Meanwhile, since this post as designed is getting pretty long, I am going to get it up and then start writing the next one. All that you are about to read was invented as I wrote it. It can always at a later time be upgraded, but so far I'm extremely happy with the result.
Let’s say you want to be able to generate a wilderness, or the part of a world, but you don’t want to muck about with any foolish mathematics. You just want to be able to roll dice and get results. Very well. That is what this system, and this post, is designed to allow.
For explanation purposes, let’s start with a fairly large area – something 7 hexes across. That would look like this:
|Figure 1 - blank hexes|
Nice and simple. So what we want to do is produce an infrastructure number for these hexes ... but as long as that number can actually be quite simple, let’s just roll a d12 for every hex. The higher the number, the greater the infrastructure. What that infrastructure’s designation is, for the moment, can be left aside. Here are my numbers, rolled entirely at random:
|Figure 2 - infrastructure numbers|
In all probability, you wouldn’t really want these to be wholly random. You might want to apply modifiers for areas where you had already put deserts, mountains, cities, etc ... but for the sake of demonstration, let’s suppose you’re conjuring up an environment from nothing.
Broad strokes: a 1-2 is pure wilderness; a 12, fully settled. We’ll say the hexes are 18 miles across, but they could be as wide as the reader likes.
For the next stage, we want to create interior hexes inside those we’ve already established, retaining our rolled numbers. We want to create seven “junior” hexes for each “senior” hexes ... which will look like this:
|Figure 3 - add junior hexes|
Now, there are several steps we’re going to take, so for the time being I would like if we could ignore those hexes which overlap from one senior hex to another:
|Figure 4 - ignore 'crossover' hexes|
Good, now we’re going to begin base-filling these hexes. To begin with, any hex that is marked with a 1 or a 2 is fully wilderness ... so all seven hexes are uncivilized. To add some color to the proceedings, we’ll say this whole region is basically a forest country, so we’ll start by shading in all those wilderness hexes dark green. We can also remove those numbers. This is going to give us an image like this:
|Figure 5 - group VIII added - full wilderness|
see this post
Now, I have to admit going forward that I am balancing this slightly towards more wilderness than not; how you weight your particular elements is up to you, but I think wilderness plays a little better than civilization for most, and this generation is balanced to reflect that. Slightly balanced, I emphasize.
But let’s look at those hexes where we rolled a '3.' The senior hexes will have 1 junior hex that is civilized, and junior hexes that are not. The two possible patterns that can occur are these:
|Figure 6 - group VII possibilities|
The chances of each type of pattern, or “group,” is shown above. The chances of that one wilderness hex being on the edge is six times as common as being in the center (the right group can be rotated in six directions). Now, I realize the reader can see that it’s a roll of 7 which hex is civilized ... but the pattern IS important in this, so I’m deliberately making the effort to show how having the hex on the outside, where it might contact another civilized junior hex in another senior hex is a big difference from the hex which is guaranteed to be isolated on the left.
|Figure 7 - Group VII added|
Now we can move to the next sort of group – that covering the hexes above numbered 4 & 5. Once again, here are the sorts of patterns, with their relative occurrence:
|Figure 8 - Group VI possibilities|
Also, I recognize the reader does not have a 21-sided dice ... but you all are clever, I’m sure you can work out something for yourselves.
|Figure 9 - Group VI added|
By now, some readers will be able to work out what I mean to do with those ‘crossover’ hexes that earlier I said to ignore. Loosely, we could say where four or more of the hexes surrounding those are wilderness, they too will become wilderness, and that where the encircling hexes are even, that its a 50/50 roll either way. For the moment, however, until we’ve filled out the entire arrangement, let’s continue to leave those as they are. There are other details we may want to consider.
Another point that needs to be made; some will wonder why not just randomly roll every hex to see if they should be wilderness or not. What is nice about this system is that it introduces ‘clumpiness.’ There are fairly substantial wilderness areas built up as well as substantial civilized areas. A single die roll system for each individual junior hex will create a far too heterogenerous pattern. Try it. I suspect, though, if you’ve done a lot of generation, especially for Traveller, you already know what you’ll get.
