Hex Stocking

I’m in the process of trying to come up with a random hex stocking method that works for me. My point of departure is the traditional dungeon stocking method:

  • 1-2 monster (3 in 6 chance of treasure)
  • 3 trap (2 in 6 chance of treasure)
  • 4 special
  • 5-6 empty (1 in 6 chance of treasure)

In the context of wilderness stocking, “monster” would be interpreted as a lair or dungeon, “trap” as a hazard of some sort (or perhaps an abandoned ruin that is uninhabited but still dangerous), and “special” as everything else (including, probably, settlements). Each of those categories could have a subtable or set of subtables to determine the type of lair, etc. I want to keep the system as simple as possible, but I think I need more than this for inspiration, because I don’t find myself actually finishing a stocking process. That’s a sign to me that I need more help from the tables.

One thing that is blocking me is how settlements interact with the stocking. I could just place the settlements, and then stock the areas between them, but I kind of want the generator to do that work for me. It seems that there are really only three or four meaningful settlement sizes for my purposes here. Stronghold, town, village, and isolated settlement (outpost, traveler’s inn, farmstead, etc). Maybe half of the special results would result in some kind of occupied settlement. Ruins would be covered in the monster, trap, and empty (when with treasure) results on the main table.

I don’t care much about things like logical food supplies (I can come up with after the fact explanations), but I do sort of like the idea of graduated civilization and wilderness. Here is another place where three or four categories seem appropriate: civilization (town, fortress, etc), threatened ground (the border between civilization and wilderness), and wilderness. There is a mathematical choice to be made regarding how this works: should the stocking roll be independent or related to results in adjacent hexes? If the process is independent, then we can infer the level of civilization (and thus danger) from the resulting distribution, which will end up being regular.

If it is dependent, then the process would be more like an organic outgrowth from some seed hex (probably the starting town), which would have some chance of going down in civilization level and some chance of going up. The chance of civilization level decreasing as you expand outwards would probably be greater than the chance of civilization level increasing, resulting in a setting that is dominated by wilderness (and thus adventure opportunities). Victor Raymond uses a system like this to generate terrain type in his Wilderness Architect series of articles in Fight On! (issues #2 and #3). He places settlements by determining random direction and distance from the starting settlement.

So, to expand the the “4 special” hex result:

  1. Trick (magic statue, etc)
  2. Settlement
    1. Stronghold (50% chance includes another settlement)
    2. Town
    3. Village
    4. Outpost

The meaning of this table (based on expected values): 1 in 12 hexes will contain a settlement, and 1 in 48 hexes will contain a stronghold. Following the DCC recommendation of 100 miles square, I am considering approximately 16 x 16 six mile hexes, which is 256 hexes (and also compatible with my ideas on hex zooming). Overall, such a wilderness would have (approximately) 86 lairs, 86 empty hexes, 43 specials (21 of which would be settlements) and 43 hazards. How does that distribution look? One thing that does not seem quite right is that an outpost is just as likely as a stronghold using this scheme, but on the other hand this will lead to around 5 strongholds on the map, which seems to be about right (especially if they are of varying levels of power and influence). Also, the “monster” result would include things like bandit forts and the towers of evil magicians.

Any ideas welcome.

11 thoughts on “Hex Stocking

  1. Tom Hudson

    For simple dependence: if adjacent to a settlement, +1 on the d6 roll; you could also make the monsters generated on a 1 more hazardous than on a 2. You’ll occasionally generate a settlement next to a hex where you’ve already rolled a 1, but that just means you’re primed to come up with a story there, right?

    If it were me, I’d consider making 5 a “landmark” result.

  2. Unknown

    Why not do both dependent and independent stocking? Dependent stocking seems to just say ‘civilization’ to me. Independent stocking with its nod to solitude and separation seems to define the wilderness.

    One way that I might do this is to start with either a ‘civilized’ or ‘wilderness’ hex and work out from there — either decide randomly or just choose whatever works for you. Roll a simple d6 with 1-3 (and less) being dependent stocking and 4-6 (and greater) being independent. For each civilized hex adjacent to the one you are working on subtract 1, for each wilderness hex adjacent add 1. Hexes that have not been stocked do not adjust the roll.

    This would require that there be some way of marking whether a hex is civilized or wilderness, but that should be easy.

    If you want to get snazzy you could even come up with different tables (or weight the same tables differently) dependingon whether it is wilderness or civilization.

    1. Brendan

      An interesting idea. I don’t have a sense about what the distribution would look like; might need to try it. The only thing that seems clear is that transitions would generally be more gradual.

  3. Roger the GS

    Here is my personal stocking roll, which gets adjusted according to the civilization level of the larger area:

    d12 (base civilization level is border area)

    1-5 Monster
    6 Special (I use Pacek’s Wilderness Alphabet)
    7-10 Nothing
    11 Fortress/outpost
    12+ Settlement (larger with larger numbers)

  4. Brendan


    So the number rolled is almost like a measure of chaos. How do you determine the larger area civilization level? Just set it? Does the civilization level feed into other systems, like random encounters perhaps?

  5. Billy Billerson

    Remember noisms’ recent post about how much stuff fits in a single hex? For that reason I prefer to only determine the bare-bones in the beginning(major settlements, major monster lair, type of terrain, etc) and then let the rest sort of flow during play from the random missions and random encounters.

    Like once you roll up a random mission, roll randomly to determine which hexes/settlements are relevant.

  6. The Bane

    I seem to recall someone doing something similar, but due to age I can’t recall who or where. What I took from it, and would love to see incorporated here, as I think this is a great approach, is how settlements (towns, keeps, etc.) tend to progress along roads and rivers (water sources) but taper off in size as they go (usually).

    So, yea, dependent on adjacent hexes’ content and type, if that makes sense?

    1. Brendan

      I would certainly be interested in seeing a system like that. Off the top of my head, I suppose rivers, bays, and choke points would be more like to have settlements. Can you think of other such terrain types?


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