Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Making Generation Easy

Above is a screen shot from the Hex Generator's Type VII tab. In the upper left has been generated which hexes are wilderness and which are civilized. The green section top right is the random die rolls for food supply, arranged in 7 columns. Each column is a different hex, A-G, just like on the left-side diagram. The blue line requires input if there is any coastline, which will change the perameters of that hex.

The lighter green would be the 'wild' food supplies that I described yesterday. The moderately darker green describes the insertion of civilized food supply, or infrastructure food supply, which the table will only roll for civilized hexes (the other hex columns are automatically blank) - and the grey lines are dependent on the green line above them. Let me go through and explain these.

First of all, something is only present if a 1 is rolled. In column A, a 1 appears next to berry patch in Q5, and the berry patch is noted on Q23. The game country roll was a 3 in Q7, so there is no game country note on Q25.

For the odds of these things occurring, the gentle reader will have to go download the actual excel file - I'm not going to go into here. I will note that the likelihood for a berry patch or anything else (except a mew) is higher for the hex that is civilized. It's presumed (but is not always the case) that the humans who settled in the area (group) chose the best possible hex.

Where there is civilization, there is always scrub farming. The system presumes that 'civilization' does not include hunting cultures, as those would be inhabiting wild hexes ... the DM could establish that all 'wild' humanoids in the area were actually hunter/gatherers of the same race, perhaps even gypsies or cavemen. That is up to the DM for that particular world. I have designated for the purpose of this demonstration that they are orcs (below).

Scrub farming would mean the most basic, least planned farming imaginable. No animals for the plow, no irrigation, possibly not even grain culture, but beet & potato farming, tending of vines, rice or by the coast, even seaweed collection. Any area that has only this as its food supply is humble, poor and made of hard, ignorant peoples. R37 indicates that the food supply for this scrub farming is 4.

Every civilized area is rolled to see if the scrub farming is supported by irrigation (the roll in R14 is a 1, indicating that there is irrigation). That irrigation is not necessarily widespread; the result here shows that irrigation only adds 1 to the food supply.

If irrigation occurs, a die roll is made for a granary, a very low chance in an area like this. The granary roll was in R15, and a 5 was rolled ... so no granary. The presence of irrigation here, however, indicates that there is some grain culture.

A fishing dock isn't possible because this is not a coastal hex (obviously a lake would always qualify).

The game reserve is rolled only if this is game country. Note that in the B-hex column, there is no 'game trail' roll (R8). That is because its assumed intensive game has been pushed out of the civilized hex. It still might have occurred in the other six hexes, but it did not. This hex had no pronounced game, so there was no game that could be bred and kept. Since this sort of "game reserve" would have been inside the B-Hex, the civilized hex, it would have been very small (a few hundred acres), but it would have helped supply regular food.

Any civilized hex might have domestic herding - pigs, goats, sheep, etc., kept near the homestead/hamlet, as opposed to on scattered meadows which would be more extensive. This civilized hex rolled a 3 (R18), so there was no herding. Because there is no herding, there is no roll for barns or stables, either.

Barns provide protection for cattle and bigger livestock, which encourages dairying and greater average meat per animal; the lack of a barn means the animal lives outdoors 24/7, and is therefore less meaty.

A stable means there are horses or donkeys present, which means the hamlet can enjoy a wider range of activity in the hex, in less time, providing more efficient food gathering, along with more physical power for slaughtering, pounding grain, mashing vegetables and so on.

Now, from that the reader should be able to see that with a few general rolls, you can get a WIDE variety of different types of little hamlets, some more advanced than others, some likely to have interesting people, some more likely to be xenophobic and hateful. Not the cookie-cutter hamlet motif that usually occurs, and it is all rolled randomly, and in less than a second. It does take a few minutes to record the information, but really no more than that:

This is a village in desperate need of an adventuring party. The reader cannot have helped notice that four of the other hexes are occupied by 'wild' races - as I said, orcs - who have made use of their less sophisticated food supplies in their hexes. The interesting thing here is that both humans and non-humans can live within a couple of miles of one another (remember, my hexes for this generation are only 2 miles in diameter, so we're looking at a 6 mile area). There are no really tough lords to come and clean the hex out, because what we have here is a non-manor controlled hex. No one ever has come to clean this out, so there is no nominal lord who has any interest in this. The ten families of Hex B are free persons, who have tried to settle here and are slowly winning out. The reader will take note that the total number of human families would be 10, and the total number of orcs would be 12 ... but the orcs are disorganized, they are in two different clans and two of the families aren't even associated with a clan.

A party could scout out the area (making the ranger in the party VERY important, and actually introducing 'scouting' as a real thing) and determine which hex should be hit first, big or small, to begin clearing it out. Then, as the orcs were eradicated, human families could be encouraged to move in and take advantage of the game, the natural springs, the easy to harvest berry patches and so on.

You have an adventure right here ... and it is EXACTLY a settlement adventure, with real purpose and practical means for development. What should the party do? Import animals, build barns and stables, build a granary and expand the irrigation.

A big problem with the 'settlement' adventure is parties don't know what to do when they've won. But what I've started to do here is to show that MORE civilization actually offers greater opportunity. Remember when the map of this sort of group just looked like this?

Appearances are deceptive. It's important to recognize that, yes, it seems insurmountable, but by doing research and examining how A depends on B, or C leads to D, and why those things are important, we begin to build up an elaborate structure that does more than just provide fluff and a backdrop for ordinary gaming. There's cause here, there's engagement, there's the feeling that the players are MASTERING their world, not just sitting on the ferris wheel watching it go around, helpless to get off.

Now, I'm working on the Type VI table, which is half-constructed on the downloadable spreadsheet, that promises to make this even more complicated. And I haven't quite worked out how to do monsters, and there are features that haven't been included yet that are not actually linked to food supply (they are linked to other things, but still working on how).

It is hard. But not for the reader. I'm building the spreadsheets that make ordinary die rolling against two-D tables obsolete. And I'm showing all my work. Get rid of your pen and paper, learn excel, and come give this a try!


Andrej said...

I wish I had more to offer at this point besides slow and appreciative applause. I'm following along with great interest.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Sometimes, I admit, it is nice to hear someone say, "Holy crap that's amazing."

When it's deserved, obviously.

Andrej said...

It's true, deserved and a small price to pay for the commenter given all this is being offered up for free (or for some modest but appropriate monetary gesture for those so inclined)...

Vlad Malkav said...

*jaw dropping*

Well, I was going to tell you that I was all for the previously mentioned video, and I'm reading this ...

Very fine piece of work, a great tool and a quite impressive one ...

Take all my well deserved thanks.

Such a sad thing that you aren't doing such RPG stuff and other writings professionnally all day ...

Eric said...

It's been a great pleasure watching you build up to this! A most impressive tool, even more so for seeing "how the sausage was made".

Arduin said...

I can't believe I've never asked, I feel like a complete dunce, but how does the food generated here fit into the larger NTME scheme, assuming you still use it?

Are these just placeholder values used to generate a likelihood, or do they translate directly into caloric values in some fashion?

This is one of my favorite tables you've come up with; it'd be fascinating to hear more about what's in store for it's future.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Well, I haven't exactly written it down ... or had much reason to work it out. But figure the NTME measure of 500 persons as equal to 33 families. Everything else should follow from there, with regards to food. The hammers, coin and other things all follow that ratio. Or should. Without doing the math now (too busy writing), I'm guessing it would fall into line.