troperville

tools

toys

SubpagesLaconic
Main

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Patchwork Map
Yes, that is a desert on the same latitude as the frozen tundra.note 
"I've always said, the best thing about dwelling in the desert caves is the easy access to the lush rainforest."
Mike Nelson, Rifftrax of Battlefield Earth

In the real world, the landscape is determined by a complex combination of climate and geography. Deserts, for instance, are usually created because a mountain or valley blocks rain clouds from being blown over it (known as a "rain shadow"). Tundra has to be at the right elevation and temperature to remain frozen. Rivers have to source their water from somewhere (usually from all that rain that fell on the mountains instead of the desert). Swamps are generally located in low-lying areas where the water collects rather than draining out.

Not so in the world of fictional geography, where you can have a vast jungle next to a desert with nothing separating them and no reason why the two should have different geological features aside from an invisible line. You'll also have swamps on mountain tops and caves full of ice slightly below a sunny surface.

Particularly notable in video games, which often try to pack in a variety of environments in a relatively small space. In older games in particular, a simple Palette Swap will turn green grass into yellow sand, white snow, blue water, or red lava without a hitch. Also tends to happen to maps of Magical Lands. Which somewhat makes sense - everything's possible with enough magic, let alone divine intervention. May be excused by Gameplay and Story Segregation; a game with 12 levels that all are grasslands would be boring. In addition, may be Hand Waved by saying that the game is not to scale with the world it's depicting; that invisible line between the jungle and the desert in the game may be described as several miles of mixed terrain in the tie-in novel.

Something of an extreme opposite form of the Single-Biome Planet. See also Hailfire Peaks. Also note that the sea is typically off to one side and the whole thing fits into a neat square (like any good quilt should).

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • The Digital Worlds of the Digimon franchise are almost always portrayed as this (the big exception being that of Digimon Tamers, which had a very different structure). Thinking back, this is exactly what should be expected in a digital universe. After all it may very well have gotten its strange geography from video games.
  • On Grand Line, there're 4 different kinds of islands - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Islands. Obviously, that (partly) explains the ridiculously unpredictable weather changes. It also causes that Drum/Sakura Kingdom and Alabasta Kingdom to be neighbour countries.

    Comic Books 
  • Madcap, nicknamed "the crazy moon", from the Firefly spin-off comic Float Out. Wash uses the wet-to-cold-to-hot environmental changes to take out a pursuing ship.
    "Its weird spin and egg-yolk sun give it those turn-on-a-dime climate changes, one right on top of the other."
  • Justified with Battleworld, from the Marvel Comics crossover The Secret Wars. It was literally cobbled together by landmasses from different planets, including one from Earth.
  • The Green Lantern storyline Mosaic featured something similar when a renegade Guardian of the Universe stole parts of a bunch of different planets and pasted them to Oa. (They eventually all got sent home.)
  • Turned Up to Eleven by the creators of Grim Jack, in which the city of Cynosure consists of a more-or-less stable central region surrounded by areas — "dimensions" — that phase in and out of contact with the central dimension at irregular intervals, so that the composition, size and shape of the city is always changing. A map of the city was published in one issue, with instructions to cut it up along the "dimensional" boundaries shown, then toss the pieces into the air: at some point in their "flight", the dimensions would be in exact correspondence to what the city looked like at one instant in its history (which point and instant was not specified).
  • Similarly to the snow in South Park stopping at the Colorado border, at least one "The Jocks and the Geordies" strip in The Dandy showed it raining in Scotland, and the rain stopping dead at Hadrian's Wall.

     Fan Works 
  • A minor example in With Strings Attached is the Poison Swamp in Goblin Valley; John immediately pegs it as artificial, noting that the land should have been much too dry for a swamp.

    Film 
  • 10,000 B.C. changed from (for example) freezing mountains to humid swamps with little transition.
  • The film Return to Oz features the Deadly Desert being right smack-dab next to a thick lush forest. This is a carry-over from the original Oz books; see below under Literature.
  • Appears in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The planet in question had recently been created with unstable technology, which made for interesting climate patterns.
    • In the novelisations, the scientists behind Genesis had apparently been competing to see just how improbable they could make the geography by hand-designing things Just So. Although that code was supposed to have been removed...
    • The instability of such climatic adjacentcies is shown in the film as well. When they follow their tricorder readings into a desert complete with large cacti, it's currently being covered with snow by the blizzard that blew in from the adjacent tundra region.
  • In the comedy Caveman, one character gets swept by a river that is situated in an arid prehistoric landscape and ends up in a "Nearby Ice Age".

