Saturday, May 26, 2012
Designing a Planet Part 2 - Geography
The ecosystem of a planet and it's geography go hand in hand so these two steps can be switched if you so desire when creating your planet. What the geography is going to define about your planet is how factions present upon the planet might fight or where the battle lines are drawn or what portions are important to fight over. For instant continuing with the jungle planet that I used as an example in the previous post it is mobile but what if there was a raised plateau that for some reason or another was untouched by the jungle. This would be the obvious place for a landing zone for any forces and so the immediate vicinity would be hotly contested as this would be the only way to bring supplies to your troops reliably without risking the jungle ambushing your people sent to retrieve the supplies or battling predators while trying to keep the landing zone secure so that the planes can land safely and then take off again with as little difficulty as possible. This raised plateau would become fortified all over depending on the length of the conflict between factions and so buildings may sprout up out of the earth everywhere that is not being used for transporting food and ammunition. If this was a long time conflict areas could be covered in rubble and unusable due to the undetonated explosives that could be littering the ruins.
Another example aside from a plateau is water and the use of oceans or lakes. Having separate continents could mean that in a story there are several fronts on several land masses, allowing for the development of a variety of generals or special forces that are particularly skilled in one battleground or environment. Perhaps there are three continents and each has a different general commanding them with their own brand of strategy. One utilizes typical Imperial tactics and throws guardsmen at the enemy nonchalantly, achieving results quickly but with many casualties. The second prefers to fight with discipline and skill, employing special forces to sabotage enemy vehicles, assassinate high ranking hostiles, or ambushing supply lines, taking longer but getting results with less costliness. The final general may be fighting an entirely defensive war, close to being overwhelmed at all times due to the high concentration of enemy troops and he does not have the time or luxury of planning ahead because the enemy continually attacks him from all directions, forcing his forces to become self sufficient and act spontaneously in the interest of survival.
The nature of having these different generals and different battlegrounds could add some interesting depth to your story or world as now there is are obvious players for political intrigue and fighting within the same faction, constantly jockeying for political dominance and attempting to beat the others in their efforts to demolish the enemy. Geography can also provide a practical method of defining how terrain in a battle should look if you want to take it to the table top or in a map based campaign. Defining the parts of the world that are important to the story or campaign means that this could so easily be adjusted to fit the table top that it could make players more interested in your story if they felt that they had a hand in the development in the world and that they simply had to use the guidelines of the geography you created that simultaneously had influenced the basic background of the world you were focused upon.