The below is not part of OED but was written as a “missing manal” to create an initial dungeon, settlement, and wilderness as well as other non-dungeon topics. The best place to start is with your dungeon, this is where the majority of your play time is likely to be spent, and may be all you really need.
When designing a dungeon from scratch, it should consist of several levels. Each level should have access from above and below, and be made of interlocking corridors, passages, and secret doors.
We will start by designing one of these levels/areas. A starting dungeon area should have 3-18 rooms of varying sizes. Ultimately, the limit is the size of your graph paper or canvas.
At this point, you may wish to take your sketch and clean it up/redraw it. For tips on map drawing, check out: https://dysonlogos.blog/maps/tutorials-help/. But you don’t need to, your map does not need to be an artist rendering, it can look like a basic flow or org chart with squares to represent rooms and lines for hallways, with descriptive text conveying the size and layout.
With your map finalized; each room and location should be given a number designation that you can reference when you create your map key. This key will list the contents of the room; be it treasure, traps, monsters, etc. as well as notes about important details.
Consider having 3 such levels or areas completed before play. When combining levels consider:
We will now add features to our map. Follow the steps below, and mark the features down alongside your map, keyed to the given room (see template below)
Step 1: Place one or two treasures in rooms on the first few levels on the dungeon, examples include:
We will use rumors of these items later when generating our settlement as a call to adventure.
Step 2: For each room on the map, roll a d6 with a 1 indicating that a trap is present. Generate the trap using the OED Traps guidelines.
Step 3: For rooms without a trap, roll a d6 with a 1 or 2 indicating there are monsters present. Generate monsters appropriate for the intended level of the dungeon area. (see OED Expanded Monster guidlines) Monsters can be randomly selected from those of the appropriate threat level, or selected by the Judge to match the theme of the area or previous monster types.
Step 4: Any room with a monster has a 3 in 6 chance for a treasure. Generate a treasure appropriate to the intended level of the dungeon area (see OED Expanded Rewards guidelines).
Step 5: For any room without a monster, there is a 1 in 6 chance that a (hidden) treasure is present. Again, generate a treasure appropriate to the intended level of the dungeon area.
Step 6: Create a list of 6 possible random encounters. Options 1-4 should match the creatures found in nearby rooms. Entries 5-6 should be special: A leader, an NPC, an entirely different monster type, etc.
Updating the Dungeon: When an area of the dungeon is cleared of threats, there is a 1 in 6 chance per day that a group of 1HD creatures or other scavengers will fill the void. Once a “season” the Judge should re-populate the vacated areas with appropriate strength monsters as for a new dungeon.
Now that you have a collection of rooms and their adventuring contents, it is time to flesh out the room descriptions. The room contents (traps, treasure, monsters) serve as a starting point. In general, a lair is going to have at least a rest area and a waste area. For intelligent inhabitants, consider some of the below uses for the rooms.
Once you know what is in a room and decided what the room’s purpose is in the game world; consider what sort of mundane items may be in the room (furniture, containers, junk, decorative elements). If you need ideas, there is a world of random generators out there to spark the imagination.
For rooms with doors, which ones can lock? How sturdy are they? Take a moment to think about the sites, smells, and sounds present in each room; what can be perceived from down the hall or through the door that could influence the players’ decision-making?
With all that done, take a moment to mentally walk through your dungeon; both as a would-be adventurer and as one of the occupants. Does the placement of traps, hazards, etc. make sense? Can wandering monsters move about? Do you like the layout of the rooms, hallways, entrances, exits, etc.? If not, move things around. You don’t have to wait to the end to change anything. If a result comes up and you don’t care for it, do something else.
A settlement is a good second campaign item to work on. This first settlement is where your characters will buy supplies, rest, and collect rumors and hirelings. The first thing to determine when creating a settlement from scratch is its size. This will help define the population and features. For your initial settlement, it is recommended to start with a Village. Otherwise, you can select the size or determine it randomly with a 2d6 roll.
|2d6||Size||Max Pop||Market Cap||# of Hirelings||NPC Level||Sphere of Influence|
|8-9||Town||6,500||1,500 sp||50||7||Secures its Hex|
|10-11||City||60,000||25,000 sp||400||13||Secures Adjacent Hexes|
|12||Capital||None||None||Endless||13+||Secures 2 Hex Radius|
Hamlet: Small groupings of buildings consisting of mostly interrelated families. They are typically centered around one economic activity. It is unlikely to have any stone structures.
