... now with 35% more arrogance!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tricks on the Wilderness Territory Table

I wanted to go back and revisit a passing note on the Last-Minute Wilderness system. As you may recall, there aren’t many direct rolls on the Territory Table, and in fact you can skip those rolls if you already know what the general terrain of an area should be. Mostly, the table is used as a reference scale. The current biome is prairie, a roll on the Locale Table says the vegetation thickens, so we shift the biome down one step to Light Woods.

However, I mentioned a couple optional rules when describing the process of generating a wilderness. To check if a river is present, you could look up the scale number for the current biome and roll a d10, with any result equal to or higher than the scale number meaning yes, there’s a river. Similarly, you could use a d10 check if the biome changes anytime the elevation changes by looking up the current biome scale number: equal to or higher than the scale number means the biome shifts in the same direction on the table as the elevation shifts, getting drier as the elevation rises and wettter as it drops.

What may not be obvious is that you could do many more tricks like this using the scale number on the table. All you need to do is determine which column is relevant to your check, and whether you should roll high (less likely in colder, higher, or drier areas) or low (more likely in warmer, lower, or wetter areas.)


  • Glacier or Ice Field exists on a roll lower than either Climate or Elevation rating, whichever is higher
  • Fog in the Morning on a roll lower than Climate rating - Biome rating
  • Mountain Pass exists on a roll higher than Elevation rating
  • Lake or Sea exists on a roll higher than Elevation rating
  • Digging for Water works on a roll higher than Biome rating
  • Chance of Percipitation on a roll higher than Biome rating

You can also check for small local shifts in temperature, height, moisture, or vegetation using 1d6, 2d6, or 3d6, depending on how much variation you would like:

1d6 2d6 3d6 Shift
-1 or less 1 or less 3 or less Down 3 or -3
0 2 4-5 Down 2 or -2
1 3-5 6-8 Down 1 or -1
2-5 6-8 9-12 No Shift
6 9-11 13-15 Up 1 or +1
7 12 16-17 Up 2 or +2
8+ 13+ 18+ Up 3 or +3

Pick the appropiate column and read down to find the dice result. The last columnn shows whether you shift the base temperature, elevation, moisture, or vegetation up one or more rows on the Territory Table, or down one or more rows. The two main examples of what you could use this for is weather: roll 3d6 at the beginning of the week for temperature (basically, Climate) and humidity (basically, Biome.) The adjusted Biome rating is the chance of percipitation each day (roll high.)

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quickie Hexcrawl

I have another dungeon trick/feature finished, and more under development, but there was a recent discussion of wilderness generation that made me revisit the random wilderness rules I was working on last month. (condensed rules and associated wilderness tables.) Now, the process I was describing was geared towards not using a hex map at all, but it evolved out of an earlier series I was writing about random hexcrawls. That series was kind of sprawling and needs to be redone, but with just a couple quick add-ons, we could do hex maps with the current system.

Roll your climate and elevation as normal, or just pick what you want (temperate forest, for example.)

Roll the elevation for each edge of your map, or even for each clock direction (1 to 12,) if you want that much detail.

Roll the info for your central hex (terrain, landmark, and starting settlement.) The terrain for this hex is also the predominate terrain on the map.

Roll for exceptions to the predominate terrain, such as one or two spots of another kind of terrain. Use 1d12, 1d10, 1d8, and 1d4:
  • d12 for direction to the spot
  • d10 for kind of terrain in that spot
  • d8 for distance to that spot in hexes
  • d4 for size of spot, in hexes.
This makes circular patches on your map. Two spots are plenty, but you can put as many as you want. For variety, you can also roll for lines of terrain that criss-cross and zig-zag across the map, using a d10 and multiple d12s.
  • d10 is type of terrain
  • First d12 is direction. Line is 1 hex wide and 3 hexes long, heading in clock direction indicating, starting at edge opposite that direction.
  • Each additional d12 is another 3-hex segment heading in a new direction. If it double backs, line ends. If it almost doubles back, making a turn sharper than 90 degrees, it’s a spur; line also continues in original direction from same point.
  • Stop rolling d12s when the line doubles back, or start a fresh line.
You can use d6s instead of d12s, doubling each d6 to get a clock direction, if you prefer, as I suggested in the original Last-Minute Hexcrawl. I made several changes to this one to make it easier to understand.
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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wishing Well

Another dungeon trick cliche: a wishing well. Well, sometimes it’s a wishing well. Most of the time, the kinds of wishes it will grant are pretty limited.

