A world without mountains - consequences?

thorya

Statistical out-liar
Validated User
If I remember correctly, without volcanic activity to put CO2 into the atmosphere, the level steadily drops due to weathering of rocks and biological sources trapping it. Over a long enough timeline (~millions of years) this makes photosynthesis impossible and plants die out. That messes with other atmospheric gases and likely has big environmental impacts as well.

Not sure how this interacts with industrial activity hauling stuff out of the ground and burning it.
 

Michele

Registered User
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If you want to start with a world that had mountains, then a god removed them, you need to think about his modus operandi.

Imagine you have a sandbox. It has a metal bottom and sides. You have played with the sand a bit before it rained all day. Now is the following day and you can see four areas. A, at one end, is where you shaped mounds of sand; the mountains. B, between A and C, is the hills. Then you have C, lower, coastal plains. Then the other end, D, is where the sand was a thin layer, and it's the sea, under the rain water that has gathered there.

You decide to do away with the A mountains. What do you do?

1. You pick up the sand of the mountains and throw it out of the box.
If you do so, you will leave most of the other three areas untouched. You have actually made more emerged surface suitable for settlement, because the higher parts of the mountains are normally too cold. You have also made those heavier metals more easily accessible, because the new highland will be cut across intermediate geological strata. However, most of the new highland's surface will be barren rocks. It will take generations for it to become usable for pasture. You also still have some gradient, so watercourses will dig those gorges and canyons somebody mentioned in a previous post (gorges don't exist in low plains, but they can come into being in plains that are somewhat higher than the river's end destination). But the main point is that life forms in areas B, C and D are still there. They will suffer from climate change, though.

2. You pick up the sand of the mountains but you have to still keep it inside the sandbox. So you throw it at the other end, D. You fill up the seas. That way, you'll have for area A the same situation as above. The life forms of the seas will be dead. The coastal plains of C will be somewhat damaged, because you'll have much soggier sand in the area of the former seas, as well as some remaining shallow and small puddles. The altitude difference will be less than with 1. Great climate change, of course. But the life forms of the B hills might get through this. Over time, they may colonize the new plateau of A and the new wetlands of C, and possibly, eventually, the lagoons and lakes and shallow seas of D.

3. You pick up a shovel and do a thorough job. You push the sand from the mountains of A towards the seas of D. You can achieve a much flatter overall surface, with minimal differences in altitude. You will also get a thoroughly wet sand, since there's still all that water. And you'll kill everything in all areas.
 

Shan Andy

One man and his giraffe
Validated User
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.
Attempts to diffuse any tension are more than welcome. Without wishing to derail the thread...
Stonehenge is, indeed partly to blame for some of the confusion outside of the archaeology community. It is a henge monument built during the neolithic. There is evidence of older, mesolithic, stuff there too but it's not visible so I'll leave it be for now.

Inside the henge are (at least) two bronze age stone circles. The bloody great sarsen trilithon circle is the famous bit, the part you can see from the road and what you get if you image search it.

The stone circles are much later and not what make it a henge. They are very cool and very big.

I'm doing this from memory. If you want a more detailed but still accessible description, check out Historic England's introductions to heritage assets

Hope that helps clear things up a bit
 
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gnomewerks

Registered User
Validated User
If you want to start with a world that had mountains, then a god removed them, you need to think about his modus operandi.

Imagine you have a sandbox. It has a metal bottom and sides. You have played with the sand a bit before it rained all day. Now is the following day and you can see four areas. A, at one end, is where you shaped mounds of sand; the mountains. B, between A and C, is the hills. Then you have C, lower, coastal plains. Then the other end, D, is where the sand was a thin layer, and it's the sea, under the rain water that has gathered there.

You decide to do away with the A mountains. What do you do?

1. You pick up the sand of the mountains and throw it out of the box.
If you do so, you will leave most of the other three areas untouched. You have actually made more emerged surface suitable for settlement, because the higher parts of the mountains are normally too cold. You have also made those heavier metals more easily accessible, because the new highland will be cut across intermediate geological strata. However, most of the new highland's surface will be barren rocks. It will take generations for it to become usable for pasture. You also still have some gradient, so watercourses will dig those gorges and canyons somebody mentioned in a previous post (gorges don't exist in low plains, but they can come into being in plains that are somewhat higher than the river's end destination). But the main point is that life forms in areas B, C and D are still there. They will suffer from climate change, though.

2. You pick up the sand of the mountains but you have to still keep it inside the sandbox. So you throw it at the other end, D. You fill up the seas. That way, you'll have for area A the same situation as above. The life forms of the seas will be dead. The coastal plains of C will be somewhat damaged, because you'll have much soggier sand in the area of the former seas, as well as some remaining shallow and small puddles. The altitude difference will be less than with 1. Great climate change, of course. But the life forms of the B hills might get through this. Over time, they may colonize the new plateau of A and the new wetlands of C, and possibly, eventually, the lagoons and lakes and shallow seas of D.

