Source: Gary Gygax's World Builder
Placement notes for the Neophyte Cartographer
Arroyo: A deep, dry gully produced by flash-flooding streams, often in arid or semiarid environments. Much more shallow and gentle than a canyon. Also refers to the stream found within such a gully.
Basin: A bowl-shaped depression of land, partly or wholly surrounded by higher elevations.
Canyon: A narrow cleft in the earth with steep cliff sides, created by running water.
Chasm: A deep crack or fissure in the ground.
Crevasse: A fissure of great depth in the surface of the earth or in a glacier, with very steep, almost vertical sides. Often formed after earthquakes.
Crevice: A narrow split in the earth.
Cut: A crack or slash in the earth, appearing as if formed at the point of a knife or sword. Often more shallow than a crevasse or chasm.
Dale: A valley.
Defile: A very narrow, steep-sided pass through hills or mountains. Often an entrance to a larger pass.
Dingle: A small wooded valley.
Dry Wash: A waterless streambed, as in an arroyo or canyon. A wash suffers from occasional flash floods.
Gap: A deep opening in or between mountains or hills, sometimes serving as a pass.
Glen: A narrow and secluded valley in mountains or large hills.
Gorge: A narrow passage with steep, rocky sides, also a defile.
Gulch: A small gorge, often containing a torrential river.
Hollow: A small valley amidst mountains.
Ravine: A deep, narrow and steep-sided valley or defile, especially one cut by running water.
Rift: A narrow crack in rock.
Vale: A valley, especially one traversed by a river or stream.
Valley: A broad, relatively flat area of land surrounded by mountains or hills, often containing a river or stream.
Deserts are regions that have a high or low average temperature, less than 10 inches of annual rainfall, and the evaporation rate exceeds precipitation. In the daytime temperatures can reach 131° F in the shade. After the sun sets, the earth radiates heat back up into the atmosphere, the air dropping to near freezing temperatures. In arctic deserts, temperatures are almost always numbingly cold.
Desert regions are formed by cooler, high-pressure airmasses that descend into subtropical zones. When air rises, it cools and looses moisture. When air descends, it warms, picks up moisture, and dries out the land. Desert areas in the interiors of some continents may form due to the prevailing winds being too far removed from the ocean or lakes, thus receiving little moisture.
Coastal Deserts: Air currents cool as they move across cold water, bringing mist and fog but little precipitation. Shrouded in mist, these coasts are deserts.
Rain Shadows: Desert regions created by moisture-laden winds flowing up and over the windward slope of a mountain range, causing a loss of moisture in the form of snow and rain. The resultant dry air descends over the leeward slopes, evaporating moisture from the soil.
Salt Flats: A region of salt-encrusted land, usually a former lake, its waters long since evaporated.
Semi-Desert (semi-arid): The range of temperature in this region is extreme. Summer temperatures often are in lower 100°s F, while during the winter the temperature can drop as low as 30° F. Annual rainfall is from 10 to 20 inches, which is not enough to support a forest cover, but can support grasses. With irrigation, the land can support crops, but problems such as salt buildup and waterlogging do occur. Rainfall in the semiarid climate is unpredictable and sparse.
Foothills & Mountains
Mountains are formed by the slow collision of tectonic plates; the pressure folding, faulting, or arching up soaring layers of rock. Sometimes, massive blocks of crustal earth will sink, forcing land formations to tower above them due to the rifting of plates. Violent volcanic eruptions can obviously speed this process considerably. Some low mountains are sculpted from the earth by a non-tectonics process, most powerful of which are rivers, or other forms of erosion that wear away softer rock, leaving the harder rock.
Crag: A steep, rugged cliff or area of rock, especially one projecting sharply from its surroundings.
Downs: An area of grassy, undulating, treeless upland, often used for grazing.
Foothill: A relatively low hill at the base of higher hills or mountains.
Hill: A well-defined elevated area of land smaller than a mountain.
Knob: A conspicuous rounded hill or mountain.
Knoll: A small hill, especially one rounded in shape; a small knob.
Mesa: A broad, flat-topped hill with a steep cliff forming at least one side.
Mound: A small heap or pile of earth; a small hill; a knoll.
Outcropping: A rock formation thrusting out from surrounding land or features.
