Those Who Ignore Geography Shall Shiver in the Dark

Neil's picture

On re-reading Robins article, something struck me, I've often wondered why I was attracted to Hârn. Yesterday, while clearing out a cupboard I came across my copy of the original World of Greyhawk boxed set. I remembered discussions I had with my friends when I first unpacked it.

"That big lake, the Nyr Dyv, there is one river running into it, and two out of it. They both run to the sea. Isn't that impossible? Surely when the lake was formed the water would exit at the lowest point, even if there were two such points, wouldn't the one with the more easily eroded terrain get deeper quicker? Then surely the other would dry up?" I was met with a chorus of "It's only a fantasy map, it doesn't matter." from my friends. But it mattered to me.

Ever since I've gamed in worlds where the geography is real (like Hârn) or totally unreal (like Glorantha).

I am right about the Nyr Dyv, aren't I?


Fástred's picture

Neil, I'd say that your are correct about the two exit lake. You can have lots of rivers flowing into a lake, but multiple exits? hmm...


Fástred al Beréma,
Rówanti al Sávè-k’nôr

Robin's picture

I suppose I could have mentioned lakes under the water stuff in my Penny Arcane...


My understanding is that lakes should (as a rule) have between zero and one (inclusive) riverine exits.

Did the lake of which you speak also have an island with another lake in it? Just wondering ;)

robertsconley's picture

A comment on your article. I agree for the most part about contours however I don't know if terrian shading is really clear enough to do the job. I think your original scheme of using fill for terrain was an excellent compromise and still a better one than relief shading.

The other approach I think would be good (I forget the style's name) is the hatching (?) used on many military maps in the 19th century and in text books today. It has some of the advantage of contour maps without the hassle of picking a contour scale and having to draw every dame line in.

The main problem I see with that style is the hatching itself being so dark would not easily allow other colors to be drawn on top of it (or under). Perhaps with the alpha channel/transparency avaliable that can be overcome.

Neil's picture


No, there is no island with a lake on the lake. But Greyhawk's 'Nyr Dyv' is also known as 'The Lake of Unknown Depths.' The map shows the lakes underwater contours! However, the copy I've found does not indicate what the contout intervals are, so I suppose they can still call it the lake of unknown depths ;)


- "Pardon me for living, I'm sure."

-- (Terry Pratchett, Mort)