3. You pick up a shovel and do a thorough job. You push the sand from the mountains of A towards the seas of D. You can achieve a much flatter overall surface, with minimal differences in altitude. You will also get a thoroughly wet sand, since there's still all that water. And you'll kill everything in all areas.
This is brilliant. Thank you so much for this. I have another possible scenario, based on my initial thoughts of what the god did and why.

The Lego God arrives on the world - currently titled Blackwater (in honor of my PC that died last session). He's holding the 'bucket of all lego pieces'. He gets to building. For ease of explanation, we'll keep the sandbox. He grabs all of his brown lego bricks and stacks them in cool shapes over in section A of the sandbox. Tada! Mountains.

Asshole God arrives on Blackwater. He wasn't supposed to be here and was certainly not invited. The god that comes to your super bowl party, eats all of your doritos during pre-game then says, "I'm out" before the game starts. He hates brown. He certainly doesn't like lego's at all, but despises the brown ones. He walks right to section A and instead of grabbing them, launches himself into the air. Like a Space Marine drop pod, he crashed down onto them with cataclysmic force.

My question is, what happens then? I'd imagine some bricks might be squashed into the ground (sand). In a real life scenario, I have no idea if the mountains are harder than the surface they are on. Would the brown lego bricks crumble as the ground wouldn't give way? Would it be like an exploding water balloon, but in this case, the water (and splash) would be shards of lego brick?

How far would the now chunks of lego's scatter? Does that depend on the height of the brick mountain or the density of each brick? Or both?

In your examples, would the far away places like C and D even be affected?

Finally, is the matter of the god and his effect on things. Would any of the bricks stick into the bottom of his feet (I think we can all relate to this)? Would his impact crater things as a meteor crashing into earth? Extinction level effect? I guess that's an entirely different conversation, as we are talking about his footprint, his size, the height from which he crashes down, etc.

Anyhow, that was one of my initial thoughts if the world once had, but no longer does because a god did something. The other is he just drug his feet lazily, never lifting them from the ground, creating a tunnel through the sand, scattering and pushing all of the built lego structures aside.
 

gnomewerks

Registered User
Validated User
Invasion would be easier without mountains.
Sounds so obvious, but didn't think of it. Of the 6 nations that have settled the world, one is a horrible place of evil and ruled by a Revenant. My initial thoughts, unrelated to the mountain dilemma, is how each of the other nations are doing all they can to keep the bad nation away from them. Building walls, physical borders, etc. Your post makes me realize the severity of that on this particular world.

Thank you!
 

gnomewerks

Registered User
Validated User
Attempts to diffuse any tension are more than welcome.
I was mostly joking. Intelligent debates, discussion, disagreements and such are wonderful. Have at it!

There is evidence of older, mesolithic, stuff there too but it's not visible so I'll leave it be for now.
See, you can't do that. I'm curious now. We talkin' spiritual, religious, invisible, ghostly, mythological, story & legend or just simply "it's under the soil" there? I think I know the answer, but still question how, why and what it means.

Final question (not really). You've been there? Within a couple to five years, the family plan is a trip to the UK at some point. Arrive somewhere in Scotland, drive all the way down through things and even across ferry to France.
 

gnomewerks

Registered User
Validated User
If I remember correctly, without volcanic activity to put CO2 into the atmosphere, the level steadily drops due to weathering of rocks and biological sources trapping it. Over a long enough timeline (~millions of years) this makes photosynthesis impossible and plants die out. That messes with other atmospheric gases and likely has big environmental impacts as well.

Not sure how this interacts with industrial activity hauling stuff out of the ground and burning it.
I may be WAAAY off base here but I thought I saw/read something about volcanic activity under the ground. All of this geological/real world stuff is way over my head so I could have just as easily meshed together some Dr. Seuss thing with a scene from Pacific Rim, but..

Aren't there chasms, fissures, holes in the ground that are boiling hot, pouring forth magma and other fun stuff, with explosions and such that could fill the role of CO2? So volcanoes without volcanoes I guess? Or is that because I'm fixated on the Firelands in World of Warcraft?
 

gnomewerks

Registered User
Validated User
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.
Do you think this is plausible for only a certain part of my landmass? Perhaps if I separate a land or two, creating different continents - antartica, etc. The reason I ask is because I do (doesn't everyone?) want some frozen Ice Viking Halfling village folk that live in the otherwise inhospitable frozen terrain but I don't want the entire world to be ice and freezing.
 

gnomewerks

Registered User
Validated User
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.
Read up on it a bit after reading your post. I love it. Going to use it, regardless of where I go with this mountain(less) world. On the real world, blacksmith level of things, the impurity means its more brittle (end result) or does it just affect (as you said), the process of working with it? And, as in many fantasy worlds, would the use of DRAGON FIRE! allow the smelting to be more manageable?
 
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