Peninsula: A body of land surrounded on three sides by water and connected to mainland on the fourth side.
Plateau: A broad, elevated, flat area of land, usually with a steep, rocky cliff composing at least one side.
Prominence: A raised section of land.
Ridge: A long, narrow elevation, especially in hills or mountains, with steep vertical sides and at least one side extending down.
Rise: A long, broad area of raised land that climbs gently from its surroundings.
Rolling Land: An expanse of relatively flat land that has small peaks and valleys reminiscent of small waves, somewhat resembling the calm surface of the ocean.
Tor: A prominent, rocky peak or hill.
Upland: A relatively high area of land, especially compared to lower surrounding areas such as a valley or lowland.
Dome Mountains: The surface is arched by a deep-seated intrusion of igneous or molten rock.
Fault-Block Mountains: The crust of the earth is lifted vertically in great blocks, caused by the movement of rock along faultlines, or deep cracks in the ground. The edges of the raised blocks then appear as mountains, and the depressed edges as valleys. Massive earthquakes can speed this process considerably.
Mount: A single mountain or high hill, often used in a proper name (e.g. Mount Erde).
Mountain: A natural elevation of the surface of the earth, consisting of stone and dirt with generally steep sides and a relatively small summit, higher and bulkier than a hill.
Peak: The pointed top of a mountain; also used to refer to an individual mountain, particularly one with an unusually sharp summit.
Volcano: A mountain or hill that ejects, or has ever ejected, lava, steam, ash, and/or other geothermal debris.
March: A frontier region, lying between states or a state and wild lands. Terrain can be of any sort, although it will generally be wild on the outer portion, being that far away from the state.
Bayou: A sluggish or stagnant creek, commonly an offshoot of a lake or river in some lowland region that frequently flows through swampy terrain.
Bogs: Spongy, wet ground, characterized by decaying mosses that form peat. Bogs receive water only from rain and have acidic, and poorly mineralized water, particularly if sphagnum mosses (highly absorbent, spongelike, grayish peat mosses) are abundant.
Fens: The groundwater sources in these areas of low, flat marshy land is often more mineralized, and dominated by sedges, which are grasslike flowering plants.
Marshland/Wetland: A marsh is a treeless region that can be freshwater or salt, its emergent vegetation typified by grasses, reeds, cat-tails, and sedges, their roots saturated with water if not in soil, their leaves held above the murky water. Freshwater marshes form when lakes and ponds become filled with sediment, or develop along the shallow margins of slow-moving rivers. Salt marshes occur on coastal tidal flats.
Moor: A tract of rolling, marshy wasteland, its open, rolling lands usually covered with heather.
Peatlands: More common in northern regions, partially decomposed plant material, called peat, accumulates because plants are produced more quickly than they can decay.
Swamps: Swamps occur in a variety of flooding conditions; along shallow lakes, along river floodplains, and along tropical to subtropical coasts. The dominate vegetation are trees or shrubs, usually growing in standing water, which can be present all year, or just a short part of the year. Where considerable tree growth is present, the result is a “jungle swamp”.
Bottomland: Low-lying land near a river or stream formed by sedimentary deposits from the river or stream.
Brush: Land covered in dense bushes and shrubs.
Bush: An area dense with trees and/or shrubs; a thicket.
Downs: A rolling, usually treeless upland with sparse soil.
Flat: A flat stretch of land. Often used in the plural (e.g salt flats).
Pampas: A vast, grassy, treeless plain.
Plain: A generally flat, mostly treeless expanse of land.
Prairie: A large area of level to slightly rolling grasslands.
Savannah: A level grassland in tropical or subtropical climes.
Scrub: An area of stunted vegetation; a thicket or area of woodland, often characterized by the name of the principle plant within (e.g. oak scrub).
Steppe: Vast, grassy plains consisting of short grasses occurring in sparse clumps or bunches, scattered shrubs, and low trees. The steppe occupies vast regions of semidesert. Cattle, sheep, and angora goats are adaptable to the steppe, where they graze over vast acres of open range.
Tangle: A twisted and tangled area of vegetation, difficult to penetrate.
Temperate grasslands: These develop in regions characterized by an annual rainfall between 10 and 30 in, with seasonal and/or annual droughts and a high rate of evaporation.