Village: Larger and more spread out, usually with at least one central stone building such as a temple or fortification. They will often have a formally recognized authority figure.
Town: These larger communities still cluster around a single central market or “downtown”. In addition to leaders, they will have a small-dedicated watch or garrison.
City: A city will have multiple civic centers, often separated by district and purpose (residential, commercial, etc.). They will almost always have walls, at least around their core. The values listed here are for the city proper; they are often surrounded by outlying villages and communities of their own.
Capital: Much like a city, but larger, and likely the center of power (political or mercantile) for a region.
Max Pop: This is the maximum number of people found in the community proper. You can presume that 20% of this number are in a condition to take up arms as zero level NPCs when needed.
Market Cap: Items below this price can be readily found for sale in the community. Above this level assume there is a base 10% chance and/or 1d6 weeks to procure.
No. of Hirelings: This is the number of available hirelings per season in the area.
NPC level: This is the highest level of NPCs one is likely to encounter. Folks above this level may be present, but they are special individuals, like adventurers or authority figures for example.
Sphere of Influence: How much of the surrounding land the settlement is able to keep peaceful and under control, expressed in 6 miles hexes (see below). The populations of these areas are generally safe from monsters and attacks (random encounters).
While a settlement is composed of dozens or thousands of individuals; in practice, you just need to focus on folks the PCs are likely to interact with. You can create and develop others in response to play.
You will want at least a basic map of the settlement for your and the players’ reference. Again, this does not need to be an artistic endeavor. It is enough to mark some lines for major roads in and through the settlement, location of the civic center, and the establishments you defined above. You will also want to sketch in any bodies of water or other geographic features such as woods, hills, etc. Finally, make a mark or notes on anything of interest on the outskirts; groves, abandoned structures, notable beings.
For Cities and Capitals, it is often enough to know the main roads, gates, major locations and buildings (such as the ruler’s keep, major temple, markets, etc.) as well as a rough idea of the “districts”.
With the basics of the settlement established, it is a good time to generate a collection of Hirelings and Rumors. You may also stat up any town guard, proprietors of the major establishments with whom your PC’s are likely to interact, and make a notable NPC or two (rulers, crazed hermits, etc.) of higher level. (see NPCs).
Hirelings will be first level. Town guard (if present) are 1st level fighters with a 4th level sergeant for every 30 guards. Most other townsfolk and specialists will be zero level.
Rumors: You can make up rumors based on the work you have done already, or randomly create some (see Rumors). When starting out, it is probably best to keep your rumors true.
Finally, sprinkle in some details about the settlement like you did for the dungeon. What are the sights and sounds one is greeted by. How do they make their living? What do the locals think of Dwarves or Wizards? Does the community harbor any secrets?
Now that you have an adventuring location and a home base, it is time to fill in the areas around them. The first step is to draw out the wilderness; this is often done on a series of 6 mile wide hexagons. Hexagons are a useful way to abstract terrain and measure distances, by having a uniform distance between center points. Specifically a 6-mile hex is advantageous because it has a 7-mile “diagonal”, and 3 mile “radius” which equates to the sight-line distance for a human sized character to the horizon in an open field. Finally, it serves to break the traveling day into manageable segments.
To begin laying out your wilderness, start with a “Plains” hex, “P”, in the center of your space. Using the center hex as your reference terrain, roll 2d6 on the table below. The result will be the terrain type of the new hex. Start at the top and continue around clockwise. When generating additional terrain, always work out from the existing terrain type, setting the new “center” hex as the refence hex. This will create natural “clumps” of terrain like forests.
|2||Dry “D” (-1 to next roll)||8-9||Plains “P”|
|3||Hills “H”||10-11||Trees “T”|
|4-7||Same as Reference Hex||12||Wetlands “W” (+1 to next roll)|
Remember, this is only the main type of terrain in the hex, a plains hex will have small wooded areas, a dry hex will have small ponds, a forested hex can also be hilly or have a bog, etc.
