Sunday, October 28, 2012

The (totally random) Barrens of Woe

The Barrens of Woe

I generated these hex descriptions by starting with  Ramanan Sivaranjan's Carcosa Hex Generator, then filling using the "find/replace" feature on a word processor to change the Carcosa-specific factions and monsters to fantasy ones. I then filled out details of each hex (including the names) with automatically generated stuff from Abulafia, adding in a few connections here and there. It took about an hour and a half altogether. 

Because of the effort put into each one, these don't really make sense as a hex-by-hex description, they are more "the 20 most interesting hexes in the area" unless the hexes themselves are very big (big enough very different kinds of cities to be in nearly adjacent hexes). They could be distributed into a less eventful hexmap/

When there's something that would be visible from a distance, it's marked with the word "landmark". 

A humanoid golem (AC 16, MV 90', HD 4, insane) guards the remains of a crashed ship. He is armed with a sword and a crossbow. His 3 large eyes rotate about his head. He can not be surprised and will react with hostility to all who approach. The boat is The Dracolisk A stylish but unexceptional vessel. 3d4 crew live. Two mad lords--straightjacketed--are among the cargo. They're being returned to their family in hex 13 for a considerable bounty but will offer the PCs thousands for their freedom.
Undying Court of Order--a walled city known for its beautiful statues and grotesque buildings--containing white elves ruled by "The Presence of Lords," a insane 9th-level paladin. The librarians in hex 11 know the code word for the gate.
A large bird of prey stalks the players. After 1-3 hours it will turn and fly off into the distance. The bird does not attempt to hide its presence. It serves a demon (AC 19, MV 180 [swimming only], HD 6, insane): an orange annelidoid with a suckered mouth.
Plain of spongy, olive green moss infested with snakes. The Princess of Six Sorrows, a female contortionist (Str: 4 Dex: 17 Int: 8 Wis: 13 Con: 6 Cha: 12) hunts them for food.
Kyr-xoth, a settlement of 243 were-rats ruled by a insane 9th-level ranger.  Home to sand sharks, a living idol, an exiled madman, and the Caliph of The Unshriven Light a 13th level cleric.  At war with a fortress of 291 gnolls ruled by "the Lawgiver by Whom All See," a rational 2nd-level barbarian. In the first city, a clever hunter seeks The Dagger of Burning Day. Unfortunately, it was last seen in the possession of an eccentric virgin who is now dead. It is now in the belly of the arachnid demon in Hex 18.
A mountaintop monastery of 68 jackalmen led by "the Queen of Benedictions," a rational 5th-level wizard. Outside, two goblins lay dead on the ground. One is holding a cursed crossbow with 10 bolts  left. There is a 1 in 6 chance the crossbow will curse the shooter when discharged. The other has a sack filled with dry putrid gorgonzola goat's Milk Cheese 
3 Polar Worms.
The Shrine of the Faithless Light a settlement of 338 white elves ruled by "The Commander of War," a 4th-level wizard who believes that, to keep the sun in the sky, everyone in the area should be hypnotized by his servant, The Seer of Nameless Science.
Also contains: 
Inn: Hostel of the Wren, famous for its Charbroiled Goose 
Inn: The Sign of the Goblet and Lotus, famous for its Tender Squab
The Chapel of the Serpent Athrakk is a place where only the rich are welcome to worship. 
17 of an irrational undead army lead by an Eye of Fear and Flame herd a group of 15 librarians into a small stone bunker. The room is mostly bare, except for a defaced and broken holy symbol on the floor near the east wall of the room. A pool of what must be corpses near the northwest corner of the room causes a strong odor here. Spots of bright green mold dot the room.
Inside there is a trap: a sturdy cage ready to close on whatever steps inside - clouds of steam are produced, lightly obscuring vision. 
A snow leopard stalks the area.
Bastion of Ruin--fortress of 280 vampires ruled by a insane 5th-level undead wizard.
