Ever since I first started laying out the continent of Atair, I’ve been struggling with the concept of scale. Just how big do I make it? How big is too big? How much space is needed to have an unlimited number of adventures? How long should it take to get from Point A to Point B?
This is a fantasy world, so a decent unit of measure is how long it takes to travel in a day, twenty-four to thirty miles. With that in mind comes the question of how far do you want someone to travel between cities? How long should it take to get from one end of the world to the other?
And that is where the scale of the world comes from.
How far would a merchant caravan travel? Does it take a year to go from one end to the other and back? And if so, how much travel would such distances encourage? It could be a negative to waste an entire year of a characters life in just travel, especially if they have a family back at home.
It can also be a negative if things are too close together. That can mean there would be no land for surprises to crop up, as everyone has explored everything near by.
There needs to be a middle ground. Not too far that it’s detrimental to characters traveling, but far enough so that around every tree or hill is a new adventure. Sure the farmer’s place wants to be less than a day away from town, but the next town could be a week’s travel.
We live about five minutes from a New Hampshire State Park, 675 acres of wilderness. Every time we walk there I start to wonder just how much area has been untouched by people and what is happening in the areas that the trails don’t go to. It gives me a perspective on scale. That’s a lot of area, a lot of woods.
There’s a lot that can happen in those 675 acres and it’s not that far from civilization. If there’s that much area in what amounts to an area that is only a couple miles square, what is it like when you have an area that is 100s of miles long?
That’s a lot of adventure waiting to happen.