Hot Oerth

Previously we looked at the "normal" Oerth and then a Cold Oerth gripped by an ice age, now its time to look at the opposite Oerth scorched by a scorched climate a bit more than ten degrees above normal. This model is a bit more speculative than the normal or cold, science on ice ages are a bit more developed, but due to our real world changing climate knowledge of a hotter climate is increasing fast.  So lets take a look at our World of Greyhawk in a more fiery age.

Large parts of Oerth are in this scenario uninhabitable by all except the hardiest of heat loving creatures.  Four large  and a number of smaller areas are turned into extremely hot deserts that will quickly kill most creatures that lack protection from the heat and sun. The biggest of these desert are as usual in the Western Oerik and it has made the interior of Oerik a hot hell home to elemental creatures, Red Dragons and others who not only survive but thrive in this inferno.

The situation is not all bad, the increased global temperature have melted almost all the glacial ice, that Oerth has a lot of even in normal times, and way more of it are on land rather than on water. So when all that ice melts it will raise the sea level by hundreds of turning most of low lying land into shallow ocean. This means that some areas that used to be desert now enjoy a much more pleasant coastal climate even in the hot tropics.  Oerik is broken up into a western and an eastern part with a number of large island in  between opening up for seafarers in a way that makes global shipping possible almost everywhere from the poles to the tropics.

Flanaess

Our beloved part of the world hold out well in this scenario, large parts of the central parts are now a shallow ocean and the Cairn Hills are an island in it. The Howling Hills are close to the coast covered in lush forests just like the rest of the lands from the Dramidj Coast  in the west all the way to the northern Thillonrian who now sits firmly in the temperate belt. The northern Great Kingdom all the way up to Ratik is now Mediterranean and the southern part not under water range from savannah to tropical on the coast of Sunndi. The Wast Swamp are now a flat dusty salt plain in a small but hot desert formed in the Sunndi depression.

Western Sheldomar Valle are now a dry hot et of hills overlooking a large ocean inlet stretching all the way up to the borders of Bissel. The Crystalmist Mountains are high enough to stretch into the sub arctic and are now home to a large evergreen forests. The Baklunish lands range from very pleasant in the north to a scorching hot desert  in the Dry Steppes making normal life south of Kester almost impossible.

The Amedio sit right on the hottest latitudes and except for the cooler coastal lands is now a desert. Jump over the Hellfurnaces and the Sea of Dust is even hotter desert, probably one of the hottest on Oerth. The Suel will have a tough time in this scenario, but so will the southern Bakluni as well as large part of Hepmonalanders. Mostly desert is what the hardy Olmans and Touvs have to face, but thanks to its coastlines there are still savannahs and even rainforests along both the west and east coasts.

Fireland

This is a scenario that should please most Firelanders turning it into something like a volcanic and more mountainous Ireland.  Getting here from the mainland should be easier as well since you can use the north polar coast that are now home to the largest Boreal forests of the planet. The relatively flat north polar area is almost devoid of glacial ice and now accessible for most of the year opening up northern areas for settlement and travel.  Huge tracts of lands north of Western Oerik can now be home to whole civilizations, since it rivals the Flanaess in size and now has a cold but temperate climate.

The great southern continent have shrunk a bit due to the higher sea level but sports some of the most inviting climates on the  planet. A tropical ocean between the two halves of Oerik has taken shape with a myriad of tropical islands along its many thousands of miles. One can imagine a ruined city on a hill in the middle of the desert that was not too long a go a coastal metropolis catering to the trade north and south between Western and Eastern Oerik when it was a warm sea full of life. On our normal Oerth it is just a wast hot mainly flat desert, but with a bit of geographical history you can get inspirations to very interesting stories.

Take some time to study the differences between this scenarios, see if they could fit into your campaigns timeline somewhere  in the past, or future, and I hope they can inspire you to come up with interesting things to add to your games.

The next installment in this series will be a look at where the most stable conditions on Oerth are to be found, so if you want to set up a civilization where are the best spots.

Thank you again for your support!!

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Repository Beta is up!

Worked a lot more on my Notion Greyhawk Repository and it is hopefully starting to  become useful. I've uploaded a lot of stuff, both old and new. There are search functions and pages dedicated to various projects.

