A world without mountains - consequences?

squidheadjax

Social Justice Cultist
RPGnet Member
Validated User
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,
We're talking metaphorically about actual mountains, right?

There are basically 2 kinds of mountains.

More common on land are mountains that are scrunched and folded by tectonic forces; these are pretty much the same material as the surrounding terrain, just bunched up.
Less common (but obviously still widespread) on land and the dominant source of ocean topography are volcanoes, which are a mixed bag. Basalt, formed from the lava column and flows, is pretty tough stuff, so some volcanoes leave formations like Devil's Tower as surrounding terrain weathers away. Others are mostly just big ash piles which can, on the extreme end, be cataclysmically unstable (hi, Krakatoa! Bye, Krakatoa!).

I would postulate, in the Divine Foot scenario, tectonically derived mountains would collapse and spread out, leading to expanses of low-elevation but cracked and distressed terrain with a footprint vastly greater than the original mountain ranges.

Shield volcanoes and basalt columns might crunch down more, with the softer sedimentary rocks squishing up, around, and over at the edges, like when you drive the flat end of a spoon into soft ice cream. Cindercones would probably spray their ash outward over a lot of terrain, like when you punch a pile of sand, which would be devastating at first but produce highly fertile areas once they recover.
 

squidheadjax

Social Justice Cultist
RPGnet Member
Validated User
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?
Both. Your raw smelting results are going to be crappier, but you can work around it. This is why high-end Viking and Japanese swords were (and are, though with modern metallurgy it's not out of compensatory need) forged in a pattern-welding process.
 

Michele

Registered User
Validated User
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.
A meteorite large enough to destroy the Himalaya range? I doubt the Earth would survive in one piece. If it did, yes, it would be total extinction all across the board, with one possible exception. First, you would have unimaginable earthquakes (the impact on the sand of the mountains is transmitted across the sand in the whole sandbox). These would continue for centuries as the tectonic plates resettle and realign.

Then, lots of sand would be thrown in every direction. A large part of it would be thrown out of the sandbox, i.e. in outer space. In the garden, gravity would make it fall this part outside the sandbox; but with a planet, you'd have chunks of rock falling down into the planet again, i.e. you'd have a rain of meteorites, some of which would be large enough to survive the atmosphere and bombard the land.

Another part of the sand from the mountains would be thrown directly onto the rest of the sandbox; a direct bombardment.

And you'd have a lot of sand dust all over the place. That's a winter night lasting for decades, killing any surviving plants, and herbivores feeding on them, and carnivores feeding on them. Carrion eaters would have some success for a while, then they'd die too.

The possible exception is deep ocean life forms. They don't need light, the temperature of their environment would probably not be seriously affected, and they'd feed on the remains of other fish and sea animals.

Yes, you'd have an incredibly large crater area, probably then dotted with volcanoes and other forms of volcanic activity as the core comes through the weakened crust. You'd have a scarred land all around, with many more smaller craters, ravines, and gigantic rifts. Other volcanoes here and there. The volcanic ashes would be pretty extensively covering areas around the volcanoes, which makes for fertile land.

If the deep ocean life forms then evolve into amphibians and eventually in land mammals, they might still colonize the emerged land, as they are. I don't know where plants would come from, though.
 
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Shan Andy

One man and his giraffe
Validated User
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.
I can. Watch me....

More helpfully, the Mesolithic stuff was definitely real, it's just not there any more. There was activity at Stonehenge in the Mesolithic (c. 10k-5k BP) which, if I recall correctly, consisted of a line of 4 or 5 posts about 75cm in diameter stuck in the ground. They seem to have gone up ~10k BP and appear to have rotted in in situ. Many years later they put the tourist car park on the site. We have no idea whatsoever what the point of them was, even within the head-scratching context of prehistoric monuments.

It was long gone before the main henge was built in ~5.1k BP during the Neolithic. The stones are largely Bronze Age. The bluestones were erected in ~4.6kbp. The big sarsen trilithons went up ~4.6K-4.4k BP. Around this, there were other phases, the bluestones were buggered about with, things got moved. All in all it's pretty complex, you can spend all day reading about it without doing more than scratching the surface.

Does that help?

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.
We live about an hour's drive from Stonehenge. It's dead easy to get to. I can give fuller holiday planning advice via DM should you want it. I will give you the tip I give everyone: go to Stonehenge by all means, it's very cool but bear in mind that the monument is fenced off so there's a limit to how close you can get. But make sure you go to Avebury: it's bigger, older, more bonkers, more open, you can touch the stones (should that be a thing you want to do) and has a pub in the middle of it. I've led some guided tours there and am happy to drone on about it.

