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oudeis
2017-02-28, 06:13 PM
I'm looking to get a scientist's or at least scientific perspectives on some elements I'd like to include in a game. I could just handwave away any impossibilities or unlikehoods away by saying 'A ______ did it', but I'd like to at least try to have a naturalistic foundation for my ideas.


The town of [Winterford]
(This is a placeholder name: I canít be certain I came up with this before I read ASoIaF and I hate being derivative.)


[Winterford] was founded as a stopover for winter travelers on the banks of the Storm River in the foothills of the Bounding Scarps. While the deep-cut river runs swift whitewater from spring to fall, in winter it freezes into a level trade road. The hearty can shave weeks from their journeys if they are willing to brave the biting cold instead of following the Pikeway as it arcs far south to touch the Capital before swinging back north to resume its westward track. The real source of [Winterford]'s prosperity is the balmy summertime climate. Although the Storm is almost impassible at flood, [Winterford]'s elevation and proximity to the mountains make it a cool relief from the heat that blankets the rest of the region, and the wealthy and connected gentry of the Capital spend much of the hot season enjoying the pine-scented air and stunning scenery. Mansions and villas command astounding prices and the local artisans can become almost wealthy just from the seasonal work. So much of the upper class travels up from the capital that the deal-making and treachery to be found in the open plazas and garden parties rivals that of the Court.

Is the geology and climatology of this even remotely correct? Is there any place or region like this in nature? Could this exist without _____ doing it?


The Great Meander


This region of incredibly fertile soil has been contested for uncountable years. Many of the bloodiest battles in history have been fought over this terrain, and little wonder, for the bounty of its gently rolling plains is unmatched. It's said that you could drop a spoon in the dirt one day and harvest a shovel the next, that even a painting of a cherry tree would bear fruit if you planted it. To the rulers of the east, it is a promise of unlimited agricultural productivity and all that follows: wealth, growth, military might, dominance. "The key to the East lies in the West" is the common wisdom. To the nomads of the west it is the breeding and feeding grounds for the great bloodlines of their most prized steeds, and the great eastward thrust of these grasslands symbolize the potence and dominance of their people and gave rise to the Meander's name in their tongue, a crude term commonly translated as 'God's prod'.

Most of the meanders (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meander) I found on Google images (https://www.google.com/search?q=meander&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiIhfPjuZ_PAhVBez4KHd7dBq4Q_AUICCgB&biw=1920&bih=1094#imgrc=_) seem to be fairly small when compared to the overall size of the river, a few kilometers at most. Is it geologically possible to for one to encompass a strategically significant amount of territory, say 100-150 kilometers wide by 300-400 kilometers long, or roughly the size of Tennessee (https://www.google.com/maps/place/Tennessee/@35.7469228,-90.470092,6z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x88614b239e97cf03:0x33e20 c1a5819156!8m2!3d35.5174913!4d-86.5804473)?


Delta City (another placeholder name)


This is an idea I have for a Venice/New Orleans-inspired city inhabited by a human culture the players didn't know existed and won't encounter until later in the game. Instead of being built on separate islets in an estuary, Delta City is built on the mouth of a great river that runs through stony topography before branching out into the traditional fan-shaped river mouth (https://www.google.com/search?q=river+delta&client=opera&hs=e1r&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwipqKGJ4bPSAhUG12MKHUCWAO0Q_AUICCgB&biw=1280&bih=956#imgrc=_). What I have in mind is something like the Nile Delta (https://www.google.com/search?q=nile+river+delta&client=opera&biw=1280&bih=956&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiBucD25rPSAhVU3mMKHfY4BgUQ_AUICSgC) on a much smaller scale, say 1:30 or 1:40 in both length and breadth. The islets (?) in Delta City would be anywhere from perhaps a hectare to a square kilometer. The larger ones would be the property of the powerful noble families or merchant lords (or perhaps they became noble/rich because they settled on them). Each islet would be almost a separate town or village, some with vineyards, pastures or even crop fields.

Every river delta I researched was much more marshy and on a much larger scale than I had in mind for my city, so I was wondering if stonier terrain would allow for a smaller size while still allowing crops to grow.

As always, any informed advice is welcome.

jayem
2017-02-28, 06:46 PM
Meander's aren't constant they change in time, and form the famous oxbow lake effect (see the wikipedia article). And can only really be in the flat region, and develop where there is a curve, and developes as the inside and outside move at different speeds.
In short I don't think you'd get a single meander that big, and the maximum size is probably fixed for the soil type/water speed.

I think it would be easier to have the valley circuitous for the big structure, though how you'd explain a hill ridges needed I'm not sure (but the Danube does something similar round Romania, and in fact it might be an interesting comparison). Then have 'little' meanders along the flat valley spreading the soil through the valley.

bulbaquil
2017-02-28, 06:59 PM
Meander's aren't constant they change in time, and form the famous oxbow lake effect (see the wikipedia article). And can only really be in the flat region, and develop where there is a curve, and developes as the inside and outside move at different speeds.
In short I don't think you'd get a single meander that big, and the maximum size is probably fixed for the soil type/water speed.

I think it would be easier to have the valley circuitous for the big structure, though how you'd explain a hill ridges needed I'm not sure (but the Danube does something similar round Romania, and in fact it might be an interesting comparison). Then have 'little' meanders along the flat valley spreading the soil through the valley.

