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What is A Mountain?


Mod Squad
Staff member
Ice Spire Peak is depicted as ice covered but those are really only the biggest ones.

You're in a fantasy world, not our world. Altitude is not the only reason for a fantasy mountain to be covered in ice.

Is the dragon there because of the perpetual ice, or is the perpetual ice there because of the dragon (and other cold-based elemental creatures) on the mountain?

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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Where I live (near Santa Barbara CA), rare snow in our mountains. Highest peak is 1218m (3997')

In Schleswig-Holstein, we have mountains that are 20 meters above sea level. And maybe 10 meters above the surrounding landscape. Though while they have "berg" in their name, I think everyone would still call them a hill.

When RPG maps indicate an area as mountains, my assumption is that its side are too steep to have a closed cover of vegetation. Though of course lack of water or lack of soil can still get you hills of bare rock as well.
My rule of thumb would be that you have to climb a mountain, but you hike up a hill. Though again, some conical volcanoes have very flat and smooth slopes that you can walk up to the top but are still absolutely massive in size.

Even as a Sea German, I would say that the Brocken in central Germany is a big hill and not a mountain. But Ben Nevis in Britain certainly looks like one, even though it's not a lot taller.
You can hike up Ben Nevis, it's not steep. It's the fog that is the bane of the unwary Sassenach.


My great uncle lives in a town called Mountain Top in PA
The whole area is lower elevation than the california state university east bay where I was at school.
East coast people have a different definition of mountain.


True Story: I took my first trip to Montreal last winter, and on the plane I put my foot in my mouth when I said (out loud to my wife) while looking out the window as we were coming in, "Look at that cute little hill. I wonder what that cute little hill is called."

Of course, it was Mount Royal. Montreal, you see. Oops.

Edit: It's probably obvious that I live near mountains. There's snow on the top of the mountains out my window right now. We call it a "small mountain range" because others nearby are bigger. It averages 2000m.
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Kelvin's Cairn near the Ten-towns in Icewind Dale is 1,000 feet high, and is considered a mountain. It probably helps that it's freestanding, and that the local environment ensures that it has that "snowy peak" look.
Funny, my neighborhood is built on a hillside and my house's current elevation is almost as tall as Kelvin's Cairn. But I would suspect that what gets called a mountain and what gets called a hill is often dependent on the surrounding area. Also, game designers are generally not geologists and surveyors.


A suffusion of yellow
Definitely not a good definition but I feel like if I can walk to the top reasonably easily, it is definitely not a mountain in any way that matters.
Yeah pretty much this is how I feel about them too. If I can walk it in shorts and just a waterbottle its definitely just a hill

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