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    Default Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    The MST3K Mantra: "It's just a show; I should really just relax."

    But that's no reason to just make stuff up without giving any thought to how elements of a setting are supposed to work. They don't need to work exactly as in nature, but to many creators it is desirable to stick to nature for as long as it works and only starting to come up with entirely fictional explainations when it becomes actually neccessary. That way things appear more natural and can stand up under a closer second or even third look.

    That's what this thread is for. Sharing knowledge on how things actually without needing to resort to "it's magic". Since this is not only relevant to people who are actually making up entire worlds or creating new creatures, but also to common GMs making adventures for their own groups, I think it's best to put it here in the General RPG-Forum and not put it far away out of sight in the Worldbuilding-Forum.
    If you have a better title for this thread in mind, let me know and it can be changed.

    If you have a question regarding military technology and tactics, there's the Real World Weapons or Armour Questions Thread. There's a lot of experts on these things, who can help you out with almost anything on this subject. For everything else, like animal biology, cave formation, agriculture, government systems, architecture, industry, or whatever else you can think of that might be relevant to making your campaigns realistic, or at least plausible, this thread is the place to go.
    I would suggest to not have discussions about electronics, robotics, and space travel, because I think they have a tendency to grow into very big debates that might overshadow more minor questions that would fall to the side. The Media Discussions forum usually has very interesting threads on such subjects and I think you'll get very good answers to questions regarding these subject there.

    Another suggestion is to highlight if you have a new question, so they don't get missed when they are posted in the middle of a larger discussion on something else.
    And here's my start:

    Question: Are there actual cases of green flames comming from the ground? I think it looks quite cool, but do things like that actually exist? The only thing remotely similar that I know is the Door to Hell in Turmenistan, which is a collapsed methane drilling project that was ignited to prevent the gas from mixing with the atmosphere. However, it is a man made gas leak, consist of only a single hole, and burns red.
    Is it possible to have small green flames sprad over a large area?
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Question: Are there actual cases of green flames comming from the ground? I think it looks quite cool, but do things like that actually exist? The only thing remotely similar that I know is the Door to Hell in Turmenistan, which is a collapsed methane drilling project that was ignited to prevent the gas from mixing with the atmosphere. However, it is a man made gas leak, consist of only a single hole, and burns red.
    Is it possible to have small green flames sprad over a large area?
    Copper sulfate seems a good candidate for producing the green flames (warning, toxic). Copper carbonate seems even better, as it's not rare. Pick your favorite method of an ongoing underground fire appropriate to the setting and have at it. My personal favorite is a coal mine that caught fire. There's a couple of those I know of, one in China and the other in the States.
    Last edited by Solaris; 2012-05-20 at 08:13 AM.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    I have a random question in my mind that I got a few days earlier, for anyone who have too much free time. It's neither important nor pressing.

    Imagine that there's a race that evolved telepathy early. Basically, they never created spoken language, because what's in their mind, ranging from "there's a tiger behind the tree beyond that hill" to "I'm in love with you but I also love that certain other girl because she has similar hobby to mine, but I actually indeed prefer you." can be transmited instantly to another person.

    What would their society looks like. And more importantly, if they ever got to modern age, what would their entertainment be, because this thing popped out of my mind when I was arguing over movies with my coworker, and I thought, how great if we could simply transmit our thought without using this imperfect language, but of course, if we don't have language, we won't have the movie that we're arguing with!

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Now all my classes in human communication finally pay off.

    I asume they have some degree of control over what thoughts they are transmitting. Otherwise the result would probably be too alien to imagine.

    Based on that, acting performances would still work, but I don't know how popular they would be. However, the actors would still have to fake the emotions they are transmitting and it needs to match their body language. Body language likely would have evolved much earlier and would still ne required for interaction with related animals.
    Even with bears, dogs, and tigers, humans are able to communicate "get out of my house", "please let me go, I give up", and "I've you touch my food, I kill you", because they are all speaking only slight variations of the same body language. It's really important to avoid fights that could be avoided, while at the same time not abandoning all food and shelter to other animals who are not actually willing to risk injury for that. I also believe that sentient humanoid species can only evolve from predators. "Run away and hope you're not the slowest in the herd" is not a basis to evolve tactical planning and coordination.