Yeah, I was also thinking the Danube. It starts in the Alps and curves eastward, but then makes a fairly sharp turn around Budapest (which is probably part of why Budapest is there), and has to curve around the valley between the Balkan and Carpathian Mountains before ultimately reaching the Black Sea on the Ukrainian coast.

The easiest way to justify this geologically is to stick an "old", somewhat smaller, mountain range in the middle of where your river would otherwise want to go. Get rid of the Carpathians and the Danube would probably zip right through the heart of Hungary and Romania rather than skirting around.

Mendicant
2017-02-28, 09:01 PM
Nothing about #1 sounds implausible at all. Depending on the setting it also seems like a likely spot for the summer palace and a place of refuge for the urban elite during plagues.

#2 As a name, "The Great Meander" is perfectly reasonable and nicely descriptive. As a technical description it seems wrong, though. I don't think it's a meander once in surrounds Tennessee on 3 sides, just like the Gulf of Mexico isn't referred to as a really big cove. Geologically it seems reasonable to me as long as it's not too, especially if it's in very flat terrain--the Don river curves quite dramatically, as does the, well, Tennessee. Look at a whole river system rather than just one river and you'll get even more dramatic curves. I'm not sure how extreme you want this curve to be.

If you want a ultra-rich region bounded on almost all sides by flowing water, you could also make it two sister rivers that join together, like the Tigris and Euphrates.

ETA: You write really good descriptions.

Max_Killjoy
2017-02-28, 09:09 PM
Delta City (another placeholder name)

This is an idea I have for a Venice/New Orleans-inspired city inhabited by a human culture the players didn't know existed and won't encounter until later in the game. Instead of being built on separate islets in an estuary, Delta City is built on the mouth of a great river that runs through stony topography before branching out into the traditional fan-shaped river mouth (https://www.google.com/search?q=river+delta&client=opera&hs=e1r&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwipqKGJ4bPSAhUG12MKHUCWAO0Q_AUICCgB&biw=1280&bih=956#imgrc=_). What I have in mind is something like the Nile Delta (https://www.google.com/search?q=nile+river+delta&client=opera&biw=1280&bih=956&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiBucD25rPSAhVU3mMKHfY4BgUQ_AUICSgC) on a much smaller scale, say 1:30 or 1:40 in both length and breadth. The islets (?) in Delta City would be anywhere from perhaps a hectare to a square kilometer. The larger ones would be the property of the powerful noble families or merchant lords (or perhaps they became noble/rich because they settled on them). Each islet would be almost a separate town or village, some with vineyards, pastures or even crop fields.

Every river delta I researched was much more marshy and on a much larger scale than I had in mind for my city, so I was wondering if stonier terrain would allow for a smaller size while still allowing crops to grow.

As always, any informed advice is welcome.


Deltas are incredibly fragile at whatever size. The Nile delta is disappearing because its source of replenishing sediment was cut off by the Aswan Dam. Likewise the Mississippi delta, with dams and levies forcing all the sediment-rich water to run straight out into the Gulf.

Any city build on delta land is almost inevitably going to subside -- look at New Orleans.

Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll
2017-02-28, 10:23 PM
Additionally, if built on a small-scale delta, you'd have the same issue over time as with the meanders. A delta has a large flat land, in which a river can easily shift position as it silts up its old paths, so your city would have to artificially channel the river.

Max_Killjoy
2017-02-28, 10:32 PM
Additionally, if built on a small-scale delta, you'd have the same issue over time as with the meanders. A delta has a large flat land, in which a river can easily shift position as it silts up its old paths, so your city would have to artificially channel the river.

See, for example, the fate of Pi-Ramesses.

VoxRationis
2017-03-01, 07:32 AM
I'm looking to get a scientist's or at least scientific perspectives on some elements I'd like to include in a game. I could just handwave away any impossibilities or unlikehoods away by saying 'A ______ did it', but I'd like to at least try to have a naturalistic foundation for my ideas.


The town of [Winterford] (This is a placeholder name: I canít be certain I came up with this before I read ASoIaF and I hate being derivative.)


[Winterford] was founded as a stopover for winter travelers on the banks of the Storm River in the foothills of the Bounding Scarps. While the deep-cut river runs swift whitewater from spring to fall, in winter it freezes into a level trade road. The hearty can shave weeks from their journeys if they are willing to brave the biting cold instead of following the Pikeway as it arcs far south to touch the Capital before swinging back north to resume its westward track.

Is the geology and climatology of this even remotely correct? Is there any place or region like this in nature? Could this exist without _____ doing it?


So a river freezes into a road that crosses the mountains? From my experience with mountainous regions and the rivers that flow through them, I feel that the road wouldn't be useable for very long distances. It'd come up against waterfalls periodically, and the rocks that make it "whitewater" during the summer are going to make things rough for anyone trying to use a wagon or sledge.

Spartakus
2017-03-01, 08:04 AM
The town of [Winterford] (This is a placeholder name: I canít be certain I came up with this before I read ASoIaF and I hate being derivative.)