You may notice that mountains and water (lakes, oceans) are not included on this list. Those are treated as hard boundaries and should be placed intentionally by the Judge. (Keep in mind, mountain peaks can be seen from up to 120 miles/20 hexes away). The Judge may also choose to adjust the terrain descriptions based on the climate (a forest becomes a jungle, plains becomes tundra, etc.).
In the very beginning, you only need a hex to put your settlement in, one for your dungeon, and enough to surround them both. Over time, you can generate more terrain, enough to cover a few “day trips” from their base of operations (about a 6 hex radius). Depending on the size of the wilderness you create, you may wish to number the hexes.
The final steps are to place your starting settlement in the original plains hex, and then place your starting dungeon in an adjacent or nearby hex. That is enough to get started. When you are ready, you can populate the other hexes with content.
It would take tremendous work to define an entire region or continent via Hex generation. As you move beyond your starting region, it is recommended that you instead sketch out the major geographical features at that larger scale (mountain ranges, coasts, deserts, etc.) and zoom back in with hexes on any area in which play settles.
Now that you have your starting terrain, a settlement, and a dungeon, it is time to place major features in the remaining hexes. The below simulates a borderlands of civilization where adventure happens.
There is a 1 in 20 chance that a hex has a major occupant, with the type determined on a d6 below:
Remember, at this scale we are mainly concerned with showing major features. These hexes can be riddled with hamlets, caves, ruins, monster lairs, bandit camps, etc. The Judge should feel free to drop in 2 other small settlements nearby and more features (such as additional dungeons) as needed.
Barriers: In a given hex, there is a 10% chance of a ravine, river, or other moderate barrier.
Hills and Peaks: If a Hill hex is likewise surrounded by other Hill hexes, consider making the middle hex a (lonely) Mountain hex or prominent peak.
Mountains: In Mountain hexes, there is a 10% chance for a pass, and 1% chance for a volcano.
Rivers: Only the largest of rivers would be visible at this scale. Something the size of the Colorado would be a thin line, and only one as vast as the Mississippi would be notable. The Judge should assume that any settlement or stronghold is likely near a river or sufficient body of water. They should thoughtfully place any major rivers, flowing from highlands to wetlands or the coast.
Roads: Much like rivers, only the most major of highways would be marked on such a map. The Judge should be free to presume that any settlements or strongholds have roads or paths connecting them, barring some obstacle such as hills, mountains, or monster infested lands.
if you don’t want to take a great deal of time procedurally generating hexes, instead just take of map of an existing wildness area (current or historical) and trace hexes or use the map as guideline to fill in your hex paper. You can even take a map of your own home town and work outward from there, swapping in well known locations (school, downtown, shopping center) for settlements and monster lairs.
A Stronghold is a special kind of settlement, typically established by high level NPCs. It can be a Warrior’s Keep, a Wizard’s Tower, an Outlaw’s Hideout, etc. Like Towns, they secure they Hex in which they are located. A stronghold is defined by its occupant(s), which are generated using the rules for NPCs of level 9+1d6 (or use the quick list below)
|1||Fighter 11: S 18 D 10 C 13 I 8 W 11 X 10; HP 82; Iron Will, Great Fortitude; Chain +1 Sword +2, Bow +1.|
|2||Wizard 12: S 8 D 11 C 12 I 18 W 11 X 10; HP 37; Spells; Wand of Fear, Broom of Flying, Wand of Lightning.|
|3||Thief 15: S 10 D 18 C 10 I 10 W 11 X 12; HP 51; Backstab x5; Leather +2, Sword +2, Ring of Protection; Elven Boots.|
|4||Fighter 14: S 21 D 10 C 13 I 8 W 11 X 11; AC HP 97; Iron Will, Grt Fort, Ex Str; Plate +2 Sword +2, Bow +1.|
|5||Wizard 15: S 8 D 11 C 13 I 18 W 11 X 10; HP 55; Spells; Ring of Protection, Wand of Fireball, Staff of Power.|
|6||Thief 10: S 10 D 18 C 10 I 10 W 11 X 10; HP 41; Backstab x4; Leather +1, Sword +2, Ring of Protection.|
The process for stocking wilderness is similar to that of the dungeon. You can create a single table for the whole region or have a table for the forest, one for the hills, etc.
