Monday, November 19, 2012

Randomly Generated Exploration

Explore to your heart's content, my friends.
Beware the dragons.
I come out of "retirement" momentarily to bring you this latest blog post!

In my current D&D Next game, my players have been hired to map out the Wyld (spelled with a "Y" because it's fantasy!), a vast expanse of land that has not been touched by civilization in centuries. The following are the charts that I use to randomly generate events in the Wyld. I decided that instead of designing an entire region that was more than twice the size of their country of origin, it was better to just design the basic geography and allow chance to decide the rest, barring anything related to the plot.

If you wish to use the tables below, all you need to do to begin is prep the geography of the unexplored lands in your campaign. In a grid map (squares or hexes; your choice), layout the land your party is going to be exploring. Include all the mountain ranges, rivers, lakes, etc. that exist within that land. Also include anything story related that requires a specific location. The rest will be randomly generated via percentile dice and/or improvised at the table.

The players begin at a 5% chance of something happening when they enter the first grid. The chances increase by 5% if nothing happens. When an event finally occurs, the chance returns to 5% when the players enter the next grid space. If the players want to explore the grid deeper or even take a long rest, then roll the dice again. Remember, the chance of something doesn't resent until they move on to the next grid space.

Note: For combat, it would be beneficial to find or create a list of the available monsters by level. The game you are playing should specify what constitutes an easy, average, or hard combat encounter. Allow yourself to create appropriate encounters based on the random rolls and what makes sense for the story at the time.

Note 2: The "Path Gate" mentioned in Table 2.3 refers to an element of my own campaign. The Path is something of a subspace pathway that allows someone to travel great distances in a short amount of time between any number of Path Gates. It is a magical construct created centuries before the campaign by an ancient and long dead race. For your own game, you can switch it out with a gateway to the Ethereal Plane or to some other plane relevant to your campaign.

Note 3: For the purposes of our game, each grid square abstractly represented an hour of travel. Exploring the square deeper spent another hour of their time. It works out for keeping track of the time of day in-game.

Table 1.1: Random Event
1-45 Combat (Table 1.2)
46-80 Location* (Table 1.3)
81-100 Social (Table 1.4)
*reroll if rolling for a long rest or deep exploration

Table 1.2: Combat
1-60 Easy
61-95 Average
96-100 Hard

Table 1.3: Location
1-35 Ruins (Table 2.1)
36-70 Cave (Table 2.2)
71-100 Special (Table 2.3)

Table 1.4: Social
1-35Lost Explorer
36-90Cowardly Enemy
91-100Powerful Enemy

Table 2.1: Ruins
1-50 Unsalvageable (Table 3.1)
51-95 Dungeon (Table 3.2)
96-100 Lost City (Table 3.3)

Table 2.2: Cave
1-50Animal Lair
51-90Monster/Humanoid Lair
91-100Underdark Entry

Table 2.3: Special
1-50Path Gate
51-80Fae Realm Gate
81-100Grave Site

Table 3.1: Unsalvageable
1-45 Broken Monument
46-80 Ruined Structure
81-100 Monolith

Table 3.2: Dungeon
1-40 Catacombs
41-80 Former Sewers
81-100 Sunken Structure

Table 3.3: Lost City
1-74 Not Really
75-94 Some
95-99 Most
100 Fully


  1. Cool! Just a bit surprised to not see wilderness related locations or situations in the table :)

  2. Great blog; from the looks of it, you must be aware of old-school Judges Guild hex crawls? If not, try to get your hands on some of the old Wilderlands stuff, you will love it.

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