Beneath: A forest. The trees are burned black, polished to a gloss, and the branches tapering to spikes. Countless armies are impaled here, including their horses and dogs. At least half these soldiers and their beasts are undying and struggling to kill everything in reach, especially the soldiers of differing armies. A disfigured two-headed mutant man lays face down in the ground. His body is half purple & half blue. Characters who investigate the body must make a save each turn or suffer a random mutation.
Mountain peak. The bodies of countless white elves spill out of a door set into the side of a mountain and completely fill the 10' wide shaft leading into the underground. Obscured by the bodies are ancient Librarians runes describing 2-8 random sorcerous rituals. All require the wizard to participate in single combat against a wild beast, burn an effigy, and spend a night howling at the moon.
The underground complex contains...
These traps: acid inside cleverly hidden pits - one obvious way of disarming the trap is itself a trap, gaping steel jaws ready to close on whatever steps inside - one obvious way of disarming the trap is itself a trap, scorpions inside cleverly hidden pits. 
These creatures: a minotaur, a jackal-headed warrior (9th level), five salamanders. 
Myr-Nast, settlement of 256 snow leopard men ruled by "the Baron of All Excellences," an insane 3rd-level ranger. He seeks adventurers to free his sibling, a female half-elf empress. This will require traveling to the temple in Hex 14. 
A massive snake shaped citadel coils around the peaks of a craggy mountain containing 25 jackalmen led by "the Empress of Invincibility," a clairvoyant and time-controlling demon. 
Demon (AC 19, MV 150, HD 6, rational [unintelligent]): a Bone octopoid with a feathered hide, multiple/insectile eyes, and a circular gaping maw. Surprised only on a 1. Harmed only by fire.
4 Librarians attempt to repair an artifact. The Librarians and their magic are incomprehensible to characters with an intelligence score less than 18. They can the password to enter the walled city in Hex 1. A female page, possessor of a magical onyx & possessing an important book (Selected Works Pertaining to the Church of Gilean, by Count Nilott) accompanies them.
A beastman (AC 14, MV 160', HD 4, insane) dressed in furs hunts a band of mutant men through spiky rock formations, 5-20 feet tall.. He is armed with a whip and accompanied by 2-12 giant beasts and dinosaurs; these creatures are under his complete control. An abandoned outpost is now home to a group of 23 priests of Vorn. Amongst their possessions is a map of the first level of the dungeon in Hex 13.
Nearby there is a goblin selling something to a crocodile 
Citadel of 20 jackalmen led by an 13th-level wizard--at first, the PCs will see ten towers. Each has 1 defender visible (there are actually five times that number total) and about 4 will arrive per round in the case of an alarm. The outer walls are 27 feet tall and the towers extend 17 feet above them.
*Due to the condition of the walls, climb checks are at minus five. 
*The lowest windows are 30 feet up.
*The initial volley from the towers in case of an unexpected attack will be crossbow fire. The second volley in case of a siege, an anticipated attack, or a small but persistent raiding party (like a bunch of PCs) will consist of thrown snakes with hands for heads and eyes embedded in their palms.
*Additional security measures include: 
A gatehouse with inner portcullises that cut off the gatehouse at both ends. 
The fortress garrison is being attacked by a local faction when PCs arrive.
Contains an entrance to the hidden underground lair of 43 goblin zealots led by a 10th-level goblin alchemist.
Ex-garden, now overgrown. Strange flora. The mutilated bodies of two human children lay next to the dead body of a White wizard. On the wizard's person is a book outlining how to cast The Accursed Sounding of the Void. The garden surrounds the scarred and huddled temple of an unyielding creed based on the worship of a god with power over stars and a priesthood with tattooed and flayed skins in. It is protected by an obviously egregiously valuable gold thingamabobber on a pedestal near front door. Touching it activates a trap and/or it's coated in poison. (Thingie's actually worthless.)
A giant gloomwing moth.
The Dread Source, a city known for its brooding and malign public games as well as its rusting cathedral. 57 priests of Vorn overseen by "The Worm Enthroned," an insane 10th-level cleric mystically joined to the ettin in Hex 20.

