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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Sketcbox Dice Tool: Temporary Instructions

I linked to the Sketchbox Dice Tool version 2.0 as an example of what I had done/want to do with town and city generation, but although it has brief instructions on the page itself, they’re pretty opaque unless you’ve read through the series of articles that preceded it. That will be fixed eventually, but here’s a temporary run-down on how to use it.

Basic Arrangement: Edge of the page labeled with compass directions, concentric hex rings to indicate distance from center of page. Rolling dice on the page can thus tell you the direction, size (based on distance,) and other information (based on die roll result.) Instructions for each step are summarized in each corner. Arrows point to the next step in the process.

Zones Roll (instructions start in bottom left): Mainly used when setting up a blank map or moving into a new area. “Zones” are population density zones. Roll 5d6 (more or less to taste) when starting a map from scratch, or 1d6 every time you enter a new zone.
  • Distance from center of page tells you the population density, with the center of the page being Dense and the edges being unpopulated wilderness.
  • Direction is optional, mainly used when starting a map from scratch.
  • Labels for each hex ring in the bottom third of the page name the density level and tell what kind of dice to roll for the next step (Settlements Roll.)
Settlements Roll (instructions start in top left): Used to find out the size, distance, and direction of every settlement. This can be used on a settlement by settlement basis, rolling just one die, or it can follow a Zones Roll, rolling five dice for five settlements at a time. The type of dice rolled depends on the population density. Dense = d6, Light = d12, Sparse = d20. Each die rolled represents one settlement.
  • Direction from the center shows the direction to the settlement.
  • Die roll result = base distance in leagues, multiplied by 1, 3, or 5 based on settlement size. So, settlements in sparsely populated areas will be farther apart on average, and adventurers will have to travel farther to reach larger settlements.
  • Distance from the center of the page tells you the settlement size (Hamlet, Village, Town)
  • Labels for each hex ring are in the upper left and show which multiplier to use for each settlement size.
Follow the Settlements Roll with a Quarters Roll for each settlement.

Quarters Roll (instructions start in top right): Each section of a settlement is called a quarter, as in “Merchant’s Quarter” or “Noble Quarter”. This roll defines what’s in each quarter, with one d6 rolled for each quarter. Hamlets have only one quarter, villages have three, and towns have five.
  • Direction from center shows position of quarter relative to the center of the settlement.
  • Distance from the center of the page tells you the type of quarter (Common, Craft, Focal, Noble).
  • Labels for each hex ring are in the upper right and help identify what the quarter types are for.
  • Die roll result is the number of buildings or other divisions in the quarter. By using dice with pips or dots, you can also get the visual arrangement of these buildings.
There are always commoners in a settlement, even if no dice land in the center of the page, and commoners will always outnumber others. The total of all the dice rolled on this step is the total number of commoner households on the outskirts of the settlement. Any dice that land in the center represent commoners who live within the boundaries of the settlement proper.

Sections (notation in the lower right): Explains what each pip on the die in the Quarters Roll represents: buildings for hamlets, blocks for villages, and neighborhoods for towns. A block is composed of one or more buildings, a neighborhood is composed of one or more blocks. Roll 1d6 to determine how many buildings are in a block or how many blocks are in a neighborhood, with the pips indicating how they are arranged.

Improvised Town Table (across the bottom of page): Can be used to run villages on the fly. or to define what services are available. This is a compressed version of the impromptu towns table and the revised version I did later, so those posts will help explain what the terms mean and how to use the table in play. The Craft line is the same as Trades on the other tables and can be used to add new kinds of shops as needed, up to a limit based on settlement size.

Cities can also be generated with the Sketchbox Dice Tool, but I won’t go into that here, except to say that basically each quarter of a city can be treated as a settlement in its own right. I’ve also done posts on using the tool to create an underworld. All this is material I need to rework and expand on for any final document.

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  1. I really enjoyed this post and the other recent ones you have done and mentioned them on my podcast this week. https://anchor.fm/thoughteater/episodes/Frothcast-20-Humpday-Blog-O-Rama-2-27-19-e3aukc

    1. Was actually just listening a few minutes ago (was checking referrals.) Thanks for the mention!

      The sketchbox tool itself is actually a bit old, but I've been revisiting it with an eye towards making it better. Anything you'd like to see?