    However, this would probably be limited to live performances. Recording sounds and images is probably much easier than recording and playing thought patterns. Working movie technology would have to be extremely advanced.

    No idea about storytelling. If you're used to communicate in full thoughts and ideas, narration might not be very popular and it would be hard to create buildups and having the audience wait for what's coming next. It also would be very short, as a story would take only seconds or a few minutes at the most. Jokes would probably quite popular though, since you pretty much only need a punchline with no buildup at all.

    I am not sure about music and dance. Both appear to be extremely closely related to verbal communiction. However, they appear before the development of complex language. If you live somewhere where there are lots of sparrows and blackbirds, you know that their singing is really extrmely repetitive, despite being called songbirds. And let's not speak of crows here.
    Some species of parrots are known to dance, apparently simply because they enjoy listening to the music, which is very different from displaying specific movements and postures in social interaction with each other.
    If they developed telepathy on a later stage, then music and dance might be around. I think it would be likely to include a great deal of audience participation and spontaneous improvisation, judging and reacting to the mood of the crowd.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-05-20 at 09:59 AM.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    I also believe that sentient humanoid species can only evolve from predators. "Run away and hope you're not the slowest in the herd" is not a basis to evolve tactical planning and coordination.
    Pack scavengers, really. Apex predators don't have the incentive to evolve sapient intelligence like a human, whereas scavengers who also live in packs do.
    I think I've had enough for a while.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Ohh, I like this thread idea :) Thinking of something to ask...

    So... working on a homebrew campaign setting some years ago...

    Came up with a "sea" that sat near a highly volcanic area, essentially it was the crater of a massive volcano, and due to the dissolved sulfur the sea was:

    A.) Incredibly smelly
    B.) Slightly acidic (sulfuric acid formation)

    This made it a pretty bad harbor for wooden ships, but some preliminary research shows that copper resists mild concentrations of sulfuric acid rather well, so I decided that ships (mostly pirates) sailing out of the bay were easily recognizable by the large sheets of copper nailed onto the hull of the ship. The sheets would of course corrode over time, but periodic patching or whole replacements could be done.

    My question is: Just how realistic would this scenario be? Would there be uh... living creatures in the sea involved? Or would it just be this stinking, corrosive, warm dead mass of water. I've already placed human habitation on it, but humans are kinda crazy and disregard nature saying "hey, this place is not good for you" in favor of things like trade routes or resource acquisition, so that can be fudged.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    That too. Humanoid bears and cats are much less likely than humanoid wolves, hyenas, or dolphins. Communication can only make leaps forward if you have someone to talk with.
    And after that, you need large communities for technological progress. An individual can make only so many new discoveries and inventions. It's when a larg group of individuals each know and use existing technologies and share their discoveries, that progress gains speed. If one person in a cave has a good idea, but keeps it secret to have an advantage over his competitors, the invention will die with him or will be restricted from parent to child. If ideas are shared, only one individual needs to make an advancement and then everyone can work on the next one, instead of having to figure out the first step by themselves.

    In short:
    You need a predatory lifestyle to develop the ability to plan ahead.
    And you need to live in groups to develop complex language and make technological progress.
    Quote Originally Posted by DodgerH2O View Post
    Came up with a "sea" that sat near a highly volcanic area, essentially it was the crater of a massive volcano
    You mean like a bay or a cove?

    I think it does not sound that implausible. If there is only a narrow and shallow connection to the open sea and not many rivers flowing into the bay, then exchange with sea water would be quite limited and a buildup of chemicals from underwater vents quite plausible.

    There is a considerable number of aquatic animals that can live quite well in conditions that are lethal to other organisms. However, these are either very tiny or native to the deep ocean floor. Since this body of water would be very shalow and next to the shore, it would be pretty much impossible for these deep sea animals to reach it, as they would have to travel through dozens of miles of water that would most likely be lethal to them.

