Saturday, June 25, 2022

Random Map: Inhabitants

Randomly-generated countries need people to live in them!  Last time we looked at rolling up a country, terrain was the focus.  Today, let's see who lives there.

First I'll roll up some random terrain from that table as we go through an example country:

  • Ridges run northeast-southwest that can easily be walked along.
  • Deep ravines run between the ridges with cascading streams.
  • The sea is to the east, a rocky coast with waterfalls and few safe landings.

There are four species of people in Signs in the Wilderness: the Colonial city-people who tend to live by the sea, the roaming Giants who can eke out a living in more marginal terrain, the Humans who farm and hunt best in lightly wooded valleys with lakes, and the tree-dwelling Goblins who prefer swamps and thick forests.

Roll three times to see which peoples have the most effect on this country:

Locals (d20)
1-3colonials
4-9giants
10-13goblins
14-20humans

For our example country I got giants, humans, and humans.  If you get the same result twice, that's fine.

Terrain makes a difference to these people: goblins thrive in swamps but don't do much with island chains, for example.  For each people result you got, check to see what their modifier is in this land:

Modifier+1 for each of-1 for each of
colonialswarm coast, harbor, rivers near the seafar north, inland, no easy way to sea
giantshighlands, ponds, open countrythick woods, swamps, far south
goblinsdense forests, swamps, cliffsopen country, islands, deserts
humanslakes, wide valleys, semi-woodedrugged mts., swamps, deserts

Looking at the modifiers for giants, I have to make some decisions about what this country is like.  I think I'd like it to be densely forested (a -1 for giants) but I'd also like the ridges to be easily walkable because they're thinly forested up near the treeline (which seems like highlands, a +1 for giants).  Net, that's a +0 for giants.

For the humans in this land, they get a -1 due to the ruggedness of the ridges and ravines, and I don't think any of their other modifiers apply.

From this point on, each of the four peoples has their own table.  If one of your results was Humans, roll on the Humans table plus their modifier, and so on for whichever other peoples you got.

Humans (2d6 + modifier)
≤2humans once lived here, Tales of nomads skilled in folk magick, natural phenomena ascribed to human powers
3few scattered towns warring over resources, Meager Remnant of a once-great tribe
4-5a struggling Tribe among many Ruins
6rival Towns on brink of war, forbidden zone
7ancient ruin, strife with newly-arrived Tribe
8thinly-settled Hunting grounds newly taken by a strong tribe, many burned towns
9Tribe of neighboring country recently invaded
10-11Trade center, many other towns, roads
12Forbidden kingdom, outsiders put to death, trade via trusted intermediaries
13+Nation whose Power extends to other lands, collecting tribute and tolls, raiding to seize captives and suppress enemies

Because we got humans twice up above, I'm rolling twice here on the Humans table, both times applying their -1 modifier due to the terrain.

  • The first result is 5: a struggling Tribe among many Ruins.  Those ruins might be from other people about to be rolled up, or they might be from other people that used to live here.  Maybe they're from an older civilization that once inhabited this land.
  • Next, an 8: thinly-settled Hunting grounds newly taken by a strong tribe, many burned towns.  There's conflict in this land already.  Not sure if the burned towns belong to the struggling tribe or if they're someone else's, maybe a tribe that was entirely driven out?
Colonials (2d6 + modifier)
≤1stories of an Expedition that came through, artifacts, possibly survivors
2-4imperial Guns & trade goods, no colonials
5forgotten town of religious exiles, ruins of a fort/mine
6trading post of a Company
7Fort, abandoned settlements
8two of: trading post, fort, mission
9-10largely controlled by a far-off Company: resource settlements, trading posts, old fort
11-12several settlements among many ruins
13+one of the chief surviving Colonies and its outlying settlements/forts/&c.

Today's example country doesn't have any significant colonial presence, but as you can see from the table, colonial influence can range anywhere from mere stories of an earlier explorer to a major colonial city.

Giants (2d6 + modifier)
≤2giants are gone, landforms said to be built by them, Tales of wanderers
3a Mission abandoned by the colonials, now run by the descendants of its students
4-5scattered trappers, fishers, herders, traders
6many wandering Traders
7perilous ruins of a dead House
8two Rival houses, contested border
9three houses: Weak, Strong, and Ruined
10-11a Mighty ruling house, several smaller ones
12+a powerful Alliance of three great houses

The giants in this country have two rival houses with a contested border between them.  I think that's enough groups here to cause plenty of interesting conflict with shifting alliances: two rival Houses, a strong Tribe, and a struggling Tribe whose towns were burned down.

Goblins (2d6 + modifier)
≤1goblins once lived here, forbidden woods, Tales that confuse them with ghosts
2-5one powerful village in a Secluded region
6-8three main Villages compete for hunting grounds, prey on livestock of others
9-12Populous, good hunting grounds, outsiders fear this land, a few giantish traders
13+interspersed villages of three major Clans, people travel from far away to study, trade, visit renowned hermits

Each of these tables has a result for mere stories and legends, for a country that doesn't really know who those people are, but remembers bits and pieces.  Tales of goblins from long ago tend to confuse them with ghosts or other strange beings that come from forbidden woods in the night and prey on settlements.

Legends of humans tend to see them as some kind of magicians who control things like the weather.  A country that hasn't seen humans since long before the apocalypse might ascribe a cold north wind to hidden humans up in the passes.

Distorted memories of giants lead to stories of them shaping the land, saying this hill was raised by the giants, or this canyon was carved by them.

Go here to roll up some terrain, then roll to see who lives there.  (The random roller here doesn't properly take the modifiers into account.)

Click here for random inhabitants.
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