A First Skeleton

Ainulindalë by Evan Palmer

So how does one begin to make a world?

I’ve found Kevin Crawford‘s random tables to be full of inspiration. Every one of his books gives me hundreds of ideas. To be perfectly honest I could just grab one of his books and make a world from that – but none of his creations quite scratches the itch I have. I’m aiming for a science-fantasy world, something where the magic became, essentially, technology but then it all went wrong in some “man-made” apocalypse (ala. the God-Wars from the Craft Series).

So I’m starting with the “region creation” from An Echo Resounding…terrain of varying types in a square region 200 miles to a side… That sounds like a nice area. Something about the size of Ireland. Of course, I have no idea what the terrain should be like, and Mr Crawford isn’t much help here either, so I turned to the Welsh Piper’s map creation

d12 ResultAdjacent Hex Terrain [1]
HEX ->WaterSwampDesertPlainsForestHillsMountains
MountainsWWS P

This gave me my map!

Basically the steps I took were:

  • Pick a starting hex terrain (plains)
  • Go to a blank nearby hex, roll a d12, which gives you a Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, or Wildcard result.
  • Check a table which lists the terrain variations based on the neighbouring hex
  • Repeat for the next hex.

That gave me a bunch of “atlas hexes” filled with rough terrain types. Going from the old standard of 6miles/hex – that gives me an atlas hex of 30 miles – and my whole region is now a tad over 200 miles a side.
The great thing about the table of hex variations is that the changes between hexes feel more gradual/believable. I’m using the hexkit which is an amazing tool. Originally I made the map using the “fantasyland” set of hexes – but I found it looked a little too heavy. Beautiful but it felt disconnected… So I tried another set – Zeshio’s pixel hex – which also includes some lovely transition hexes, and is much lighter on the eye. The resulting map looked much more interesting.


Now I looked back at Mr Crawford’s instructions in An Echo Resounding for populating the region.

  • Put a city down somewhere likely.
  • Put 4 towns scattered about.
  • Put 5 ruins down.
  • Place lairs along the obvious routes between settlements.

So far I’ve been using tools that are based in “fantasy”. But I wanted to add a little sci-fi/post-apoc to the mix, so I broke out Other Dust also by Mr Crawford, and rolled up some details about the locations. Also using An Echo Resounding to get the Lair details.

The “Atlas Map” of the Broken Lands. (Yes, there are 6 ruins… i felt like another one)
  • (B3) Thorn Forest Ruins
    Origin: Prison
    Destruction: Madness
    Inhabitants: Degenerates
    Tags: Underground Site, Sealed Horror
  • (C2) Spire City
    Government: Caste-Based
    Core: Starport
    Tech: TL4 – amazing technical expertise
    Tags: Functioning Industry, Nobility
  • (C4) Lair – Cruel Vowed (evil Paladins?)
  • (C6) Lair – Cursed Earth
  • (D4) Forest Ruin
    Origin: Ruined Village
    Destruction: Panic
    Inhabitants: Raiders
    Tags: Failed Community, Radioactive
  • (D6) Valley Ruin
    Origin: Sinister Caves
    Destruction: Disease
    Inhabitants: Cultists, Robots
    Tags: Berserk Robots, Rich Tomb
  • (D8) Edge Enclave
    Government: Theocratic
    Core: Academic Facility
    Tech: T3 – oasis of advanced tech
    Tags: Psychic Masters, Educated.
  • (E1) Swampland Ruins
    Origin: Secret Laboratory
    Destruction: Disaster
    Inhabitants: Exiles
    Tags: Flooded Ruins, Psychic Stronghold
  • (E2) Lair – Vicious Humanoids
  • (E5) Mountain Enclave
    Government: Democratic
    Core: Remote Resort
    Tech: T1 Medieval
    Tags: Educated, Robots
  • (F2) Cliffside Enclave
    Government: Tribal
    Core: Beached Tanker or Crashed Starship
    Tech: T1 medieval
    Tags: Food Supply, Cruel Tribute
  • (F5) Lair – Demon Infestation
  • (F7) Lair -Cursed Earth
  • (F9) Desert Ruin
    Origin: Mandate Base
    Destruction: Madness
    Inhabitants: Beasts
    Tags: Cyclical threat, Radioactive
  • (G4) Lair – Magic Gate
  • (G5) Mesa Enclave
    Government: Oligarchy (Families)
    Core: Post-Cataclysm refuge built by survivors
    Tech: T2 – firearms and steam power
    Tags: Sanctuary, Supremacists
  • (H6) City Ruins
    Origin: Industrial Complex
    Destruction: Nukes
    Inhabitants: Cultists, Degenerates, Robots, Raiders (At war!)
    Tags: Ancient Lore, Unstable Power Core

Already from these random entries, I can see a host of possibilities, as well as a bunch of modules that would slot right in with only a little modifications.

Next up – going into more detail and creating a 6-mile hexcrawl (or at least getting started!)

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