Notion is a great tool to use in my end, I hope that that the usability carries over for all the users as well. Time and usage will tell, so please give it a spin and tell me how it goes.

I've created a Bitly short link to it:

https://bit.ly/ghmaps 

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Cold Oerth

This one turned out to take much longer than I thought, I got caught up in its intricacies realizing its historic potentials.

My premise for this version of Oerth is a version of Oerth not too long ago, geologically that is. How long ago is up to you in your campaign, but recent enough for the continents are still in the same place, so thousands rather than millions of years. The assumption is that the climate is around ten degrees Fahrenheit colder than what we are used to, similar the conditions on Earth at the Last Glacial Maximum circa 20,000 years ago. Add Oerths axial tilt, larger landmass and it gives some very interesting results.  Been helped by friends who are experts at this in the real world and they gave me some great inputs that I let guide me on the journey to see what a cold Oerth might look like.

The Flanaess

Northern Flanaess are covered in a thick ice sheet, often a mile thick, along its entirety. Only the many mountains of the northern Flanaess, from the Ytails in the west to the Griff and Corusks in the north east towers over the ice. Central Flanaess are now a artic frontier with a band of tundra before the thick ice cover towers just north of the Rift Canyon. Whyestil Lake is permanently frozen over and the peaks of the Howling Hills are barely visible through the ice.  A band of Boreal forest stretch from Bissel to what will become the northern Great Kingdom, with an arm following the Lortmils all they way to the Pomarj. Nyr Dyv is larger due to an influx of meltwater, turning large parts of surrounding lands into wetlands in the warmer months.

Western Flanaess are even colder, the smaller Dramidj Ocean suffered from not having an influx of warmer waters from the tropics and mountains in the south kept out what little wamer air was still around in those cold times. This have turned the Baklunish lands into an arctic borderland. The Bramblewood gap are now frozen over all year around along with most of Ket, isolating the Baklunish lands from the Flanaess. Most of the The gulf of Ghayar freez in winter and the Dramidj are frozen all summer making the sea inaccessible, but its waters are high in spring and summer due to ice melting flooding large areas seasonally.

Eastern Flanaess fairs much better thanks to the large Solnor and the warm currents from the south. It is also much larger due to the fall of ocean levels, large parts of the shallow waters are now some of the best real estate on the planet with an temperate oceanic climate and covered in deep forests. I can see this as perfect hunting grounds  for the early Flan, roaming across what would become  the Aerdy lands to Lendore Isles, now a range of hills part of the mainland Flanaess.

Sothern Flanaess have experiencing some of the largest changes with lots of additional lands. Olman lands are now much more of a coherent realm stretching from Hepmonaland in the east across a land bridge connecting Tilvanot with the Amedio making the Azure into an inland sea. The Amedio is much larger with savannah and jungles across what used to be shallow waters.  The former wester Azure are now very habitable lands with oceanic and Mediterranean climates, with to small inland seas with brackish waters that used to be the Jeklea Bay and the deep waters south of Gradsul.

Hepmonaland

It is now a part of Oerik with a land bridge across what used to be the Tilva Straight. It has expanded a bit covering the once shallow costal waters and a new set of islands further out have risen out of the submerged ocean. The hot and dry south are still home to hot steppes and a small hot desert but the southern coast are now sports a cozy med climate, perfect for characters who need a nice warm place to retire.

Central Oerik

The western Dramidj are now an inlands sea with a northern icy coast and the biggest stretch of boreal forest on Oerth. The interior is is till dry but much colder, turning the hot desert into cold dry steppes and deserts with  band of hot ones in nearer the tropical south.  South Central Oerik is the least affected by the cold climate, still wet and warm full of forests and savannah.

Western Oerik

These huge lands have grown even larger as the oceans sank, but a large part of the south are now a frozen world. This is still home to a large hot desert, smaller but still the biggest on the planet by far. The northern and southern parts of this huge chunk of dry lands are now tuned into cold deserts and steppes, much like inner Asia on Earth. West of this is now the biggest lands perfect for settling with empire sized realms ranging from tropic to temperate climates, covered with huge forests from jungle to boreal.

The Great Southern Continent

Is mostly covered in ice except for a few hundred miles wide stretch of northern coast of temperate and even Mediterranean climate.

