... now with 35% more arrogance!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Last-Minute Hexcrawl, Mark II

This post summarizes a new draft of the Last-Minute Hexcrawl. The core ideas are to simplify the off-map step, prep for the kingdom scale map in a different manner, redefine dice rolls so that the d12 is used consistently for directions and the d10/d20 is used for table look-ups, and arrange it so that terrain and settlements are all handled the same way on each step. I re-did the tables, merging some results:

General/Gradients Table
d10 RollClimateElevationBiome/Vegetation
7+ArcticTreelineVery Arid (none)
6Sub-ArcticHigh (above 5k feet)Arid (sparse)
5Cool TemperateMediumScrub (thin)
3Warm TemperateMediumScattered Woods
2Sub-Tropical   Low (below 500 feet)Forest
0-1TropicalSea-Level   Jungle

Blob/Landmark Table
d10 RollTerrain TypeLandmark Type
0Rocky/RuggedRubble (d6 pillars)
1Cliff/Sharp Drop*)  Boulders (1 to 6)
3Thicker VegetationTunnel
4Flat*Face (natural feature
5Lower GroundLone Hut (1d6-3 people)
6SandyStatues (1 to 6)
8Higher GroundKeep
9Gently Rolling*Graveyard/Necropolis

Settlement Size Table
d6 rollBaronyKingdomRoad
1 or lesshamletvillageoutpost
2 to 5villagetownhamlet

The Prep Procedure:
  1. Off-Map Terrain Step: Roll 3d6, 2d12, 2d4, 2d8, and 2d10 simultaneously. Read d6s left to right as base Climate, base Elevation, and base Biome for center of map. Each d12 an elevation gradient: elevation increases in that clock direction and decreases in the opposite direction. The direction towards the lowest elevation is seaward, while the opposite direction is inland. The remaining dice are read together, left to right as the terrain type on the blob/landmark table, starting with the 12 o'clock direction and going clockwise in two hour steps around the edge of the map.
  2. Off-Map Politics Step: Roll 2d12 for directions to large, off-map kingdoms. If both dice indicate same direction, there's only one. Roll 2d6 for reaction of each kingdom to home base.
  3. Kingdom Scale Terrain Step: Roll 2d12 and 2d8 of different colors, plus 2d10 and 4d6, all simultaneously. d12 and d8 pairs represent off-map terrain from indicated clock direction intruding d8 hexes into the kingdom map. d10s and d6s represent terrain blobs
  4. Kingdom Scale Rivers/Vegetation Step: Add rivers at this point, one for each High or Mountain terrain point, flowing towards the nearest lower terrain and eventually seaward. Include appropriate vegetation for biome, but increase aridity as you cross mountains moving inland. (Use this as a reference, but I have to swap the bonuses and penalties for the final version.)
  5. Kingdom Scale Settlement Step: Roll 2d12, 2d8, 2d20 of different colors, plus 1d10 and 4d6, all simultaneously. The d10 is the size of the home base political unit, in hexes, and also the type: kingdom (5+), principality (2-4), or barony (1.) Each d6 represents the direction of a road heading out of the home base hex for 4 hexes (double the d6 result to get a clock direction.) Each d12 represents the clock direction to a neighboring settlement, with the matching d8 as the distance in hexes from the map edge and the d20 read as a d10 for political size, in hexes.
  6. Barony Scale Terrain Step: Same as Step 3, but using terrain from adjacent "grand hexes" transferred from the kingdom map to the barony map. Transfer roads and rivers that run through or near central hex to barony map.
  7. Barony Scale Settlements Step: Roll 1d6 of one color and 4d6 of another color for a "settlement blob" and 2d8+2d10+2d12 as two landmarks up to 8 hexes away in the direction indicated. Sketch in roads, connecting them to main roads if possible.
  8. Local Scale Terrain Step: Same as Step 3, using terrain from transferred from adjacent hexes on the barony map to define the terrain that can intrude from each direction. Transfer roads and rivers, applying the twisty lines technique if desired.
  9. Finishing Touches: Roll 2d8+2d10+2d12 for landmarks on local map. Sketch in layout of home base.
The Play Procedure:
Use Rumors I, Rumors II, and exploration rules, as appropriate. For an extremely quick start-up, you can do just a local map for prep (steps 1 and 2, roll d10 for home base politics and pick appropriate-size settlement as capital, then skip to steps 8 and 9, and finish by providing rumors about all roads leading out of town.)


  1. This is inspirational. I have been working on something similar to accompany my silhouetted wilderness encounter tables, but it's far from as ready.

    1. It still needs work. I can't think of what specifically to change yet, but when I write out a procedure in numbered steps and it gets up past six, I'm bothered.

      It helps that 3, 6 and 8 are basically the same step repeated as needed, and 4 doesn't involve dice rolling. I'm considering making 2 optional and somehow merging the settlement placement in general.

  2. I'm off to work shortly, but I'm looking forward to a proper read through when I get home.