Presumption #1: The Planet
Although our pattern of lands and waters differs from that of RL Earth, this still is
an ‘Earth’ in all fundamental respects: Astronomical position, positions & sizes of the solar system’s other members, lengths of the day and the year, seasonality, frequency of eclipses, age, basic chemical composition, types (and approximate ratios) of rocks & minerals present, basic atmospheric composition, basic biochemistry, and so on.
Presumption #1.B: Departures and Arrivals
When old nations CTE, and new nations arrive among us, this often involves history being retrospectively altered so that IC the current situation has “always” been the case. What I think has probably happened (sort-of-IC) in these cases is that the areas concerned have been “swapped” for ones from Parallel Earths with different histories. This involves a phenomenon, sometimes called ‘Fractal Reality’, that has already been evoked to explain some such changes not only elsewhere in NS (along with explaining the fact that many NS nations can claim to occupy the same RL nations’ locations...)
but even by some of the earlier players in this very region. The accompanying changes to IC memories and histories would then be either an [inexplicable?] side-effect of the relocation or direct action through whoever or whatever had deliberately (whether using “sufficiently advanced science”, outright supernatural powers, or something else…)
made the swap.
Presumption #2: Coordinates
We need to determine climates for the nations on our regional map. This is necessary not only for sorting-out “reasonable” ecosystems but also for determining their likely weather for use in role-plays, their agricultural possibilities, and even their basic habitability.
to know latitudes and scale to determine the nations’ ‘proper’ climates, and related details such the probable directions of ocean currents and the relative lengths of daylight & night locally through the year.
What I suggested to the players whose nations’ ecosystems I’ve already helped to design, therefore is that for this purpose (even if it ends up conflicting with the IC sizes given for some nations)
we treat the grid-lines that appear on some version of the main map as being two degrees apart, with the northernmost one just below the Arctic Circle, which gives us a range of latitudes from roughly 68o
N to 14o
S with the equator running through our southern continent.
Using degrees themselves for the scale, rather than miles (either standard or nautical) or kilometres or leagues or whatever, means that we don’t have to worry about using any ‘projection’ system — with the inherent inaccuracies over large distances which that would automatically entail — to depict the planet’s curved surface on a flat map.
People can find the lengths for degrees of latitude and longitude at any particular latitude, and thus the [OOC/“external”] dimensions for their nations sizes using either of two online calculators that I’ve already found ( http://www.csgnetwork.com/degreelenllavcalc.html
) or alternative ones that they find for themselves or that other players have found and listed in this thread.
Presumption #3: Climatology
The fact that the waters around the North Pole on our world are not as enclosed as their counterparts on Earth-RL, combined with the plausible lack of either a land-mass or an enclosed (or, as in RL, almost-enclosed) sea centred over the South Pole, means that although there would still be zones of permanent snow on the highest mountain ranges — especially at higher latitudes — our world would probably lack any major icecaps. This would make the world moister and warmer, on average, than is Earth-RL. Furthermore, the wide expanses of open sea surrounding our [“known”] continents would allow currents to circulate freely and redistribute that higher warmth more evenly so that the high latitudes here would be warmer than those of Earth-RL while the tropics would be slightly cooler than the higher average temperature might otherwise suggest. These circumstances mean that temperate forests could exist closer to the polar regions, and also that they could stretch further inland so that we have less desert or even steppe than would have been predictable for continents of these sizes at these latitudes with a more “Earth-like” situation. There could still have been some relatively minor glaciations, but we would not
have had a major ‘Ice Age’ here during the Pleistocene epoch.
(I’m currently thinking that we might have had a milder ‘Ice Age’ covering part of the rather earlier Oligocene epoch instead, here, to help explain some details in the evolution of the wildlife around then. Some geographical features caused by this might still be visible, in northern lands and mountain ranges, although erosion would probably have softened them significantly during the intervening millions of years. If any player who runs any of these nations
absolutely want their lands to have had more recent glaciation then I’d suggest that those lands very geographies must have been “swapped-in” at some point from other Earths with different geological/climatic histories…)
Presumption #4: Plate Tectonics
(The player who runs Malabra agreed to their parts of this when we discussed the situation a few years ago…)
There was a single large ‘supercontinent’ here at the start of the Mesozoic Era (or “Age of Dinosaurs”), but this split up during the early stages of the Cretaceous period. Our two continents today are basically on separate tectonic plates, both of them moving slowly northwards but not necessarily always at the same speed. However, much of the area that is now occupied by the nation called Malabra
is actually on a sub-plate that broke away from the main southern one just after the middle of the Cretaceous period and began to collide with the northern plate during the earlier stages of the following Paleogene (the first of two periods into which the former ‘Tertiary’ is now split)
. Theeffects of this collision have included a mountain-building process in the northern continent, which helps to explain the ranges that now exist not only directly north of Malabra but also paralleling the continent’s southern coasts for some distance westwards from there, as well as some uplift and “buckling” elsewhere. They also “tipped” thecontinent slightly, raising coastlines in the south (cutting off a sea that had extended northwards and then eastwards with its inner end coveringthe northern parts of what is now Bears Armed’s main section and some other areas around that, which has long since drained away, and uniting some quite large islands that had formed an archipelago off of the south-western corner with the mainland)
while lowering them in the north (and separating some areas from the mainland
there to form the large islands that exist today)
. The main rivers in Malabra had previously flowed northwards, but the mountain-building dammed them up and created an inland sea until the waters cut through a ridge to establish the pattern of southwards drainage that exists today. (A similar phenomenon occurred on RL Earth, where the precursor of the River Amazon had originally flowed into the Pacific rather than the Atlantic but the flow of waters was re-directed by the creation of the Andes range…)
What is now the north-eastern corner of the South Continent was also a large island or even an archipelago at various times.
Land-bridges between north and south have existed temporarily at a few stages during the Cenozoic, at either one end or the other of the Iapetus Sea but never at both ends simultaneously. The first of them formed as a reaction to Malabra’s collision with the North Continent, which temporarily pushed upwards the bed of the shallow sea “behind” it. The latest bridge at the western end formed(during parts of the Miocene epoch) around a series of islands that had been thrown-up by a volcanic hotspot over which the two plates were passing on their slow journey north.