... now with 35% more arrogance!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hexcrawl Review: Wilderness Architect

Fight On! #2 and #3 include a map generation method called "The Wilderness Architect" by Victor Raymond. The parts in the second issue mostly focus on design approaches, rather than random generation, so I'm focusing on the parts in issue #2.

The system primarily uses d6s, but there are exceptions during the placement of villages, for example. You make a decision whether the campaign will take after European or Arid geography (basically, decide whether you're playing King Arthur and Middle Earth, or Greek legend and Barsoom.) Terrain generation starts with a table that generates your starting hex; it's also used as a hierarchy of terrains. Each additional hex is rolled on a second table that defines the terrain type in reference to the previous terrain (same as last hex, one step higher, one step lower, random choice of any adjacent hex, or reroll on first table.) It actually feels like it maintains rational relationships to adjacent terrain a little better than the DMG. There's even an exception to allow coastlines or large deserts.

The type of settlement in the starting hex is then rolled. Since the system is intended for creating starting maps, it assumes that there is always a "home base". Each settlement has a random number of villages around it; distance and direction is rolled for each. This means there will be more settlements in a starting barony created with this method than the previous three. In my sample map, I have a castle in the middle hex and one village to the northwest; I rolled for five villages, actually, but most are outside this small area.

Pros: Faster and simpler than many others; easy to use in play. More logical, maybe. More large-scale variety than Judges Guild system. More settlements.

Cons: Must use GM judgement or another system for subhex detail. No rivers (lakes/coastline only.)


  1. John these are extremely interesting comparisons - great stuff. You might not be aware of this, but there's is a terrain generation system in Adventures in Fantasy that might be cool to look at. I've never tried to use it myself. the method in CoZ is an expanded emulation of the map generation instructions in First Fantasy campaign, along with the Loch Glomen structure rules - you might have a look at these sections of the FFC too.

    1. Yeah, I don't have the FFC or Adventures in Fantasy. My budget has always been pretty restricted.

      I do, however, have the Fight On! issue with your CoZ system. I wrote up a review and scheduled it for Tuesday.

  2. This has been an excellent series for me to read, as I've been working on my own system for procedural terrain generation and trying to figure out how to balance simplicity against geographical realism, and also trying to make sure it feels both "fun" and faithful to certain traditional flavor elements.

    I'm curious to see what you finally settled on.