    Literature 
  • L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz series, which offers up perhaps both the original and definitive example of this trope: The land of Oz is a more-or-less perfect rectangle, filled cheek-and-jowl with every known and unknown variety of bizarre landscape and surrounded on all sides by wide expanses of desert. Baum should also be considered a patron saint of Continuity Drift, but in one of the books he established that a passing Wizard (Or Rather Fairy Queen) Did It.
    • Wicked gives Oz a far, far more realistic landscape, incredibly using only existing continuity to make it into an equivalent of 1930s Earth, right down to the general geographic locations of the regions/continents, which became counterparts. Gillikin is Europe, Munchkinland is (roughly) Asia, Quadling Country is Africa and the Vinkus is North America (specifically, the Native Americans of the Great Plains).
      • Alternately, one could view the Oz in Wicked as a counterpart to the United States, with urban, forest-filled Gillikin as the Northeast; agricultural Munchkinland as the Midwest; swampy Quadling Country as the South (more specifically, the Mississippi Delta and Florida Everglades regions); and the barren Vinkus as the Mountain West. Even Oz residents' opinions of certain regions mirror American regional stereotypes. Quadlings are seen as filthy and uneducated. Gillikin is where the best universities are and the Gillkinese come off as snobbish. The Vinkus is seen as wild and untamed, and something of a wasteland... etc.
  • In the SF novel Midnight at the Well of Souls by Jack L. Chalker, the surface of the Well World is divided into regular hexagons, each featuring its own environment, often startlingly different from its neighbors in climate, biome, atmosphere, gravity, or even achievable tech level, with no apparent separating mechanism other than force walls that just about anyone can shove through without noticing. Justified as the construction of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
  • Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle has a desert right next to a dense forest in an otherwise medieval setting. Justified due to the forest being noted to have been grown with the elves' magic and the desert also being very close to a twelve mile high mountain range.
  • Referenced in The Discworld Mapp, when Stephen Briggs quotes Pratchett as describing traditional fantasy novel mapmaking as "putting the wiggly river through the pointy mountains," before adding that when he showed Pratchett the first draft (which was indeed drawn that way), he got the response "Do you know what a rain shadow is?" and a brief lecture on climatology.
  • In the Everworld novels, the world was created by the mythological gods of our world, with each pantheon having its own territory. So African gods would create an area of Everworld that resembles sub-Saharan Africa, and Norse gods one that resembles Scandanavia, and if the cold, forested mountains instantly give way to hot, arid grassland, who cares? This is one of many bizarre, illogical characteristics of the universe that the characters Lampshade by saying, "Welcome to Everworld."
  • In Arthur C. Clarke's A Time Odyssey trilogy, planets in pocket universe have mismatch of terrains brought from different times in the history as a museum.
  • In The Neverending Story, a desert reaches right up to a forest. It is revealed that a magic talking lion causes everywhere near him to be a desert, but it returns to normal when he's not nearby.
    • At another point, it's explicitly mentioned that it's indeed possible in Phantasia that an icy area borders a hot desert. It's Phantasia, after all. In fact, drawing a map would be impossible even if the country weren't infinite - it's written that the borders between lands aren't always even determinable.
  • In Clive Barker's Weaveworld, the odd bits and pieces of terrain incorporated into the Fugue were stuck together in a frantic rush, creating literal patchwork geography.
  • In Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince trilogy, a major river has its source on one side of a group of mountains, flows up through them, and empties out in a bay on the other side. Yay, gravity!
    • This can happen in real life, if the river is older than the mountains it flows through; it cuts through them as they rise, creating a water gap. This can also happen in stream capture, where two streams erode towards their sources and one captures the other. Which isn't to say that that's what Rawn was thinking of when she drew this map...
  • Occurs in Suzanne Collins' The Underland Chronicles: in the Underland there are plains, jungles, maze-like tunnels, small seas, arable land and desolate areas all within one or two hundred miles of each other, and no transitions.
  • Lampshaded by David Eddings in The Rivan Codex, where he states that because he's not a geographer or climatologist, the map of his world is probably geologically impossible. At least it's not as blatant as some of the examples here.
    • Somewhat Justified in that the geography at the time the books are set was caused by an insane evil god trying to use a magical source of power to kill his enemies and ended up Breaking the World, a cataclysm that kills most of the human race, raises mountain ranges and splits the crust of the planet so a new sea is formed when the oceans flood the gap, cooling the magma rising up from beneath into new crust (which in turn appears to lower the sea level a great deal). If you look at the world map from before the Breaking of the World, found in Belgarath the Sorceror, it's a lot more geologically plausible.
  • Implied Spaces by Walter Jon Williams takes place in a world where technology is advanced enough that every rich kid can design his own little world. Most of them try for patchwork maps. The main character is a scholar studying what happens on the borders between the patches, when the physical realities of these constructed worlds start to act. These borders are the titular implied spaces.
  • The Inferno in the Divine Comedy is made of this trope. A burning plain (to punish sodomites and usurers) is right next to a forest (to punish suicides). The center of hell is apparently a frozen lake. Sort of justified, since it is hell, after all.
  • Aenir in The Seventh Tower works like this, with different biomes often being separated along straight lines.
  • The titular island of Dinotopia has grasslands, rainforests, snowy mountains, deserts, swamps, canyons and temperate forests, all crammed on a single island about 200 miles across.