Tropical grasslands: These regions have marked wet and dry seasons. Fire is important in maintaining grasslands by preventing the encroachment of forests in moist regions and desert shrubs in semiarid regions.
Tundra: A vast plain in arctic regions with permanently frozen subsoil. The ground supports only small plants such as moss, lichens, and certain hardy herbs and flowers.
Veldt: An elevated, open grassland often used for grazing. Frequently associated with dry climates.
Wastelands (barrens): Land that is without vegetation, uncultivated, or barren.
Rolling Hills and Tablelands
Escarpment: A steep cliff or slope formed by erosion, or less frequently, by faulting.
Foothills: Low hills located at or near the foot of a mountain or mountain range.
Mesa: A small, high plateau or flat tableland with steep sides.
Plateau: An elevated tract of more or less level land.
Tableland: A high, broad, and level region.
Table 2:6 Land, Productivity of
For purposes of developing a fantasy environment, and considering magical aids in agriculture and husbandry, assume that one acre of good, productive land will support annually approximately 200 pounds of mammalian or avian life directly benefitting from its cultivation, ignoring such “pests” that also manage to live from the acre. Thus:
1 acre will support 1 adult or two adolescent humans
1 acre will support 2 sheep
1 acre will support 3 goats
1 acre will support 40 chickens, ducks, or rabbits
1 acre will support 20 geese
1 acre will support 10 turkeys
2 acres will support 1 average pig
4 acres will support one dairy cow
5 acres will support 1 horse
6 acres will support one head of beef cattle
If all land is not used to raise vegetable crops, and instead animals are raised from its produce, then assume that on average the human nutritional benefit from livestock raised for food is one-quarter that of vegetation, or 50 pounds per acre, including benefit from harvest of other substances—bones, feathers, fat, hides, skins, tallow, wool, etc. that have been considered in the onequarter cash value. Milk cows, also yielding calves, are at one-half value.
Example: A farmer has 40 acres of land.
1 acre used for buildings and non-productive purposes (yield 0)
4 acres are used to support poultry (yield 1)
4 acres are used to support 3 goats and 6 sheep (yield 1)
5 acres are used to support a plow horse (yield 0)
8 acres are used to support 2 milk cows (yield 4)
12 acres are used to support 6 pigs (yield 3)
6 acres are used to grow food crops (yield 6)
Total food value yield 15.
taxation and expenses: 7.5
nutritional support of family: 6
remainder usable for cash: 1.5 units of c. $5,000 value
(after cash expenses and savings for livestock replacement assume c. $2,500 could be saved…unless disaster strikes)
Geographical Features Regarding Water
Body of Water
Bay: A body of water partially enclosed by land but with a wide access mouth often leading to the sea.
Bight: A bend or curve in the shoreline, or a wide bow formed by this bend.
Cape: A point or extension of land jutting out into water as a peninsula or a projecting point.
Cenote: A water filled sinkhole, often created by mining or quarries.
Channel: The deepest part of a stream or harbor, often the best place for large boats.
Cove: A small sheltered bay in the shoreline of a sea, lake or river.
Gulf: A large area of sea partially enclosed by land.
Gulph: See Gulf.
Harbor: A sheltered part of a body of water deep enough to provide anchoring of ships.
Headland: A point of highland jutting out into the water.
Isthmus: A narrow strip of land connected to a larger land area; usually such a strip of land connecting two larger areas of land.
Lagoon: A shallow body of water often separated from the sea by sand bars or coral reefs.
Lake: A large inland body of water.
Loch: A lake or an arm of a sea similar to a fjord.
Lough: A lake or inlet of the sea.
Mere: A small lake, pond, or marsh.
Oasis: A fertile place in the desert usually consisting of a small body of water.
Ocean: The great expanse of water that often covers most of a planets surface.
Peninsula: A portion of land nearly surrounded by water and connected with a large body of land by an isthmus.
Pond: A still body of water smaller than a lake.
Pool: A small, still body of water or a still place in a stream.
Puddle: A small pool of water, usually rainwater, which often becomes completely dry.
Sea: A continuous body of salt water covering a large portion of a planets surface, or a large body of salt water partially or completely enclosed by land.
Sound: A long, broad inlet of an ocean or sea that is generally parallel to the coast; also a long body of water connecting two larger bodies of water passing between the mainland and an island.