    Some plants might to rather well and maybe a few fish and amphibians, but those would probably be rather small as well.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-05-20 at 02:32 PM.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Solaris View Post
    Pack scavengers, really. Apex predators don't have the incentive to evolve sapient intelligence like a human, whereas scavengers who also live in packs do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    That too. Humanoid bears and cats are much less likely than humanoid wolves, hyenas, or dolphins.
    ...
    In short:
    You need a predatory lifestyle to develop the ability to plan ahead.
    And you need to live in groups to develop complex language and make technological progress.

    How about: Pack scavenger/pack apex predator. Also happens to be a cat.

    Lions.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Of course, it just seems to be more practical to just say "cats" in generalizations than "cats, except for lions".
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    True. Domestic cats seem to be much more sociable toward each other than wild ones- but as far as I know they don't actually cooperate on things.

    A lot of evolution can involve something that really isn't "built for it" nonetheless specialising in something atypical. Pandas compared to other bears, for example.

    Maybe some of these creatures could be something similar?
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    How about: Pack scavenger/pack apex predator. Also happens to be a cat.

    Lions.
    They're actually a prime example of what I don't consider a candidate for evolving sapience. They have no need to evolve smarter because there's really no competition there.
    A certain bipedal ape species used to fill that niche, the 'lesser pack predator/scavenger' niche. It kinda did evolve sapience.

    Of course, a fantasy world is an entirely different story. Put a bigger, nastier predator than the lions out there and they'd have to evolve something to keep up.
    I think I've had enough for a while.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Hyenas are lions' biggest competitors- and the species they most often scavenge from.

    Hmm- imagine a "intelligence arms race" between hyenas and lions, that ends with them evolving into gnolls and cat folk.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    The problem with that being the lion just uses its bulk and strength to chase off the hyena. If anyone's starting that arms race, it'd be the hyena.
    I think I've had enough for a while.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    maybe. The hyenas might improve their cooperation to make it impossible for a lion group to steal their kill- then go on the offensive, stealing the lion kills, then the lions might develop the next countertechnique.

    repeat for several million years.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by DodgerH2O View Post

    Came up with a "sea" that sat near a highly volcanic area, essentially it was the crater of a massive volcano, and due to the dissolved sulfur the sea was:

    A.) Incredibly smelly
    B.) Slightly acidic (sulfuric acid formation)

    This made it a pretty bad harbor for wooden ships, but some preliminary research shows that copper resists mild concentrations of sulfuric acid rather well, so I decided that ships (mostly pirates) sailing out of the bay were easily recognizable by the large sheets of copper nailed onto the hull of the ship. The sheets would of course corrode over time, but periodic patching or whole replacements could be done.

    My question is: Just how realistic would this scenario be? Would there be uh... living creatures in the sea involved? Or would it just be this stinking, corrosive, warm dead mass of water. I've already placed human habitation on it, but humans are kinda crazy and disregard nature saying "hey, this place is not good for you" in favor of things like trade routes or resource acquisition, so that can be fudged.
    This kind of scenario actually happens, just on a smaller scale; for examples look at certain acidic caves and geothermal hotsprings. Most of the life you'd find would be microorganisms adapted for the conditions, in addition to other small organisms- such as how salt lakes can be teeming with brine shrimp. You probably wouldn't find much in the way of fish diversity or larger fish. Filter-feeders and certain birds, such as flamingos, may also do well in such an environment.

    On another note, you may want to look at the zinc anodes used on modern ships to stave off corrosion; there may be an equivalent that you can use with wooden boats.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    I can't give you green flames, but I can give you blue. Sulfur mines are constantly aflame with blue fire. For example, the first two pictures at the following link:

    http://blogs.agu.org/martianchronicl...n-earth-and-i/

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by DodgerH2O View Post
    Ohh, I like this thread idea :) Thinking of something to ask...

    So... working on a homebrew campaign setting some years ago...

    Came up with a "sea" that sat near a highly volcanic area, essentially it was the crater of a massive volcano, and due to the dissolved sulfur the sea was:

    A.) Incredibly smelly
    B.) Slightly acidic (sulfuric acid formation)

    This made it a pretty bad harbor for wooden ships, but some preliminary research shows that copper resists mild concentrations of sulfuric acid rather well, so I decided that ships (mostly pirates) sailing out of the bay were easily recognizable by the large sheets of copper nailed onto the hull of the ship. The sheets would of course corrode over time, but periodic patching or whole replacements could be done.

