Created By: ThoughtBot on July 20, 2011
Nuked

Northern Hemisphere Fantasy Map

Fantasy maps have cold areas in the north and hot areas in the south.

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In many fantasy worlds, the cold mountain or tundra areas will be on the north of the map. In those same worlds, the south of the map will be deserts, jungles, or tropical islands. If that's so, than there is a Northern Hemisphere Fantasy Map!

The prevalence of Northern Hemisphere Fantasy Maps might be because the Northern Hemisphere has America, Japan, and Europe, where many fantasies originate. Others are not from the Northern Hemisphere, but have world based on the Northern Hemisphere.
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • July 20, 2011
    LobsterMagnus
    The map from Lord Of The Rings is of course the Trope Maker, or at least the Trope Codifier of this.
  • July 20, 2011
    jate88
    North is cold, South is hot is a dead ykttw with some similarities to this one.

    Left Justified Fantasy Map is also based on European bias.
  • July 21, 2011
    Koveras
    • Averted by Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II, which both take place in the southern hemisphere of Thedas. The fact that "frozen wastes" are located on the southern edge of the map has reportedly confused many a fantasy fan, though.
    • Played straight in Nox, where you start off in the south and move upwards on the map until you reach the villainess' lair in the Grim Up North.
  • July 21, 2011
    peccantis
    • Averted in Civilization 4 at least, the player can choose how the map is arranged and what temperatures go in which direction.
  • July 21, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Literature

  • July 21, 2011
    Diask
    Video Games
    • Final Fantasy II has a vast snowfield stretching on a northern part of the World Map, while the southern part has two deserts and a tropical island.
  • July 21, 2011
    Aielyn
    Auxdarastrix - while it is played straight in The Wheel Of Time, it's also Justified, because the world map has the Land of the Madmen to the south, in the southern hemisphere. So whereas most stories just default to having a northern-hemispherical weather condition, The Wheel Of Time justifies it. Also, the north pole region is actually quite warm, rather than icy, due to the Dark One's influence.
  • July 21, 2011
    Andygal
    Averted in The Stormlight Archive, where the map indicates that the continent the story takes place on is in the southern hemisphere.
  • July 21, 2011
    MasterHand
    Exalted does this to the entire planet - the areas around the north pole are cold tundra, while the south pole is made up of deserts, wastelands, and volcanoes. A Wizard Did It.
  • July 21, 2011
    Koveras
    • Played straight in The Elder Scrolls series: The northern regions of Tamriel are snowy mountain ridges, while the southern coasts are tropical jungles and marshes.
  • July 21, 2011
    TheChainMan
    Played straight in Dragon Ball, the north has the barren Yunzapit (Not snow, but it's quite cold) and the Muscle Tower area (THAT has the snow) and in the south there's the tropical (And aptly-named) Papaya Island where the Tenkaichi Budokai takes place.
  • July 21, 2011
    Fanra
    In many fantasy worlds, the cold mountain or tundra areas will be on the north of the map.

    Need to adjust that from "north" to "top" of map, since the concept of North, South, East, and West are really more Translation Convention in a fantasy world. The idea that North is at the top of the map is another idea.
  • July 21, 2011
    Lemonwizard
    This seems closely related to Grim Up North.
  • July 21, 2011
    Jimjoe
    Example: World of Warcraft's Azeroth follows this reasonably close. The northernmost continent, Northrend, is a frigid land with native walrus people. Climates in the other two continents are a bit of a mixed bag, although the Eastern Kingdoms' southermost zone is a tropical jungle and southern Kalimdor has several deserts.
  • July 21, 2011
    helterskelter
    By itself, I don't think "occurs in the northern hemisphere of the globe" is a trope. It has to be merged with Left Justified Fantasy Map, I think--and even then, it's just the specifically geological equivalent of Standard Fantasy Setting.
  • July 21, 2011
    Aielyn
    Left Justified Fantasy Map is about locations of oceans, and has nothing to do with climate or other related things. Mind you, it really should be called Right Justified, since everything buts up against the right edge, with the uneven border to the left, but I won't quibble about that.

    This trope, on the other hand, is about having cold to the north (or top), deserts and swamps to the south (or bottom), with a gradient of temperature, etc, between. Usually with mountain ranges somewhere in the middle, too, although that's not part of the trope. That this is most often associated with the northern hemisphere is indicative of the way that many writers think.

    And it's not really a Standard Fantasy Setting, because you could just as easily rotate the map 180 degrees, and it would work just as well. It's not a trope about the setting, but about the map. And it's distinct from the Left Justified property, and both are more than common enough to be their own tropes (especially since one can influence the story, whereas the other really doesn't, since the only effect of switching the "justification" of the map is reversing whether they turn left or right while travelling, whereas climate has a significant impact on story.
  • July 21, 2011
    GuesssWho
    This is actually justified out-of-universe, because more than half of Earth's human-inhabited land is North of the equator.
  • July 21, 2011
    Aielyn
    I fail to see why greater population makes it "justified", GuesssWho.
  • July 22, 2011
    Antigone3
    Played straight in the Belgariad. Debatable in the Malloreon -- a good-sized bit of the Mallorean continent is south of the equator, but there isn't a "south polar" region to correspond with northern Cherek/northern Drasnia/the Morind lands.
  • July 22, 2011
    GlennMagusHarvey
    Funny implications happen to this trope when you have toroidal worlds, as is common in a lot of videogames.

    Averted by Golden Sun which has cold regions at the northern and southern tips of the world of Weyard.
  • July 22, 2011
    GuesssWho
    ^^^Because it makes sense that if most writers come from the northern hemisphere most writers would think of north as cold.
  • July 22, 2011
    Aielyn
    That's not a justification, though, it's just an explanation.
  • July 22, 2011
    Wyvernil
    Also, most of the land on Earth is located in the Northern Hemisphere (except for South America, parts of Africa and Asia, and Australia), so most of its cultures tend to think of north as cold and south as warm.

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