    Machinima 
  • Parodied in Red vs. Blue: "The Burning Plains are next to the Freezing Plains? I bet there's some pretty wet plains in between." And it turns out there are some pretty wet plains in between, since after going through the burning plains, but before the freezing plains, they cross a swamp. OK, so it's not exactly a plain, but still, Caboose got something right!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Settlers Of Catan is played on a map of a single island made of hexagonal tiles, each tile depicting exactly one biome (mountains, hills, forests, pastures, grainfields, and desert); the map is laid out randomly at the beginning of each game. Thus, it more or less runs on this trope.
  • You just gotta love those rivers in the Dungeons & Dragons setting Greyhawk. They start at the northern shore, and wind their way south to the bay.
  • D&D setting Eberron has the continent of Xendrik, which works like this explicitly, with such occurrences as sweltering deserts abutting arctic tundra. A Wizard Did It, in that it's all caused by a magical cataclysm in the continent's past.
    • Happens in Khorvaire too. Consider Karnnath and The Mror Holds, who have weather like northern Europe or Canada, with lots of snow. Slightly East of them are Lazhaar Principalities, with a Caribbean-like weather and palm trees. Must be a really warm ocean. Regalport (the main Pirate town in a tropical weather) is further north than Frostmantle and Rekkenmark, both of whom are described as cold. So warm ocean indeed. Similarly, Breland is supposed to be a tropical, rainy country, but most of the neighboring lands are depicted as temperate. Khorvaire also has rivers that start nowhere and occasionally go nowhere, and lakes alone in the middle of nowhere.
  • Planescape has the ultimate example in Limbo, the Plane of pure Chaos, where pieces of the plane randomly and seamlessly shift between being completely dominated by one element or another.
  • Legend of the Five Rings is horrible about this trope. Rivers go any which way (including uphill), cities and whole geographic features are outright misplaced onto the wrong ends of the Empire because the mapmakers weren't paying attention, and to top it all off, it might be an execution-worthy offense to question the actual in-game mapmakers if the gamemaster feels like being strict over it. And it's not really justified by "the spirits", because unless specifically asked they don't do weird stuff like that (they're lazy).
  • Fully justified in the Ravenloft setting for Dungeons & Dragons. The Land of Mists is composed of artificial landmasses created and sustained by mysterious Dark Powers. Each landmass is separate from the others and bordered by the Mists, in which they drift. The Core (the largest) has a truly patchwork appearance, because each subregion is a "domain" specifically formed to imprison an individual darklord, and its geography and climate has far more to do with that darklord's culture and personal issues than reality. For example, the domain of Lamordia has a far colder and more wintry climate than its neighbors, and the tropical island of Markovia is less than two hundred miles off the coast. The shape of rivers is even more bizarre, as some rivers literally flow into or out of nowhere, apparently emanating from the Mists themselves. There is also a massive hole (the Shadow Rift) cut straight out of the middle of the Core where other domains used to be (they got relocated during a plane-wide cataclysm).
  • In one fan-created variant of Magic: The Gathering, you shuffle basic lands into a "board", start out with one creature, and the lands on boards where your creatures are can be tapped for mana. This results in Urza's Saga plains (in Serra's cloud world) being next to...anything. And islands being surrounded by land. It gets weirder if you add nonbasic lands.
  • Creation in Exalted goes with having four major climate forms (desert and volcano, ocean, tundra and glaciers, plains and forests and jungles) and simply confining them to each of the cardinal directions (with the central island continent being largely mountainous). Justified by the fact that things like climate and geography are controlled entirely by gods, as well as by the fact that Creation was designed by beings with some pretty odd ideas about how a world should work.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE's islands of Mata Nui and Voya Nui suffer from this, as each has volcanic, icy, desert, and forest/jungle regions pushing up against each other. On Voya Nui, a couple characters actually note that the forested "green belt" doesn't make sense and they hazard a guess as to why it thrives (there's a Mask of Life nearby; they think it's leeching energy and promoting growth), but we're never given an official explanation for it.
    • Mata Nui is ultimately justified when it's revealed that That's No Island.
    • This is also lampshaded by Nuju in one of the novelizations, when he is at a loss to explain the ice mountain.
  • It was even worse with the earlier Slizers line. Just look at the Slizer Planet: We've got: a perpetual Swirly Energy Thingy, a Mega City, a frozen mountain range, an ocean, a Lethal Lava Land, a jungle, and finally a desert.