I introduce a new dice trick for the d4+d8 table: checking if the dice are both even or both odd. This only happens on an unmodified result with an even total; unmodified odd results will be one even die and one odd die. This trick allows me to squeeze in a little more variety into the table.

Wishing Well

A small stone wall about 2 feet high surrounds this circular well. It’s 50 feet deep and half full of water. Throwing something into the well produces a small splash and bestows a random enchantment or gift. Roll d4+d8 on the table; if both dice results are odd, the well dries up and can’t be used again. If someone who has already received something from the well tosses another item in, roll only 1d6 when consulting the table; the well will dry up on a 6.

Remember to subtract 1 or 2 from the roll for curses, or add 1 for a blessing from a patriarch or an enchanted dungeon feature.

d4+d8 Roll Random Well Effect
1 or less SWARM OF TENTACLES tries to pull one or more people into the well.
2 SWARM OF FLIES engulfs party, blocking vision and making noise.
3 CLOUD OF SOOT billows forth and fills the area, curses all within 20 feet.
4 FOG fills area, blocking vision. Check for wandering monsters.
5 LIGHT shines from well for one hour.
6 Silence, no splash.
7 MONEY, in the form of 3d6x10 gold coins, sprays from well.
8 HEALING LIGHT restores 1d6 damage.
9 GHOST emerges to answer three questions or scout for party.
10 RAVEN flies out, leads party to nearest map, scroll, or book.
11 Light bestows BLESSING for one day.
12 DOVE flies out, dispels negative enchantments.
13+ SPIRIT UNICORN Grants wish or restores all health, cures disease.

The swarm of tentacles has twice as many dice as the dungeon level and always attacks the person who used the well, but may attack others. Everyone rolls a d6; anyone whose roll matches the main victim is also attacked. Successful hit does no damage, but grabs the victim and drags them in after 1d6+1 rounds.

The swarm of flies has two dice, but is automatically dispersed by a hit that does more damage than the dungeon level. Check for wandering monsters every turn until the flies are chased off.

The cloud of soot blocks vision for one turn only, but leaves soot on everyone exposed, as well as a curse. The well also dries up.

The fog, ghost, and unicorn results look identical at first: a fog spills out of the well and fills the area. When it disperses, the ghost or unicorn appears, if that is the indicated result. Likewise, the light, healing light, and blessing look identical; these affect the first person who looks down the well into the light plus possibly others, based on the d6 roll trick used for the swarm of tentacles.

The ghost has half as many hit dice as the level of the dungeon, but can’t attack or be attacked by non-ethereal beings. It will either answer three questions about the dungeon or scout ahead for the party, warning of danger, for no more than a day (roll every hour, 5+ on d6 means the ghost departs.) The ghost will not leave the dungeon and knows nothing about the outside world.

The dove will land on the person who used the well, removing any curses and dispelling evil spells. It may land on others, too; use the d6 roll described for the swarm of tentacles.

The unicorn acts a little like the ghost, but if both the d4 and the d8 are even, it grants one wish to the person using the well. The wish must be made within one turn, or it leaves. If the unicorn doesn’t offer a wish, it restores all health and cures disease in the person who used the well and possibly one or more others in the room, again using the d6 roll mentioned for swarm of tentacles.

If someone lowers a container into the well instead of tossing something in, the water in the container contains the enchantment rolled (except for the tentacles, silence, or money results.) The enchantment takes effect when the water is thrown at an area, or if drunk. Up to 1d6 people can drink from the container and receive the enchantment. If the roll indicated money, the container contains coins instead of water.

Lowering something other than a container has a reduced effect. Roll just 1d8; negative effects and the healing light emerge from the well when triggered as usual, but an ordinary light result makes the object glow for one hour, while a money result coats the object with gold, increasing its value. On a 6, the well goes dry.

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