Back on topic, Avebury is part a of a wider landscape that includes Silbury Hill. Which is an enormous, Neolithic artificial hill. With my archaeo-pontification hat on, I would suspect that monuments on our flat land would involve building high things that can be seen a long way away. If you're looking to assert your status, honking-great mounds that are bigger than the local topography are a god way of doing it.
 

Delgarde

Registered User
Validated User
A meteorite large enough to destroy the Himalaya range? I doubt the Earth would survive in one piece. If it did, yes, it would be total extinction all across the board, with one possible exception. First, you would have unimaginable earthquakes (the impact on the sand of the mountains is transmitted across the sand in the whole sandbox). These would continue for centuries as the tectonic plates resettle and realign.
Well, just for comparison, I've heard it said that one of the bigger Yellowstone eruptions blasted a gap in one of the nearby mountain ranges. That's an explosion that would have been felt all across the earth, had humans been around at the time, and would have impacted climate world-wide... not quite a global extinction event, but pretty significant.

But while blasting a hole in a local mountain range is pretty impressive, it's a long way short of the force needed to outright erase a major chain like the Himalayas or Andes... the force needed to achieve *that* would be somewhere on the wrong side of "game over"...
 

soltakss

Simon Phipp - RQ Fogey
Validated User
There are basically 2 kinds of mountains.

More common on land are mountains that are scrunched and folded by tectonic forces; these are pretty much the same material as the surrounding terrain, just bunched up.
Less common (but obviously still widespread) on land and the dominant source of ocean topography are volcanoes, which are a mixed bag. Basalt, formed from the lava column and flows, is pretty tough stuff, so some volcanoes leave formations like Devil's Tower as surrounding terrain weathers away. Others are mostly just big ash piles which can, on the extreme end, be cataclysmically unstable (hi, Krakatoa! Bye, Krakatoa!).
and

The God of Legos grabs his bucket, sets onto the world and starts building. Forests, mountains, forts, walled cities, etc.
An apathetic, depressed god wanders down onto the same world and starts sluggin' through. Dragging his feet, taking all of the efforts of the lego god with him. The land is barren and lacking any elevation or interesting terrain as a result.
In a world where a god has created terrain you can have all kinds of mountains. The OP doesn't seem to be talking about geologically accurate mountains, but mountains raised and squashed by gods.
 

soltakss

Simon Phipp - RQ Fogey
Validated User
A meteorite large enough to destroy the Himalaya range? I doubt the Earth would survive in one piece. If it did, yes, it would be total extinction all across the board, with one possible exception. First, you would have unimaginable earthquakes (the impact on the sand of the mountains is transmitted across the sand in the whole sandbox). These would continue for centuries as the tectonic plates resettle and realign.
It would also probably produce mountains taller than the Himalayas, as the ground rebounds from the impact.
 

Sven_Noren

Statistical Outlier
Validated User
But how much water do you get that way? Almost all of the worlds great rivers have their origins in the high mountains...

By contrast, there aren't a lot of big rivers fed exclusively by low-land streams and low-land snow melt... and while I'm no expert on the subject, I suspect that's because the low-volume slow-moving streams that would arise in lowlands won't travel far before being drained by the land and by evaporation. So I'd guess that in the absence of mountains, the only big rivers you'd get are in tropical environments where they're driven by the monsoon rains... and I've no idea if you'd still get those, given how much a lack of mountains would mess with air currents and stuff.
Look up Mother Volga, the longest river in Europe (3,530 km) with a total drop in elevation 256 m from source to mouth. That's a whopping 72 cm drop per km, or an inclination that is barely noticeable.
 

Sven_Noren

Statistical Outlier
Validated User
You would certainly get deserts, too, just not the ones formed by rain shadows. On a world without mountains the large-scale atmospheric circulation would be even more important than on this our earth. Basically air along the equator is heated by the sun, rises, and drops any humidity as precipitation. The air then circulates polewards and descends along the horse latitudes (about 30 degrees north and south) creating high pressures and dry weather. This is what forms the Sonora, Sahara, and Arabian deserts in the northern hemisphere and the Atacama, Kalahari, and Australian deserts in the southern. Note that these deserts often go right up to the sea shore!
 
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