Copied from the blog.
The planet is really big. It has a couple of characteristics which has had as a result that the planet is not yet fully explored. Travel across certain regions, like deserts and mountain ranges is simply too hazardous or expensive to be done regularly, even with the aid of modern technology and magic.
There may be civilizations of some sort in all different regions of the planet, but these civilizations will have little or no contact with each other.
The deserts around the equator are too large and too hot to allow for normal travel. Magically shielding against the heat of day and cold of night might be possible, but the cost of bringing along enough mages to support such shielding for as long as needed far exceeds the profits that might be made from doing so.
Crossing the highest mountain ranges is subject to similar restrictions. The forces of nature make passage on the surface too treacherous to be viable. Using the tunnels of different dwarf colonies might be possible in theory, but will likely be difficult in practice.
Comments from the blog:
Celeve says: 2011/05/13 at 13:04
2 points spring to mind:
1) What about flight, magical or otherwise? Passionate explorers doing it the hard way are one thing, but having the ease of flying might offer a way to travel within reason. Then again flight is suspectible to wind and storms, and to such of snow or sand doubly so.
2) Huge impact on perception of the world by its inhabitants. Imagine the flat world, the terracentric world, the “here be dragons” markings on the maps(maybe for real this time), and how all of these were created by lack of knowledge on their time. If your perceivable world is bordered by sand on all fronts, maybe you live in an hourglass?
svrtnsse says: 2011/05/13 at 23:06
Flight is possible, both magical and mechanical. The issue is with how viable a solution it is.
The deserts cover the equatorial region, possibly limited by seas. In the east and west there are huge mountain ranges, stretchin from the polar cap in the north to the desert at the equator, or possibly even to the southern pole.
Traversing the desert by flight should be possible, but the costs involved with doing it, will be too high for any kind of trade or commersial/military travel.
Why does it cost too much?
I think this is a fairly big question. How this is answered has the potential to ripple through so many other things and I will probably have to go back and review this it at some point. At the moment I think this will have to do with the availability of natural resources that can be used as fuel for the engines that propel high-speed flight. The same will apply for combustion engines, leading to a lack of cars etc.
The fuel needed can probably be created by clever use of magic and chemistry but for simplicity’s sake let’s say such concoctions are not yet readily available. Prototypes migth exist or the production process might not be sufficiently refined yet.
Another option of flight is airships, zeppelins etc. These can fly but are slower, making them susceptible(?) to the intense heat of the desert region.
This feels a bit thin and there are plenty of holes in the arguments that needs to be filled. I’ll need to put some more thought into it. I could just say the region is magically unstable or that there are barriers of eternal sandstorm reaching to the stars, but that feels a little like cheating.
svrtnsse says: 2011/05/13 at 23:19
I might have mentioned this before but I didn’t put it down in text here yet.
The planet is significantly larger than earth. However, the sun it is orbiting around is roughly the same size as our sun and it’s at roughly the same distance we are.
Among other things this will mean that if standing on the equator you will be closer to the sun. Being closer to the sun means you’re warmer. It also means the equatorial region is larger, meaning it takes longer to cross it.
A larger planet would make for stronger gravity which would have all sorts of impact on all kinds of things. I can’t pretend to have any actual knowledge about these things, but lets say that the planet spinning much faster makes up for it. Lets say that while being huge, the day/night cycles still averages 24 hours, just like on Earth.
I doubt this is actually correct, but let’s stick with it for now.