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Thread: Grade my map?

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    Default Grade my map?

    So I drew up this map (as I find doing it freehand to be easier than using a program) and I'm curious as to how large of an abomination before nature it is. So, here the thing is, have fun.

    Spoiler: The Map
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    Map Key
    Purple: Oceanic Trench
    Blue: Water
    Dark Green: Forests
    Green: Grasslands
    Light Brown: Desert
    Brown: Cold Steppes
    Brown/Green: Highland Moors
    Last edited by Blackhawk748; 2019-09-08 at 08:36 PM.
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    I'm not a map expert, but there are a couple of things that jump out at me:
    1. The right-angle turn in the mountain range seems a bit odd.
    2. Assuming the different colors of ground represent different climates, the transition from the brown areas on the left to the green areas on the right seems a bit abrupt.

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    What is the purple thing in the sea? Also I am pretty sure you can't have a single mountain all alone like that.
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    Default Re: Grade my map?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    What is the purple thing in the sea? Also I am pretty sure you can't have a single mountain all alone like that.
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    I now await being told "no that's part of the Always Been There mountain range from the second unabridged Legendarium that was only published in Ancient Greek."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    What is the purple thing in the sea? Also I am pretty sure you can't have a single mountain all alone like that.
    If it is a volcano (active or not), then it totally can be alone: Kilimanjaro, Fuji...
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    It is hard to map transitions, especially by hand, so as long as the idea of a transition is worked into the description of the area in whatever context it is being used, then I would say that is good. Which would also go for the mountain range and lone mountain. Though with the mountain range, having it feather out more would help.

    There should also be some logical reason for a transition to happen, usually something like forests versus drying grasslands will have something like an elevation change causing it but there is nothing implying that. Having green areas on one side of a mountain range and dry on the other would be more fitting. For example: moisture from the ocean rains heavily just off the coast but the weather system moving over the mountains causes a lot of rain/snow in said mountains and none being left by the time it gets over the mountain range, so dry on the other side.

    What stands out to me as off is the location/logic behind the various major lakes. They have to come from somewhere and these don't. Even if you consider the source waters to be many relatively small streams and rivers that wouldn't be worth noting on a map, they don't have anywhere to exist. They can't come from rainfall, as the brown would imply low levels of rain and they are generally on the edge of the brown, upstream from what would assumedly be the more rainy green areas. A lot of watersheds start in mountains, rainfall and snowmelt, as well as higher occurrences of springs. But the lakes are too far away from the mountains for that to be the case.

    The only other really notable issue is a lack of scale. The transition from green to brown would also make more sense if the scale is large. If the map were like 1000 miles across then 250 miles worth of green fading to more desert wouldn't be that out of place. But if it is 100 miles across and that is only 25 miles of green then it is too small to happen like that.

    Of course whether or not any of that even matters would depend on what the map is being used for and if conforming to reality in any way is the least bit important.

    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    If it is a volcano (active or not), then it totally can be alone: Kilimanjaro, Fuji...
    But none of those are completely alone, they're all in mountain ranges, they are just significantly bigger than the other mountain peaks directly beside them.
    Last edited by Erloas; 2019-09-07 at 02:30 PM.

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    Rivers are very, very weird. But at least none of them runs uphill, and 1st edition of Legend of 5 Rings managed to do that ;)

    It looks like every river has a source in a lake, very rare thing in a real world. Maybe not impossible, though. But when two rivers go out form one lake, it means that their starting points are exactly a the same height, and exactly the same amount of water goes through both, and it's like that for millions of years.

    Tried to imagine ground altitudes, river beds suggest some strange bulges at the shore.

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    Default Re: Grade my map?

    Looks fine to me.

    Caveat-I suck at geography and terrain and everything like that. But if you showed me this map as a DM to a player? I'd say "Okay, cool."
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    I love it! It's perfect.

    What is it?

    The purpose of a map is to confer information about a place, and that's the only thing missing: all of the information. Sure, we could guess that you are following some sort of standard where brown is desert, green is forest, blue is ocean, squiggly lines are rivers, jagged lines are mountains, and a smattering of islands and other features are indicated. We could also assume that this is to scale and proportional unto itself without knowing what actual distances are shown (from what we see, there isn't even a way to tell what size the map is). But none of that tells us where we are. Is it the horn of Africa or a rotated view of the Caribbean? Do any of these features have a name? A legend would certainly be useful, especially for the unfamiliar feature in the top right corner that seems to divide the main land mass from the largest island. And for crying out loud, which way is north?

