I have no way to express how happy I am about today's topic.
No, it isn't meeting Colm Meaney (which I did yesterday), though I did geek out about that afterwards, for awhile. Turned out we were sitting in front of him at the premiere for One Hit Die, which is appearing online today. The audience laughed, the production was first rate and there was quite a showing ... as the gentle reader can probably guess. And it's always nice to see my name in the credits as "Game Consultant."
Sorry, I have no pictures of me and Colm; I can't imagine anything ruder than demanding a celebrity to be used as a prop ... unless it's acting like a complete tit and trying to steal all the attention you can get while they're in arm's reach. I told him I respected him - which I do, he's a hero - and he was pleasant enough to shake hands with me and Tamara, despite being with his wife and daughter. Was a nice little boost.
What I am really buzzed about ... and a buzz that's going to go on for some time ... is the adaptations I've made to the Hex Generator, which the reader can find on the wiki. The changes are to the Type VI, VII and VIII worksheets. Changes that over the next year are going to rework my world with a sledgehammer.
Of course, none of it means a thing if the reader never did understand what I meant by hex groups or hex generation, which I wrote upon extensively in March and April, and which hit a wall at that time.
Well, I cracked that wall. I am through the looking glass. I am roaming over vistas wide and green, and there's nothing in sight but endless horizon.
If you dare, come along.
What's really needed is another lengthy video demonstration ... but to be honest, I don't know how many people are willing to sit through those without knowing in fact what's going to be discussed. So what I'll try is an overview first. Then, given some time, I'll produce the video that supports it.
The first step came with the development of pure wilderness. The question was, how does one decide what is in the wilderness, how is it populated and how is that population distributed? Are they humanoids or monsters, and how many of either?
The premise that unlocked the key was considering first that any true wilderness had to be lacking in any sort of development. If there were creatures there, they were living of the natural food supply, with virtually no augmentation of that food supply. They might have crude boats, they might be herding some animals on natural meadows, but they weren't chopping down trees to make larger meadows or farms, and they weren't building an infrastructure. Remember, we're talking wilderness, not an alternate humanoid society that is dominant in that particular land. If there was any infrastructure, than the nearby legitimate authority would sniff it out and destroy it.
But bands or a few clans of humanoids regularly fishing a obscure pond, or hunting around a watering hole, or raising small animals on scattered meadows, or living underground on what food supply they could muster, THAT was acceptable ... so to begin placing things in hexes, I proposed placing what counted as a food supply.
A pond produces fish; a coastline too, but in fact less conveniently if you're limited to fishing on the shore; there could be a berry patch, or wild orchards with seasonal fruits, nuts or natural honey; there's good country for hunting; and natural choke points or watering holes provide better hunting still - and if there's a natural spring, all the better. Finally, there are those scattered meadows I keep mentioning.
But I realized I needed one other kind of food supply - one that doesn't exist in the real world and one that is never addressed in most D&D gaming. A food supply underground.
Suppose we imagine a sort of natural cave, with a soil upon which a vine can be tended, a vine that is pulpy and nutrient and which can support a lot of orcs or goblins. Suppose this isn't just any cave, that it requires a certain kind of soil, but that these caves exist far more commonly and in places which the real Earth wouldn't possess. I needed a name for this kind of cave, and settled on "mew." Now, mews are stables grouped around an open yard, a word that developed in the 16th century; an earlier word, from the French meu, meant a cage, commonly for hawks. I conceive that we have a sort of cave that is carefully tended to trap bats, in order to have them produce guano for the meuslin, or starchy vine upon which an underground community can thrive.
Thus, I have a number of different food sources that exist, and depending on the amount of food I have a chance either that a group of seven hexes is populated by humanoids (who have removed all the monsters except vermin), or monsters (who have not effectively cleared out).
What I've done is build a seperate chance for each type of food supply and for the amount of food that supply produces, then insert a calculation to see if humanoids are there. If they are, no monsters beyond those that are greater than 4 intelligence. If no humanoids, then some other monster with higher intelligence might be present.
Now, I haven't gotten to monsters yet. They're tricky. Not all monsters require a food supply. For the moment, that's on a shelf. I know when to insert one, should the party move into an area where monsters are indicated, and in the meanwhile I have a good basis for where they'd encounter humanoids.
More to the point, IF a party wandered off into a wilderness, they wouldn't just find monsters or humanoids circled around a pond or by a nice hunting ground ... they would ALSO find the food supply itself, a place in my world they could exploit themselves, by wiping out the present inhabitants and then beginning to install modifications, while having a food supply that is already measured by the random creation system. There would be a difference, then, in just setting up anywhere, and setting up specifically in and among the very best food supply available ... which wouldn't be evident until hex crawling the area.
Does the reader see? It's the Scout motif from Civ IV. You're literally taking your character out in the woods to kill, grab treasure, and then gain real information that could be valuable to the party or valuable to someone else, which in turn could translate into local prestige and notariety and respect. ALL FROM A RANDOM CREATED SYSTEM.
That, then, is what I did with Type VIII. Type VII is even more interesting. I'll write about that tomorrow.