Thursday, 23 February 2017

Night, when deep sleep falleth on men

More thoughts on the day-and-night-last-100-years-world (I need to think of a name for it).

Physical Geography

A and B - These continents have been in the daylight for a very long time - 70 years or so, at a rough estimate. Plant growth has been vast, succored by the constant sun - much of the lower half of A and the upper half of B is thick jungle of hugely tall trees. This becomes temperate forest in the central part of A, then boreal forest, then at the tip where it has been evening for a number of decades there is icy tundra.

C - The daytime is very old here, so it is the lushest place of all. Nigh on a century of daylight has results in a verdant haven green. But on the eastern coast evening is already drawing in. It is mild, but - to coin a phrase - winter is coming.

D-M - These continent has been in the darkness for some years and all the plant life is dead. Fungus and lichen are the only growing things. The only exceptions are the far south-eastern corner of the south-eastern sub-continent of M, and the still-daylight western portion of the continent of E. That area throngs with animal life which has fled the night and has not yet hibernated. The central band of the continent of E is swathed in the evening: it is cool, dark, but not dead.

Human Geography

A-B - I picture human civilizations on the continents of A and B to be "ocean traversers". On the western half of these continents people would wait until evening was upon them and then migrate west over the ocean to L and M, where it would be daytime. Then when evening arrived there, they would skip back east across the ocean (at night) to arrive back at A and B again for the next day. A similar process would go on from the eastern side. When night arrived these civilizations would sail across the ocean to C, D and E for the daytime, and then when evening arrive there, they would skip back west over to A and B.

Since this is a regular process what has probably happened is that these ocean-going nomadic civilizations have built cities on both hemispheres - in A and B, L and M, and C, D and E. They live in these cities during the day, and then when night is upon them they take everything with them that isn't bolted down and go over to their other cities on the other side of the world, keeping their fingers crossed that nobody is going to destroy things while they're gone. (When they arrive on the other side of the ocean in their alternative homes, they are unsure of what they'll discover has happened there during the course of the night.)

So currently, their cities in A and B are full and prospering.

F, G, E, - Nomadic tribes dominate here. They are currently all gathered together bunched up at the western corner of E, preparing for night. Some tribes are settling down into ancient tunnel networks used since time immemorial, where they will shelter for the entire night and emerge blinking into the sun in 100 years' time. From there they will journey back across to F. (At choke points on the isthmuses between E and G there will be dwarf or gnome cities who charge certain tolls to pass.)
Other tribes use an alternative tactic - they are waiting in the daylight but when night falls they will as quickly as possible travel back across the night in order to get to F just as morning is dawning. They will then have it all to themselves before the "wait it out" tribes arrive, but the disadvantage is that travelling through the night exposes you to its terrors.

D - M - Around the coasts of all of these continents are sea-based nomads but of a different nature than those who flit across the oceans from A and B. The ones here are huge floating cities (a bit like in Mieville's The Scar) - during the day, or for periods of it, they may stay put or moor somewhere along a coast, but, equally, they may move. During the night, as it is now, they remain on the ocean, operating on the basis that it is safest to stay away from land and to keep in motion. (Maybe some of them actually steal into the abandoned cities in L and M of the people who live in A and B when they're not there.)


All of this is just the basic framework of how 'normal' mundane humanity operates. There is of course much more to it than that. Inland from the coasts is where things get interesting: cities which are inhabited above ground in the day and below ground at night; demi-human polities which are largely unaffected by lack of light (dwarves, maybe sverfneblin who merrily survive off fungus); subterranean orc strongholds which slumber through the day and come alive at night; wizard towers; magical moving castles; undead empires, etc., etc. There is clearly also a large role for myconids in this world - there could be entire kingdoms of the things living below ground but colonising the surface at night. And that's not to mention the Stuff of the Night itself - the elder gods who were there before the light came and who are forced to wander with the night for eternity.


  1. Digging these posts.

    No deciduous trees over 100 years old anywhere, I guess. Unless there are trees in this world that can go dormant for a century at a time?

    Actually, the seasonal behaviour of plants in general is something I'm curious about in this setting.

    1. Yeah, I was operating on the assumption that all vegetation dies off during the night and seeds resprout in the morning but maybe some trees could go dormant?

    2. Some seeds can definitely last 100 years. The main challenge would be not being eaten by something. A plant being dormant for 100 years... maybe? If it's cold? Not being eaten is still a concern.


    3. What about a tree, either naturally evolved or magically altered, which absorbs light for a century darkening all areas around it, causing only fungus to grow, and perceived by humans as an omen of evil to be avoided.
      During the evening it goes autumnal and sheds its leaves, and upon evening grows leaves which shed the absorbed light, fostering an area around it of growth and plant life, which the orcs perceive as an omen of evil to be avoided, too.
      The tree scares away the sapients by looking scary (to them), and creates a pocket of "opposite" atmosphere.