[Winterford] was founded as a stopover for winter travelers on the banks of the Storm River in the foothills of the Bounding Scarps. While the deep-cut river runs swift whitewater from spring to fall, in winter it freezes into a level trade road. The hearty can shave weeks from their journeys if they are willing to brave the biting cold instead of following the Pikeway as it arcs far south to touch the Capital before swinging back north to resume its westward track. The real source of [Winterford]'s prosperity is the balmy summertime climate. Although the Storm is almost impassible at flood, [Winterford]'s elevation and proximity to the mountains make it a cool relief from the heat that blankets the rest of the region, and the wealthy and connected gentry of the Capital spend much of the hot season enjoying the pine-scented air and stunning scenery. Mansions and villas command astounding prices and the local artisans can become almost wealthy just from the seasonal work. So much of the upper class travels up from the capital that the deal-making and treachery to be found in the open plazas and garden parties rivals that of the Court.

Is the geology and climatology of this even remotely correct? Is there any place or region like this in nature? Could this exist without _____ doing it?


Not quite sure how and if mountain rivers freeze but ice usually makes terrible roads. But if you change it into a lake, when frozen it is still hard to cross but could be a hell of a hortcut. Real world example would be Lake Baikal in Siberia. In 1901 the Ice was thick enough that the rails for the Trans-Siberian Railway were laid over the see with horses pulling the wagons.

snowblizz
2017-03-01, 08:13 AM
Not quite sure how and if mountain rivers freeze but ice usually makes terrible roads. But if you change it into a lake, when frozen it is still hard to cross but could be a hell of a hortcut. Real world example would be Lake Baikal in Siberia. In 1901 the Ice was thick enough that the rails for the Trans-Siberian Railway were laid over the see with horses pulling the wagons.
Ice makes decent enough roads if conditions are right. It's why in Scandinavia during Ye Olden times most heavy work was done in winter. If the winter is cold enough ther is still plenty of iceroads here, and up in Alaska and Canda some of the best roads are iceroads. Lakes makes the easiest ones for sure, but both rivers and the sea can serve.


So a river freezes into a road that crosses the mountains? From my experience with mountainous regions and the rivers that flow through them, I feel that the road wouldn't be useable for very long distances. It'd come up against waterfalls periodically, and the rocks that make it "whitewater" during the summer are going to make things rough for anyone trying to use a wagon or sledge.




[Winterford] was founded as a stopover for winter travelers on the banks of the Storm River in the foothills of the Bounding Scarps. While the deep-cut river runs swift whitewater from spring to fall, in winter it freezes into a level trade road.

The real source of [Winterford]'s prosperity is the balmy summertime climate.

Is the geology and climatology of this even remotely correct? Is there any place or region like this in nature? Could this exist without _____ doing it?

Like VoxRationis I'm not entirely sold on this. A rapid river doesn't freeze easily, requiring a lot of cold, for a fair bit of time. A freezing waterfall doesn't create a smooth shape, it's going to be best described as "interesting". Which runs into "how is this balmy again?". Also it will tend to freeze into the shape of stuffs.
You can get significant temperature swings however with "continental climate", Moscow winters can be very cold, and Moscow summers very hot. So proximity to mountains make it more reasonable. Somewhere moving about the slider of how rapid it is, elevations and cliamte I think you can pull it off. As long as no seas are anywhere close.


The Great Meander

Most of the meanders (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meander) I found on Google images (https://www.google.com/search?q=meander&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiIhfPjuZ_PAhVBez4KHd7dBq4Q_AUICCgB&biw=1920&bih=1094#imgrc=_) seem to be fairly small when compared to the overall size of the river, a few kilometers at most. Is it geologically possible to for one to encompass a strategically significant amount of territory, say 100-150 kilometers wide by 300-400 kilometers long, or roughly the size of Tennessee (https://www.google.com/maps/place/Tennessee/@35.7469228,-90.470092,6z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x88614b239e97cf03:0x33e20 c1a5819156!8m2!3d35.5174913!4d-86.5804473)?
Look up the Ordos Loop (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordos_Loop), made by the Yellow river. Like the Danube it's mountains in the way making the route change dramatically. Am not sure how large Tennessee is but I think sizewise it's waht you want. Incidentally, it's where the finest warhorses came from. However, it is not a floodplain.



Every river delta I researched was much more marshy and on a much larger scale than I had in mind for my city, so I was wondering if stonier terrain would allow for a smaller size while still allowing crops to grow.
Stonier terrain does not allow for a delta. It's what happens when alot of silt is deposited in a flat landscape.

Storm_Of_Snow
2017-03-01, 09:25 AM
Additionally, if built on a small-scale delta, you'd have the same issue over time as with the meanders. A delta has a large flat land, in which a river can easily shift position as it silts up its old paths, so your city would have to artificially channel the river.
What about a floating city? If the water's deep enough and your walkways high enough or well routed, you could potentially get trading vessels right up to warehouses in the middle of the city, and it could be the major trading port for the country - or possibly an unaligned free port that acts as a crossroads for traders. There's also the options of farming seafood, fish etc in the city's boundaries (so long as you can stop the city's sewage from polluting it), and while large scale agriculture, metal work and so on may be impossible to produce, as a trade hub with taxes on the goods passing through it, it could probably afford to bring anything it wants in, although the population may not actually be that high. But when the river moves, the city can potentially float along with it - or perhaps they regularly dredge the channels (they'd have to do so further down in order to get trading vessels in and out) and sell the silt back to the mainland - if it's fertile it can be used in agriculture, if not, it might be good for pottery, brick making and so on.