Fireland and Mentzeri

I hope Carlos can forgive me for covering his beloved island under thick ice. To compensate and make it more interesting I've connected it to the mid Solnor continent, I call it Mentzeri as an homage to Frank Mentzers Antaria, using a now visible mid ocean ridge. This will connect Fireland and Mentzery to the rest of the land for frost loving creatures opening them both up for more interesting adventuring possibilities.

There are other interesting tidbits in this project, but I'm going to let you guys find them yourself before I point them out...

Whether you want to use this as an distant historical background or a fast approaching future, I hope it can provide a useful new perspective on the home planet of Greyhawk. Next up in this series will be Hot Oerth..

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August 2021 Update
Its been quite a while since I did an update going over the various project and their status, which is extra important when there are little finished content delivered. I'm working on several fronts at the same time which might not seem to be the smartest, but there are some good reasons. A major one is ergonomic, after a day or two of Photoshop editing my hands and arms can feel the train of using a Wacom pen for hours, so I need to switch focus to the muscles and tendons time to relax and recover. Working in World Machine, especially with development is a good antidote, its mainly brain work trying to figure out and test what works and gives the best results.  The other main reasons are that I need to keep both you guys and the publishers giving me commission work to do, and I need to alternate to stay creative and interested in what I do and avoid being burned out. My biggest project at the moment are the map for Griffons Lore Games Trials of Arcadia, a detailed area map to be used for the hex crawl campaign. We are in the late intensive phase with about a month to go before deadline, and my goal is to have it done a bit earlier than that. It is an technically interesting project that uses the same setup and workflow as my current Shield Lands project, but at lower resolution to cover more area.  You can find out more about it here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fireonclaymorewoods/trials-of-arcadia-for-5e-and-pathfinder-1e-a-miniature/ Southern Shield Lands @5ft/pixel It is progressing well, with the first area almost all done. I plan to do a mapping live stream Friday this week to do the last bit, building heights and some touch up before the final renders. The results are masses of terrain to get lost in, and the vistas look as good as I had envisioned at the start. The final renders will hopefully be done next week so we can have look at things in detail. One little caveat is that the western edge will be changes when I merge it with the next area since I have tweaked the river and its valley eastern edge is on the area almost finished. This insight have made me realized that all areas of a project need to be developed in parallel as much as possible to avoid having to redo parts of an area. It is insights like this and how to either prevent  the problem, or how to best fix it afterwards, that I do test projects set in Greyhawk to work out the kinks. It is a lot of testing and some dead ends but in the end the goal is to figure out a better way of doing better maps. The major problem with the "bottom up" approach in this project is that the maximum resolution I can work with is 16K which means 15 miles at 5 ft/pixel. World Machine creates each render area essentially as a separate world which means that rivers and even elevation doesn't match perfectly when you merges the area tiles afterwards. This can be fixed for the most parts, but rivers are special problem since they need to flow downhill and over many areas which means I have to manually create them rather than using WM's built in river tools. WM's tool generated rivers also have a problem with lack of meander and other natural features, which means they have to be created artistically sung splat maps in in Photoshop. This gives excellent results but is very tedious. The way around the resolution limit is to render using tiles, which is not functioning properly in WM3. In the latest version of World Machine tiles works much better so hopefully this means it would be possible to render up to 64K covering a square 3,600 square miles instead of 225. Tests of this will begin in a couple of weeks, and I'm optimistic, it might be a breakthrough needed to get up to speed. Oerth Modeling Thank you for all the encouraging feedback I've received for the Oerth model, next step is to look at cold and hot versions of the planet. I want to spend a bit of time doing this to get a better sens of historic possibilities and how that can have shaped history and evolution of things on Oerth. Cold Oerth with so much water bound in ice will have all the major oceans lowered, turning much of the continental shelves into land. Just like on ice age Earth this connects landmasses normally separated by oceans. On Oerth it is Hepmonaland that are joins up with an expanded Flanaess and an even greater Oerik. Ice and new land bridges connects all the major continents which opens up for interesting possibilities that cold living creatures (and their siblings) can be found on all the continents, depending on how you implement ice ages in your campaigns.   