    Video Games 
  • This is what the original World of Warcraft looked like from space. It is explained in that the world was forged by god-like creators: an entire continent was blasted to smithereens to form three smaller ones, and magic plagues/life-giving trees/Eldritch Abominations all contribute to weird design. That, and the fact that it does need to be patchworked for game design.
  • Extremely evident in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. The world is cleanly divided into four totally different environments. A Giant Did It. Four Giants, to be exact.
    • Spirit Tracks does much the same, but partly averts it with the snow realm by having it gradually change from "snow everywhere" to "it looks sort of cold" as you get close to the border.
    • Whoever designs the map for the Zelda games clearly has no idea how rivers work. They do normally start high and end low, which is better than a lot of examples on this page, but they do all kinds of crazy stuff on the way. The worst offender is probably Twilight Princess, where two rivers cross.
    • Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess have the lush-lake-near-a-desert thing just as bad, if not worse.
      • This in OOT may be somewhat justified in that Zora River (whose water is at least vaguely implied to be somewhat magical in some way, or at least magically generated) empties into Lake Hylia, which is right next to Gerudo Desert. However, in both games the two are separated by what look to be mountains. This would be justified if Lake Hylia would be desert if not for the water emptying into it.
      • Link to the Past and Link Between Worlds show the same lake near the same desert, with a field (steppes?) and mountains or hills separating them. Again, justified if Lake Hylia and the river leading to it are all that's keeping the rest of the region from desertification.
    • Four Swords Adventures. The image and caption at the top of the page highlights the fact that a desert and snowy region are right next door. This is justified in that the snowy region has been in an endless winter due to the Tower of Winds vanishing. The ending even shows what it looks like after thawing out.
    • Link's Awakening also has some crazy map parts. Most of the island is single-biome woods and mountains, but some levels feature volcanic activity that's nowhere else on the map. Also a mini desert next to a swamp and the friggin ocean. Justified, since the whole island is just a dream of the Wind Fish.
  • Ragnarok Online suffers quite a bit from this; Ragnarok Wisdom comments on it.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas somehow manages to get around this one by placing the desert and the forest in different land masses.
    • Not surprising, since it's based on California (notice the redwoods?) and Arizona, which really do look like that.
  • Fire Emblem (well the 3 GBA games at least) does this slightly differently, where forest and other terrain types are spread out in a ridiculously random way.
  • Final Fantasy XII has the Phon Coast - a beach map with a very obvious ocean - which is somehow at the top of a mountain.
    • Jungle next to tundra.
    • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest was an even greater offender; the world is divided into four climate zones of identical size, one representing each of the four classical elements, by a pair of planet-spanning mountain ranges that run directly along the equator and the prime meridian.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance even lets you make up your own map by placing different regions on the map. The sequel on the other hand does a surprisingly good job at averting it.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind contains wasteland area terribly close to plains and forests, usually separated by a single line of mountains. The northeasternmost part of the map contains the only gradual transition from one to the other. Blamed on a combination of the eruption of the volcano Red Mountain that dominated the island-region of Vvardenfell and the Heart of Lorkhan, under the Dagoth Ur crater of Red Mountain. There's also the fact that the game world is hugely compressed, meaning that there could be a transition — it's just too small to spot.
    • Might be justified because of the island being covered by volcanic ash. The right amount of it is on of the most fertile terrains known, but if there is too much ash, it's nigh impossible to grow anything.
    • Averted in Oblivion, where it was mostly just meadows and forests, with snowy mountains to the north.
      • Note, though, that it still counts in-game: Cyrodiil is on the equator, and is surrounded on most sides by steaming jungles and swamps. It was in fact supposed to be a tropical rainforest for the first three games, but then a god stepped in and turned it into Ye Olde Fantasy Europe.
      • It's still a rainforest. The term "rainforest" is defined by precipitation and foliage, not temperature. It rains practically every other day in Oblivion.
    • A sort-of example in Skyrim. The terrain ranges from wet conifer forests in the south, to rocky plains further north that look like something out of the movie version of Rohan. As you continue north, the terrain gets swampy, then turns into glaciers. It's also crisscrossed with high, snowy mountain ranges. The "sort-of" is that Bethesda did a much better job with the terrain transitions in Skyrim than they did in Morrowind.
  • Yoshi's Island has a grand total of six biomes (though you only see five in the first game, and we're not counting the final world of the first game which is not apparently on Yoshi's Island), none of which seem to take rain shadows or elevation into account. Some levels in the "desert" world even have highly visible trees in the background!
  • Metroid Prime had swamps, snow, and volcanoes all within a few minutes of each other, but the speed of the elevators probably means they were fairly far apart.
    • The recent impact of the Phazon meteorite (aka the Leviathan), coupled with Phazon radiation, probably have a role in all of this.
    • Justified in Metroid Fusion, as the game takes place on a biological research vessel, and the various environments have been artificially created to support creatures that need a watery area or a fiery area.
  • Just Cause 2 has a greatly varied environment, consisting of arid deserts, snowcapped mountains, lush jungles, open ocean, and the occasional bit of urban sprawl...all contained within a tropical island cluster slightly smaller than Oahu.
  • Pac-Man World 2. Here we have the Forest (actually a meadow) in the east, the Tree Tops rainforest in the south, the icy Snow Mountain in the west, and the volcano in the northeast.
