The map we created in the last article is the area outside the dungeon that you have been running. It’s reasonable to detail that locale. We will revisit this scale a little later. But we aren’t doing this everywhere, promise.
Where do the players come from when visiting the dungeon? The players come from the south east where there is a little village 2 miles away. They normally pass the hanging tree going to and from the dungeon. If you have just been running the dungeon and hand waving the location they travel to and from then now is a good time to fill in some more detail, so instead of detailing another 36 hexes at 1/3 mile per hex scale, lets climb up a bit to a map with 2 mile hexes.
We can plonk in the whole of the dungeon location as a single hex at this scale (hex 3,4), and the village in an adjacent hex, and note waterways, hills, mountains peaks, roads and general terrain type. Then each hex should have 1 interesting thing. A special feature, a river, path or road, a settlement, a monster lair, ruins, a dungeon, whatever. After placing such things about, note some relationships between them.
Here is how the previous map fits in to the next map scale up as a visual reference.
And here is the full enclosing map, at a scale of 2 miles per hex.
To go with the new 2 mile per hex scale we need an elaborated version of the time taken to traverse a hex.
New player groups entering the territory will want to know about the dungeon and the other big items such as the fact that the kobolds raid the bugbears, who sometimes raid back in return, the hag is always out and about disguised as a robed figure, stirring up trouble, and there are ogres and bandits near the dungeon.
To achieve this organically lay out 3 clues for each of these things, scattered about where players will tend to find them. Assume the players will easily find out what is at the other end of roads. If they travel along those roads then they are not exploring, they are traveling.
The map itself and that loose amount of information can be enough to start play, for a GM comfortable with improvising from a broad context.
Here are some relationships between the key groups with each other and the terrain.
The Hag roams the whole map looking for ways to set people and creatures against one another, to take impossible risks that end in dreadful harm, and to torment those that get trapped.
The Two Kobold Lairs can be assumed to have a presence for most encounters in adjacent hexes, and along the trails a bit further. They will be surrounded by traps and pitfalls.
The Bugbears dominate the south bank of the Ygret and are constantly in conflict with the nearby kobolds. They build rough palisades with ditches in front of them wherever they want to be able to hold off groups of aggressors.
Civilised Folk at Herper’s Hamlet and Dallon Town have comfortable control of their hexes, do some farming in that area, and trade and travel moderately safely along the road, and by boat along the Ygret upstream of Herper’s Hamlet.
The Bandits near Badun’s Dungeon sometimes way-lay folks on the road, or individuals near the edges of the Hamlet hex.
Very occasionally NPC Adventurers traverse between the Dungeon and the Hamlet or the road between the Hamlet and the Town.
Let’s look at some clues players may encounter that will reveal the above data. I’ll put them collected by target. However, when you play with this, take the clues and list them in the details for the place where they can be found instead.
- Badun’s Dungeon is a Place of some danger to parties of 1st to 3rd level characters but provides reasonable treasure. Also there are kobolds, and ogres and bandits around there.
- Common knowledge In Herper’s Hamlet: Inexperienced groups of young adventurers have gone there and come out alive with some good coin in their pocket. Just follow the walking trail out of town to the north west for about two miles. Be wary of bandits on the road. And sometimes those little snippy creatures with sharp daggers and pointy teeth. Oh and some ogres. And…well you get the idea.
- In Dallon Town: those folks down at Herper’s Hamlet live not far from a set of old underground passages. They find treasure there now and then. Sometimes the bandits or other unsavoury creatures waylay them on the roads and forest paths.
- Also in Dallon Town: the owner of the Broken Jug Inn, Capital Jones, went himself into those crypts at Badun’s when he was young. Fought off an ogre ! Gained enough treasure to set up this business, as a matter of fact!
- The Bugbears are a grave danger over the south side of Ygret, and they fight with kobolds. The bugbears amassed a big treasure.
- Common knowledge in Herper’s Hamlet: Its safe boating up river on the Ygret, but don’t set foot on the southern bank. The bugbears will get you for sure, especially if they have just had another fight with those little things that keep fighting with ’em.
- Also in Herper’s: A year ago the bugbears got one of the barges that was carrying tax up river. They probably still have all that gold!
- In Dallon Town: Some trade flows through here to Herper’s, but most goes up and down the Ygret by boat. The biggest problem is the inexperienced folks setting foot on the southern bank and receiving the full hurt of the bugbears and kobolds.
- There is a Hag prowling the area, stirring up trouble.
- The Kobolds of Ting Tang have “anti witch” effigies around the boundaries of their encampment – stick and grass figures of witches hung by a noose or impaled by an arrow to a tree. If anyone talks to the kobolds about it they will explain that they know there is a witch out there who keeps causing people to come and fight them, and who used to set the kobolds against each other for fun. The kobolds delight in frightening enemies by telling them “the witch is coming, better run!”
- The Bandits near Badun’s Dungeon know of an “enchantress” who lives somewhere along the Trollspawn, who gives wisdom to those who seek it. (Obviously they are wrong here)
- The Kobolds of Klippety Yof have a statue of a wise woman (its crude and badly made) in the middle of their lair. They will explain that this wise woman helps them to know how to next bite the bugbears. They think she lives north of The Way Tall Tree. The kobolds may query intruders to see if they have news of the Battle Plan Mistress.
At this scale you may want to think about your methods of Encounter Summoning.
These 36 hexes, with the encounters in them, could provide your adventurers with at least 5 sessions of exploring and adventuring just as they are. But aren’t we detailing the other 2 mile hexes at the 1/3 mile level?