A world without mountains - consequences?

Squared

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One idea might be a recent “snow ball Earth” scenario. Scientists are beginning to believe that there was a major event millions of years ago during which most of the world was covered by glaciers. These glaciers may have shoved up to 3 kilometers in depth of earth into the ocean which would have flattened the land quite a lot. It would also help answer where the rivers are coming from.

(Edit) Also glaciers would help provide easier to access metals since the ground would not be covered by so much sediment.
 

gnomewerks

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I’m trying to put all of the thoughts together into something that translates into “how do adventurers adventure in such a place.” So I have some questions based on previous words. I’d like to see how much I’ve grasped.
  • Barrier and Water
    • Does this mean the visibility of the incoming storm is increased?
    • Since rain doesn’t have a barrier, am I correct in saying there would be no absolute desert (dry land, tundra, steppes, sure, but no pure Sahara stuff)?
    • Is it all just swamp, wet land and flooding everywhere? What/where/how can things dry out?
    • Rivers everywhere and a major mode of transportation?

  • Elevation
    • Folk will still build in height. Pyramids, and “scaffolding” sort of stuff. It still grants height advantages and such. Right?
    • For story, are the hills, henges and barrows more of a religious thing? Mounds of stuff with monuments and such? Or do they provide (are they necessary) for a very practical thing? Survival?
    • Trash. Cities will dump piles of stuff and on those piles, things might be built on them. What sorts of things? Is it valuable or is it just trash?

  • Life
    • Someone said geothermal energy. No clue what it means initially, but of course, I can Wikipedia it. What effect does that have?
    • Sounds like some are questioning the quality or viability of life at all. Is there something that would make sense for this to be a populated and thriving world? Without purely going the route of “it’s magic?”
I have more questions but I’ll see if I can start piecing things together.

Also, I don't know if I mentioned it through story, but how much of all of this discussion changes if there WERE mountains, but no longer. Meaning, tectonics existed and shaped the world and its mountains, but then a god came and wiped them off the land. Does the order of magnitude in world changing events depend most on how quickly the world went from a place of mountains to a place of no mountains?
 

Polychrome

Internet Pacifist
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Lack of mountains doesn't mean lack of access to metals. Bog iron was used by the Vikings, though it's rather impure and takes more time and energy to smelt. It's possible there's other metal ores that are similar.
 

Shan Andy

One man and his giraffe
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Sure, but the distinction you're making is material to neither the topic at hand nor to my point.
Firstly, I'm going to assume that any snark I'm hearing in your response is in my head, not your intent.

OK. You described a henge as bring a mound when it isn't, it's a ring-shaped feature. So, I was checking that you meant henge rather than something else that is actually mound shaped. Admittedly, people wrongly describing stone circles as henges is a bugbear of mine. However, in a thread where the intricacies of plate tectonics are being picked over, it didn't seem unreasonable to take the same approach with ritual monuments in the proposed flat land.

Barrows, on the other hand are mounds. So, I was building on your initial idea of monuments in prominent positions would likely be a feature of cultures on a flat earth, to suggest that large burial mounds that can be seen for miles in any direction would be something that people on the flat earth do.

Apologies if my post came across as being rude or dismissive. That was not my intent.
 

Soylent Green

Polar Blues
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She will be coming round the grasslands, when she comes. Also, this year, and all years, skiing are cancelled, but there is no point making a molehill out of a plain about it.
 

gnomewerks

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Firstly, I'm going to assume that any snark I'm hearing in your response is in my head, not your intent.

OK. You described a henge as bring a mound when it isn't, it's a ring-shaped feature. So, I was checking that you meant henge rather than something else that is actually mound shaped. Admittedly, people wrongly describing stone circles as henges is a bugbear of mine. However, in a thread where the intricacies of plate tectonics are being picked over, it didn't seem unreasonable to take the same approach with ritual monuments in the proposed flat land.

Barrows, on the other hand are mounds. So, I was building on your initial idea of monuments in prominent positions would likely be a feature of cultures on a flat earth, to suggest that large burial mounds that can be seen for miles in any direction would be something that people on the flat earth do.

Apologies if my post came across as being rude or dismissive. That was not my intent.
Perhaps I can diffuse any possible tension. Honest question here, because I don't know. Does Stonehenge have anything to do with (at all), the use of, or reason for, the confusion between what you are both discussing? And I don't mean confusion between the two of you. More among the masses that aren't in the know enough to be able to noodle such details.
 

