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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Solo Random Wilderness Crawls

I’ve talked a lot about using the hexless wilderness tables to set up a sandbox, before play or even during play. But I’ve only barely talked about what started this whole line of thought: playing solo without a map.

It’s mostly the same basic instructions as other random wilderness crawls: set up a territory and its edges, then set up a homebase and the four routes leading away from it. Don’t set up any other locations until you send your character to one of the four surrounding homebase; it’s strictly “roll as you go.”

Since there is no GM, roll 2d6 for the number of months travel to each edge, should you decide to try to reach those (as if they were locations.) If you reach an edge, roll the rest of the location information on the Locale Table, including routes leading beyond the edge. The land beyond is a new territory with three new edges.

You might need clearer guidelines for how to handle additional details and extras, since you aren’t making decisions as a GM, but as a player.

Territory Details

There aren’t many needed.
  • If the elevation drops to sealevel, there is a large body of water on 5+ (1d6).
  • Bodies of water in Arctic Climate (7+) have icebergs on 5+ (1d6).
  • High Elevation (7+) or moderately High Elevation in cooler climates (4+), has a glacier on 5+ (1d6).

Locale Terrain Details

  • Pond or oasis on 5+ (1d6). Otherwise, dig for water.
  • Fed by a spring on 5+ (1d6)
  • Stream on 5+ (1d6) flows from direction of higher ground, or towards lower ground.
Thicker Vegetation:
  • “Impassable” thicket in direction you are heading on 5+ (1d6). Path can be cleared with proper tools and labor.
  • Volcano on 5+ (1d6).
  • Mountain pass in direction you are heading on 5+ (1d6). Otherwise, that direction is blocked. Only roll this if you investigate the mountain or ask those familiar with the area.

Locale Landmark Details

Every landmark has details that need to be determined, but only roll the obvious details first. Things like concealed dungeon entrances are rolled as you explore the locale.

(You could, of course, use these for non-solo play as well.)

  • Pile of broken stone blocks surrounded by 1d6-2 statues, 1d6-2 pillars, 1d6-2 fallen towers (Any roll of 0 or less means no detail of that type.)
  • Check each structure or under rubble pile for dungeon entrance/stairs down on 5+ (1d6).
  • 1d6 boulders.
  • Check each for dungeon entrance under boulder: 5+ (1d6).
  • Stone feature in most areas, wooden construction on 5+ (1d6).
  • Stone dome is natural except on 5+ (1d6).
  • Cave at base of natural dome or concealed chamber in constructed dome on 5+ (1d6).
  • Secret dungeon entrance/stairs down in cave or chamber on 5+ (1d6).
  • Normally slants down, but in rolling hills or mountain locale, slants up on 5+ (1d6).
  • Dungeon entrance at end of tunnel on 5+ (1d6).
Face, Mural, or Anthropomorphic Natural Feature:
  • Painted (mural, pictographs) on 5+ (1d6).
  • Dungeon entrance behind feature on 5+ (1d6)
Lone Hut:
  • Hides stretched on frame on 5+ (1d6). Frame is bone instead of wood on 5+ (1d6).
  • Solid huts are wood or appropriate local plant, or stone on 5+ (1d6).
  • 1d6-2 Inhabitants. Zero or less means abandoned.
  • Concealed dungeon entrance/stairs down on 5+ (1d6)
  • Same construction rolls as Lone Hut, above.
  • On 5+ (1d6), surrounded by earthen rampart (for hide-covered structures) or wooden palisade/stone wall (for wood/stone structures.)
  • 1d6-2 base number of inhabitants. Zero or less means abandoned settlement, otherwise multiply by result on Settlement Table.
  • 1d6-2 watchtowers around settlement.
  • Hamlet has town hall or other communal structure on 5+ (1d6).
  • Village has shrine or mill on 5+ (1d6), roll for each. Always has town hall.
  • Towns always have tavern, shrine, mill, and town hall, and possibly a tavern on 5+ (1d6).
  • Cities have 1d6-2 inns and 1d6 of each of the others.
  • Check each major structure for dungeon entrance/stairs down on 5+ (1d6)
  • 2d6 x 10 feet deep.
  • Hand- and footholds carved into wall on 5+ (1d6).
  • Dungeon entrance at bottom of pit on 5+ (1d6).
Keep or Fortress:
  • Main keep is wood on 5+ (1d6), otherwise it is stone.
  • Wall on 5+ (1d6) of same material.
  • 1d6-2 additional towers of same material.
  • 1d6-2 heroes run the fortress. If there are no heroes, keep is abandoned. Otherwise, there are 1d6-2 x2 mercenaries to support the heroes, and 1d6-2 x2 servants.
  • Dungeon under keep on 5+ (1d6).
Graveyard or Necropolis:
  • Use the Settlement Table to get a multiplier, then multiply 1d6 for the number of graves.
  • 1d6-2 earthen barrows. On 5+ (1d6), these are stone mausoleums instead. Either one has an obvious entrance, but it is sealed.
  • Check each mausoleum or barrow for dungeon entrance/stairs down on 5+ (1d6).

Encounters and Dungeons

This series has been strictly about generating random wilderness when not using a map, since support for that has been sorely lacking. In contrast, pretty much every old school Class and Level Exploration Fantasy game has rules for random encounters, and there are several random dungeon generation systems available. Use the ones you are comfortable with.

A custom encounter system to match the hexless wilderness system is probably unnecessary. I might have some suggestions in a future post.
However, if there’s a demand, I could work on a dungeon generation system designed for pure text without a map. I expect it will be pretty hard, though.
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