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Old 04-23-2016, 05:52 PM   #1
Landwalker
 
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Default [Practicum] Procedural World-Building Test Run

Well, it's been a long time since I've haunted these... haunts. But Joe's GURPS blog has managed to drag me back out of my cave. I find what he's doing over there fascinating, both in terms of procedural game-generation and in terms of GM-less gaming as a whole.

While Joe has an outstanding worked example of his procedural world generation over on his blog, I believe he would agree that his own familiarity with the method might grease the wheels when he's working through everything. So, naturally, I got to wondering how it might all look if it were being done by someone whose creative wheels are instead greased by coarse sand and rubber cement. As the poster child for the creatively-impaired, I am deciding to volunteer myself for this experiment.

So I'll be using this thread to organize my thoughts as a blindly grope my way through the process. Probably nobody will care, but hopefully the organization will combine with some well-deserved public shaming to produce something akin to understanding in my enfeebled right brain, or, if nothing else, perhaps it will serve as a useful cautionary tale ("Don't do what Walker does") to any who might follow in my footsteps.

A handful of points, observations, and intentions, all of questionable value:
  • I will be using the free version of Hexographer to map things out as I go. Because this is me we're talking about, it is likely to be ugly, but my goal is to at least make it marginally serviceable. Joe himself has been using AutoREALM, which I have some experience with but which is a little too highfalutin' for this particular project. I will be using a scale of roughly "Two hexes = one day's travel in good terrain".

  • While I hope to ultimately use this to create a world in which to run a game (maybe even a solo game!), this experiment is exactly that. While Joe's tables are intended for your basic Dungeon Fantasy-style world, my eventual goals tend more towards a grittier and even-less-fantastic vein, which should be easily accomplished by simply tinkering with certain racial-composition tables. But that won't be part of this project.

  • I have practically no idea what I'm doing! Oh God!

Table of Contents
  1. The First Region—Antlered Folk and Infernals
  2. The First Second Region—Gilded Snow Elves
  3. Infernals! Infernals Everywhere!
  4. The One With All The Dwarves
  5. My First Wilderness
  6. Fleshing Out some West
  7. Things Are Getting Fishy

Last edited by Landwalker; 04-25-2016 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 04-23-2016, 05:54 PM   #2
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Default Chapter 1: The First Region

Chapter 1: The First Region

Joe's recommendation for starting the first region, if you want a "standard Western Europe-style fantasy world", is to simply declare that region's climate to be either Temperate or Coastal and then move on to the other attributes as normal. So naturally I will be starting off this experiment by disregarding the advice of the system's designer and creating the first region entirely randomly.
  1. Determine Size
    Well, not entirely randomly. Normally, this would be a 3d6 roll. However, since this is the first region I will have ever created, I'm going to simply declare the first region to be Small in size.

    Now, the Collaborative Gamer's table lists Small regions as 1d6×2 days along their longest axis, but since that seems a little too "swingy" to me, I'm going to roll 2d6 instead. I roll [1,2] for a total of 3 days across—a small region indeed!
  2. Determine Climate and Terrain
    A 3d6 (8) roll for Climate yields an Alpine starting climate. Very interesting! To make matters even stranger, I roll 1d6 (6) for Terrain, and wind up with Arctic. It looks like this starting region is certainly not going to be in the center of my map (or it's going to be a very, very cold map). That's tantamount to rolling up part of Siberia as one's initial location...

    But hey, a roll is a roll. Time to get this thing on e-paper.
  3. Civilization
    Alright, let's see what civilization we're looking at here. Because this is the first region, the Arctic terrain type means a roll of 3d6+4 (12). I end up with a Semi-Civilized region!
  4. Settlements
    A Small, Semi-Civilized region gets no cities at all and 1d3-2 towns. My roll (-1) means that this region will have no significant towns at all—not that surprising for a small, frigid area. Remember, of course, that it may have plenty of villages, but those are not part of the world creation.
  5. Population Type
    To determine the region's primary population, I'm rolling 1d6, 1d6 (5,6) — Beast-Folk! That means a second roll on the Alpine Beastfolk table: 1d6, 1d6 (6,5). Very appropriately, this means the beast-folk are of the "Moose, Elk, Deer, Stag" type. So our first region is a small, thinly-populated one hosting some sort of nomadic elk-folk.
  6. Theme
    Last but not least, the prevailing theme of the region, which requires another 1d6, 1d6 roll (2,5) — Infernal! These do not seem to be very friendly elk-folk if they're consorting with hellspawn up there in the frozen tundra. Or, perhaps, the region is simply cursed by a weakened veil to the infernal planes, allowing demons to more easily roam the region regardless of the activities of the elk-folk. I find both possibilities pretty interesting, so we'll see what happens later and maybe circle back to this.
  7. Monster Ecology
    Ordinarily, determining the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary monster types for the region would be the last piece. However, those tables aren't "released" yet, so for now, the region's monster types are unknown. Perhaps they would help answer the question of the relationship between the elk-folk and the infernal realm...