  2. Would it be worth it for a maritime people to try sailing to the poles and then nipping across the night as quickly as possible (I'm not sure but I think it would be quicker)

    1. Definitely. Somebody did actually mention that in one of the comments but I forgot about it. That adds a whole new dimension actually. (They could presumably walk across.)

    2. The ice in darkness is gonna get reaaaal cold though, and people are going to know that you will try it and may be waiting.

    3. Walrus people, for instance.

  3. I'm also imagining Vampires in this setting being like Jews in the middle ages, small mercantile nations, some grouped in the darkness, where they are safe from the sun but find it hard to find blood, others in the day cities where they can trade for blood but are in constant danger.

    They would be like the ambassadors of night. Hiring out as guards and guides for cultures and tribes to cross the night, trading blood for safe passage, then travelling back to do the same thing again.

    1. Yes, I like that idea. I was thinking about vampires being involved somewhere and that idea is very cool. It also helps get around the fact that, since all the continents are islands, at some point everything gets stuck in the dark. They are then stuck with the option of either living underground or travelling backwards. Vampire-led caravans are a great way to explain the latter.

  4. There's a pun connection with Lemuria (supposed origin of Madagascar and its many nocturnal lemurs) and Roman lemures (vengeful spirits of the dead) that could make for something here. The lemures are restless, un-remembered spirits, supposed to be frightening but cowardly. Lemurs have huge eyes and make weird noises, and would probably be scared by the traditional Roman method of scaring off lemures by banging pots and pans. The coming of night being heralded by wide-eyed, tree-climbing insectivores would be pretty interesting. The forests of late evening are full of hootings, scrabblings, and glowing eyes as the lemurs rush to eat the last of the cicadas before the insects hibernate. While eerie, these alleged spirits of the dead (maybe it's just a misunderstanding, maybe there's a belief in lost night-dead reincarnating as lemurs, or maybe a genuinely magical source) pose no real threat to adventurers, but behind them there are always worse things to come.

    1. Nice. I really like that idea actually. I was thinking that "orcs" would be a good generic name for night-things, but maybe "lemures" is even better.

  5. Temperature on Earth is also moderated by ocean currents (the Pacific Gyre and Gulf Stream) not just sunlight - look at the latitude of Ireland compared to Northern Canada. As night moves across the land there would be great currents of warm water that would keep certain places quite balmy compared to the rest of the nightlands. These locations might remain ice free and so be the last places from which people could escape the night. Lots of potential for scenes of migrant boats and the attendant conflicts that go along with that. Looters could wait for the night, gather the scraps of the fled or dead and then head down to these ports.

  6. Hi, what a wonderful series of posts. Really thought-provoking.

    Some things to consider:
    - That a day is a century long, does not mean that one year is also long. Supposedly that the planet takes one year to make one full circle around its Sun, means that you still would experience seasons (in your graph the day/night line would cyclically shift a bit up- and downward. I guess the largest effects will be at the terminator at high latitudes.
    - I would imagine that there are also animals who dwell in twilight and human(oid)s who follow them. The terminator travels at the equator with a speed of 40.000 km/100 years (assuming an Earth-sized planet), which comes down to roughly 1 km/day. So, twilight-dwelling creatures need to migrate at a pace of tens of kms per month.
    - It has already been mentioned, but the night-side becomes cold. Really, really cold. Like Antarctica in local wintertime cold, and then some more. I expect lots of penguins; penguins are the new orcs with their fearsome belly slide attacks.
    - Ah, and also migrating trees; treants are just another survival mechanism to overcome nighttime; you should see the drama when they plunge themselves into the oceans basically placing their lives into the very hands of the tricky currents of the Nautical realm.
    - Nautical realm, he?! Would the ocean not be THE place to be? Slowly but surely drifting a km per day to stay in the sunlight? I would presume lots of sea-dwelling people living on flotsam-cities. Whole communities drifting around living from the ocean and the occasional bird.
    - You mentioned magic. Is there daytime and nighttime magic both dominating their own realms and clashing most violently at dusk and dawn?
    - Mountain tops stay longer in the sun than valleys; would this mean a desperate battle at dusk for the last sun rays?
    - In dawn areas, competing tribes and civilizations may probe into the darkness, in order to be the first to claim certain spots before the Sun arrives.

    Anyways, great setting; as said very thought provoking.

    1. Yeah, I did think about seasonality. It's a bit difficult to figure out how it would work. I suppose one of the things to consider with this world is that a typical D&D campaign doesn't actually last very long in-game, so some of these issues wouldn't actually affect the PCs a great deal. They would just be important conceptually in figuring out how the world operates.

      I like the penguin/orcs. Or penguin/lemures (see above).