Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Features & Food, Part III: Animals, Dungeons & More

The trouble with this post, and the reason why it has gone up in three parts, is because of the niggling little details that have to be just so.  It worries me a bit, as hex type VIII is the simplest of them - and I had planned on talking about them all.

Anyway, the water section was the largest, finished yesterday.  I feel confident I can finish today.

Animal Sources

These three are a question of degree, with a game trail producing the least food, a choke point producing somewhat better and game country the richest.

The game trail is a fixed route, generally a series of braided routes a few hundred yards wide, by which meat-yielding animals travel.  A competent hunter would be able to read the trail, knowing at what point along the route and what time of day would be best to conceal his or her self.  

The choke point is a special form of game trail, where the topography forces animals to move through a pass, over a ford, along a particular ridge and the like.  Thus the choke point compresses a wider set of trails into a confining band.  At certain times of the year, animals may be found moving continuously through such an area - so many in fact that local hunters and carnivores will get their fill and ignore the great availability of meat.

Game country is a natural bowl or plateau where ground water is so plentiful that the trees, shrubs or grass grow thick as a carpet.  This indicates that a rich area of vegetation may exist even in a desert. Hunters may roam freely through such areas without the need to conceal themselves in a blind, as game congregates throughout the feature.  Game country tends to exist only in type VIII hexes (100% wilderness).

The chance for game country is 3 in 3d4, modified as follows: +3 if a lake is present; +2 if there is a river; +2 if there is a fishing pond; +1 if there is a dried pond; and +1 if there is an oasis.  Game trails occur in any hex that is adjacent to a game country hex, as they lead from the outside in.

The chance for a choke point is 2 in 2d4 if hills are present and 3 in 2d4 if mountains.  They do not occur elsewhere.


I considered for a long time how common dungeons should be.  I didn't want the standard D&D sort of dungeon to occur every six miles, but at the same time I did not want players having to walk halfway across my world in order to find one.  The solution was to reconsider what defined a dungeon - not necessarily for adventuring purposes, but as a feature that exists in a fantasy world.

I define a dungeon as follows:  there exists more than one habitat.  A single lair, even as large as several hundred humanoids, is a lair and not a dungeon.  For it to be a dungeon, there must be a second lair, at least, either linked with or hidden from the first.  This typically means a series of tunnels or connected natural chambers to be explored.  As well, there must be some natural food supply that exists underground, which the inhabitants consume.

Towards that end I have been working on a series of vegetation types that conceivably do not need sunlight to live.  I do not speak of molds.  If this is a fantasy world, we may conceive of molds that grow like fibrous carpets that can supply food for diminutive herd animals; plants that cling to ceilings and grow downwards, with a consistency like cornsilk, which can be chopped and boiled to make soup or woven to make rope; hard, woody plants that grown in hexagonal patterns in large chambers, that give forth gray flowers that ultimately yield fruit; and seaweed-like fronds ('pond-weed') that grows in cold water.  One might even imagine a plant that, if it receives a blast of light once per month, it stores the photons and thus thrives.  All that would be needed was a first level light spell.  Combined together with fish and animals raised to live on such provender, a 'dungeon' can be seen as a rich food supply, like an underground hydroponics lab without requiring continuous light. 

The chance for such a dungeon is 3 in 3d6, modified as follows: +1 for hills, +2 for mountains and +1 for subtropical dry climates.  This latter argues that dry, warm climates produce a warmer underground environment, suggesting that such places would be more likely to be adapted to the food supplies described.  While considering that 1 in 216 seems a low number, I would point out that this would mean a single 6 mile hex with seven lesser hexes would have a 7 in 216 chance and that one of my 20-mile hexes would have a 49 in 216 chance.  A country the size of Belgium would have an average of 8 such dungeons.  Moreover, dungeons need not only occur in wilderness areas - where Belgium would be concerned, such dungeons would merely be deeper and more likely associated with large cities and ancient churches or tombs rather than large caverns.

The dungeon type indicated is really more of a place-holder at present.  A % die gives the following: 01 ruined town; 02-11 ruined hamlet; 12-13 curiousity; 15-44 dungeon; 45-92 hollow; 93-00 religious ruin.