And that's our (my) first region! It's certainly an odd-ball one—I've never even heard of elk-folk before. But it's a start, and we'll see where things from here!

While it's not much to look at yet, here is the world map to date.

Last edited by Landwalker; 04-23-2016 at 07:25 PM.
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Old 04-23-2016, 07:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Practicum] Procedural World-Building Test Run

Chapter 2: The First Second Region

With the first region out of the way, it's time to transition into the "adding new regions" rules, which work slightly differently in order to maintain some degree of consistency as the world takes shape. Most of the rules are the same, but climate, terrain, and civilization are slightly tweaked.

The first order of business is to decide which direction we're going. Since we started in the arctic north, let's head southerly for this first second region.
  1. Determine Size
    3d6 (12) yields another Small region, which will be 2d6 (7) days across. So, while this is the same "size category" as our first region, this one is over twice as broad.
  2. Climate and Terrain
    First, we have to roll 3d6 (8) to determine the new region's geography relative to its neighbor—Same Climate (Alpine), but New Terrain. This requires a 1d6 (3), which yields a River terrain. So our new region is an Alpine River region.

    Since River regions tend to be narrow and snaky, we'll wrap this new region around the southern half of the first one and then carry it on to the west.
  3. Civilization
    Like Climate and Terrain, a new region's level of Civilization is determined relative to its "region of origin". This requires a 3d6 (5) roll, and yields a +1 relative civilization level, meaning that our new region is Civilized: Well-settled, relatively high population density, roads, and more map-worthy settlements. This works out great, since if there's going to be any true civilization in the tundra, it's likely to be found along some body of water.
  4. Settlements
    A small, civilized region gets 1d3-2 (1) cities and 1d3 (2) towns, and this one is well-settled even by Civilized standards—especially in light of its geographical location. I decide to put the city near a bend in the river in the southwest of the region, and the two towns will also be river-front real estate to the east.
  5. Population Type
    Another 1d6, 1d6 (6,1) roll — Elves! Some good ol' classic Snow Elves (or whatever?) up here in the bitter north of the world. And probably none too happy about the infernal activity on their doorstep, either.

    In fact, at this point I go back to my Settlements and move both the city and the two towns to the river's southern bank, so that they will have the benefit of the river as an additional defense against any encroaching demonic shenanigans.
  6. Theme
    And the final piece of the puzzle for Region #2 takes another 1d6, 1d6 roll (3,6) — a Rich region! It'll be interesting to see how that plays out with the surrounding area, but it seems like these snow elves are making out very well, all things considered. Most likely they're either running a flourishing river trade with their neighbors, or there's some other wealth being generated (perhaps via some sort of crafting industry).

That does it for the second region of this world, and the first "add-on" region: A small, alpine riverland playing host to some wealthy and well-settled Snow Elves.

As before, a look at the map-in-progress, complete with some farmland around the major settlements. Not sure what they're farming, though, so if anybody who hails from arctic lands wants to offer suggestions as to the local agriculture, I'm all ears. =D
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Old 04-23-2016, 08:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Practicum] Procedural World-Building Test Run

Quote:
Originally Posted by Landwalker View Post
Chapter 2: The First Second Region

Not sure what they're farming, though, so if anybody who hails from arctic lands wants to offer suggestions as to the local agriculture, I'm all ears. =D
If it's genuinely Arctic, then it's overwhelmingly ranching - sheep, goats, yaks, musk oxen; reindeer if you want to get elfy and exotick. Dogs. Berries (blue, huckle, black, goose, rasp, elder, outside possibility of straw) are important because of scurvy (no citrus up there!). Peas, potatoes, and perhaps other roots (turnips, carrots, beets - beets are the other important source of vitamin C if it's not too cold for them). Barley grows fast enough that the short summer growing season can produce a crop. So - no wine and little salad for these elves; mutton, cheese, potatoes and barleybeer or "scotch" whiskey. Thyme and mustard are your spices. Possibly tea.

Last edited by patchwork; 04-23-2016 at 08:36 PM. Reason: spices.
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Old 04-23-2016, 09:18 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Practicum] Procedural World-Building Test Run

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Chapter 2: The First Second Region
As before, a look at the map-in-progress, complete with some farmland around the major settlements. Not sure what they're farming, though, so if anybody who hails from arctic lands wants to offer suggestions as to the local agriculture, I'm all ears. =D
No. I don't think you're going to get any corn to grow up there, unless you're tweaking it with magic.

