to interpretation. For example, Anamaer Plain could be another desert but two already existed in this region and more variety is good. No one from this planet is going to show up on Earth and announce that, in fact, no moisture from the Sea of Fire is coming north to result in more rain. However, it’s unlikely that a full forest would stand there. If you don’t understand why, this book will change that.

Forests stand to the north of these mountain ranges, as there’s no rain shadow; the Marula Mountains don’t go that far north and therefore don’t block moisture

Figure 9: The Impact of Mountains

Figure 9: The Impact of Mountains

The Powers

On the left third of this map (and extending out of view) is Erizon, a seafaring nation like the federal republic of Siara, on the northern coast. They are philosophically opposed and have competing navies with unrestricted access to the northern sea and a continent to the north. With the border between them short, most clashes are on water.

The remaining sovereign power in the image is the southern Pell Republic, which I decided has recently become a federal republic (in contrast with most other neighbors) like Siara. They became allies partly because Erizon threatens both from the west, launching wars on Anamaer Plain, a region filled with nomadic horse tribes. Caught in the middle, some of those tribes are allied to different powers, depending on who can benefit them. The landscape suggested these relationships, which is one reason to draw maps.

Pell Pass is how those of Pell and Siara meet and trade, but in the mountains to either side are unpleasant species and animals that attack any caravan or sign of life. Before Pell and Siara became allies, they contested Pell Pass and guarded it with castles at either end, seen on the map. These are now where caravans prepare for the dangerous trip through. The War Peaks are named for the battles that have often raged on either side of them.

The Pell Republic doesn’t have the kinds of wood best for building ships and gets these materials from Siara, which has ships at Pell to access the Sea of Fire and lands beyond. This includes the Empire of Kysh, with whom Pell is on mostly good relations, partly because Kysh is also enemies with Erizon. Pell also has ships in Siara because it bought them from Siara.

The Kingdom of Marula to the southeast wants Pell’s territory, including Pell Pass, partly to stop Pell and Siara from conspiring against it. Marula is at the heart of the slave trade and prefers those of Pell and Siara for slaves, increasing animosities.


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