Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Features & Groups

I don't know why people have trouble thinking up things to write about for their blogs.  I am beset recently with subjects.  Ozzie wants to know what I do about parties who can't agree on what they want, I've got a promised critique of Tobiah's DM's book and I really ought to put together another post about what's new on the wiki (not as much as I wish there was).  And then there is what I would like to write about.

Last week, I was thinking about how to relate the infrastructure numbers to actual hexes, and I remembered something I had written about hex content ages ago.  Here, let's start with an example that isn't Hothiar.  Here are the infrastructure numbers for Kosovo, which I worked out a few days ago.

Simple little region, part of the Ottoman empire, with a nice range of habitats.  The majority is mixed deciduous and coniferous forest, the olive green area that dominates the map.  The light greenish-yellow area is intensive cropland mixed with forest ... and the dark green highland areas are coniferous forest.

Now, it should be said this doesn't bear any similarity to modern Kosovo.  There has been three hundred and fifty years of deforestation in this area since the time of my world, so if the gentle reader goes on google maps to look for the forest, he or she is going to be disappointed.  The readers should also know that this includes historic Kosovo, and not only the modern political state of Kosovo (which does not include Novibazar or the valley to the west of it).

Please also note that the square shape that designates Novibazar at the top indicates that it is the primary market for the region - which my research told me.  It's a good example of how so-called 'logic' heterogenizes your world.  It's natural to think that the biggest city is automatically the chief trading city, but it isn't always so.  Trade is also a question of politics and location - Novibazar is the closest town in Kosovo to the rich markets in Serbia, and therefore the gathering point for trade.

What matters to us today, however, is that we have a good infrastructure range: from zero (the one hex at the top right of the map) to 143, the hex that contains Prizren.  Both Prizren and Pristina are obviously well built up ... both would have plenty of facilities, libraries, inns, stables, guildhouses and so on.  Ipek too would probably have a lot of that, and so would the area north of Prizren, with an infrastructure of 90.  There may be no significant town there, but there's probably a large manor with castle or keep - perhaps that of the Sanjak who rules Kosovo on behalf of the Ottoman Emperor.

But wouldn't it be nice if you had some regulating system the defined the difference between a hex rated at 42 from one rated at 20 ... or that differentiated 2 from 0.  What is the difference between the hex above and below Pristina and that empty hex east of Novibazar?

Well, how about this post here.

Let's pull up an image of all the possible combinations for seven hexes, where white indicates settlement and black indicates none, these things I call 'Groups':

Altogether, if you count all the ways the hexes can be moved around, there are 128 possible combinations in 26 different arrangements.  If we read the white hexes in the above as areas of intensive cropland mixed with natural vegetation, and the black areas as actual natural vegetation, then we can recognize Prizren and Pristina from the above map are Group I from the above - all cropland - while that one hex east of Novibazar is group VIII - all wilderness.

And how do we designate the other infrastructure against the other groups?  Well, I am a numbers guy.  There are 128 combinations; there's 100 points between wilderness and what I've been calling a fully occupied hex.  Now, I could say a fully occupied hex doesn't occur until 128 ... or I could simply compress 128 into 100.  Both work, but I decided to do the latter.  I like having 100 as the difference between wilderness and fully civilized.

Which gives us this table:

Now, no one has to do these things my way.  I like using a bell curve to designate the differences between the hexes, so that there is in fact a bigger difference between 95 and 100 than there is between 51 and 56.  I see this as creating 'a tipping point,' so that most non-civilized hexes are 3 or 4 out of seven.

So, the hex east of Novibazar would be all wilderness.  The one above Pristina would have one part in seven settled.  The hex east of Ipek would have 3 out of 7 civilized and the one where the Sanjak lives would have 5 out of 7.

Ah, but this is only a beginning.  The seven 'wilderness' portions of a fully wilderness hex would be definitely more wild than the two 'wilderness' portions of the Sanjak's hex.  What's really needed is seven definite measures of wilderness ... hexes without so called features but with distinct characteristics resulting from how they're affected by the local civilization.  When I get back to this subject, that's what I want to talk about next.


Arduin said...

I can't wait. The reappearance of the hex groups has already got my attention, I've been seeing the half-finished river-flow numbers you had via dropbox and have long wondered where they went.

PatrickW said...

Yes, very much interested in seeing more on this. I see the flaw in my idea on using index cards to lay out a map - you have to do each senior hex one at a time, reshuffle, and draw again for the next senior hex.
Alternately, one could roll percentile, idex the chart in this post, and then randomly draw a card from the appropriate group type.

This brings up a question: are you envisioning using the groups to set hex types or generating the infrastructure numbers first and then selecting the group type? (Apologies if you've stated this elswhere - I'm catching up on reading your blog front-to-back with occassional jumps when following links.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Patrick, I draw your attention to today's post, World Plotting.

While you were asking your question, I was in the process of answering it.