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Implications of floating worlds

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Aldarion, Dec 24, 2020.

  1. Aldarion

    Aldarion Inkling

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    OK, I have had a lot of ideas for exact nature of my world. Currently I am still closest to the "Earth in the far future and several tectonic upheavals later"... but I also considered several other ideas.

    One of these ideas is to have basically "flat Earth" scenario - but one where worlds are not planets as such, but rather worlds floating in an atmosphere of a gas giant. Similar to islands from Granblue Fantasy, but on a planetary scale (average island would have surface area similar to Earth, so would be much larger looking top-down).

    Don't worry about how and why they are floating - it is magic, essentially. What does worry me is a) how to ensure that these worlds still have oceans (seriously, this looks like it should have lost seas long time ago, and my continents / worlds would be similar), b) how do people handle navigation on the worlds which would likely be carried around by air currents, c) how much stuff am I not even considering here?
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Troubadour

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    The nice thing about having flat, floating worlds in your story is people have already done all the work for you. Look up any flat earth stuff and you'll get your answers. Why are there oceans? Great wall of ice, duh. How do people handle navigation? Compasses! The stars still work, too, because they're not moving around.

    A lot of flat earth stuff eventually boils down to "because God," but since you have magic causing things, you can just use "because magic."
     
  3. why not have the oceans float as well and be how the worlds are connected? no reason that the "land" would float about and not the water.

    as you said its already "because magic"
     
  4. Aldarion

    Aldarion Inkling

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    Problem is... how large would waves be on such an ocean? And if oceans float around, then life would likely be impossible.

    Thanks. Though I should note that this is not technically "flat earth", but rather "floating islands on a gas giant".
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  5. I think you still are just cutting hairs. if you can have floating worlds then why not flows of ocean doing whatever you say they will? It does not make sense to create no rules for one part, but then decide other parts need rules.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  6. Aldarion

    Aldarion Inkling

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    There are rules, for both parts. It is just that they violate physics and common sense, but things are not exactly random.

    I mean, a world without rules cannot really function at all, as adaptation to such a world would be impossible.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  7. But you are suspending the "rules" of physics for one part but then questioning how other parts would work in our world physics. If there are floating land masses in a gas giant that defy all known physics... then why worry about waves on the ocean?
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  8. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Troubadour

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    Take a plate, put some water on it, and then walk around the house. The water is going to slosh around no matter how carefully you try to hold it steady. Your floating worlds are those plates and the currents of air they float around on will transfer some of that motion to the oceans.

    Also be aware that the average reader is not a physicist and is going to do the math to make sure that the things you talk about are actually physically possible or not. In a fictional world, there is no reason for g to be 9.8 m/s^2, for the standard air pressure to be 1 atmosphere etc. They can be whatever the heck you want them to be, so if you have to fudge some numbers to make the physics of your world actually work and it helps you sleep at night, you can do that.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  9. I think you are making an argument for no reason. you have suspended the laws of physics to make the worlds. why then are you so adamant about them after the fact?
     
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  10. Aldarion

    Aldarion Inkling

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    Actually, water sloshes because plate changes velocity with each step we take. If somehow velocity is always kept constant, there would be no sloshing.

    And I don't really care whether things are physically possible or not - I already have walking skeletons, FFS. I do care that they are logically consistent, though.
     
  11. LAG

    LAG Minstrel

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    1.Geologically locked Oceans {ie. Sea in a tub of rock]

    2. Flow {Water flows around the world, edges are rimmed by oceans which flow underneath world to other side and at all sides. Bottom might be only ocean, or have landmasses.

    3. Gravitical Sphere {Just a word I made up, basically, a form of magical artifact/construct/deity at center of flat worlds that is responsible for tying the entire world down with earth norm/abnorm gravity. Suffice it to say, destroy this center of gravity and you sweep everything on the world, untethered, into the void.

    Navigation:

    1. Landmarks: Spires in the sea, shorelines, the ancient way. Maybe great wayposts have been created in the sea, stretching miles into the sky, each a different color etc.