There might also be a more permanent part of the city sat on massive wood or stone pilings - think of somewhere like Amsterdam.

For the first - as Snowblizz says, ice can make good roads, but it would have to get seriously cold, otherwise the ice would be too thin to support the weight of any goods caravans. And having mountains nearby as suggested also gives you mining as a possible reason for the settlement to have originally existed in the first place (and with the forest, you've got the potential for charcoal, which combined with iron ore gives you arms and armour manufacture, so maybe it's essentially the second city because it was the site of the countries main armoury and, coupled with it's geographical position and the consequential limited campaign season, it's very easily defended. Or maybe the mining is for precious metals or gem stones, and there's a lot of artisans making objects d'art in the city - which gets away from the gruff northern mineworker stereotype.

You'll probably need smaller settlements along the river - if there's a waterfall, there might be a village built around a watermill to power industry (even if it's only used for milling grain for a few weeks after the harvest and the rest of the year the river's pretty much iced up with the wheel lifted clear to prevent it getting damaged), boat locks for cargo transport in the summer and a series of cargo lifts alongside the locks for getting the caravans up (or maybe they let the locks freeze over at their highest point - with some way of stopping the ice build up and subsequent expansion destroying the lock - and build ramps to get the caravans over them).

oudeis
2017-03-01, 06:30 PM
#2 As a name, "The Great Meander" is perfectly reasonable and nicely descriptive. As a technical description it seems wrong, though. I don't think it's a meander once in surrounds Tennessee on 3 sides, just like the Gulf of Mexico isn't referred to as a really big cove. Geologically it seems reasonable to me as long as it's not too, especially if it's in very flat terrain--the Don river curves quite dramatically, as does the, well, Tennessee. Look at a whole river system rather than just one river and you'll get even more dramatic curves. I'm not sure how extreme you want this curve to be.

If you want a ultra-rich region bounded on almost all sides by flowing water, you could also make it two sister rivers that join together, like the Tigris and Euphrates.

ETA: You write really good descriptions.

*Smacks forehead* I should have thought of that. My home state, Illinois, is bounded by a river conflux in the south.
(and thanks for the compliments :smallsmile:).


So a river freezes into a road that crosses the mountains? From my experience with mountainous regions and the rivers that flow through them, I feel that the road wouldn't be useable for very long distances. It'd come up against waterfalls periodically, and the rocks that make it "whitewater" during the summer are going to make things rough for anyone trying to use a wagon or sledge.


Like VoxRationis I'm not entirely sold on this. A rapid river doesn't freeze easily, requiring a lot of cold, for a fair bit of time. A freezing waterfall doesn't create a smooth shape, it's going to be best described as "interesting". Which runs into "how is this balmy again?". Also it will tend to freeze into the shape of stuffs.

Sorry, I didn't express my mental picture nearly as well as I thought: [Winterford] is on the southern side of a mountain range running east-west. The Storm River runs north-south and from the spring thaw until the winter freeze is largely impassable for [insert long distance here] due to its depth/current/temperature. The winter trade route allows a more direct path to an important maritime city on the west coast. The Pikeway originally bent south because... well, I actually haven't though that part all the way through yet. It was probably orc/goblin/troll/scumbag country until it was tamed, or something.


Look up the Ordos Loop (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordos_Loop), made by the Yellow river. Like the Danube it's mountains in the way making the route change dramatically. Am not sure how large Tennessee is but I think sizewise it's waht you want. Incidentally, it's where the finest warhorses came from. However, it is not a floodplain.
I'd never heard of this before. That's pretty cool.


Stonier terrain does not allow for a delta. It's what happens when alot of silt is deposited in a flat landscape.Rats. OK, small offshore islands it is.

theasl
2017-03-01, 07:19 PM
Sorry, I didn't express my mental picture nearly as well as I thought: [Winterford] is on the southern side of a mountain range running east-west. The Storm River runs north-south and from the spring thaw until the winter freeze is largely impassable for [insert long distance here] due to its depth/current/temperature. The winter trade route allows a more direct path to an important maritime city on the west coast. The Pikeway originally bent south because... well, I actually haven't though that part all the way through yet. It was probably orc/goblin/troll/scumbag country until it was tamed, or something.

If crossing the river was such an important shortcut, why would they not just build a bridge over it? The Romans built some truly amazing bridges (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Greek_and_Roman_architectural_records) with a fairly low technology level, and if your world has magic (as the "A ____ did it" concern seems to imply), it would be much easier. If you're concerned that it would be exorbitantly expensive, the fact that there's a government which has invested heavily in the area should make it reasonable still.

As an aside, you've already given a reason for the Pikeway to bend south: it links to the Capital instead of a direct path to the other western city.

If I'm also misinterpreting all of this, maybe a rough working version of your map could help us understand what you mean better than words. And if you've been trying to do this all without a map, please make one. I guarantee it will make all of this much easier and help you catch inconsistencies and other general strangeness.