    There is nothing wrong with what you've drawn, it's just that this picture is not a map.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
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    I now await being told "no that's part of the Always Been There mountain range from the second unabridged Legendarium that was only published in Ancient Greek."
    The Lonely Mountain is an impossible mountain too. Tolkien sucked at mountains. In his defense, plate tectonics were only widely accepted from the 60's onwards, but really, all of his moutain ranges make right angle turns and just looking at a real map you can see that never happens.
    Then again, originally the world of Arda was a big ship and then Tolkien decided it was originally falt and was folde into a sphere later on and then he decided it was always a sphere so who knows how that geology works. Tolkien sure didn't, though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    If it is a volcano (active or not), then it totally can be alone: Kilimanjaro, Fuji...
    Are not alone even if they are away from the rest of their range. I guess the lonely mountain in Blackhawk's map could be in a similar position, although that doesn't explain the right angle.
    Last edited by Fyraltari; 2019-09-07 at 05:52 PM.
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    I'll take that bet.

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    Default Re: Grade my map?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    The Lonely Mountain is an impossible mountain too. Tolkien sucked at mountains. In his defense, plate tectonics were only widely accepted from the 60's onwards, but really, all of his moutain ranges make right angle turns and just looking at a real map you can see that never happens.
    Then again, originally the world of Arda was a big ship and then Tolkien decided it was originally falt and was folde into a sphere later on and then he decided it was always a sphere so who knows how that geology works. Tolkien sure didn't, though.
    Devils advocate: complaining about incorrect plate tectonic formations in a world with giant fire demons seems a tad silly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Devils advocate: complaining about incorrect plate tectonic formations in a world with giant fire demons seems a tad silly.
    True that actually, since Tolkien's world was simply created and not evolving naturally from a ball of hot magma over billions of years. For mountain formation due to plat tectonics the timescales are obviously shorter but still the fact of direct creation remains.
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    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    I'm not a map expert, but there are a couple of things that jump out at me:
    1. The right-angle turn in the mountain range seems a bit odd.
    2. Assuming the different colors of ground represent different climates, the transition from the brown areas on the left to the green areas on the right seems a bit abrupt.
    I was thinking of extending the mountain range further north and have that be where some other continent rammed into the other one, but Im not sure what that would do to the Steppe's I want up there. I guess it would be ok.

    Quote Originally Posted by Erloas View Post
    It is hard to map transitions, especially by hand, so as long as the idea of a transition is worked into the description of the area in whatever context it is being used, then I would say that is good. Which would also go for the mountain range and lone mountain. Though with the mountain range, having it feather out more would help.

    There should also be some logical reason for a transition to happen, usually something like forests versus drying grasslands will have something like an elevation change causing it but there is nothing implying that. Having green areas on one side of a mountain range and dry on the other would be more fitting. For example: moisture from the ocean rains heavily just off the coast but the weather system moving over the mountains causes a lot of rain/snow in said mountains and none being left by the time it gets over the mountain range, so dry on the other side.

    What stands out to me as off is the location/logic behind the various major lakes. They have to come from somewhere and these don't. Even if you consider the source waters to be many relatively small streams and rivers that wouldn't be worth noting on a map, they don't have anywhere to exist. They can't come from rainfall, as the brown would imply low levels of rain and they are generally on the edge of the brown, upstream from what would assumedly be the more rainy green areas. A lot of watersheds start in mountains, rainfall and snowmelt, as well as higher occurrences of springs. But the lakes are too far away from the mountains for that to be the case.

    The only other really notable issue is a lack of scale. The transition from green to brown would also make more sense if the scale is large. If the map were like 1000 miles across then 250 miles worth of green fading to more desert wouldn't be that out of place. But if it is 100 miles across and that is only 25 miles of green then it is too small to happen like that.

    Of course whether or not any of that even matters would depend on what the map is being used for and if conforming to reality in any way is the least bit important.
    Pretty much all of the transitions are from elevation changes, I just have no idea how to draw that onto a map. The lakes are combination spring fed and in lower elevation relative to the surrounding area. Once again, no idea how to visually depict that.

    And I haven't decided on exact scale, but its reasonably sized. I was thinking Europe-ish.