Potatoes, maybe, but you didn't day eyes.
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:17 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Practicum] Procedural World-Building Test Run

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I find what he's doing over there fascinating, both in terms of procedural game-generation and in terms of GM-less gaming as a whole.
You're definitely right, there. It's a fantastic looking system, thanks for pointing it out.

So far, I've had a bit of annoyance with tiny regions popping up frequently. I might tweak them to be 1d6-2 days long... but I should avoid tweaking too much. If I was building it, you'd end up rolling on a geology and erosive forces table or something like that...
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:24 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Practicum] Procedural World-Building Test Run

Quote:
Originally Posted by patchwork View Post
If it's genuinely Arctic, then it's overwhelmingly ranching - sheep, goats, yaks, musk oxen; reindeer if you want to get elfy and exotick. Dogs. Berries (blue, huckle, black, goose, rasp, elder, outside possibility of straw) are important because of scurvy (no citrus up there!). Peas, potatoes, and perhaps other roots (turnips, carrots, beets - beets are the other important source of vitamin C if it's not too cold for them). Barley grows fast enough that the short summer growing season can produce a crop. So - no wine and little salad for these elves; mutton, cheese, potatoes and barleybeer or "scotch" whiskey. Thyme and mustard are your spices. Possibly tea.
Good to know! So maybe our Snow Elves are doing a fair amount of sheep-and-goat-herding (for wool and milk/cheese), along with a bustling business of using barley and/or potatoes to produce (and sell downriver) those classic Elven distilled spirits (very popular with the upper crust of... some society somewhere else, TBD).

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Originally Posted by SRoach View Post
No. I don't think you're going to get any corn to grow up there, unless you're tweaking it with magic.

Potatoes, maybe, but you didn't day eyes.
Well played, sir. Well played. =P

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You're definitely right, there. It's a fantastic looking system, thanks for pointing it out.

So far, I've had a bit of annoyance with tiny regions popping up frequently. I might tweak them to be 1d6-2 days long... but I should avoid tweaking too much. If I was building it, you'd end up rolling on a geology and erosive forces table or something like that...
If I were left to my own devices and didn't just give it all up altogether, I'd probably wind up in the same boat and try to have a system that involved plate tectonics and wind patterns and blah blah blah. I even caught myself going down the "But there's no way a landmass would look like that" route at one point, but managed to stop myself before I got too far down that rabbit hole.

The only bone I've thrown in that direction has been a small tweak to allow arid-climate regions to appear in central-latitude parts of the map—Joe's original tables pretty much confine arid land to sub-tropical regions, but considering that most of the continental United States between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains would be considered arid or semi-arid (never mind parts of central Asia and elsewhere), I made a small tinker to let arid climes sneak into those parts of the world.

Of course, in order for that to even matter, I have to get out of this frosty alpine locale first.

I do agree that tiny regions might be a smidge too common given their "one day of travel" size—statistically they'll make up just over a quarter of all regions, after all. I might adopt a 1d6-2 or 1d6-3 "travel span" for them as well, just to let them have a bit of variety.
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Practicum] Procedural World-Building Test Run

Having built a map with that system before, I have the following observations:

The sizes can get a little wonky: in particular vast regions take up a huge amount of space.

Shape is not specified: I like to make larger versions of a size category long and skinny (length is specified distance), while short ones are fat. One thing you'll notice is that small and large areas give the same number all the time.

Direction is not specified. Nor is which area is considered 'adjacent'. When faced with a decision I actually rolled to see which area would be considered adjacent. You can also use 'quantum positioning' to ensure certain shapes, like mountain ranges, are kept: if its another mountain, continue the chain. If not, stick it off to the side.

I built a tool to make rolling up these maps easier.

Ultimately, the map builder does NOT work without human intervention, and its stronger for that fact.
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Old 04-24-2016, 08:38 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Practicum] Procedural World-Building Test Run

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... reindeer if you want to get elfy and exotick.
So Saami are "elfly and exotic"?

Actually... yeah I guess they are...aren't they?
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Old 04-24-2016, 08:46 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Practicum] Procedural World-Building Test Run

Chapter 3: The Second Second Region

Alright, it's time to move this long some more. Get excited. Or don't. According to my dice roller, the actual plan is "Get cold."

For the next region, I'm going to plan to keep moving south, past Snow Elf River, but depending on what kind of results I get I may decide to invoke ericthered's "quantum positioning" rule. But let's see how things turn out!
  1. Determine Size
    Another Small region (11 on 3d6)! This isn't that surprising, since Tiny or Small regions collectively have something like a 74% chance of occurring, and Small regions specifically come in at about 48%. This small region will be (2d6...) 9 days across, so on the larger size, and the largest region we've generated yet.
  2. Climate and Terrain
    Since I'm not extending the river, but moving to its opposite side and continuing south, I'm not using the "extending river" tables (and I don't know which direction is upstream or downstream yet, anyway). Instead, I'm rolling on the same "relative climate/terrain" table as last time, which means a 3d6 (11)—Same Climate, Same Terrain! Another Alpine River!