A fortress of 156 lizardmen cultists carrying whips ruled by "The Small Dragon," a 14th-level human witch. The witch's research have left her disfigured: she has the scales and tail of a lizard, and is cold blooded. 
25% of the lizardmen are berserk warrior-types with 2hd more than the rest and +2 damage. (These may also carry 2-handed weapons.) and their witch raises dead to fight with the host as zombies when they fall.
4 librarians camp along a dirt road. They are under the control of a demilich, which they are transporting to Hex 19.
Settlement of 281 gnolls ruled by "the Death of All Graces," a insane 11th-level necromancer. Therein 12 southern elves (drow) led by a putrid smelling wizard (AC 18, MV 120', HD 3, insane) are in the middle of casting Manifestation of the Putrescent Stench. The wizard is armed with a bastard sword and wears a bright orange robe.
In the center of the settlement lies the wizard's tower:
The Cyclopean Spire of Amar, who is primarily concerned with Necromancy. The main entrance is shaped like a demon's maw. Generally constructed in Cthulhoid, tentacular style, the tower contains the following levels: Three Levels: the wizards private chambers and the library, plus Igor's chambers – manacles, rough clothes, foulness. 
-Fey creatures speaking riddles and illusory images with phantom sounds. 
-Exploding objects.
-Oh no, you knocked that one thing over and now a secret door has opened. 
-At least one room is full of striped objects. 
-Abortive Experiment: Half-ettercap, half-drider (spiderman). 
-In the Dustbin: Empty bottles of perfume.
A water hex: Globes of light move beneath the surface of the water.
The Drifting Isle. A Were-rat hangs limp from a tree. He is pierced head to toe by spikes. Two pikes lay near his lifeless body beneath a castle containing 65 snow leopard men led by "the Claw of Nine Winters," a rational 9th-level Fighter. He controls a demon (AC 18, MV 120, HD 13, insane): a blue arachnoid with two red eyes and a toothed mouth. A magic dagger can be found in its belly.
The castle contains the following rooms: waiting room, map room, closet, robing room, solar crematorium, weird alien birthing chamber, amphitheater, and a gallery.
5 Frost Giants hunting. 
A mystic circle in an ancient amphitheatre, covered in bloodcolored mold.
This area is plagued by a horde of goblins They are ruled by The Invoker of the Wolves an ettin, one of whose heads is schooled in the mystical arts and mystically joined to the ettin in Hex 15. They are headquartered in a ruined monastery. Most carry a net of some kind.
The following Abulafia generators were used to make this stuff:

 3d6 In Order NPC 
 Arabian Nights-Ish Scenario Generator 
 Creepy Fantasy Villain 
 Dungeon Area Name 
 Dungeon Overview 
 Dungeon Room 
 Exotic Landscape 
 Fantasy Adventure Locations 
 Fantasy Assignment 
 Fantasy Mansion Domestic Security Measures 
 Fantasy Person Of Interest 
 Fantasy Town (Simpler) 
 Generic Dungeon Key 
 Hex Map Key 
 NPC Relationships 
 Poetic Destinations 
 Pulp Fantasy Nation 
 Random Fortress 
 Random Humanoid Horde 
 Situation Generator 
 Today At Sea 
 Weird Fantasy Monster 
 Whats Up With This Palace 
 Wizard Tower 


  1. This reminds me of the old Burroughs (or was it Ginsberg?) method of throwing words and phrases in a hat and drawing them out randomly. What should be chaos turns into a very mythic and mystical text thanks to the wondrous apophenia of the human mind. It also jolts us out of the stupor of being logic all the time.

    I'd play in that world, Zak.

    1. I've taken to using a d666 chart to design setting elements I don't already have a plan for. It's made of 6 columns of 36 entries each--personality traits, problems/conflicts/opportunities, primal concepts, urban concepts, artists whose style would be fun to mimic, and misc. Futilely trying to apply logic to chaos results in way more creativity on my part than I could ever hope to pull off straight.

  2. One of the things I like better about the Wilderlands over works like Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown are the maps, which inspire my imagination more by virtue of their detail and style. I don't know what you intend with this work, whether example, fodder for a future supplement, etc., but I think it would be wonderful if you created a map for this in your style.

    1. The WIlderlands maps seem to me to be functional but very dry--not much different than repurposed real-world maps, really.