Mendicant
2017-03-01, 10:22 PM
Well, if I'm picturing this right, it's not that bridging the river is so hard, it's that the river isn't really navigable, and thus doesn't work as a trade artery until it freezes and acts like a makeshift road. I can imagine it being especially useful in the places where it's basically a very long lake. The river could often flood its banks and make it difficult to build a usable road near it, even though its path is more direct than the alternative routes.

theasl
2017-03-01, 10:31 PM
Well, if I'm picturing this right, it's not that bridging the river is so hard, it's that the river isn't really navigable, and thus doesn't work as a trade artery until it freezes and acts like a makeshift road. I can imagine it being especially useful in the places where it's basically a very long lake. The river could often flood its banks and make it difficult to build a usable road near it, even though its path is more direct than the alternative routes.

The thing is that oudeis said that the river runs north-south, while the route that supposedly relies on the river would be east-west (and the existing route takes a detour to the south, implying that a straight E-W track would be faster). This is really why a concrete map would be important to have here, since all of us are making all kinds of different assumptions.

For reference, here's a quick (30 second) and very vague map of what I interpret this part of the world as:
http://i.imgur.com/62PQaNl.png (http://imgur.com/62PQaNl)

sktarq
2017-03-02, 02:54 AM
Okay - I seem to be thinking a bit differently about this but I'll try to make suggestions on what preconditions you'd need.

As I'm seeing this. The 'Ice Road" is the name of a trade route not and actual ice road, which is term for a trade route that requires a coating of ice and snow to be traversable. This route is named that because it is only possible to use this route during the cold months of winter. This Town is where it is (and named what it is) because during most of year it is just by a rapidly roaring difficult/impossible to cross river fed by major snowmelts from the north. During the winter the river level drops because the mountains get too cold to have as much runoff and when the river level gets low enough it can be forded by carts and wagons at the point the town was built. It is a ford of the river that is only available during the winter months- Do I have that right?

What you are looking for is going to probably be an upland plateau that surrounds the base of the mountains. That way it has enough of a catchbasin to get a good impassible river going but also enough elevation to be cooler than the capital below. Shimla (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimla) is a something to look at but as cool at it is it would be unlikely to have a trade route going perpendicular to it - thus why I'm recommending a plateau - level enough ground to make the climb at either end worth the effort as a shortcut. And basically the Pikeway would follow the developed area just below the edge of the plateau-it would be a major if not dominant geographic feature of the area.

Also if the winter is rainy enough then the river would actually get bigger during the winter than the late summer or fall. So to combat this you are going to need to have the actual plateau be rather dry. Like an upland cool semidesert where that river is basically entirely dependent on the mountains runoff. This could mean the plateau is in a deep rain-shadow of the mountains for example. Also Semideserts can be very nice places to visit, lots of sunshine, and if it cool due to altitude then it would pleasent even in summer.

As for a bridge. The best reasons I could come up with are: The riverbed is too unstable to support significant weight. A long history of Large trees being carried by the raging torrent all the way to the region during the warmer months and acting as battering rams on top of the epic force of the water itself. That the region is prone to earthquakes would would weaken the bridge. Or all of the above. Which wouldn't stop a bridge being built but would give the bridge a short lifespan to that it would have to be built again and again and again. Which could be solved with enough magic but then so could everything else in DnD

Have you looked at the Mississippi Delta (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_Delta)? Yeah the one miles and miles inland. Basically by a having a couple of rivers running parallel or even breaking into a true delta like system on very flat land you could get this overall kind of effect even if it is not a exactly a single great meander but a massive complex of constantly shifting meanders.

As described exactly it would be difficult to impossible but creative creation of your geography may get you close.

. . . So if the rocky isles were tall and of totally different rock there could be an explanation. Look at Bryce Canyon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryce_Canyon_National_Park) in Utah. Not if that kind of formation that was formed by many small water and wind effects became the recipient of a lot more much more silt heavy water the canyons would mostly fill up with silt but if silt hadn't filled it up all the way. This would make more sense near the source of the delta than the mouth. More Cairo's location than Alexandria's.

Another possibility is a shattered area of a slightly elevated harder rock (probably part of a much larger intact formation) that gives the river access to a coastal plain that is basically dead flat (thus developing a delta formation). Again the city would basically sit behind the Delta and may well be backed by cataracts making direct boat access impossible from river to sea but then transferring cargo from river boats to ocean boats via a short land route (one end of the city to the other) could be a major industry. But this seams to be on a much smaller scale than your thinking. The whole thing would probably max out at a couple miles across for the city itself-actually an issue for all of these..

Another way to think about it would be is "what if Ha Long Bay (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%E1%BA%A1_Long_Bay) seafloor mostly filled up with silt and a more normal delta formation".

So yeah. You may be able to have some rocky isles in or at the base of the delta - and they could form the core of the "old city" the ancient rich government parts with more normal delta islands for farming and lower class housing knowing that those islands may well shift or disappear in a few decades. Which may well be enough to get you the feel you want for the players. . . which is the important thing.

to an extent you may find the Imperial City of Anuire (http://www.birthright.net/forums/showwiki.php?title=The_Imperial_City&redirect=no) a good inspiration-on the river rocky outcrops - would need a true delta. Just as problematic geology as what you want.