  • Jak and Daxter
    • In Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, there are such oddities as a beach, volcanic fissure and jungle next to each other, a lava pit opening onto a lush green mountain pass, and (most perplexing of all) a snowcapped mountain directly above a massive volcanic caldera. This game sure loves its Convection Shmonvection...
    • Jak X includes three large cities (Haven, Spargus and Kras) and the Icelands all in close proximity. There are also jungle, deep desert, and tropical island venues, adding to the patchworkiness.
  • Video game Civilization IV has a map option called "fantasy world" where the terrain types are strewn about randomly. Any given tile is as likely to contain tundra as forest, desert, etc.
  • Averted somewhat by Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, partly because it has less diverse terrain than its sister Civilization games, and so could put more work into the distinctions it did make. Rain shadows do exist, and it's even possible to create them on purpose by raising terrain. However, while one would expect the fertile Monsoon Jungle to be rainy, it can actually be placed in arbitrarily dry place by the map generator; same with the Great Dunes, which can end up wetter than the Jungle.
  • In Golden Sun and its sequel, the protagonists travel around a world that greatly resembles our own, complete with appropriate cultures and climates. The biggest notable difference is that the whole world is flat.
  • Also averted by Dwarf Fortress, which pays attention to things like rain shadows and biomes when generating worlds. Generating a new world can take about a quarter of an hour, depending on the size of the world and the number of potential worlds rejected for not having the right terrain distribution. On the other hand, the world generation is very powerful and flexible and you can set parameters that create worlds with glacier, sand desert, swamp, and mountain range all rubbing shoulders. Regions in half the map bursts into flames as soon as the game starts and the other half freezes every living thing dead within a minute are statistically uncommon (you really do have to make the effort) but not otherwise unusual. However, bugs in some versions can cause unusually powerful fluctuations in water temperatures.
    • "Fluctuations" means creatures spontaneously melting on contact with water, if you weren't aware.
    • Also, the average temperature is set for each section, often leading to perfectly square borders were there is and is not snow, rain, etc.
  • The setting of Enchanted Scepters has a jungle, a desert, an ocean, a forest, a volcano, an Egyptian sphinx, a Mayan temple, and some Easter Island heads, all within walking distance.
  • Averted in Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom. The starting "world" is actually one of seven isolated pods of a generation ship. Most seem to be temperate, with varying amounts of grassland, forests, rivers, and lakes, but some have unusual climates, such as an ice world and a desert world. An early first generation quest suggests the ship's weather control system regulates the climes.
  • Hostile Waters takes place entirely on an island chicane (artificial archipelago) located somewhere around New Zealand. The environment varies from hot to frozen over. Justified by the chicane undergoing rapid, hostile (un)terraformation. Especially visible in the last mission.
  • Unavoidable in NationStates. You can make your nation's map as realistic as you like, but you can't really do anything about what the nations next to you do.
  • Justified as a major plot point of Suikoden Tierkreis, starting from the opening scenes where a forest mysteriously appears near your village. Sometime later, a massive savanna pops into existence in the middle of a snow-covered mountain range.
  • An extreme example in the graphic chat/MMO, Furcadia, users can make their own maps (called dreams) that other users can explore, chat, and RP on. Quite a few users have made dreams based on the Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter. In the books, the four clans of wild cats live in slightly different territories, such as one clan lives in moorland while another lives in a forest. In these fan-made dreams, however, the differences in the territories tend to be very drastic. It is not at all uncommon to find a Warriors dream with a barren desert, murky swamp, snowy tundra, and lush forest all sitting right next to each other with little or no transition in between, made even more drastic by the fact that the area of the dream would probably wind up being only 15 square miles or so in real life.
  • Justified in Endless Frontier which ends with five different worlds getting mixed together in a fairly haphazard way. Of course, Nature is soon to start asserting itself, so...
  • Morning Land in Billy Hatcher and The Giant Egg. It has the wooded Forest Village, next to the beach/oceanic like Pirate Island, which in turn is right next to the volcanous Dino Mountain, which is next to Blizzard Castle (guess). And in the middle, with all the others surrounding it, is Sand Ruin! Circus Park and Giant Palace don't count, seeing as the former isn't in any particular biome, and the latter is in the sky.
  • Simon the Sorcerer. You have a temperate forest right next to a swamp right next to some icy mountains, and so on, and so on; in its defense, it IS a magical world.
  • Played straight (presumably for humorous effect) in the "Big Super Happy Fun Fun Game" level of The Simpsons Game. The main hub of the level is a forested area, which leads directly (read: you open a door and you're right there) into a lava area, an ice area, and a sky area. Lisa actually questions how the lava area and the ice area can be so close together.
  • In RuneScape the border between desert and grassy fields is a fence, both from the northern and western sides. The western border eventually turns into a river and a sea. The eastern border is a river and a sea all along, and across the river from the northern part of the desert, both to the east and the west, lie separate swamps. Another swamp lies in the corner of the desert, separated from it by a plateau from two sides and bordering with the sea from two other.
    • Isn't helped by that fact that a bright and sunny, almost Mediterranean fishing village (Catherby) is positioned right next to a snow-drenched arctic-esque craggy hill. Might be justified by the altitude, though - if the world wasn't compressed for player convenience (to the point of two longitudinal or latitudinal minutes being the minimum distance a player can travel, doing so in 0.6 seconds at walking pace), the White Wolf Mountain would possibly be quite high and capable of being cold. Ice Mountain is located at the same latitude.