    My question is: Just how realistic would this scenario be? Would there be uh... living creatures in the sea involved? Or would it just be this stinking, corrosive, warm dead mass of water. I've already placed human habitation on it, but humans are kinda crazy and disregard nature saying "hey, this place is not good for you" in favor of things like trade routes or resource acquisition, so that can be fudged.
    British warships were often armored with copper sheets due to them sealing water-tight as they corrode. Same reason there are copper roofs on a lot of old buildings like the Canadian Parliament. It also turns a very lovely green color.

    As for life in acidic waters, don't know about you, but I've always wanted to use that Acid Born template in Dungeonscape page 111!
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Copper roofs are so common on the baltic coasts that it never even occured to me to wonder why its used.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    I've read several times that an animal likely to have developed human-like sentience (other than primates, duh) were dinosaurs.

    Meaning the little predatory ones, of course. So, uh, Kobolds?

    Of course i's likely "wishful thinking", so to speak, because people love dinosaurs...

    Also; this thread is an excellent idea, I hope it sticks around!
    Last edited by J.Gellert; 2012-05-25 at 01:48 AM.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    The sulfur-rich ecosystems in our world are all very small in a global scale, and thus do not give enough space for larger organisms to develop/adapt. But if your sea of sulfur is large enough and has been around long enough, there is no reason to not have larger creatures living in it. Eating the smaller ones that are eating the smaller ones etc.

    Also, keep in mind that the sulfur makes compounds with pretty much everything and is then sedimented as sulphate and sulphide minerals and whatnot. Thus, you need to have a constant source (a REALLY LARGE ONE if it's a large sea) of fresh sulfur coming in to the sea. Active megavolcano, for example?

    Third, the sulphide minerals formed in the sea can be a very good source of various metals (copper, nickel, lead, quicksilver etc.) and thus there may be a good reason to have human habitation near this sea.

    As to your question of realism: It all depends on the scale and size of your sea and the volcano involved. It's not likely to happen in our world above the size of a medium-sized lake, but this is a fantasy world, right?

    (Geology degree pays off, finally.)

    EDIT: Wooden hulls would be a BAD IDEA. Copper plating would help, but be expensive.
    Last edited by Sampi; 2012-05-25 at 07:51 AM.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Thread tax: Copper-bottomed boats were a wide-spread real-world innovation - they prevented fouling and drag from plants and barnacles, etc.

    Calling xeno-climatologists!

    I want to make a world that is further out from its star than Earth, but still warm enough to sustain humans (so that there can be more than one habitable planet in my fantasy setting).

    What I've been thinking of is a slightly larger body (to capture a thicker atmosphere), with more extensive ice caps, and a habitable tropical / equatorial zone. Equatorial temperatures are quite mild compared to Earth (Florida rather than Brazil), and give over to subtropical and temperate zones rapidly as one moves towards the poles.

    The poles would be extremely frigid, getting to CO2 freezing point regularly in the winter.

    Are there any major flaws in these assumptions? Are there any significant issues that a bigger planet with massive ice caps would throw up?
    Last edited by Altair_the_Vexed; 2012-05-25 at 07:51 AM.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    That's about -80 degrees. Not that unreasonable as it sometimes gets even colder than that on earth.

    Climate is one of the most complex and difficult systems known in nature (galaxy eating black holes are relatively simple compared to that), so it would probably be impossible to say what circumstances you would exactly need to get that result. But all in all, it does sound quite plausible.
    Getting a sharp drop in temperature between the tropics and the arctics is a bit more difficult, but I imagine you could do something in the like of gulf streams or something like that. How about allowing ocean water to flow freely around the whole planet relatively close to the equator? On earth we have Africa and Central America which are in the way. Without them I think you could get some really crazy results.