First, determine the threat rank of the area. You can presume that any “settled” hex (one that is secured or controlled) and those adjacent are equivalent to “level 1” of a dungeon. For each hex beyond that, increase the level. For areas that cover multiple hexes, you can take the lowest or the average value since the threat rank tables have overlap built in (the wilderness in unpredictable!).
To determine the nature of the encounter, first roll a d6 and consult the result against the number of hexes from civilization. This will give you the “Threat” rank (I – VI) of the creature.
|Hexes from Civilization||d6 Result||Threat Rank||Monster (Equivalent)
Next, determine the type of creature encountered. This is done with a d6 as shown below:
Finally, once you know the general category of creature and the (Equivalent) Hit Die range, select or otherwise determine the one you wish to use (see OED Monster Matrix or Vol II), adding it to your encounter table, taking care to note the “number appearing” and “percent in lair” values.
You will repeat the process until you have a filled out encounter chart (typically 6 entries to start). You may wish to pick creatures along a theme, allowing that first determination to set the tone for the region. You may also want to reserve one entry for pitfalls, man-traps, or other tricks/phenomena.
When stocking a wilderness, use the number appearing and guidelines in volume 2 or in OED Monster Database. The numbers of creatures in the wilds are not constrained by the limits of dungeon corridors. The “% in lair” statistic is rolled when the encounter comes up. This will indicate that the party has encountered the lair of such creatures (camp, hut, cave, etc.) Note on the map for future development.
As with designing a dungeon, you should feel free to ignore, reroll, or just change anything along the way that does not fit, or to make room for a better idea. Want a forest near your dungeon? Just add it. Want your Stronghold ruled by an Elf Lord, Orc Bandit King, Vampire Queen, etc?. The sky is the limit.
Hex Paper: If you don’t have hex paper you can use squares/graph paper. Assume a 5mi square with a 7 mile diagonal, “averaging out” to 6 miles; allowing you to use these procedures (give or take).
Trips to explore or travel through the wilderness can be abstracted using the below procedures.
Movement across the wilderness is measured in move points per day. A typical creature has 3 movement points, double for flying creatures. This abstraction assumes daylight travel, along with occasional breaks, foraging, investigation, and trailblazing. For other creature types, divide their movement rate in feet by 20 (or movement in table inches by 4). Groups of 100+ suffer a -1 penalty; groups of 1000+ a suffer -2 penalty to their base move points (to a minimum of 1).
Each terrain type has a difficulty factor associated with it, this value represents the number of movement points needed to cross the terrain type, the chance (in 6) of an encounter, and the chance (in 6) of getting lost.
Describe/Map: As the party explores beyond the bounds of the immediate area, the Judge should inform them of the new terrain type and features they encounter so they can learn and record the lay of the land on their map.
Encounter Check: Once per hex there is a chance in 6 for a random encounter equal to the terrain difficulty factor. Encounter type is based on the tables you made earlier. Parties outdoors have a chance to spot one another at a distance of 2d6x10 yards, using the same procedures as in a dungeon.
Evasion: The Judge may choose to roll morale for pursuing creatures if the party has fled their territory.
Lost Check: A party navigating without reliable roads or consistently visible horizon markers has a chance in 6 to become lost equal to the terrain difficulty factor. When the party becomes lost, the Judge rolls a 1d6 to determine which neighboring hex they end up in, with a 1 being their intended direction.
A tried and true way to determine the weather at any given time in game is to look out the window and use the prevailing conditions you see. Or you can use the below table.
|d6||Weather Result and Effects|
|1-3||Clear: (Orcs, Goblins, etc. suffer daylight penalties)|
|4-5||Cloudy: (no modifiers)|
|6*||Precipitation: ½ Movement/Flight, -4 penalty to missile attacks, composite bows can not fire. +1 chance to get lost.|
*1 in 6 chance to be Stormy: No ranged attacks, -1 to Morale, Creatures must shelter or risk exposure/damage.