So that's my best shot at how to even semi-probably cram these ideas into a world.

oudeis
2017-03-02, 12:46 PM
For reference, here's a quick (30 second) and very vague map of what I interpret this part of the world as:
http://i.imgur.com/62PQaNl.png (http://imgur.com/62PQaNl)
That's actually almost eerily accurate, because while I mentioned that the trading city is on the coast I omitted the fact that the Capital is as well, and that the shoreline bends up northward... *cue X-files theme*

Mark Hall
2017-03-02, 01:18 PM
Winterford runs into a few problems because the whitewaters indicate that you have water passing around rocks... so when the river freezes over in winter, you're going to have a fairly steep sheet of ice with a lot of rocks poking out of it... you might be able to do it with a mule train, but not with wagons.

The Great Meander doesn't look too bad, though, as others pointed out, it wouldn't really be a meander. It reminds me of a river delta, or the Nile, though you might also have a relatively shallow river that floods yearly. Perhaps those floods tend to result in new channels getting carved out, and old ones drying up as a result? Not a true meander, but close enough and the name has stuck?

As for the last, I can see it... if there are larger rocks leeward, and smaller rocks upflow, deposited silt might fill in between, until the smaller rocks deflect just enough of the flow that the area becomes effectively dry land. If maintained through engineering, it could become even more habitable. Richer people would have homes on the larger rocks, with the poor on the more flood-prone silt deltas.

Yora
2017-03-02, 01:45 PM
Ice makes decent enough roads if conditions are right. It's why in Scandinavia during Ye Olden times most heavy work was done in winter. If the winter is cold enough ther is still plenty of iceroads here, and up in Alaska and Canda some of the best roads are iceroads. Lakes makes the easiest ones for sure, but both rivers and the sea can serve.

My uncle lives in Finland and in his village most people do non-urgent administrative errants in Winter. Taking a shortcut over the frozen lake to the main regional town cuts the drive from hours down to minutes.

How likely you are to get a flat surface on a mountain river depends on how mountainous a landscape you're dealing with.Probably the best odds would be an enormous glacier valley that has mostly been filled up with gravel and sand that formed the bottom of a massive ancient meltwater river. The current river of a much smaller, but still significant size, could run through the center of the valley and be quite smooth once the meltwater floodings are over.

I think it would probably have to be a good distance away from the next sea (say 1000km) as you need continental climate to have hot summers and freezing winters. Near the sea in temperate regions you have summers that are cool and winters that are mild.

oudeis
2017-03-16, 04:41 PM
As I'm seeing this. The 'Ice Road" is the name of a trade route not and actual ice road, which is term for a trade route that requires a coating of ice and snow to be traversable. This route is named that because it is only possible to use this route during the cold months of winter. This Town is where it is (and named what it is) because during most of year it is just by a rapidly roaring difficult/impossible to cross river fed by major snowmelts from the north. During the winter the river level drops because the mountains get too cold to have as much runoff and when the river level gets low enough it can be forded by carts and wagons at the point the town was built. It is a ford of the river that is only available during the winter months- Do I have that right? Yes, this is the mental image behind/inspired by the name.


What you are looking for is going to probably be an upland plateau that surrounds the base of the mountains. That way it has enough of a catchbasin to get a good impassible river going but also enough elevation to be cooler than the capital below. Shimla (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimla) is a something to look at but as cool at it is it would be unlikely to have a trade route going perpendicular to it - thus why I'm recommending a plateau - level enough ground to make the climb at either end worth the effort as a shortcut. And basically the Pikeway would follow the developed area just below the edge of the plateau-it would be a major if not dominant geographic feature of the area.This is great information. I've never heard of Shimla but now I have a burning desire not just to use it in a game but to see it with my own eyes.


Also if the winter is rainy enough then the river would actually get bigger during the winter than the late summer or fall. So to combat this you are going to need to have the actual plateau be rather dry. Like an upland cool semidesert where that river is basically entirely dependent on the mountains runoff. This could mean the plateau is in a deep rain-shadow of the mountains for example. Also Semideserts can be very nice places to visit, lots of sunshine, and if it cool due to altitude then it would pleasent even in summer. The idea for making [Winterford] a summer retreat for the wealthy came from Lake Como (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Como) in Italy. I've always envisioned it as green alpine forestland. Perhaps if the prevailing weather patterns are coming off the coastal region to the south that might create a region of increased moisture that could support heavy forestation.


As for a bridge. The best reasons I could come up with are: The riverbed is too unstable to support significant weight. A long history of Large trees being carried by the raging torrent all the way to the region during the warmer months and acting as battering rams on top of the epic force of the water itself. That the region is prone to earthquakes would would weaken the bridge. Or all of the above. Which wouldn't stop a bridge being built but would give the bridge a short lifespan to that it would have to be built again and again and again. Which could be solved with enough magic but then so could everything else in DnD This is again very close to my conception: it is too cold and the ground is too broken and hard to support large-scale construction endeavors during the winter and the force of snowmelt and runoff would make it prohibitively difficult and expensive to build a bridge strong enough to withstand it. Enormous chunks of broken ice and even rock are frequently borne out of the mountains on the Storm's current as well.



As described exactly it would be difficult to impossible but creative creation of your geography may get you close.
...
Another possibility is a shattered area of a slightly elevated harder rock (probably part of a much larger intact formation) that gives the river access to a coastal plain that is basically dead flat (thus developing a delta formation). Again the city would basically sit behind the Delta and may well be backed by cataracts making direct boat access impossible from river to sea but then transferring cargo from river boats to ocean boats via a short land route (one end of the city to the other) could be a major industry. But this seams to be on a much smaller scale than your thinking. The whole thing would probably max out at a couple miles across for the city itself-actually an issue for all of these..