      • Additionally, the very northern reaches of the world are so cold, the player takes all-stat damage. The Ghorrock fortress is located even further north. Squeeze past an ice block into the Wilderness, and without changing latitude, you'll reach a scorched land with surface lava features in seconds.
  • Pokémon provides a near literal example of this trope. In HeartGold and SoulSilver, you can customize the Safari Zone, allowing you to put any terrain near any other, theoretically allowing fields next to deserts and lakes next to savannahs, etc.
    • Unova, from Pokémon Black/White. Route 4 is essentially a small desert, surrounded by forests, with the transitioning area being about as long as a building.
    • There are other examples throughout the series. For example, in Sinnoh (where the fourth generation takes place), a snowy city is fairly close to a tropical island, and in Hoenn (third generation) there is a rainy route near a desert route.
    • In both the anime and the FireRed/LeafGreen games, there are tropical archipelagos not too far south of the icy Seafoam Islands (or at least, they're implied to be icy, given that that's the only place in Kanto where a lot of Ice-type Pokémon, including Articuno, are found. In Pokémon games in general, the "icy cave/island" which forms the Ice-types' lair tends to come out of pretty much nowhere).
      • That said, we are dealing with Pokémon here - they can shape their environments. Particularly in the case of the legendaries which are responsible for everything from time and space to earth and sea to life itself. If Articuno wants a frozen cave, Articuno damn well gets a frozen cave. See also: the second movie where Fire/Lightning/Ice islands are all close together with very different climates thanks to their respective Pokémon overlords.
  • Dragon Quest VII has a similar zoo, although you don't customize it; you find the plans for each biome.
  • Somewhat deconstructed in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. Since the two worlds merged together, the climates have gone insane. Deserts are freezing over and the north pole is melting.
  • The island in Backyard Football 2006.
  • Averted in Lord of the Rings Online here; but when someone else has already done the dirty work, it's a bit easier to pull off.
  • King's Quest V takes place in the land of Serenia, which is mostly forest, but it is bordered by a hot desert to the west and a cold mountain range to the east.
    • Sort of. The mountain is not on top of the forest; it's stated the screen's a few hours later. It's still implausible, but not quite bordered.
  • Done so blatantly in Banjo-Tooie that it almost counts as a lampshading. When Banjo rises to Cloud Cuckoo Land, we see the Isle O' Hags laid out below, with all the disparate levels right next to each other - most significantly the blazing volcano and freezing mountain of Hailfire Peaks.
  • Averted in Diablo II, where there's a specific 'travel gap' between the different Acts - an (unseen and assumed) caravan takes you from the temperate Rogues camp to the desert of Lut Gholein, then an unseen boat takes you from the desert to the jungle of Kurast, then the end of that Act opens a magical portal directly to Hell. If you have the LoD expansion, a helpful angel teleports you directly from Hell to the fifth Act in the snowy mountains.
  • Lampshaded in Paper Mario. While two separate areas being next to each other and having different climates isn't rare, there's one part of the game where a forest borders a gulch, and the sky is lit according to which side of a gate you're on. Goombario's description mentions how it's amazing that the scenery can flip between the two so quickly.
  • Impossible Creatures is set on an island chain called Isla Variatas which manages to contain polar, forested and desert islands.
  • Brütal Legend has about half a mile and a deep chasm between icy mountains and sweltering jungle. Most of the other transitions are better, though.
  • Zig-zagged in Minecraft. Originally, the game tried to simulate biomes according to wetness and temperature, therefore a change in either of them would mean a change of biome. This system was eventually abolished, and afterwards you could walk in rapid succession from a temperate forest, to a tundra, to a sandy desert, to a tropical rainforest (which for some reason, has livestock instead of the normal stuff). Without skipping a beat. The Beta 1.8 update changed that once more, biomes are significantly bigger now, so it's not as stark anymore, though you can see a desert that shares close boundaries with a very large, temperate forest and ocean. The introduction of the Large Biomes option obviously makes these borders even less obvious/common.
    • According to one of the snapshots for the upcoming 1.7 update, biomes will be put into four main categories: snow-covered, cold, medium, and dry/warm. Biomes will be avoided getting placed next to a biome that is too different to itself. (Though this isn't completely foolproof yet, as mistakes will still happen occasionally.)
  • Ys is a frequent offender. Ys V has Shifting Sand Land, Jungle Japes, The Lost Woods, Death Mountain, Bubblegloop Swamp, and Green Hill Zone (across a Broken Bridge from the desert, no less) all in the same vicinity. In Ys VI, Quatera Island is mostly forested while the adjacent Canaan is mainly grassland, and the latter has barren rocky mountains a stone's throw away from the meadows. Ys II has a Slippy-Slidey Ice World and Lethal Lava Land directly connected to each other.
  • Wonder Boy III Monster Lair, which has Direct Continuous Levels in parts, goes from Slippy-Slidey Ice World to Shifting Sand Land to Green Hill Zone to Palmtree Panic and back to Slippy-Slidey Ice World in the second half of the game. The Dragon's Trap is also somewhat guilty.
  • The lower areas of Paradise City in Burnout Paradise are tropical and resemble Florida, then there's the geologically implausible California-style mountains with a parody of the Hollywood sign, and temperate forests/vegetation.
  • Halo 3 not only has jungle with Misplaced Vegetation and savanna right next to each other, but Mt. Kilimanjaro is way too close to the Tsavo/Mombasa area. And let's not talk about the rings themselves.
  • An Untitled Story has its entire world compressed into few hundred screens. As such, there's a snowfield that borders with a sunny town and a grassy (and moonlit) hill without any barriers, or a lava covered factory that borders directly with a water grotto, a grassy plain from above and a tree.