Strait (or Straits): A comparatively narrow passage connecting two large bodies of water.
Sump: A boggy area of land or marsh.
Tam: A small area of marshy ground or standing water.
Waterhole: A small lake or pond that is commonly used by animals for drinking and may dry up in extreme drought.
Well: A sunken shaft leading to a source of usable ground water.
Beck: A small brook or creek.
Brook: A natural stream of water smaller than a creek or river, often accompanied by marshy ground.
Brooklet: A very small brook.
Burn: The murmur or humming of a waterway.
Canal: An artificial waterway or river used for transporting ships and goods.
Creek: A small, shallow body of running water, often a tributary to a river.
Estuary (sea): A part of the sea that extends inland to meet the mouth of a river.
Firth (sea): A long, narrow inlet of the sea.
Fjord (sea): A long deep inlet of the sea between steep slopes.
Flow: The current within a stream of water.
Frith (sea): A narrow arm of the sea or the opening of a river into the sea.
Inlet: A stream or bay leading inland from the sea.
Ostiary (sea): The mouth of a river into the sea.
Outlet: A stream that flows out of a lake or pond.
Rill: A small brook or rivulet.
Rillet: A small rill.
River: A large natural stream that empties into a lake or the ocean, usually fed along its course by tributaries.
Rivulet: A small brook or stream.
Run: A fast moving creek or stream.
Runnel: A narrow channel or water, a rivulet or a brook.
Sike: A stream or gutter usually dry during the driest parts of summer.
Stream: A flow of water in a channel or bed, such as a brook or a rivulet.
Torrent: A turbulent, swift flowing stream of water.
Wash: A small stream created only after a heavy rainfall, or the name of rock and clay deposited by a stream or river.
Water Sources, Surface and Underground
The headwaters of a river often start in mountainous regions or on hillsides as long, narrow trenches, or rills. Rain, snow, or small springs emerging from an underground layer of porous rock containing water, called aquifers, feed these waters. The rills combine to form larger channels that eventually merge, forming streams. The largest channels formed by this convergence of streams are rivers. A ridge or stretch of high land from which water contributes to only one stream or river is called a watershed. A watershed divides the areas drained by a river or river system, called drainage basins.
The largest drainage basins are then formed by continental divides, usually mountain ranges. The most common type of drainage pattern looks like the veins of a leaf. Large boulders may cover the bed of a river as it passes through many rapids in the steep, narrow canyons of the headwater zone, but as the landscape changes from mountains to plains its rocky material becomes progressively smaller, changing from boulders to cobbles to gravel. The floodplain that borders a river, formed from sediment deposited by floods, will also widen. As the land becomes less steep, the rocky material becomes mostly clay, sand, and silt. The mouth of a river is where its waters empty into an ocean or lake.
A river may form a triangular tract of flat land called a delta, formed by deposits of soil and sand at the mouth. A delta splits off into new channels called distributaries before feeding into the lake or sea. If no delta forms, the river may meet the sea in an estuary, where the salty tide meets the freshwater current.
Table 2:7 Water Spring Production
|Steady Drip||1 pint per hour, 3 gallons per day|
|Slow Trickle||1 quart per hour, 6 gallons per day|
|Trickle||1 gallon per hour|
|Rivulet||1 pint per minute, 7.5 gallons per hour, 180 gallons per day|
|Brooklet||1 quart per minute, 15 gallons per hour, 360 gallons per day|
|Brook||1 gallon per minute, 60 gallons per hour, 1,440 gallons per day|
|Small Stream||10 quarts per minute, 150 gallons per hour, 3,600 gallons per day|
|Fountain||10 gallons per minute, 600 gallons per hour, 14,400 gallons per day|
|Artesian Fountain||30 gallons per minute, 1,800 gallons per hour, 43,200 gallons per day|
|Fountainhead||90 gallons per minute, 5,400 gallons per hour, 129,600 gallons per day|
Rivulet will make a tiny trickle of that sort or maintain in soil a small natural pool of about three foot diameter and perhaps twice that depth.
Brooklet will make a trickle of the sort named or maintain in soil a small natural pool of about six foot diameter and about that depth.