    Quote Originally Posted by WrittenInBlood View Post
    Rivers are very, very weird. But at least none of them runs uphill, and 1st edition of Legend of 5 Rings managed to do that ;)

    It looks like every river has a source in a lake, very rare thing in a real world. Maybe not impossible, though. But when two rivers go out form one lake, it means that their starting points are exactly a the same height, and exactly the same amount of water goes through both, and it's like that for millions of years.

    Tried to imagine ground altitudes, river beds suggest some strange bulges at the shore.

    If you look for tips, check this: https://mythcreants.com/blog/crafting-plausible-maps/
    Thank you, I'll check that out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbalance View Post
    I love it! It's perfect.

    What is it?

    The purpose of a map is to confer information about a place, and that's the only thing missing: all of the information. Sure, we could guess that you are following some sort of standard where brown is desert, green is forest, blue is ocean, squiggly lines are rivers, jagged lines are mountains, and a smattering of islands and other features are indicated. We could also assume that this is to scale and proportional unto itself without knowing what actual distances are shown (from what we see, there isn't even a way to tell what size the map is). But none of that tells us where we are. Is it the horn of Africa or a rotated view of the Caribbean? Do any of these features have a name? A legend would certainly be useful, especially for the unfamiliar feature in the top right corner that seems to divide the main land mass from the largest island. And for crying out loud, which way is north?

    There is nothing wrong with what you've drawn, it's just that this picture is not a map.
    Yes, I need more of a key, and thats on me. I wanted to get it up here in case i needed to make changes, which is why I haven't put a key on yet, cuz I don't wanna have to make that more than once. Probably still should have.

    Oh, and the purple line in the ocean is a deep water trench.
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    I would just start with the fact that I judged the map on the fact that it was posted in Science and Technology rather than gaming.


    So one issue that maps always end up with trying to find the right amount of information to put on them, because there are so many different things you can map that they would become impossible to read if you stuck everything on them.

    If smaller hills and gradual elevation changes, small streams, types of forests, and things like that aren't important to the function of the map then leave them off. Some of that can imply the sort of things you might find there though, so maybe it is important.

    Topology maps use lines to indicate elevation change, and depending on the scale will depend how often they show up. A very fine might have one every 5ft of elevation, others might be 100ft. So gradual changes will have a few lines spread out and steep changes will have a lot of lines bunched together. Very handy for showing things like valleys, hills, cliffs, and also really flat areas. That is probably a bit much for most hand-made maps, but it could have it's uses.
    Otherwise you might show some of it with small little round bumps for hills to make them distinct from the spikey mountain peaks.

    You could also do a lot of that easy enough with colors and a legend. Light green is grasslands, dark green is dense forest, teal is swampy forest, light brown is scrub brush and light grass, dark brown is rocky, broken ground. Which I think is what you have tried to do. I would say with that though, don't hesitate to blend the colors at the edges, and really never have solid/distinct borders between colors, fade between them, mix them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    The Lonely Mountain is an impossible mountain too. Tolkien sucked at mountains. In his defense, plate tectonics were only widely accepted from the 60's onwards, but really, all of his moutain ranges make right angle turns and just looking at a real map you can see that never happens.
    Interesting to note that the map in the endpapers of the LOTR novels, which is presumably the one you're talking about when you have mountain ranges with right angles in them, wasn't drawn by JRR--it was drawn by Christopher Tolkien. The only map drawn by JRR himself is the one from The Hobbit, which shows a lot of smaller peaks around the so-called "Lonely Mountain". Still not geologically accurate, admittedly, but somewhat better than the single lonely peak of legend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Devils advocate: complaining about incorrect plate tectonic formations in a world with giant fire demons seems a tad silly.
    Well Arda is meant to be our Earth in the distant past (the name is a pretty big clue) so there.
    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    Interesting to note that the map in the endpapers of the LOTR novels, which is presumably the one you're talking about when you have mountain ranges with right angles in them, wasn't drawn by JRR--it was drawn by Christopher Tolkien. The only map drawn by JRR himself is the one from The Hobbit, which shows a lot of smaller peaks around the so-called "Lonely Mountain". Still not geologically accurate, admittedly, but somewhat better than the single lonely peak of legend.
    True. Though, the disposition of the Ephel Duath and Ered Lithui (the mountains that border Mordor) are described in the books. While it probably never says "right angle" I think it's still wonky by description alone.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    the Vector Legion [is the IFCC's new pawns], mark my words. Way too much unfinished business there and they already know about the Gates.
    I'll take that bet.