This is sill a work in progress so with some tweaks still needed, but the major features are there. It is a great learning opportunity for me , receiving help from friends wo are experts in climate and oceans trying to figure out how the fictional Oerth could experience Ice Ages and hot spells. Hopefully you can find this interesting as well, as a way to spice up the ancient (or recent) history, or as a future seek or avoided.  Divine powers might screw with the climate as well as natural phenomena, there are lots of options! Content Repository My test using Notion to store and access my content turned out to work rather well. So I'm going to ramp up my effort and upload more of my stuff, index it and link it up with my website. Flanaess 2021 The big Greyhawk project of the year will be the 2021 Map and Atlas update, with the goal of bringing both the 576CY and the 598CY maps up to the same standard. The terrain will be edited to fit with the Oerth planetary model, which is mainly ice cover and islands in the icy sea and ocean depths. An expansion south covering the Isle of Dread and more is also planned for the 2021 Atlas. The Atlases will be 11x17 single page maps, which will mean a larger number of maps but no overlapping fold to deal with. This means I can export each map in it its final version from Illustrator keeping its layers and vector format for the PDF versions which means better prints and  the ability to hide layers not needed. The overall number of pages should be roughly the same, around a 100 or so. This is hopefully the last Illustrator based version of my old Flanaess map, it is my goal to start develop GIS versions next year. This will create the base for proper printed and online map version and more going forward. This is huge undertaking but worth it in the long run, opening up a world of new possibilities. Hand Drawn Flanaess My desire to create a set of hand drawn maps as a compliment to the accurate reference maps got a test run this year, and some of you like the result and they can be useful. I'm going to keep them on my future agenda but treat them as a hobby project to work on when I feel like it and need time off regular projects.  I want to keep it in the back burner ready  to pursue if a when time  might appear for it. Lendore Isle Mapping the Lendore Isles is a project that seems cursed with all sorts of interruptions.  Planned to have started almost a decade ago, first it was delayed due to Len's cancer, and when he recovered we started working on it for a bit  when he relapsed and then sadly passed away last year. The other issue is that I have always wanted to use the best options possible for this, but those options have been a very moving target the last two years. I decided to try out both a "bottom up" and a "top down" approach to see which is best. Shield Lands became the bottom up test and Lendore isles the top down test project, and already early on the bottom up approach was much more productive. I haven't abandoned the Lendore  Isles project, but the top down approach needs re-thinking, and if the bottom up approach can be made more efficient that might be my way forward for most of my Greyhawk mapping. Unreal The next big leap after GIS is game engines and will be a parallel technology used for digital visualization. The first test have begun and they are very promising, but limited. The goal for initial testing are to make sure that the data I create using World Machine, Photoshop etc in my creation process can be used in Unreal, and not only work, but work well.  It is essential to future proof as much as possible to make sure that what I create now can be used, and improved on, in the future using better tools when they become available. Thank you!!! Thank you so much for your support it literary means a lot to me, a major part of my income and occupation and gives me an opportunity to work on pushing the boundaries of fantasy mapping, and keeping Greyhawk the best mapped setting in existence. I know that the competition ramps up but with your help we can keep Greyhawk in the lead! My presence online have increased significantly with the Legends & Lore show together with Mike Bridges and Jay Scott, The fantasy Mapping Show with Alyssa Fade and Jay Scott, and often being a guest on Jays Sunday Gabbin shows. The latest addition to this is live streamed mapping sessions on my YouTube channel. I choose YouTube due to its support for higher resolution, streaming at 1440p which is a lot easier to work in than 1080p. I underestimated the interest in  watching me working Photoshop, so I will keep doing it on a weekly basis trying to show different aspects of my work.
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Oerth Planetary Model v1.5