    Now, I have a couple of options here. I could just retroactively decide to make this new region a continuation of Snow Elf River, or I could decide that there are two rivers running very close together in this particular area. I kind of like the second idea, so I'll go with that.

    In fact, since the Snow Elves are Rich, perhaps part of that wealth stems from their principal city sitting astride a confluence? I can run this new river through both the new region and the previous region.
  3. Civilization
    Determined in relation to its "neighbor" region, but this time the neighbor is Civilized. A 3d6 roll (12) indicates "+0 Civilization relative to Neighbor", so this new region is also Civilized.
  4. Settlements
    Another 1d3-2 cities, and 1d3 towns, yield 1 city and 2 towns (again!). For the sake of population dispersion, I'm going to put this city at the further end of the region, and the two towns closer to the Snow Elf City.
  5. Population Type
    Another 1d6, 1d6 (3,2) roll — our map's first Humans! Living in awe (or jealousy) of their wealthy neighbors to the north, no doubt.
  6. Theme
    Uh-oh! A 1d6, 1d6 roll (1,5) to determine theme reveals even more Infernal influence. This is not shaping up to be a very happy part of the world at all. But are these humans diabolic cultists?

    I confess I'm a bit confused as to what to do about combining Infernal theme with Civilized or Semi-Civilized lands. In his own creation, Joe used the "horrible demon-consorting cultists" angle for Monstrous Infernal regions—but those "Monstrous" regions had "Humans" as their monster type.

    Rather than declare these infernal humans to be insane murder-cultists, however, I'm tempted to view them similarly to the city of Korvosa in the Pathfinder world: A decadent, autocratic culture that studies demonology, and which does not paint demons with the traditional "automatic kill-on-sight" brush that most do. There's likely a fair amount of demon-binding and infernal contracts being employed in this region. But don't worry, they "have everything under control."

Well, that was fun... let's do another one!


Chapter 3a: The Other One
  1. Determine Size
    This time around, I get a Large region! (3d6 > 14). Large regions average about twice the size of Small regions, so this one will be 4d6 days across (Joe's table has 2d6×2, but again, that's a little swingy for me).

    I think I'm going to start making two "dimensions" rolls, one for "longest axis" and one for "shortest axis". River and Beach regions will have their "shortest axis" further halved, to ensure the production of "snakey" shapes.

    This particular large region is going to be 9 × 15 days in size—by far the largest yet. Because of its size, I think I'm going to place it to the east of Region 3 (Demonologist Creek), and south-southeast of Snow Elf River
  2. Climate and Terrain
    A roll of 9 on the 3d6 for Relative Climate means "Same climate, new terrain," so apparently our theme of "Creating Siberia" is going to continue. This does make some sense, at least—climate tends not to change abruptly, and the tables (14+ on a 3d6 roll) reflect that.

    The terrain of this new Large region is going to be... (1d6 > 1) ... Mountains. So it looks like a large, chunky mountain range is incoming.

    However, mountains that aren't Erebor don't just pop out of the ground like daisies, generally speaking. They build up to it. So I'll make sure that there are at least a bit of hills leading into the properly mountainous terrain. After adding this to the map, it honestly looks a little... odd, having a big clump of mountains like that. But we'll see where things take us.
  3. Civilization and Settlements
    Since this is a mountainous region, it rolls 3d6+2 (15) for civilization: -1 Civilization Level, which makes these alpine mountains Semi-Civilized. That should be curious.

    As a Large, Semi-Civilized region, these mountains receive no cities and 1d3 towns, yield two towns in these lands. I decide to carve out a couple of "gaps" in the mountains to place the towns, and for now they're going to favor the western edge of the region to be closer to what passes for civilization up here in Siberia.
  4. Population Type
    So what hardscrabble folk live in these mountains? That's a job for 1d6,1d6 (2,5), which reveals that Humans call these lands home. In all likelihood, we're looking at some thinly-spread herders, with a couple of small towns scraping by on the strength of some sort of mining or quarrying operations.
  5. Theme
    I rolled (1,5) Infernal again. Really.

    That's three times out of four I've generated a result that has a 1/36 chance of occurring.

    I'm going to have to consider whether or not to re-roll this just for some variety. As it stands, though, this world has a very peculiar sub-arctic. Perhaps in heroic ages past, the "civilized" races drove the demons out of the southern lands, and all of these infernal regions are where pockets of their influence still remain.

The World So Far
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