Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Delving Deeper Setting: Step 2 - The Starting Area

With all the world at hand, where do you start exploring?
This is the second of five parts in The Gygax '75 Challenge in which I create a Delving Deeper campaign setting using the process set forth by Dungeon & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax. Gary first presented this process in the April 1975 issue of Europa fanzine.

Gary's process for step 2 is to sit down with a large sheet of hex paper and start drawing your starting area. He goes on to add that the scale should be 1 mile per hex.

Just Three Hexes

A large sheet of blank paper can be pretty intimidating. Where do you start? In the center or closer to one edge? While pondering these questions I remember Chicagowiz's advice on this subject: just start with three hexes.

Starting area lo-res version
My drawing skills are a little rusty and I want to create something that I can put in front of players to begin play. I decided to try the free version of Hexographer. After playing around with the software for a bit I came up with something I'm happy with.

The starting area is based on the geographic descriptions within several songs from my source Rush albums: Rivendell from Fly By Night, The Necromancer and The Fountain of Lamneth from Caress of Steel.

Starting in the south-western most hex you have the ruins of the Necromancer's tower in the center of a dead forest. North of there is the town of WIllow Dale. This will most likely serve as the home base for player characters. North and east from Willow Dale is the village of River Dell, home of a circle of Eldir (elves).  The eastern most hexes show the Down Mountains running north and south. This gives me plenty area to start with.

One Mile Hexes
Starting area hi-res version

I could stop here, but then there's Gary's recommendation of making the map reflect one mile to a hex. Starting from the lo-res 6 mi/hex map it was much easier to detail a hi-res version of the starting area map. This also gave me the ability to add some features on the map such as the River Dawn, starting in the snow capped mountains to the east and running westward between Willow Dale and the dead forest.

There was an unexpected bonus outcome of this exercise: wandering monster tables. Looking at the maps I created I began to think about the types of encounters PC may experience as they travel from point to point. I started to ask questions in order to detail the encounter tables: are there different encounters during the day as opposed during the evening, are any type of encounters more likely to happen than others, what sort of monsters live in these areas? The map certainly makes these questions easier to answer.

With step two down I'm ready to tackle step three: dungeon design.


Ray Otus' The Viridian Scroll

The Gygax 75 Challenge: Week 2

Ray Otus' Plundergrounds Podcast

Gygax 1975 Challenge Week 2

Illustration Credits

Wikimedia Commons - Unknown artist from Sebastian M√ľnster'sCosmographia: Book V (1544)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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