Brook will make a flow the sort named or maintain in soil a natural pool of about nine foot diameter and about that depth.
Small Stream will make a flow the sort named or maintain in soil a little pond of about 12 to 14 foot diameter and likely something like half that depth, or it will make a small oasis the size of a small natural pool (above).
Fountain will make a stream or maintain in soil a small pond of about 18 to 20 foot diameter and likely something less than half that depth, or it will make a tiny oasis the size of a natural pool (above).
Artesian Fountain will make a large stream or maintain in soil a pond of about 30 to 32 foot diameter and likely something less than half that depth, or it will make a small oasis the size of a little pond (above).
Fountainhead will make a large stream or maintain in soil a large pond of about 50 to 55 foot or diameter and likely about one third that depth, or it will make an oasis the size of a small pond (above).
Note: Several fountainheads will make a very large or even great pond (over 150 foot diameter) or large oasis (60 or more feet in diameter). Many fountainheads will make a spring-fed lake of several square miles in area or very large oasis.
Bog: Waterlogged, spongy ground choked with decaying moss, peat, and other vegetable matter.
Fen: Low land partially or fully submerged, supporting coarse grasses and other characteristic vegetation.
Marsh: Soft, low-lying land covered partly or wholly by water, characterized by the growth of certain grasses and often serving as a transition between an area of water and an area of dry land.
Mire: Wet, muddy earth.
Morass: A tract of soft, wet ground.
Moss: An area of wetland containing peat; a bog; a morass. Often used in the plural (e.g. the mosses of Inzae).
Plash: A small, usually transient pool or pond of standing water, often produced by a flood, heavy rainfall, or snowmelt.
Quagmire: An area of soft, wet ground that sinks.
Slough: A deep depression or hollow containing stagnant water and/or deep, sucking mud. Often part of a larger area of wetland, such as a marsh or bayou.
Sump: A hole or deep hollow in which dirty water or sewage has collected.
Swamp: An area of flat land saturated with water, having larger, more woody plants than a marsh and better drainage than a bog.
Bayou: A swampy, sluggish area of a stream or river.
Everglade: A completely submerged area of flatland, dotted with small, sometimes dry islands or hillocks and stands of tall grasses.
Mangrove Swamp: An area of marshland in tropical and subtropical climes characterized by large numbers of mangrove trees. Usually found on seacoasts.
Taiga (cold forest-marsh): A subarctic evergreen forest.
Tamarack (cold forest, marsh): A deciduous tree having needlelike leaves and heavy, durable wood.
Coppice: A small cluster of trees and brush, especially one artificially maintained.
Copse: A small collection of trees and brush; a coppice.
Deciduous Monsoon Forests: This region receives heavy daily rainfall, relieved seasonally by dry periods during which the trees shed their leaves.
Deciduous Temperate Forests: A region of warm to hot summers and mild to cold winters. All the trees but the evergreens shed their leaves to herald the snowy season, after the annual fall pageantry. Trees common to the regions are Ash, Beech, Birch, Cedar, Elm, Maple, Oak, Sycamore, Walnut, Willow and Yew.
Forest: A large area of land covered with dense trees and undergrowth.
Grove: A small group of trees bereft of undergrowth.
Jungle: An area of land densely overgrown with tropical trees and other vegetation.
Northern Coniferous Forests: The northern tree line and mountaintops are dominated by gnarled scrub trees. Fir and spruce trees are common to the northerly forests; larch, pine, and hemlock dominate further south. These forests occur in association with rivers, lakes, bogs, and usually occupy formerly glaciated regions.
Orchard: An area of land containing many fruit or nut trees, often artificially planted and cultivated.
Stand: A small group of tall plants or trees.
Temperate Evergreen Forests: These are subtropical regions with a warm maritime climate. The most common trees are oak, magnolia, palms, and bromeliads.
Temperate Rain Forests: Dominated by broad-leaved evergreen trees, such as hemlock, cedar, spruce, fir and redwood, these forests are common on Mediterranean coasts. Fogs are frequent due to the moist, ocean-cooled air, though rainfall may be low.
Timberland: An area of forest; often, such an area used for the harvesting of timber.
Tropical Rain Forests: In this region the plant growth is profuse, its tree species wildly diverse, with smooth straight trunks and large, simple leaves. Big vines are common, and the growth can become quite tangled, forming a jungle at the edge of rivers.
