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I’ve written about plague in world-building, now it’s time to debate droughts. Prolonged drought, and consequent famine, is a typical main cause for the failure of empires and civilizations.

“For many of the historical past of our species we had been helpless to grasp how nature works. We took each storm, drought, sickness and comet personally. We created myths and spirits in an try to elucidate the patterns of nature.” -Ann Druyan

What’s a Drought?​

I’ve written about plague in world-building (Pestilence and Plague). Drought can happen in cycles lasting many years and even a century. Prolonged drought, and consequent famine, is a typical main cause for the failure of empires and civilizations. The autumn of Sargon’s Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia, the disappearance of the Harappan civilization on the Indian subcontinent, even the “mysterious” Bronze Age Collapse embody drought as a significant main trigger. The Anasazi (Pueblo builders) of the American southwest had been one other sufferer of prolonged drought (mixed with deforestation). Mayan civilization might have fallen owing to extreme drought. At this second, California is affected by prolonged drought, with rampant wildfires and shrunken lakes and rivers.

On a private scale, my spouse spends a whole lot of time watering our vegetation as a result of we’ve had so little rainfall in north Florida these days. Luckily, we’ve got a effectively and pump; in additional primitive contexts, watering your vegetation could possibly be very troublesome. Nor do we rely on our vegetation for meals.

How Lengthy Do They Final?​

Some droughts are short-term (even when a century lengthy), others are a mirrored image of change in local weather. 6,000 years in the past, the Sahara was grassland very similar to the Nice Plains. The transition to abandon was sudden.

Prolonged drought is commonly blamed when an empire “mysteriously” disappears. It’s mysterious as a result of contemporaries are unlikely to acknowledge what’s taking place to the climate over lengthy intervals, as compared with, say, barbarian invasion or navy or medical failure.

The Penalties of Drought​

The previous truism concerning the world was that “land equals wealth.” Agriculture was the primary supply of wealth, the others being commerce, mining, and a few manufacture (e.g. Assyrian textile making as a cottage business).

Clearly, drought is a significant obstacle for agriculture. Whereas we don’t count on to see folks die of thirst, if crops don’t get sufficient water over years, folks will transfer elsewhere or die of hunger. The place irrigation is practiced, a extreme drought will end in inadequate water for irrigation.

An extended interval of unusually good climate (for agriculture) can mislead as effectively. Australia was colonized in a interval of higher climate than the norm; now that it has reverted to what’s regular in the long term – extra arid – Australians are having difficulties as rivers actually dry up from overuse and lack of rain.

Migrations could be attributable to drought. Consider the “Okie” migration to the western USA when Oklahoma was become a “mud bowl” by drought. Nomadic folks could be compelled emigrate when the grasslands their herds rely on dwindle from drought. When these migrations are of warlike “barbarians”, different civilizations might undergo.

What Creates Drought?​

We all know that giant volcanic disruptions can change the climate for a couple of years and extra. In a fantasy world, man-made adjustments to the local weather are unlikely barring big-time magic use. The trigger hardly ever issues for a recreation, what issues are the consequences.

There’s numerous potentialities for utilizing drought, in your world’s historical past if not for quick results. “Laborious instances” all through a area could be attributable to prolonged drought. And in a magical world, that drought could also be attributable to some evil particular person, group, or god, reasonably than by pure local weather change. For probably the most excessive instance of this, see the Darkish Solar setting.

Given the ability of magic, may participant characters grow to be concerned in some effort to defeat a drought magically? Maybe they’ll seek for an merchandise that controls or modifies the climate. Or they need to discover and defeat the miscreants who’re magically inflicting the drought. They could grow to be concerned in stemming a risk from peoples migrating due to drought, or in guarding water sources.

Drought has a significant impact on humanity in the actual world, and could be necessary in a fantasy world.

Your Flip: Has drought ever been a significant component in your RPG play?



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