  • Notably averted in Mabinogi. Regions are laid out in a relatively realistic manner. eg. The region of Rano is divided into roughly equal parts; the rolling prairie land of Maiz Plains, the scrubland of Muyu Desert, and the lush, verdant Karu Forest, sitting side by side in that order. However, each region is seperated from its neighbor by a high, almost impassible mountain range that effectively shadows the desert from the moisture laden air to either side of it. The only notable exception is the deserts of Connus; but this is justified by the in-game backstory as the result of a magical catastrophe resulting from a great war, which also resulted in the frozen wasteland of Physis.
  • Inazuma Eleven GO has a desert area sandwiched between an icy tundra area to its east and a beach/water area to its west. Justified in that they were man-made (the nearby windy valley area even has gigantic fans to create the wind), complete with walls separating them.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn does this literally. Patch Land is split into several distinct areas, each with its own unique ecosystem and no transitional regions whatsoever.
  • Justified in A Valley Without Wind, where a recent cataclysm has shattered reality and made continents out of "time shards" from different times and places at complete random, so it's entirely possible to have a region of deep Ice Age adjacent to some Lava Flats. Also mentioned are powerful and very hostile forces holding the world together this way; putting one foot across the border of a time shard is fatal (unless you're a Glyphbearer).
  • Very common in most games by Nifflas. The geography tends to change halfway through a screen, indicating a new area.
  • Fossil Fighters takes place entirely on one smallish island and a couple of tiny ones around it. Yet, the selection of locales include Slippy-Slidey Ice World, Lethal Lava Land, Green Hill Zone, Build Like an Egyptian, Death Mountain, Minecart Madness, The Lost Woods and Shifting Sand Land, all clustered closely around a lust lagoon with a Gangplank Galleon at the bottom. The convection alone should cause a permanent storm-cell over the island, and yet, it never even rains anywhere on the island. Despite occasional weather-reports to the contrary.
  • The world of Scribblenauts Unlimited is a blatant example, having several biomes right next to eachother within walking distance (putting aside why you would ever need to walk in a Scribblenauts game). This isn't just an approximation for convenience of the map, either, nor is there any gradual transfer in unseen areas between the locations; at several points in the far right end of the map, you can see the geography suddenly turn from that of one region to another. This includes a swamp cutting into plains, which leads to a tundra, which leads to canyons, which has its neighboring desert end at a seemingly tropical beach.
  • The Lost Hex in Sonic Lost World, made up of random groupings of hexagonal pieces housing different biomes.
  • The world map of New Super Mario Bros. U. For example, it suddenly cuts from plains to desert, then it leads up to a tundra with nothing in between.
  • The enigmatic island of The Witness doesn't appear to be more than 2 miles across, yet as these pictures show, there is a desert, a tropical forest, lots of temperate forests, and several other environments packed in that tiny space.
  • Donkey Kong Island Goes from a tropical rainforest, to a mine setting in the side of a grassy hill, to a temperate forest, to an ice capped mountain, to a polluted grassland, to a giant cave. This is actually justified, as most of the game involves you climbing up a very large mountain which will have similar changes in scenery in Real Life. It's pretty logical about the change too; the temperate forest is at a higher altitude (and thus colder) than the jungle, and the ice cap is higher still.
    • In the second game, once you reach Crocodile Isle, you go from a volcanic region, then to a swamp, then to an amusement park in the swamp, then to an ancient deciduous forest, then to a castle on an ice cap. Here it seems that the lower parts of the island, which connect with the sea, are all swamp except for the volcanoes, and the forest is much higher on the map than the swamp.
    • The third game isn't as justifiable, but at least the different biomes are on different islands, sorta...
  • The Mario & Luigi series generally isn't terrible about this, as the first three games all take place in kingdoms that are presumably wide enough to encompass a wide variety of biomes. There are some exceptions, though; Superstar Saga places the icy Joke's End in the middle of an otherwise fairly temperate ocean, and Dream Team manages to cram plains, jungle, volcano, desert, and beach environments onto one island.
    • Bowsers Inside Story has a variant of this in that the areas don't really seem to connect to each other, they just go from one biome to another when you cross an invisible line.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • The city of Ba Sing Se in Avatar: The Last Airbender has a large area of Ghibli Hills between its inner and outer walls, but it appears that just outside the wall is a barren dusty desert. Then again, there's a lake inside the area, so maybe they just have good irrigation, and the walls are higher than some of the clouds. (Not to mention a lot of Earthbenders to create channels, transport fertile soil, etc.)
  • Transformers Animated has a volcano on an island in the middle of Lake Erie.
  • You know how there's always snow on the ground in South Park? When they went to Nebraska the snow gave way to green fields, with the boundary being exactly at the Colorado-Nebraska state line. Or was the state line being placed exactly on the snow-grass boundary?
  • Similarly, there was a Bugs Bunny cartoon where the drab, unpleasant Northern U.S. was separated from the verdant, flowered South precisely at the Mason-Dixon Line.
  • The Flintstones did it in one episode. Rain up until a border.
  • Justified in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Eye of the Beholder". On the planet Lactra VII the Enterprise crew finds deserts right next to forests, and Mr. Spock comments on how unnatural it is. It's eventually revealed that the alien Lactrans did it to make their planet a giant zoo.
  • Bugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1,001 Rabbit Tales has a lush jungle near or in the middle of an Arabian desert.
  • The Lion King has a tropical rainforest where Timon and Pumbaa live paradise right beside a large desert. It's made even more confusing in the sequel when its shown that the jungle is connected to the Pridelands through the barren, dusty gorge.
    • There is a river with a waterfall running through that rain forest. Perhaps it never rains in that region, and so all the wildlife grows right by the river....