First I have to welcome all the new patreon members, thank you so much for helping me do this, it means the world to me!! :)

Here comes the what I see as the final first version of my Oerth Planetary Model, a look at the planet that is the home of the Greyhawk setting.  I've adjusted the ice cover and adjusted the texture and climate model to match, and I think this is good enough to be used as a base for future more detailed continental and area maps. 

It is a very diverse place with lots of interesting adventure and world building potential. Every biome imaginable have plenty of room and often in interesting combinations. Everything from huge landlocked deserts and waste lands to remote islands far from civilization. The frozen areas are as large as the hot deserts and there are both northerly and southerly cold expanses of lands to explore.   

Two large rifts, the infamous Rift Canyon in the Flanaess and a much larger rift in the western part of Oerik. Alongside are deserts, lakes, jungle and huge mountains. Ripe for epic campaign development. 

Large to massive rivers in every climate zone from the artic to the tropics, some several thousands of miles long. Flowing from deep into the tropics all the way to the arctic. 

Next installment in this series will be a look at Cold Oerth....

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Mapping Shield Lands Part 10: Textures and Forest
I missed the deadline for this post, both due to a project for Griffon Lore Game that needed to get started and also due to my almost unhealthy obsession with detail.  Forests and texture editing took longer than I thought and I have now spent almost 100 hours in Photoshop editing on this map, half of that time trying to figure out the best way to do it so it should be considerably less on future maps in this series.  I still have another twenty or so hours to go before it is ready for the final phase of 3D rendering. You can get it here (89.6MB JPG): https://www.dropbox.com/s/eo8j08n01cy4emn/Shield%20Lands%201B-16.jpg?dl=0 I'm very happy with it, a super detailed take on 225 square miles of the Southern Shield lands  seen at 5 feet per pixel. It includes roads, buildings, fields and more in over a dozen settlements. I have made most of them but a few remains to be added. This is the texture plus shading making it the top down map that will be used together with heightmap and masks to create the 3D map. Roads, buildings and even trees are on separate layers which mean these features can be added, changed or removed as needed. The texture itself can be edited to suit new conditions like seasons, climate change and calamites like fires and things that leaves marks on the landscape. This project have made me push boundaries and  forced me to learn new tricks to try and create believable, useful and inspiring terrain at this level of detail. The results are better than I hoped, but also shown me areas that need to be improved to improve the process.  Especially forest placement is way too tedious to do by hand, I need to spend some time to workout a process to make a better starting point for forestation that can then be edited here and there. Now I basically did it all by hand in photoshop. The same goes for wetlands, they can also be done more by fractal to speed things up. Forests and wetlands are often linked in this landscape. Most of the area is too dry and not fertile enough to facilitate tree cover, this is due to both a drying climate and millennia of logging. The original forests still covers hills and difficult to access areas., with new generation of trees have started to conquer the bogs. First hardy evergreens like pine and spruce, then more and more trees cover the former lakes as the bogs looses its acidity in its late stages. When the bogs dry out completely the tree cover slowly disappear transforming the bogs into flat grassy plains. I've tried to depict this on the map by having lakes  and bogs in all stages of transformation. It also gives an interesting landscape for adventuring with  lots of features spread throughout the area. I hope you like this first take on detailed area maps, I definitely want to make more of them, lots of areas of Greyhawk would be interesting to map in this detail.
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Oerth Ice Cover - A First Look
I can't think of a better topic than ice cover to delve into when you live in the the very hot Southern California in July, a deep dive into cold side of Oerth! I've sorted the ice cover into 4 different types: Ice Covered Land This is the classical glaciers, ice that covers the ground and doesn't completely melt away during summer. It ranges from polar ice caps many miles thick to highlands in other parts of the planet with ice that can be anything from a hundred feet or so up to several miles in thickness.  Glaciers can be found in every part of planet, even in the hottest deserts or tropics in really tall mountains ranges. The extent of glaciers doesn't vary much between seasons. Thick Permanent Ice This is ocean that are covered by a solid often a hundred feet or more of ice that only melts during ages of global warming. From an adventuring propose, it is solid and thick enough that you need magic, or a large workforce to cut through it.  Only creatures with special abilities can cut through it, and you can treat it more like a frozen landscape rather than ice covered water. There are cracks and other features like ice walls, but they form a more of an eerie landscape than openings to the water below. Thick Seasonal Ice This ice forms and melts throughout the year, and even though it can be as think as permanent ice, it often comes with cracks and can be very shifting in nature. From an adventuring perspective, it is often treacherous with cracks that can be snow covered, holes and generally shifting nature from one part of the year to another. Thin Seasonal Ice This ice can be very treacherous with rapid shifting conditions due to weather, wind and water flow. Often broken up and then refrozen again making it very difficult to venture across for any longer distance.  