Another way to think about it would be is "what if Ha Long Bay (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%E1%BA%A1_Long_Bay) seafloor mostly filled up with silt and a more normal delta formation". Both very useful ideas. After my original conception for Delta City was debunked my mind leapt to images I'd seen of Ha Long, though I didn't know the name as such.

Thanks for the incredibly informed and informative post.

sktarq
2017-03-16, 05:37 PM
One thing that mentally came up with Winderford. If this is the best or possibly only place to cross the river for an extended distance (till the Pikeway) then for most of its distance it still must be basically whitewater. So that is going to be a significantly rough and sizable river. . .

Which makes me ask what would get this one place to be passable in winter but not in summer.

What I could come up with is that the river is very very broad in relation to its normal breadth at winterford. That would lower the depth of the water and slow it down enough to be crossable but would leave it very open to bridging and ferries even during the summer which we don't want

So if you had something like an unstable skree plain littered with large 2-4m and above boulders. and during the winter one could pick one's way between the boulders the half mile or so to the other shore-trying to avoid deep washouts and the like. Basically the whitewater effects from the boulders shrink due to lesser water flow and calm zones can be forded but they still exist. As the water deepens whitewater effects grow out from these big boulders to the point where boating is near impossible and even if the river flow only doubled it would still be shoulder height or more..

bascally you need rocks that are the right size that when the river is low the water mostly splits around them relatively smoothly and when the water is high it disrupts the the smooth flow and causes whitewater or similar effects.

hell if the rivebed is unstable how to get across may be slightly different each year. With experienced guides marking safer directions or keeping them secret in order to earn fees.

But yeah in any case thinking about this the best way I could figure out to get the effect you wanted was to basically make the ford itself large.

still an interesting image of an approach to a city. Best of luck and glad you found my previous post useful.

as for why I think it should be dry is that the whole idea is to drop the river in winter.....most rivers in temperate zones start to pick up in volume in the late fall and while not at their spring/early summer peak are well above their fall lows during most of winter....and the idea is to avoid this. So you need as much of the water feeding the river to be ice as early in the season as possible-thus it needs to be maximally dependent on the moutnains. Local rains and early snows would just feed the river and raise its level....which kinda attacks that key feature of the town.

as for it being forested. Semideserts can be forested. And without people or elephants they normally are. Much of north new mexico was a ponderosa pine forest under conditions similar to ones the experience today (and even the upland areas would be good reference for you on this actually) , the Manzitina forests of Arizona are deep in the desert zone. Cool and Dry could grow some types of conifers . But would extremely fragile and very easily deforested-which could mean that some areas still stand forested and others have long been made into a scrub plain. Something like what happened to Iceland (hell much of Iceland was a spruce forest when people first showed up and looks like the moon today) with better topsoil and worse rain. So yeah you could have forests, scrub, grasslands, and barrens all mixed depending on how badly the local area was/is damaged. Which gets you more reasons to use a bigger section of the monster manual and a greater variety of NPCs.......Sure Winterford is the main reason to go but why not make the rest easy to grow plothooks in? So yeah - Perhaps the forest was protected as a royal hunting preserve for many generations.

Or since the town is already located at an odd spot (since the river becomes fordable here and nowhere else it is weird to start) the very local area is different that the surrounding lands and the forests only grow there. .

Storm_Of_Snow
2017-03-17, 04:06 AM
What about if the river's also fed by glacial melt water? That could give a large flow rate in summer (and maybe makes Winterford into something like a spa-town as well, which would help give it the cachet amongst the nobility), and reduce it enough to freeze up in the winter.

As for Winterford being the only viable fording place, maybe it's on the confluence of a number of tributaries, which are themselves fordable, but the main river that leaves the town isn't. Or maybe there's a large underground river that joins the river that Winterford is on further downstream.

sktarq
2017-03-17, 02:07 PM
Problem with the second part. That would mean the upriver sections of the multiple rivers are fordable themselves or the the storm river itself is ford-able upstream (if the underground river is used). That would mean it is the most downstream/southern point available to cross not the only. While that may be a good idea in order to help with other things it brings up the question of "why here" when the chances of being able to use the ice road could go a bit farther north to find small crossings.

Basically 1 big near unpassable river (with a smal exception) is simpler to explain that multiple smaller ones.

Beleriphon
2017-03-17, 05:15 PM
Problem with the second part. That would mean the upriver sections of the multiple rivers are fordable themselves or the the storm river itself is ford-able upstream (if the underground river is used). That would mean it is the most downstream/southern point available to cross not the only. While that may be a good idea in order to help with other things it brings up the question of "why here" when the chances of being able to use the ice road could go a bit farther north to find small crossings.

Basically 1 big near unpassable river (with a smal exception) is simpler to explain that multiple smaller ones.