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    I'm going to second the weird rivers thing. If I'm reading it right, and the blue is ocean, you have a river balancing on a peninsula. The lack of meanders suggests that there is a pretty consistent slope, which makes any of them not heading straight to the sea odd.

    This could be the canal system of a fallen civilisation, but it does not look like a natural river formation.


    I'm actually ok with the quick east west transition in Biomes, because cold water can do that. California is the best example, where you get extremely good food production not that far from death valley. Mountains limit how far inland the moisture gets, but a tendency towards strong westerly winds could also do it (though raises other questions as to how you get that combination).

    The mountains are definite "a wizard did it" territory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhawk748 View Post
    Yes, I need more of a key, and thats on me. I wanted to get it up here in case i needed to make changes, which is why I haven't put a key on yet, cuz I don't wanna have to make that more than once. Probably still should have.

    Oh, and the purple line in the ocean is a deep water trench.
    Separate sheet of paper?



    The main shape seems a bit boring for something (China+)/Europe it's probably worth having an even sketchier map where the next scale up.

    The Caparthian mountains kind of (probably not entire coincidentally have a kind of mordorish shape)
    The whole Alp-Himalaya chain kind of does something similar.
    In fact going by the coastline and mountains.

    If the 'vertical' hills are a bit himilayan fringe, with the bits to the right being vagule anologous to Bengal-Burma. Then you have the Yunnan mountains sticking out with the penisula beyond it being vaguely geology wise Thai. That then lives the reddish bit geologically China. Then you kind of have a real world analogue to play with.

    For starters then probably leaves the island in the wrong place, and while the deep trench probably isn't as far out as I'd have thought either it needs some work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erloas View Post
    I would just start with the fact that I judged the map on the fact that it was posted in Science and Technology rather than gaming.
    I was lookingto see how unrealistic the map is, so that is what I was going for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Erloas View Post
    I would just start with the fact that I judged the map on the fact that it was posted in Science and Technology rather than gaming.


    So one issue that maps always end up with trying to find the right amount of information to put on them, because there are so many different things you can map that they would become impossible to read if you stuck everything on them.

    If smaller hills and gradual elevation changes, small streams, types of forests, and things like that aren't important to the function of the map then leave them off. Some of that can imply the sort of things you might find there though, so maybe it is important.

    Topology maps use lines to indicate elevation change, and depending on the scale will depend how often they show up. A very fine might have one every 5ft of elevation, others might be 100ft. So gradual changes will have a few lines spread out and steep changes will have a lot of lines bunched together. Very handy for showing things like valleys, hills, cliffs, and also really flat areas. That is probably a bit much for most hand-made maps, but it could have it's uses.
    Otherwise you might show some of it with small little round bumps for hills to make them distinct from the spikey mountain peaks.
    Thats all something to keep in mind when I make the second version of the map. Elevation is a pain,

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Rooster View Post
    I'm going to second the weird rivers thing. If I'm reading it right, and the blue is ocean, you have a river balancing on a peninsula. The lack of meanders suggests that there is a pretty consistent slope, which makes any of them not heading straight to the sea odd.

    This could be the canal system of a fallen civilisation, but it does not look like a natural river formation.
    Really? I was picturing the penninsula being higher up than the forest south of it, and that river just flowing down a valley. Guess I never realized that would be weird.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Rooster View Post
    I'm actually ok with the quick east west transition in Biomes, because cold water can do that. California is the best example, where you get extremely good food production not that far from death valley. Mountains limit how far inland the moisture gets, but a tendency towards strong westerly winds could also do it (though raises other questions as to how you get that combination).

    The mountains are definite "a wizard did it" territory.
    I was figuring that the winds did come from the West which is why there's a large desert there. The mountains do curve too hard, but maybe I could make the West/East range curve a little more so it looks a bit less weird.

    Quote Originally Posted by jayem View Post
    Separate sheet of paper?
    I think I'll go edit one up there for now at least.

    Quote Originally Posted by jayem View Post
    The main shape seems a bit boring for something (China+)/Europe it's probably worth having an even sketchier map where the next scale up.

    The Caparthian mountains kind of (probably not entire coincidentally have a kind of mordorish shape)
    The whole Alp-Himalaya chain kind of does something similar.
    In fact going by the coastline and mountains.

    If the 'vertical' hills are a bit himilayan fringe, with the bits to the right being vagule anologous to Bengal-Burma. Then you have the Yunnan mountains sticking out with the penisula beyond it being vaguely geology wise Thai. That then lives the reddish bit geologically China. Then you kind of have a real world analogue to play with.