The thickness varies from nothing to tens of feet due to time of year and local conditions. Overview Due to Oerth's higher axial tilt of 30 degrees compared to Earth's 23.4 degrees polar ice cover changes way more on Oerth between seasons than is the case on Earth. The amount of land covered by ice on Oerth are more than twice as much as present day Earth, the huge landmass at the northern pole drives this. The presence of land withing the freezing zones both in the north and the south extends the ice cover at both poles in the winter, which makes all continents accessible for the creatures that can endure and move long distances over ice. This can make for some interesting scenarios, where decedents of these creatures can have developed independently on other continents, even without plate tectonic. I've tried to stay close to a scientific model, except north of the Land of Black Ice. It is an enigmatic region that seems to be unusually cold so I ran with it and let the ocean north of it stay frozen even in summer. Due to the amount of landmass up there it is only a stretch, not a complete change. The Icy Sea and the Dramidj are giant bays which means that their waters vary more between seasons than the open ocean around the south. This leads to more open waters further north in places in the summers and more ice in the winters.  Warm (relatively, that is) ocean currents exaggerates this further. I think this ties in with the stories of the setting; The Icy Sea will live up to its name; the Dramidj is mentioned as a warm ocean, and the currents makes that true. What do you guys think? This is a first take on this, and it will need more sharp eyes of the Greyhawk community to look at at it and tell me things that can and need to be improved. I think it is a good start of the discussion though, and it will be a good input for my Flanaess Map and Atlas revision this fall. The next post in the Oerth Planetary Model will be a look at Ice Ages and Warm Periods. Very far from what is needed for campaigns, but this is so much fun and doesn't take that long to do, and who know someday you might want to run an ice ages campaign!! ;)
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Mapping Shield Lands Part 9: Civilization
After a lot of technical and tedious parts its now time for a more interesting step in mapping the southern Shield Lands, Civilization. Roads, agriculture, buildings and the other marks of past and current inhabitants. At the resolution of 5ft per pixel far from everything is visible but almost every type of building is big enough to be seen alongside most of the agricultural footprint. In order for make a detailed map like this, not only the current  inhabitants needs to be taken into account, both geological and the history of the inhabitants needs to be looked at. In a fantasy world there are lots of potential inhabitants to keep in mind.  I'm using my campaign setup as the go to for this  first test area that will stretch from Critwall to Axeport and about a hundred miles or so north from the Nyr Dyv coast. It will be divided into 15-20 tiles each 15 x 15 miles, each covering 225 square miles. With some overlap it is still a sizable piece of land around 3000 square miles. All the maps shows here are very much a work in progress and are only screen shots from Photoshop. Trees and bushes will be added, the texture finalized and then everything rendered properly to really shine. This post is mainly about the placement and stories of the things I'm adding to the map. The real world we are living in are so shaped by human civilization that is is often hard to imagine how world without a large highly technical human population would look like. Most of the temperate forest and grasslands a long gone and only lands that are remote and in other ways inaccessible remain in their natural state. I read an interesting  article about the significant impact of humans on the natural world as far back as 10,000 BCE https://www.pnas.org/content/118/17/e2023483118 The report states that far from all human activities where bad for nature and other species, lots of other species benefited from our early ancestors. This made me start thinking how things might be in the World of Greyhawk, a with population levels closer to ancient history than our modern world but with powerful magic and creatures with powers beyond our real world. The possibilities are almost endless and each Greyhawk DM can choose to  shape their versions of Greyhawk to suit their games and the stories they want to tell. Here is my attempt to try and tell that story for the Southern Shield Lands, only a few green hexes on the Darlene map but with a more than interesting story to tell. Ice & Fire This land started to emerge into its current from many thousands of years ago during the last ice-age when it was a tundra just south of the thick sheet of ice covering the northern parts of the Flanaess. Sea levels where much lover during that time, and so were the Nyr Dyv especially during winters. Each spring huge floods made the rivers grow huge, and when the climate warmed up and the ice retreated large areas was flooded and the rivers were many times bigger than they are today. Nyr Dyv flooded and rose up higher that today for  while and then sink down to its current level and the more familiar coastlines emerged. When the climate warmed up, the area went from tundra to forested taiga and then more and more deciduous trees took over and the lands that would become the Southern Shield lands was covered in forests, lakes and rivers. At regular intervals volcanic eruption turned the lands north east into turmoil when the White Plume volcano could no longer contain its energy and spewed out fire, lava, rocks and other debris.  