Or the fordable area is the base of a long confluence of white water that is either unfordable in the winter either because is a slippery ice rock death trap or is still white water during the winter.

http://www.canoekayak.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Great-Falls-Ice-Drops-3web.jpg

sktarq
2017-03-20, 10:55 AM
Sorry, perhaps I didn't explain well. If you create a confluence near Winterford that mean if you go upstream there are multiple smaller rivers to feed this confluence. Or a single smaller river if you go for that underground river option. Either way the chances that somewhere along their length these smaller rivers would be fordable is much much higher that a large river. Scale is the most reliable way to trait. The criteria for a place where are small river is fordable are much more common. Two or three small fords are easier than one big ford. Now if these ford existed a number of miles up river from winterford traders would just go that way instead bypassing winterford entirely.

Logic - large rivers are much harder to cross than small ones so a large river with one marginal crossing point is more logical than several smaller rivers which all have no crossing points.

Storm_Of_Snow
2017-03-20, 12:13 PM
Depends on what the terrain's like further upstream, if it's getting into the mountains, the rivers might be near impossible to cross (especially with a cart or something similar), or there might be a crossing point on the first 10 miles up stream, but the second is a further 6 miles up, the third 12 miles down, the fourth 8 miles back up stream and so on. Making it a lot easier and quicker to go through Winterford.

Or it might be that there's no other sizable settlements in the immediate area (maybe a few isolated farmsteads, loggers/hunter's lodges and the like), and Winterford's a day's travel from anywhere else, making it the only place to overnight with any degree of comfort.

sktarq
2017-03-20, 02:39 PM
It is totally possible but it seems like a way to make things more complicated and less likely. Also against the 'only' point in the original description. I mean if you go upstream enough it will certainly be true-one of the reason to have a plateau was so that such an option was moved into the mountains and far enough away from the trade route to be problematic (and to thus break the "short cut" aspect of the route). Also that upstream route would be very likely to be open earlier in the season and close later than at winterford without a significant compenation effort there (smaller fords are just easier) which would push the trade route away from the town in general (which could be an interesting option but not what the OP seamed to be asking for)

As someone who generally revels in complexity I don't see why you'd want to ad it here. I don't see it being more realistic, more plothook rich, closer to an iconic image the DM would want to present, etc.

Storm_Of_Snow
2017-03-21, 06:48 AM
Well, if it takes you a full day to move through all the upstream crossing points because you've got to keep travelling up and down stream between them, and two hours to move through the town, including the time you stop in the market square tavern for lunch, which is the short cut? :smallsmile:

Another point is, who knows about the upstream fords? If it's only a family of goat-herders that come to the town once a year to sell fleeces, no one else will even be aware they exist. And even if people know about them, if there's only goat tracks to get to them, trade caravans won't be able to use them, which kind of limits it to people who want to stay as far away from the town as possible.

There's also the point that the town will attract people simply because it's there - traders especially will be looking to sell goods and pick up new items to sell further down. If it's the second city and there's a significant number of nobles, civil servants and the like, there's even more reason for them to go there, even if there's supposedly quicker routes elsewhere. And if the routes in to town are well travelled, they're more likely to be well maintained and regularly patrolled, making them even more desirable.

Beleriphon
2017-03-21, 09:25 AM
There's also the point that the town will attract people simply because it's there - traders especially will be looking to sell goods and pick up new items to sell further down. If it's the second city and there's a significant number of nobles, civil servants and the like, there's even more reason for them to go there, even if there's supposedly quicker routes elsewhere. And if the routes in to town are well travelled, they're more likely to be well maintained and regularly patrolled, making them even more desirable.

This is doubly true if in the summer months the town acts a barge point where goods travel up and downstream.

sktarq
2017-03-21, 09:25 AM
Except the whole thing of it was a military garrison for most of its existance. Having enough people to attract trade itself came second.

And as for skipping the day argument vs the two hour thing (if you can cut through a couple weeks early you'll still take the upstream route).

You could make the upstream area a hive of smuggling, tax dodging, local lords charging ridiculous tolls to use the fords etc.

It also de-incentivizes the towns existence and rising local dominance in the first place. Which I thought would be a given goal as it is a stated product.

So yeah it is totally possible - but why is it better?

Beleriphon
2017-03-21, 11:06 AM
Except the whole thing of it was a military garrison for most of its existance. Having enough people to attract trade itself came second.

And as for skipping the day argument vs the two hour thing (if you can cut through a couple weeks early you'll still take the upstream route).

You could make the upstream area a hive of smuggling, tax dodging, local lords charging ridiculous tolls to use the fords etc.

It also de-incentivizes the towns existence and rising local dominance in the first place. Which I thought would be a given goal as it is a stated product.

So yeah it is totally possible - but why is it better?

Is there something discovered near by other than the fact that its a decent ford? Iron mine, maybe some kind of other unique resource like amber.

sktarq
2017-03-21, 02:46 PM
Possible but, again, outside the OP's request. I was trying to put forward the spaces around the town he wanted to describe that would shape it into that form in the simplest way possible and challenging the fewest onlys, majors, and other adjectives.

It's not a bad setup you're tossing out. I just don't see how it aids the brief.

Beleriphon
2017-03-22, 09:49 AM
Possible but, again, outside the OP's request. I was trying to put forward the spaces around the town he wanted to describe that would shape it into that form in the simplest way possible and challenging the fewest onlys, majors, and other adjectives.

It's not a bad setup you're tossing out. I just don't see how it aids the brief.

I know, just spit balling at this point. Realistically the reason there's a town "there" is because we want one to be for a game.