[Ed: Bill Roach is best known in the CC3 community for creating the free Terraformer enhancement to Fractal Terrains 3. Here he turns his attention to water courses; a features which is often added to maps without much thought.]
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The rivers on your overland maps will be the life blood of your simulated world. Most of the plant and animal life on your maps will cluster next to them, near them, and around them. Settlements, towns, and cities will grow alongside them, and fishermen, hunters, trappers, farmers, and merchants will depend upon them for their livelihoods. They will act as major arteries of commerce, major zones of cooperation, and points of contentious, sometimes vicious geopolitical dispute. In peace they will be places of celebration – and in war, they will be places of intrigue. They will be signposts for travelers, and form the borders of nations. They may even be the focus of religious pilgrimage. They will be some of the most important and essential key elements of your maps.
When you design your overland maps, also remember that your riverways, lakes, and seas will influence weather.Agriculture depends upon rain – and farms are typically found in water rich places. Rivers and lakes mean farms, farms lead to hamlets, villages, and towns, towns give rise to cities, and cities give rise to nations.