    For starters then probably leaves the island in the wrong place, and while the deep trench probably isn't as far out as I'd have thought either it needs some work.
    Huh... I didn't realize that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fyraltari View Post
    Well Arda is meant to be our Earth in the distant past (the name is a pretty big clue) so there.
    So distant that it predates not only the theory of plate tectonics but the actual plate tectonics themselves!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    If it is a volcano (active or not), then it totally can be alone: Kilimanjaro, Fuji...
    I'm pretty sure Stone Mountain is not part of any mountain range, and it's not a volcano.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    So distant that it predates not only the theory of plate tectonics but the actual plate tectonics themselves!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhawk748 View Post
    Huh... I didn't realize that.
    It's a bit of a stretch mapping that map to SE Asia, although less of one than I'd expected. If the map is 'continent sized' but only contains one corner then there aren't many real world options.
    In addition, obviously if you moved put it at Europe's position, or rotated a lot would change!

    If you compared to Europe you'd get the full chaotic structure, The point was to some extent to look at the differences between what your map predicts and reality. You expect there to be some differences (your fantasy world is different), but you'd also expect some similarities.
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    Ok, I threw a basic map key under to help, but I'll probably trace the map later this week and give it a bit of a redraw
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas View Post
    I'm pretty sure Stone Mountain is not part of any mountain range, and it's not a volcano.
    Actually, that's a very good point, I'd forgotten things like that exist. The proper term for them is inselbergs:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inselberg

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    This is a science and technology forum, so my first thought was there's no rivers feeding the lakes. They usually come from mountains and hills but there's none. Perhaps such rivers, caused by warm, westerly wind hitting mountains, could be added but the most northern-eastern lake makes no sense.

    Also, I don't think the plate tectonics make that kind of right-angled mountain range, or an oceanic trench that close to a continent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by warmachine View Post
    Also, I don't think the plate tectonics make that kind of right-angled mountain range, or an oceanic trench that close to a continent.
    The trench close to the continent is entirely possible--the Peru-Chile Trench is only about 100 miles offshore, for instance.

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    I'm rehashing a few things, but what I notice most (assuming this is supposed to be a natural landscape on an Earthlike planet) is:

    1 An oceanic trench with islands/land that close on both sides is entirely possible, but I would expect seismic activity in the region. The land might also be really different, both geologically and biologically, on both sides. If this was an area where lands and islands are formed actively on both sides, pushing them further apart as more arise, I would expect an oceanic ridge, or maybe just a harsh fault line. With a trench I figure the divide is probably really old, and the two sides might have been getting closer to each other for hundreds of millions of years, coming from being an ocean apart, or having been on opposite sides of a supercontinent. The islands on both sides could well be volcanic in nature (although the ones on the continental side could easily have been made by an ice age or such as well), but it doesn't have to be recent volcanic activity. It does mean that the continent and the islands could be as foreign from each other as say Southeast Asia and Australia. One side has placental mammals, the other has there roles filled by marsupials and birds. Seabirds like gulls are the most likely to be the same across the board.

    2 If there is a strict divide between a lush rainy region and a dry region the divide is usually marked by a mountain range. This map would be more typical if those mountains where pulled up towards the green bits with the lakes. That way we know that the dominant wind in the coastal region is land-inwards. There might be a warm ocean current coming from near the equator coming along the shore as well. There definitely isn't a cold ocean current in that place, as that would most likely result in coastal deserts. Anyway, the point is: The warm seawater evaporates, the wind carries it inland, the mountains push the wind up, bringing the clouds to a higher altitude where they cool down and rain out, this creates the mountain rivers that fill the lakes of the lowlands. The wind does make it to the other side, but as dry air.
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    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    The trench close to the continent is entirely possible--the Peru-Chile Trench is only about 100 miles offshore, for instance.
    In fact, trenches close to continents seem to be pretty normal - they form when the oceanic plate slides under the continent. Although when that happens, you generally get a volcanic mountain range forming along the edge of the continent (as in Peru/Chile). (Or if its futher offshore, an island arc such as Japan).

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    For the northeast peninsula I would look at Florida. It has a river that splits it, but it slices back and forth across the landscape and turns into a small lake every time it turns. In some places it just becomes a swamp that converges back into a river later, and the whole region is swampy as a result.
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