This have both devastated and elevated the north east of Shields Land, but for the most part the latest eruptions are beyond the southern coast lands. Ur-Flan When the first Flan ancestors arrived to these lands they were a cold wet and wild frontier ripe for hunting and exploration.  Over millennia that turned into settling down, and the landscape is started to change due to human presence. Logging and farming along with a warming and drying of the climate, transformed the land from forest to mostly grasslands and the once mighty woodlands were reduced to tiny remnants of what they used to be, surviving in hills, bogs and areas where trees can grow inconveniently far from loggers  axes. It was still frontier country when the Flan established a fort on the hill along the mighty Veng that would evolve into Critwall several thousands of years later. The precursors of Axeport, Alhaster and Admunfort was established by the early Flan at this time when this was still frontier country, and old ruins from this time can still be found by those who know where to look and what to look for. Like the Geligot Pass Keep (my creation) that once guarded the only easy trek across the Northern Serion Hills (my creation). Vecna During his wicked rule the area was established as a northern defense line against the even more barbaric inhabitants further north. The Shield Lands was still a fairly wild place with wolfs, bears and more still, an every day occurrence.  Thankfully its role in the evils of Vecna was minimal and life continued as it had for thousands of years. The old faith was norm and druid growths, long forgotten, can still be found scattered around the lands. Ironically it was much later the evil of Vecna was going to be felt  in these lands when Halmadar the Cruel found the hand and eye of the tyrant and established a short but very evil rule. Auldet was then a town in his realm. The Aerdy During the great migrations from the west, the first Oeridians started to trickle in. The first wave was mostly transitory as they was seeking better lands further east. So this first wave of Oeridian didn't leave much marks on the land.  That would soon change with the second wave that came hundreds of years later from the east, this time as explorers from the Great Kingdom seeking new lands in the west. Old Flan settlements became outpost and staging points for the expanding Aerdy Empire.  Critwall, Admundfort and Alhaster became cities and Axeport became a large town. Delard (my creation) became a fortified town guarding the bridge across the Sanstin River (my name) The frontier moved from the Nyr Dyv shores and the Serion Hills (my name) north along the Great Northern Aerdy Road and the Southern Shield Lands turned into a quiet backwater of goats, sheep and cattle with their herders roaming over a landscape dominated by  grass rolling hills and creeks slowly drying out the bogs that where once mighty lakes in the boreal era long ago. The Fall of Rauxes When the Great Kingdom retreated and the distant rulers was replaced with local ones and with that came newfound ambitions. At first these ambitions where set in stone creating new infrastructure and  structures supporting the new order.  Below is Serion keep once belonging to a lord eager to create a symbol showing who ruled here. After the initial euphoria the Shield Lands was drawn into a power struggle that is still going on. Settlements that was once thriving are now struggling to just stay alive with mad clerics, roaming bands of warriors of all sides and worse around. Here is Orrona (my creation) a once thriving village a few miles west of Delard, that was once full of villagers fishing for Eel, growing crops and tending to travelers along the northern Nyr Dyv that came as far away as Furyondy and Urnst. Today only a few houses are still standing after the Iuz priests have devastated the place. Another such place is the now ruined village of Soumel (my creation), that was once a small community founded around a bridge over a small river on the road from Axeport to Critwall. The economy was once a combination of hosting travelers, a few coins to maintain the bridge, subsistence farming and extracting  peat from the nearby bog.  Iuzian priests and other roaming thugs made both the travellers and villagers disappear and the village now sits mostly undisturbed except when either Iuzian or Shield Land forces camp behind its stone fences, once laboriously created to keep cattle and sheep protected. A tiny settlement of squalid beach huts can be found along the coast a few miles south Delard. These used to be occupied from spring to fall by poor but entrepreneurial Shield Landers who hunted and gathered what could be found along the Nyr Dyv shores, and the shallow bay with its extensive wetlands where good hunting and fishing ground. When fall came they retreated to more sheltered accommodations, bringing with them whatever meager treasures gained from the summers activities. During the war this also became a refuge for those who wanted to have a base in the Shield Lands where it was bot easy to come and go using boats and to hide in thick reeds. A combination of old and current affairs have made small un organized settlements like this exist in several places along the coast away from the eyes of the occupiers. All these places are within an area roughly a quarter of a Darlene map hex, and its far from all there is, only what I have had time to add in using Photoshop. Left to add are Old Faith druid growths and gathering places, and a dark one as well, a couple of slate mine sites,  a few more villages and ruined keeps. These are places of my story, what places would you put here to tell your Greyhawk stories? Next it is time to add work on the few forests that are there and touch up the textures. What we see here are still mostly raw renders, and they need some TLC to be really useful. More on that in a future blogpost. Now I'm going to look into Ice Age Oerth! Thank you everyone for your support!