For added variety, the Judge can opt to have a 1 in 6 chance of a change in weather to come through in at a given point in the day (morning, afternoon, evening, or night). This can also include warmer or colder than normal temperatures.
Characters and creatures are presumed to be adequately dressed or acclimated to the weather (including armor, etc.). If they are inappropriately garbed for the temperature (too hot or too cold) they take damage as below (the Judge may increment the damage for more extreme situations)
Extreme Temperatures: You suffer 1d6 damage per hour and must additionally save vs death or suffer -1d6 Strength.
The above rules assume groups are carrying food and water for their journey, supplemented with light foraging. If a party runs out of resources, they suffer the effects below.
Lack of Water: You suffer 1d6 damage per day without water and must additionally save vs death or suffer -1d6 Strength.
Lack of Food: You have a 50% chance each day without food to suffer 1 point of damage (1d3 if engaging in strenuous activity). You also suffer 1d6 damage per week without food and must additionally save vs death or suffer -1d6 Strength.
Creatures suffer the same penalties they do in darkness (movement, attack, morale); unless it is one of the nights of the full moon, with clear skies, and open terrain.
PCs can establish a base simply by putting down roots in a location. Renting a house, buying an inn or a ship, establishing a business, or taking over a lair or hideout are all ways to set up a base. This will give them a set location from which to operate.
A Stronghold however is more than just a base of operations; it is a seat of power and authority. When the time comes for a PC or party to establish their own stronghold, they must first secure and clear the area. This will involve not only removing any foes in the area, but also laying claim to that area. This can be done via a grant from a ruler or patron, other legal channels, or by securing a tract of wilderness.
The below rules focus on a wilderness stronghold, but can be adapted to other situations such as a pirate ship, city thieves guild, wizard’s college, nomadic horde, druidic circle, etc. They cover the basics of domain gameplay. More detailed rules on economics, warfare, etc. are beyond the scope of this document.
To construct a basic keep that is able to secure 1 hex worth of territory will cost 80,000 silver. Such a Keep requires 282 weeks (5.4 years) to build. One can increase the build cost up to 4 times (320,000sp), to reduce the build time by a proportional amount, in this case 1/4th (71 weeks).
For other structures, reference the prices found in Vol III or the historical price in shillings x3.
They may also take over an established structure or and abandoned one, presume ½ the cost in repairs.
The benefits of establishing a stronghold begin to manifest as soon as construction begins as outlined below.
There are no longer random encounters / monster lairs within the Hex.
The PC no longer needs to replenish mundane items such as torches, rations, etc. prior to embarking on an adventure. It is presumed “their people” take care of these tasks.
The area will being to attract settlers. The Judge can assume that 3d6 families (averaging 5 people) settle in per season. The standard stronghold can support and protect a community of up to 6500.
A Stronghold is protected by a compliment of 3d6x10 1HD warriors, half outfitted with Crossbows and Light Armor, and the rest with Heavy Armor and Polearms. For every 30 soldiers there is also a sergeant of 4th level. These forces begin to arrive in proportion to the completion of the construction.
The stronghold comes with an unerringly loyal “Major Domo” or similar NPC who manages the daily affairs, allowing the PC to continue adventuring.
It is recommended the PC spend at minimum 1 week in their Stronghold per season to maintain a good relationship with the folk, and thereby receive the above benefits.
For basic gameplay, the Judge can presume that such a Stronghold can sustain itself with regard to staffing, resources, and security under most circumstances as part of the PC’s monthly upkeep costs. If the PCs wish to explore the hiring of specialists or other economic actives, there is a list of specialists, siege weaponry, etc. in Volume III.
For variety, the Judge can roll 2d6 on the table below once per season to determine special happenings
|2||Bane: Plague, Treachery, Revolt, War.|
|3-5||Poor Season: Attack (Monster, Bandit, Army), Poor Harvest, Depleted Resource(s)|
|6-8||Uneventful Season (20% chance each for good or bad omen, +/-1 to next season’s roll)|
|9-11||Good Season: New Resource(s), Bountiful Harvest, Victory/Celebration|
|12||Boon: Title of Nobility, Magic Item, Special Allies, etc.|