    Real Life 
  • Can be truth in fiction when the reason for desert/not desert is not obvious. For example there are parts of the world where there is hardly any rain, but copious mist. This condenses on the trees and waters them. However, if all the trees are cut down, the saplings can't take advantage of this and nothing can grow. There are attempts to make artificial rain catchers (sails) to get the trees kick started again. Such an area could have a forest in one place and a bare desert next to it.
    • One such example is the Pampa del Tamarugal, over 20,000 hectares of forest in the middle of the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile. Much larger in the past, it was cleared for firewood by the mining industry during the saltpeter fever, and it's being replanted since the 50's, and declared a National Reserve in 1987.
  • Likewise rain forests may be self sustaining but can be destroyed. For example the rich soil is continuously used and replaced, thus once the trees are gone the soil is also gone in 2 or 3 years. Farming is abandoned, leaving bare ground that radiates far more heat than the forest ever did, preventing rain. I.e. forest and desert are the only two stable equilibria, and could theoretically be close to each other.
    • This occurs in Colombia, where the arid scrub grass covered llanos abut directly against the lush rainforests.
  • Another example occurs with the largely sheltered canyons of, for example, eastern Washington state, which allow you to have a large river running through bone-dry desert/xeric shrubland.
  • The Eastern U.S. has a relatively continuous climate that gradually changes from cold in the north to hot in the south, and from wet in the east to dry in the west. The West is mostly desert, everywhere, except for Washington, Oregon, and Northern California, which are strongly defined by the complex boundaries between forest and desert. You can stand almost anywhere in Silicon Valley and see brown hills on one side and green ones on the other. If you park off I-84 in Oregon you can walk from forest to desert, along a big river flowing sideways through a mountain range. It does happen.
  • New York's Central Park has a perfect transition with the cityscape. It's manmade though.
  • New York State itself, in the terrain sense. It has lowland plains, two plateaus, three sets of mountains one of which is cut off from any other range, and some islands. climate wise it does stay pretty regular.
  • Israel. In a country smaller than New Jersey, there are snow-capped mountains, a desert, coral reefs, and the lowest point in the world.
    • This is partially due to the immigrating Jews who made some changes in the scenery, like drying up some swamps to avoid certain diseases (notably malaria in Hadera) and planted trees native to their homelands due to being homesick. A notable example of both was planting eucalyptus trees to drink up the swamp water (though few Jews actually did come from Australia), an attempt that was mostly a failure, as the trees drank water from the ground and not the swamps themselves. (They eventually resorted to using other types of trees.)
  • The Desert of Maine, 40 acres of, well, desert-like landscape surrounded by mixed forest with little brooks. TECHNICALLY it's not an actual desert as much as it is the product of over a century of utter agricultural mismanagement. And technically it's glacial silt, and not sand. It doesn't stop them from having a huge Fiberglas camel on site for photo opportunities.
  • In Australia, parts of South-East Queensland have small pockets of sub-tropical rainforest in water catching hollows and along creek beds in what would be relatively dry eucalypt forests.
    • On a larger scale the Great Dividing Range separates the relatively well watered eastern seaboard from the dry plains that gradually transition into the deserts of the interior. The transition as you go over the range can be fairly abrupt, especially as you go further north.
  • Using the Indus river as a dividing line, Pakistan has lush farmland to the eastern banks (the Punjab), desolate wasteland on the western banks (Balochistan), the sea shore and the Mega City of Karachi in the south, and snowcapped mountains in the north (Khyber-Paktunkwha).
  • One of the reasons so many production companies love New Zealand so much is its large diversity in a relatively small area. You have cities, mountains, beaches, forests, and pretty much everything except desert wedged into a couple of land masses roughly the size of Colorado. Watch a show like Power Rangers (post Ninja Storm) to see just how diverse New Zealand is. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, also shot entirely in the country, managed to convey the scope of an enormous and varied world much bigger than actual New Zealand with barely any reuse of the same location for more than one place.
  • Both the Susquehanna (in Pennsylvania) and the Brahmaputra (in India) rivers flow across mountain ranges, and it's thought that the rivers pre-date the mountains and eroded their beds faster than the land around them uplifted.

Left-Justified Fantasy MapPara TextFeelies
Palmtree PanicVideogame SettingsPeninsula of Power Leveling
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords AdventuresImageSource/Video GamesThe Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

alternative title(s): Patchwork Fantasy Map
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
99335
0