    Is it possible to have localized greenhouse effects? Maybe have lots of volcanoes emmiting CO2 near the equator, causing the region to heat up.
    Or alternatively, you have lots of volcanoes errupting ash near the poles, causing the sky to dim and block light. If you have strong subtropical air currents circling the planet, they might keep the ash from reaching the tropics, allowing for more sunlight.

    Maybe a significant axial tilt? This increases the length of winter at the poles, while not doing much to the tropics. However, it also increases the length of summer, which would probably cause the two to cancel each other out, unless you have something in place that makes the planet lose heat faster than it absorbs energy from the sun.
    Maybe put the planet closer to the sun, but without any meaningful greenhouse effect? That way the tropics are still comfortable but the poles will experience freakish winters.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Question: What are the motivations for colonization, except for natural resources and prestige?

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Question: What are the motivations for colonization, except for natural resources and prestige?
    A few wild guesses:

    Proselytism -> "All of those who live under the Sun must be taught of the ways of Pelor!"

    Religious/political persecution -> "Here everyone hates us, but if you follow me into the wilderness, together we will find our Promised Land and live forever in peace!"

    Demographic pressure -> But it kinda overlaps with "natural resources".
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    There's no simple answer to that question.

    I suppose you could say trade, but that's really just the tip of the iceberg. Also worth pointing out that the purpose of colonies change over time.

    Often, the goal of a colony isn't natural resources as such, but rather establishing a place through which you can trade them. Many greek colonies in the mediterranean were established to provide trade with the locals, safe harbours from greek merchants. Later expanding their purposes.
    Similarily, the huge network of colonies that the portugese created consisted of a series of safe harbours through which they could "jump" their way to India. The colonies themselves intitially having little worth, but the cargo (spice) hauled through them more than made up for it.

    In some cases, the goal could also be to aim at controlling the current trade passing through. Like setting up a harbour in narrow straits. (The Bosphorus, Malacca, Messina) and projecting naval power from them.

    While these tie into natural resources, they should be treated as distinct from colonies intended to produce natural resources. The former is usually little more than harbours or caravanstops, the latter are usually set up as projects intended to generate a profit soon.

    There's also the use of colonies to provide a buffer, such as Russia's settling of cossacks along the borders of the steppe to provide a shield towards the steppe nomad's raiding and gradually expanding.
    Similarily, establishing military garrisons (with families) to provide a safeguard from attacks.

    Another possibility is population control. Creating a colony in order to either funnel an unwanted population away from valuable land (note: could be done for "benevolent" reasons) or in order to establish control over and assimilate the locals. Of these I do not wish to provide examples.
    Or just plain to expand into largely empty areas in order to provide more farmland for it's increasing population.

    And finally... "philantropic" reasons. Out of a belief of the necessity and/or desire to educate and civilize the locals.

    In short... basically any reason grounded in internal politics. And as mentioned, it was not unusual for colonies to begin as one thing and then being turned into another as they grew.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Question: What are the motivations for colonization, except for natural resources and prestige?
    Curiosity: The desire to explore other areas. "What's over that next rise?" "What's in those caves?" Be it scientific curiosity or simply the desire to see what else is out there, humans have long explored out of curiosity. Doing long-term and in-depth exploration is easier with a permanent base of operations nearby. And just like with American Boomtowns, people will come to provide goods and services to those doing the exploring. Eventually full-fledged towns spring up, one after another.

    Ego: The feeling that the entire world belongs to you/your society/race/kingdom, and going out to put your stamp on it (ok, so it could be basically the same as prestige, I guess). European "Manifest Destiny"-types.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Gellert View Post
    I've read several times that an animal likely to have developed human-like sentience (other than primates, duh) were dinosaurs.

    Meaning the little predatory ones, of course. So, uh, Kobolds?

    Of course i's likely "wishful thinking", so to speak, because people love dinosaurs...
    Considering that what I've seen has indicated even the 'smart' dinosaurs were still dimmer than dogs... yes. Wishful thinking. The notion that raptors were 'smarter than primates' is one found in fiction, not really supported by the evidence. Very good senses, not so much with the problem-solving.

