Friday, September 19, 2014

Features & Food, Part I

Here and there, I have been working on my 'hex generator 2.0' - which will probably be a relief to some of you who are tired already of me writing about what role-playing is.  For today, then, let's dig a bit into something more substantial.

If the gentle reader is not familiar with my hex generator, you're going to want to start on this post about Groups.

This post will be dealing with 'Group VIII,' where all sub-hexes are wilderness, and specifically the food that can be found within that wilderness.  As ever, I am working on the premise that before we can determine what randomly exists in a hex, we have to start with whatever sustains those creatures.  More than that, natural food helps establish for the players a logical framework for the wilderness that's a bit deeper than, "this hex is full of trees."  Or rocks, sand, water, what have you.

For that, we have to establish what the hex fundamentally is - in terms of topography, hydrography and climate.  We start with Table I:


For the most part, this is a straightforward indication of whether or not a hex contains a certain feature or not.  'Mainland' would be a non-coastal hex.  Hills differ from mountains in terms of their elevation, but more importantly in terms of the amount of free rock; a 'hill' may be counted as something where the top of the feature could be considered arable; a 'mountain' would have large areas that are distinctly not arable.

Terms like 'tropical wet' vs. 'sub-tropical dry' have specific meanings that have specific definitions. For the present, I'm lumping together tropical dry in with subtropical dry, but later I may separate the two.  The reader should understand that the amount of water is much more important than the temperature of a region where it comes to both food production and animal (monster) population.

I suggest familiarizing yourself with the K√∂ppen climate classification, to get a feel for climates that occur in given parts of the world:

Good.   Let's compare Table I above with a part of the world itself.  If we start from this map,

which is in turn a break-down of the 6-mile per hex map on this post - an expansion from the map here - we can enlarge a section to get this:

The larger hexes are each 6 miles across (a bit more, but let's not quibble), while the smaller hexes within are 2 miles across.  Table I at the top of the post corresponds to the 7 letters within the chosen wilderness hex.

According to Koppen, the whole area is temperate dry.  A stream flows through hexes A, E, & F.  C & D are coastal hexes; the others are not.

From here, we proceed to food sources, broken down by type.  We can start with plant life:

Why 'bush tucker'?  My original generator had listed this as 'berries,' but in fact there are a great many more possibilities than that - naturally growing nuts, insect mounds, honey, tubers & roots, bulbs and so on that can all service as food sources.  It can be seen that I am specifying what the bush tucker is.  Meadowlands, in turn, provide natural grasses that will feed domestic horses, donkeys or mules, but not provide sustenance to creatures that cannot eat woody materials.  Admittedly, I haven't included a section for providing food for a wider range of herbivores - I hadn't actually considered specifying that until just now.  I should probably give a flat amount of plant sustenance depending upon the climate.  I was concentrating primarily upon things that would matter to the party.

The base chance for bush tucker is 2 in 2d4, or one chance in 16.  This is modified as follows: +3 for a lake (minimum a mile across), +2 for a river, +3 for a river mouth, +4 if the climate is tropical wet, -1 if sub-tropical dry and +1 if temperate wet.  These adjustments are tests for the present - based more upon a general feel than upon any kind of data.  If someone wants to provide me with hard data as to the amount of bush tucker to be found, broken down by topography and climate, I'd love it.  In the meantime, I'm shooting in the dark.

The base chance for a meadow is the same, 2 in 2d4.  This is modified as follows:  +2 for hills, +1 for mountains, -1 for subtropical dry, +2 for temperate wet, +1 for temperate dry.  I'm not sure I have a good argument for why hills have the best chance for a meadow.  I confess to not fully understanding meadow-development as a science.  It just feels 'right.'  If anyone wants to pitch an argument, I'll certainly listen.

Annoyingly, I'm being interrupted just now.  I'll have to make this a Part I post, and pick this up later if I can.


Tim said...

I've been generating my world's climate using the Koppen system as a starting point, while trying to ignore the giant debates between climate classification hobbyists about how well a system simulates X region or Y city (if you think people can't agree in D&D...)

I've actually spent a fair amount of time considering using Civ, as you have done in various forms over the years, to simulate environments, although unfortunately it's not nearly as precise as differentiating meadows or forest types, and the elevation is fairly limited as well. I stole the tile yields from Civ5 to help alter how much a region produces (how does being on a 2 hammer hill differ from a 2 food grassland beside a river?) but that didn't really go anywhere. I may eventually use it, but first I'd need to figure out how to generate precipitation levels for various regions based on their latitude, nearby winds and elevation. I make it sound like it's hell but I get some twisted enjoyment out of it.

But I suppose you just draw the line somewhere interesting and then come back later to tweak.

Alexis Smolensk said...

That's how I do it.

Have you looked at my posts under the heading NTME?

Tim said...

Hehe, the first one is open on my phone for when I have a spare moment to read.

Algol said...

Reading this inspired an idea I had that you've likely looked into but might be useful for determining the food resources of an area. The food resources are essentially based on the foliage type of the region correct?
So an easy conceptual tool to show the foliage would be in what stage of succession the ecosystem is in.
I've been coming to use ecological succession for my own work because of problems with traditional tabletop environment designation. An example would be that a marsh populated by mosses, ferns and herbaceous plants is a different marsh from the softwood tree dominated types I've seen in Louisiana or the hardwood dominated ones in south Georgia. A softwood forest is going to have a different kind of underbrush and generally rockier soil than a hardwood forest etc. A younger forest will have shorter and more thickly populated trees, making it a less suitable habitat for large game.

History of human settlement can be implied through succession stage. A forest can be cleared to grassland for use in farming, heavy logging can turn an oak forest into a pine forest overtime etc. Even if the settlers are long gone, the environmental changes will stay.