Michele

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I’m trying to put all of the thoughts together into something that translates into “how do adventurers adventure in such a place.” So I have some questions based on previous words. I’d like to see how much I’ve grasped.
  • Barrier and Water
    • Does this mean the visibility of the incoming storm is increased?
    • Since rain doesn’t have a barrier, am I correct in saying there would be no absolute desert (dry land, tundra, steppes, sure, but no pure Sahara stuff)?
    • Is it all just swamp, wet land and flooding everywhere? What/where/how can things dry out?
    • Rivers everywhere and a major mode of transportation?
All of that very much depends on whether you want a world that has only very slight natural differences in altitude, or a perfectly uniform altitude. In the first case, you'd have a landscape like Holland, the Pripyat Marshes, the Euphrates and Tigri and Nile lower courses. There are very modest hills, , from which slow, meandering rivers originate. These can be a transportation highway, but over the decades they change course, get bogged here, move over there etc. Then you have alluvial plains, which are a good place for giving birth to agricultural civilizations (I did not choose those river names' by chance). Then you have other areas that are immense swamps, marshlands, wetlands; and lakes, salty lakes, lagoons. Then you have low coastal hills separating all the above from the actual seas.
If OTOH you have uniform altitude, it's likely it will all be underwater.

  • Elevation
    • Folk will still build in height. Pyramids, and “scaffolding” sort of stuff. It still grants height advantages and such. Right?
    • For story, are the hills, henges and barrows more of a religious thing? Mounds of stuff with monuments and such? Or do they provide (are they necessary) for a very practical thing? Survival?
    • Trash. Cities will dump piles of stuff and on those piles, things might be built on them. What sorts of things? Is it valuable or is it just trash?
High ground will be important first as a living place, then for tactical reasons, and coincidentally for religious significance. You will also have druidic-like religions that are not just based on forests but on swamps. As to the trash, common household trash doesn't build hills. But cities do get higher as they build on the rubble and ruins of their previous incarnations.
Keep in mind that if you do have navigable rivers and seas that aren't so constantly stormy that you can't navigate those too, many of your cities won't go for the hills, but for being like Venice: seaports and river ports on stilts and artificial islands. In that case, you do want to keep your canals free from stuff that will prevent the boats from moving around.

  • Life
    • Someone said geothermal energy. No clue what it means initially, but of course, I can Wikipedia it. What effect does that have?
    • Sounds like some are questioning the quality or viability of life at all. Is there something that would make sense for this to be a populated and thriving world? Without purely going the route of “it’s magic?”

Also, I don't know if I mentioned it through story, but how much of all of this discussion changes if there WERE mountains, but no longer. Meaning, tectonics existed and shaped the world and its mountains, but then a god came and wiped them off the land. Does the order of magnitude in world changing events depend most on how quickly the world went from a place of mountains to a place of no mountains?
These two points are related. If this all happens all of a sudden, then I don't see survival as possible, unless we're talking of present-day and future technologies that save small enclaves of survivors - a day-after scenario with plenty of technology.
If OTOH the world is born in this way, and it's not entirely covered by water, then an amphibian race has good chances to move out of the lagoons and adapt to live halfway out of water (s'Hertogenbosch, which means "the Earl's Wood", was also called "Frog Hill", and believe me it's really not a tall hill at all). If it's all underwater, then you can have fish, sea mammals and other sea stuff who eventually become no less intelligent than dolphins and octopuses.
 
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Delgarde

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How much do mountains play into the mineral aspect of things. Would I only have a Dark Sun place with bone and wood weapons only? Would steel, iron and such even be a thing? If not from mountains, where do the "mining dwarves" get such resources.
It's kind of hard to say, since to get a world with no mountains, you're effectively removing (or at least, greatly weakening) the geological processes that would lead to the creation of mountains... and by doing so, stepping well away from the only real world that we have a lot of data on. But those mountain-building processes – tectonics and volcanism – are responsible for lifting a lot of the interesting and important elements from the depths of the earth and putting them where surface-dwelling creatures can reach them.
 

gnomewerks

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Amazingly helpful Michele. Thank you
If I go the route of there WAS mountains, but they're gone now, I like the stuff about cities building upon the ruins of previous cities. It makes sense and I could have the disappearance of the mountains as a sort of extinction level event.

On the other hand, I also like the amphibian race making their mark as the 1st to live among the mostly underwater world.

I'll just have to think through my creation process a bit. Or how this all happened. Remember, from my initial post, this all happened because I drew a map that I was very happy with and it was getting late. I knew I wasn't going to throw down some mountains that night, then thought, "why not just leave them off. The world doesn't need 'em."

Obviously, I was very wrong.
 

gnomewerks

Registered User
Validated User
It's kind of hard to say, since to get a world with no mountains, you're effectively removing (or at least, greatly weakening) the geological processes that would lead to the creation of mountains... and by doing so, stepping well away from the only real world that we have a lot of data on. But those mountain-building processes – tectonics and volcanism – are responsible for lifting a lot of the interesting and important elements from the depths of the earth and putting them where surface-dwelling creatures can reach them.
Very good points. If the world had mountains in the "old days", I could easily say things were built and made before they disappeared. I can create buried and forgotten weapons, which among today's mountainless world of bone and wood, are artifact level.

I haven't wrapped my head around the idea of tools and weapons made of metal if my world started without mountains (no tectonics, shifts in plates, etc.), other than the very cool research I'm starting to delve into regarding Bog iron.
 
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