    That said, I've always liked kobolds being descended of dinosaurs better than dragons, and I'm willing to give 'em the benefit of the doubt for coming up with smarts with a few million more years. After all, you go back early enough and we come up with some pretty dim human ancestors.
    I think I've had enough for a while.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    HeadlessMermaid's Avatar

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Question: What are the motivations for colonization, except for natural resources and prestige?
    Aux-Ash covered most of it, I'd like to add gender imbalance: too many males and too few females in the general population. There's disagreement about the extent of this imbalance, but it's a fact that in Rome and most Greek cities, Athens included, girls were undesirable in a family (since they meant more expenses with no important rewards) while boys were desirable (since they were a source of income, plus they continued the family name). Some argue that infanticide was pretty common, though undocumented directly.

    It's remarkable that even after Athens sent away a big chunk of its male population to colonize the Mediterranean, there was no shortage of men in the city, and even the Persian Wars didn't change that significantly. Only during the Peloponnesian War were there enough casualties to make that happen. Similarly, Rome had to expand its military campaigns all over the known world before there was a shortage of men, and at that point they came up with legal incentives for families to have girls (in a nutshell, tax cuts for the fathers).

    In any case, having too few women meant that a lot of men couldn't produce a legal heir, and would gladly jump at the opportunity to colonize a far away place, and take wives, one way or another, from the local population. It also meant that the men left behind had now a better chance of arranging an appropriate marriage. Not a primary incentive for organizing an expedition perhaps (though it's conceivable that such a situation could produce a lot of strife in a community, which somehow had to be resolved), but certainly a factor in its success.

    Curiosity: The desire to explore other areas. "What's over that next rise?" "What's in those caves?" Be it scientific curiosity or simply the desire to see what else is out there, humans have long explored out of curiosity.
    I'd say that's a romantic approach, which should come last, if at all, in the list. An explorer might or might not be curious. The ones funding his expedition and the ones following afterwards are people who want to grab something, no matter how politely they phrase that.

    Also note that it's a relatively recent approach, mostly used to justify and glorify things. In the ancient world, it was generally accepted that curious people simply traveled. No one felt the need to hide the fact that colonization was strictly for material purposes.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Solaris View Post
    My personal favorite is a coal mine that caught fire. There's a couple of those I know of, one in China and the other in the States.
    This can be completely natural as well. Burning Mountain in Australia is a coal seem fire that currently speculated to have been burning around 6000 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by DodgerH2O View Post
    My question is: Just how realistic would this scenario be? Would there be uh... living creatures in the sea involved? Or would it just be this stinking, corrosive, warm dead mass of water. I've already placed human habitation on it, but humans are kinda crazy and disregard nature saying "hey, this place is not good for you" in favor of things like trade routes or resource acquisition, so that can be fudged.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoking_Hills

    This is in the Northwest Territories. Its a series of acidic pools (only a few feet deep at the deepest) but with pH levels below 2 making them functionally a weak sulphuric acid. There are elevated levels of minerals such as iron, zinc and nickel (all useful in making steel) found in the ponds. There is life, but its basically all microorganisms.

    That said, if you've got a sufficiently large quantity of sulfur come up to the make the water acidic then there's no reason larger life forms wouldn't eventually start to fill in the niches one would expect. Just take some deep sea critters and move them into your cove/bay/thing as needed.

    Also, as there are elevated, possibly massively elevated, dissolved minerals in the water there might be a booming industry of extracting these minerals and making steel.
    Last edited by Beleriphon; 2012-05-28 at 01:59 AM.
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  30. - Top - End - #30
    Troll in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Question: What are the motivations for colonization, except for natural resources and prestige?
    The biggest impetus to colonization historically has been "We need more room." This could be would-be farmers in a place where all the land is already farmed, to the fourth son of the fifth daughter of a nobleman, who is noble but inherits no land.

    Ten thousand variations of "I don't like it here", from "I upset the king" to "the priests don't accept our religion".

    Escaped slaves.

    Pirates who want a safe port.

    Famines back home.

    Game and fish are getting scarce locally.

    Forced colonization includes getting rid of undesirables, including both expelling a race or religion you don't like and transportation as a penalty for lawbreakers.

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