Tropical Savanna Forests: This region is dominated by grasses and sedges, with widely spaced trees that are frequently thorny, and is often considered as intermediate between forests and steppes. Fire or grazing and browsing mammals create some savannas.
Tropical Scrub Forests: A thicket of evergreen oaks, thorny bushes and shrubs that occur in regions of slight rainfall, bordering wetter forests (known as chaparral).
Wood: A tract of land covered by dense trees and undergrowth, usually small in area.
Stones & Rocks
There are three basic types of rock; igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.
Igneous rocks are formed from melted rocks which have cooled. The heating occurs deep in the earth and the cooling near the surface. They are generally course grained though quickly cooled rocks. Those, such as obsidian, are not. Most have crystalline structure in them. These are
created during the molten stage. Examples: Obsidian (volcanic glass), granite, basalt, and andesite porphyry.
Sedimentary rocks are formed at the surface of the Earth, either in water or on land. They are layered accumulations of sediments, fragments of rocks, minerals, or animal or plant material.
They are held together by minerals, chemicals or electrical actions. They generally form parallel to the earth’s surface and only change their orientation due to tectonic or volcanic activities. The degree of compaction nature of the parent material indicates the hardness of the rock.
Examples: Sandstone, limestone, shale.
Metamorphic rocks are sedimentary or igneous rocks which have changed due to high pressures or intense heat. This generally occurs deep under the earth’s surface. The process transforms the rocks into denser and more compact rock. The process can also separate the fine mineral grains found in many sedimentary and igneous rocks to form pure minerals.
Rock Hardness scale and representative samples.
Many rocks have varying strengths depending on parent material and formation processes.
Very weak: Weakly compacted and weathered sedimentary rocks; sandstones, shale.
Weak: Weakly cemented sedimentary rocks; schist sandstones, shale, slate, limestone.
Medium: Competent sedimentary rocks; some low-density coarse-grained igneous rocks, sandstones, slate, limestone.
Strong: Competent igneous rocks; some metamorphic rocks and fine-grained sandstones, granite, basalt, marble, slate, limestone.
Very strong: Quartzites; dense fine-grained igneous rocks, diorite, basalt, marble, slate, steel, limestone.
Types of Stone
Alabaster: Smooth white translucent stone with a band.
Basalt: A dark gray to black dense stone.
Chert: Usually a dark flint, of fine grained igneous rock.
Conglomerate: A rock composed of compacted stones.
Gneiss: A hard-core foliated metamorphic rock similar to granite.
Granite: A very hard crystalline metemorphic rock ranging in colors from pink to black.
Greenstone: A fine-grained, hard metamorphosed rock of various shades of green.
Limestone: A soft sedimentary rock ususally formed on the sea floor.
Marble: A very hard crystalline limestone.
Obsidian: A very fine-grained, quickly cooled metemorphic rock, similar to basalt in structure.
Phyllite: A shiny, corrugated rock that slate turns into under heat and pressure.
Pumice: A very light, cavity filled volcanic rock.
Quartzite: A crystalline mineral with hexegonal formation with cloudy to transparent coloration.
Sandstone: A common sedimentary rock of various densities and colors.
Slate: A hard metamorphic rock that fractures into rather thin slices.
Tuff: A rock made of volcanic ash that can be extremely strong or very weak.
Table 2:8 MOH’s Hardness Scale
|1||Tale: Easily scratched by the fingernail; equal to a pencil “lead” 1-2 or plaster of paris.|
|2||Gypsum: Just scratched by the fingernail, 2.5; equal to limestone or a seashell.|
|3||Calcite: Scratches and is scratched by a copper coin of 3.5; gold or silver in the 2.5 to 3.|
|4||Fluorite: Not scratched by a copper coin and does not scratch glass; equal to brass at 4, platinum at 4 to 4.5 is a bit harder.|
|5||Apatite: Just scratches glass and is easily scratched by a steel knife; equal to iron at 4.5 to 5, but glass is 5.5 to 6.|
|6||Orthoclase: Easily scratches glass and is just scratched by a file|
|6.5 to 7||A Steel file|
|7||Quartz: Not scratched by a file unless of hardened steel alloy at 7.5.|