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Oerth Missing PSD link
In the latest post, I forgot to add the link to the PSD files I was using for the Oerth continent map. You can download it here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6rn5cvpdnq12ahf/Oerth%20Continental%20Layout%20%20-%2043.psd?dl=0 The resolution is 2700 x 1350  and its 73MB in size so it should work well in GIMP as well on almost any machine. It is has all the layers, masks and styles for both the elevation coloring, climate and Heightmaps, for those of you who wants to make their own version of Oerth! 
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Oerth Part 5: Tweaks and Rivers
Taken my Oerth planetary project for another spin to try and improve it a bit more and take a first look at drainage basins and major rivers. Given the simple elevation maps some color tweaks to make it a bit easier to read, with a purple for depressions and black for deep depressions. Focus for this round is the  Empyrea homage in the Solnor that have been given some more shape and character but kept the same general size. I wanted to get away from the big blob to something more interesting, and hopefully this is better.  Added an loose string of islands fanning out north along an extension of the shelf north towards Fireland. Starting to get the feel that the major stuff are now good enough to go in and have a first look at the major rivers. Remember that the rivers shown are only major drainage channels home to the biggest rivers. Some of these rivers will only be seasonal or only flow during very wet conditions, for example the river flowing  west across the Dry Steppes creating Lake Udrukankar. It probably only comes to life a few weeks late spring early summer when snow melt from the Crystalmists feeds it and the lake, disappearing quickly in the hot and dry conditions only to come back again next spring. During those short weeks it is the longest river with its roots in the Flanaess. Oerth's longest river in this version of the planet are in the western Oerik originating in the central desert, with a similar story of seasonal snow melt from four mountain ranges giving it enough staying power to be flowing, at least to some degree, all year round.  It will pick up more and more tributaries and water as it flows south ending up as a huge river with an estuary in the taiga on the Southern Oerik coast. Since it flows into colder regions it is likely to have huge overflows when spring flooding hits the still cold and frozen southern regions, like Canadian and Russian  rivers flowing into the arctic. Makes for interesting adventuring geography! Oerth comes with about half a dozen mighty tropical rivers in the class of the Amazon or the Congo. Again it is the Western Oerik that is the home to three of them, with the biggest draining the eastern part of the  rainforest of the Western Oerik. It is on a similar  or larger scale than the Amazon, forming a huge lake basin half way through its flow north. It drains not only millions of square miles of  tropical rainforest, two large mountain ranges as well, so it will be navigable for a large part of its length for all types of ships. Its two neighboring rivers are smaller but still mighty, rivaling the the Velverdyva in length and probably carries more water, being in the class of the Mississippi, Nile or the Volga. The most unusual river must be the river in the eastern side of Western Oerik flowing north in the huge basin east of the big canyon. It start in a desert valley far south with mainly seasonal melt water. After more than 1,000 miles north it hits the tropical region where it receives a major boost from the humid air from the east and the drainage from some of the mightiest mountains of Oerth both east and west of it. This makes it top up the old ocean remnant in the center of the valley. During high flows this lakes drains north into an even lower depression that far below sea level where its water forms a large dead sea like body of very salt water surrounded by   huge salt flats. This water sits here until evaporated away by the hot desert sun. The "banana" peninsula in the south central Oerik have been given a work over splitting up the general shape to make it stand out a bit less.  The final thing to have been looked at this update is the Sea of Dust that now have the depressed areas marked. With this iteration I'm starting to have a really positive feel about this planetary model being good enough to be really interesting, and useable as a diverse and robust platform for adventuring across a landscape that can harbor almost anything you like, and still have room left over to surprise! Here is a version with the continents of Earth on top so you can compare and see the true size of Oerth's features:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/km7fzd9wvg6lwkg/Oerth%20Continental%20Layout%20w%20Earth%20outlines%20-%2040-3.jpg?dl=0 Try it out in https://www.maptoglobe.com/
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