Ruined towns or hamlets are deserted places where much of the dungeon may be on the surface, with towns having expected underground places for adventuring and exploration - abandoned sewers or basements.  Curiosities are man-made wonders, such as singular constructions like pyramids, elaborate gardens or castles; natural wonders such as geological vents, strange islands, stone forests; technological strangenesses such as a buried spaceship that the party might discover; anything, really, that is separated by its unique circumstance.  Dungeons are the traditional form.  Hollows are collections of natural caverns with little man-made design.  Religious ruins imply undead or other evil creatures living in fabricated tunnels more than a thousand years old.


I'm sorry to say that the various examples of the tables above do not relate to one another.  I was hoping for that, but spreading this out over five days has meant the various tables have become muddled.  Therefore, do not worry about how the below relates to the examples given.  I shall sort that out at the end of this post.  For now, try to see the below table for its general 'look.'

For the moment, let's just treat these as abstract numbers.  Bush tucker includes berries, nuts, honey and the various provender to be found from oases.  Berries produce 1 food, nuts 1-2, honey 1-3 and an oasis 2-6+1 (2d3+1).

Fish includes values for coast, lake, river, river mouth, swamp, bank, fish pond and pingo pools. Most water produces at least a little food.  Coast produces 0-1 food, lake 0-2, river 0-1, river mouth 0-2, swamp 0-1, bank 1-4, fish pond 1-3 and pingo pools 0-1.  For reference, 'zero-to-one' is a d2-1, while 'zero-to-two' is a d3-1.  Even with the chance of a set part of water producing no food at all, fish tends to be a major source if there is water available.

Forage includes meadowlands, dried ponds and dungeons.  Meadowlands produce 1-3, dried ponds 0-1 and dungeons produce 2-8.

Game meat includes game country, game trails and choke points.  Game country produces 2-5 food, game trails produce 1 and choke points produce 1-3.

Before going on, lets look at a complete result for the whole hex, generated as one image:

I rolled for this until I got a dungeon result.  Incidentally, I've attached a working copy of the generator to the Wiki, which you can play with.  I'm afraid that most of it is junk at the moment, as the generator is in a state of flux, but you might enjoy looking at what I've done with Type VII and Type VI hexes in the meantime.

What is '1' food?  In the interest of verisimilitude, we had best go back to this post.  There I suggest that '1 food' is equivalent to 100 million calories, which I then suppose would be enough to feed 167 people (remembering that we're including children in our number).  We can argue here than one human weighs, on average, 137 lbs.  This would mean that 1 food on the above list was enough to feed 22,879 lbs. of flesh.

If we assume that the ordinary animals are accounted for in the existing biome, we can presume that this fed flesh refers to monsters only.  That rids us of the need to consider how many deer, rabbits, frogs, lizards, birds and whatever also exist.  We only need worry about creatures as they occur in the monster lists - humans included, as bandits, brigands and so on.

Thus, the dungeon indicated with its five food would feed 2,287.9 goblins, assuming their average weight at 50 lbs. each.  More than enough.  Of course, the critical principle here is diversify!  Don't just pick one type of monster to feed on one given source of food.

Some quibbler is bound to mention that since I rolled the dungeon as a religious ruin, and since I said already that such places would be occupied by undead - and that the undead do not eat - that the whole system makes no sense.  I'm sure, however, that we can use our brains and adjust for such illogical circumstances.

Okay, I'm tired now.  This has been a lot of work.  Different subject tomorrow.


Tim said...

Wow. That final spreadsheet is fabulous.

There are moments when I like to amuse myself in thinking that eventually all the random generation will become so good that the players will just turn to my computer and say, "That was a great game!" in some form of technophobic parable come to life.

Although someone has to pretend to be a goblin king...

Arduin said...

I noticed you removed your "humanoids" roll from the table. Obviously you've already got the data in terms of how much food feeds how many persons, but how do you "fill out" your hexes now?

What's the process by which you organize your wilderness encampments and so on? You've already mentioned the dungeon roll is predicated on the idea that some other settlement is there, so how are these other settlements determined?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I mentioned a couple of months ago about trying to do too many things with the hex generator at the same time. Beginning again with 2.0, I decided that I would concentrate FIRST on the features and existing human culture/relationships, and LATER work on things like the presence of monsters and other entities.

Logically, an 'encounter table' would come out of the food numbers as generated here on the table, but this is an element that I'll add to the programming. It is, for the time being, at least a number I can use as a framework.

Zrog (ESR) said...

I am humbled by the amount of work that went into this.

I'm not sure I have the enthusiasm for DM'ing, to spend the time creating a world around this, but thanks for sharing the fruits of your endless labour.


PS - You have to promise to publish your whole rule-set before you die... ;-)