    2. Gas giant: U got a planet u circle. The capable mariner has a map of gas swirls and triangulation maguffins et cetera so that the position of the ship can be placed relative to ever-changing position of flat world compared to gas giant. Science in itself, if the gas giant maybe has different colored bands of gas radiating from its poles to equator, becomes visually easier.

    3. Magic. Think 'Astronomicon' in 40k verse. Each ship has a seer and each capital a seerstone, seer feels way across the ocean by sensing direction of seerstone, and directs navigators.

    Or: Each ship enchanted and linked by marks to destination, with faerie lights on the ocean's surface marking a straight line to destination. Pretty linear travel, but moment you reach shore, can travel to lesser towns by way of sight. Storms of interest here: How easily do lights realign to shifting position of ship? And as for above, how taxing is it for seer to establish linkage?
     
  12. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    Just to check I understand the setting: it's a flat earth floating in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter.

    Seas are not an issue. You will just not find them at the edge. For reference, check this post for what would happen if you made a hole in the deepest place on earth. You would still have seas. They would just be more shallow. Same on your disk. You would end up with a ring if mountains around the outside.

    Waves aren't really caused by the movement of the earth. It's mainly the wind. Which is caused by weather. You would still have weather and temperature differences. Which gives wind, which gives waves. The main other factor would be tides, caused by any moons floating around.

    You could also have the occasional storm from the gas giant strike the earth.

    Of course, I do wonder how much the shape of the earth really affects the characters and story. For reference, the fact that discworld is a disk only plays a minor role in a handful of storys or of something like forty

    As for navigation, a gas giant still has a magnetic field. So a simple compass works just fine.
     
  13. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I'm always curious about how the odd setting is going to be presented to the reader. To what degree is the presentation going to be through the characters' eyes, minds, memories?

    You may or may not have characters knowledgeable about physics, magic, the geography and nature of your worlds. If no one in-world understands the ultimate realities of the world, then you don't have to worry very much about the reader as long as you are consistent. Also, whether you are going for a sort of realism or are fine with semi-absurdist or simply wondrous fantastical elements will make a difference in how you present that world. (The characters may not debate the physics of their world, but the reader might—just might—wonder, "Huh?" But if the whole thing is delivered in a cool way without explanation, a lot of readers will just go with the flow.)

    You may or may not be overthinking things, depending on your goal for the world and stories set in that world.
     
  14. Aldarion

    Aldarion Inkling

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    I do not have any particular goal at the moment... I did want to do something different, and since I was thinking about various "flat Earth" ideas at the time, I thought that this might be interesting. One reason I consider it is because it might make possible what is basically interplanetary travel via airships, so basically steampunk fantasy, though my primary focus right now is on more classic medieval fantasy (though steampunk fantasy would be the "future" of the world, relative to the main setting).
     
  15. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Isn't it possible that different worlds would be at different levels of technology, or with different mixtures and emergent systems of science and magic?
     
  16. Aldarion

    Aldarion Inkling

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    It is, yes.
     
  17. Spacebar

    Spacebar Scribe

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    For how there is water, just have it rain a lot. It's not as if water that flows off the edge has to disappear, since it's on a gas giant and not just flowing into space. A water cycle is reasonable to expect. Your inhabitants will certainly have dammed and controlled the flow of water, as well.

    If your worlds are floating, it's because they are less dense than the substrate they are floating on, or is being supported by some kind of energy output. What is your gas giant made of that stone floats on it? If your worlds are heavy with iron and floating on a magnetic field, electronics are going to be tough. I think the means of flotation will make a big difference in how travel between worlds is handled. Also, what methods do your inhabitants have to prevent the world-ending catastrophe of a collision? Is the motion of your islands subject to the Coriolis Effect, like hurricanes? Lots of interesting questions.
     
    OberonLordofSylva, Aldarion and LAG like this.
  18. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

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    A cool idea I had while reading this was that maybe the ocean is what connects all these worlds together. Maybe the ocean is also what roots the flat worlds to the central planet! I don't know how that would work, but it's cool so go for it!
     
    Aldarion likes this.
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