Friday, 13 May 2011

Mapmaking merry (6)

Here's an idea for drawing a quick random map, for entering undesigned settlements or complexes spontaneously during a wargame or roleplaying session. Choose your die.

  1. Lightly sketch a quick polygon with a number of points or sides equal to the number of faces on the die, i.e. a standard six-sided die needs a hexagon.

  2. Roll that die once per degree of complexity wanted, i.e. for a simple map once.

  3. Roll again a number of times equal to that result, i.e. if a D6 is rolled and the result is a 4, roll again 4 times. Each result from this set of rolls corresponds to a point on the perimeter, e.g. with a D6, 1 is 2 o'clock, 2 is 4 o'clock etc. Mark them. Re-roll or ignore duplicates, as preferred for speed and complexity.

  4. For each point marked roll once more. This is the number of lines branching from the point, either to other points on the perimeter, into or across the centre, or outwards. If you wish, you can roll for direction, as if determining points again.

Any non-connections can be assumed to mean connections by other means, maybe through buildings if a streetmap, over the surface or through rooms if a tunnel complex, or by secret entrances, potential breakthroughs or only teleportation of some kind.

For entrances to buildings and rooms, you'll need more time, but could roll the die for each line, once for one side, once for the other. The number on the die could be the number of entrances, or you could divide, or there could be a 50% chance, as preferred.

A D4 will produce a map to a square grid of course, while higher numbers will increase the range of possible axes and give something more organic. Use multiple tessellating polygons for larger maps. The D6 is the largest die for regular tessellation.


Ray Rousell said...

Interesting idea, I could use this kind of idea for my FIW skirmish games, cheers!!!

Porky said...

Cool. This is for me a big part of what gaming is all about, exploration of a world. I love the idea we can have a mind full of simple tools like this and just go off track when the mood strikes, do something completely unplanned and be able to have it work and even surprise us.

Walking Tours Rome said...

Even with an existing map, this actually sounds like a fun way to explore the city. (or a city) How did you come up with this concept?

Porky said...

Good point. It would be a great way of seeing things we might not usually see, and creating a random path through any kind of structure, where the axes correspond.

That said, it's designed to be a gaming tool, with the idea it could also be an aid in creating fiction of other kinds. The inspiration was and is the concept of exploring a world spontaneously during a game. I love the idea that with a few simple tools like this players are free to go wherever they choose, with no need for preparation or pages of specifics. The tool provides the basics and stimulates the imagination, and other tools can fill in more blanks.

As for actually coming up with it, I was pondering the specific case of fissures among rocks in the desert, and the minimum necessary to form a playable network, a potentially defensible position in the given circumstances, and a fun space to explore more generally. I tried to find the simplest way of creating this minimum using random numbers.