Now, before moving forward, I want to point out a couple of interesting things that are also determined by the results. In the above Figure 9, the reader may notice I chanced to roll group VI (a) once and group VI (b) twice. These indicate certain infrastructure features, which have been added to the generated map:
|Figure 10 - first infrastructure features|
All right, we can move forward to the next groups patterns now, for hexes numbered 6 & 7:
|Figure 11 - group V possibilities|
This is going to get a little harder to conceptualize. Types (a), (b) and (d) will all make six patterns, rotating them each in six directions. (c) however can only be turned in three directions; and (f) only two (if you turn it 120 degrees its the same). On the other hand, (e) can be turned TWELVE different orientations ... as it can be a mirror image of itself, and both it and its mirror can each be turned in six directions. Trust me. Play around with them, you’ll find I’m right. Altogether there are 35 orientations for all six types.
We can talk infrastructure, also. Type (a), where three hexes are together, indicates a tiny village, 100-300 people. (b), (c), (d) and (e) all have lines of hexes, so all four indicate a road of some sort. For no reason at all, except that we ARE randomly generating details, let’s say that any hex that comes up (b) is a primitive river way ... a ford or, if the river is too large for a ford, a hand ferry.
Let’s say that any hex that comes up (c) is a toll gate. Unlike (b) or (d), (c) would afford the shortest distance civilized travel between two opposite hexes ... so its a logical choke point for a guardhouse and small post also, so let’s add that.
Because (d) is on the outside of the hex, let’s say that it represents virgin industries – sawpits along the edge of the forest, a quarry perhaps (especially in unforested lands) or high country meadows.
Finally, because (e) has two hexes side by side with an isolated hex added, we can treat as merely a roadstead (since its a combination of formerly compiled hexes).
Now, with these we can replace senior hexes 6 and 7 ... there are six of those, five of them all in one line from the top to the middle of the map. I rolled the number 27 twice, so two of the new hexes are exactly the same:
|Figure 12 - group V added|
I’ve deliberately not hooked up the roads, since I want the reader to understand the relationships between the senior hexes. We have a loose collection of roads, the exact line of which we don’t actually know. We must remember that these roads can pass through wilderness hexes – but it’s too soon to determine whether or not they will.
I’ve chosen to make it a quarry and a ferry – though a table could be created for either feature, if one wanted to get more gritty. We can certainly see how the tollgate figures into the separated islands of civilization. The road that I’ve dipped up could just as easily dip down into the number 11 senior hex below ... but that depends on the orientation of that hex.
The river is tricky. You may already have a base map you want to work off of that already has the rivers laid out – in which case, you might say the road crosses a minor tributary, or perhaps its a rope bridge over a gorge. Your imagination is the only limitation.
The course of the river is more troublesome. You have to decide whether the river is the lowest part of the map (in which case the wilderness is all swampy and wet) or that it flows down from the highest part (so that the wilderness areas are hills and mountains. If you choose lowland, then there should be one large river that links up all the wildernesses ... since for an area like this, 140 miles across, the land would be almost all flat and part of one drainage basin. The lowest areas will be the most vegetated.
If you choose highlands with valleys, then the rivers should all flow outward and away from the wildernesses, and the lowest areas will be the spreading fields of your most civilized – and least vegetated – areas. So you see, its really important which you choose.
|Figure 13 - river course options|
Two very different vistas. And of course I could have drawn the rivers in a number of different patterns. At some point, I may sit down and crack out a complicated formula for river placement ... but some things the human imagination can just do faster and easier. What's important here is that we've provided substance for your imagination to hinge on in order to provide one very simple, direct effect. You choose the rivers, the rest of the hex generation then supports that choice.
Note that, like the map says, it is necessary to change the ferry to a ford, since the river is too short to be deep enough to allow water vehicles. All the water coming from these highlands would probably be fairly fast-moving ... a ford would be welcome, just as a ferry would be in the swampy lands of the left.
I could go with either of these, but since the mountains/hills are the more common arrangement, let’s continue with the rivers on the left.
We’ve finished all the predominantly wilderness hexes. The remainder have more civilization that wilderness. And so here we can stop. As I said, I have the next part ready ... and I'll continue to work forward on this to see where it takes me.