Posted in World Building

WB04.2 Kingdoms and Sociology (Physical Cartography)

Kingdom size

You may have already generated the borders of kingdoms, if not this list is from table 26  Random Kingdom Size. If you already have borders there is no need to regenerate new ones.

  • City-State
    • 1d8  hexes on a regional map ( regional map hexes are 100 miles across on an earth size world)
    • 10d10 miles approximate diameter
  • Small Kingdom
    • 3d6 hexes
    • 10d10 x 5 miles
  • Medium Kingdom
    • 4d6 hexes
    • 10d10 x 8 miles
  • Large Kingdom
    • 6d6 hexes
    • 10d10 x 10 miles
  • Empire
    • 8d8 hexes
    • 10d10 x 20 miles


World size and Kingdom size

Medieval kingdoms are severely limited  in their maximum size by lack of efficient overland communications and reliable sea travel.

No matter how much land a world has, kingdoms generally remain about the same size. If a world is unusually large  or has a great deal of land area kingdoms will generally increase in number before increasing in size.

If you are using a system that has advanced technology and/or magic then this guideline may be irrelevant.

Coasts, Seas and Lakes

First sketch out the coastlines and any major body of water within the borders. Here’s a list from table 27.

  • Archipelago-Kingdom is scattered across chains of fairly small islands, each are within a day’s sail 25-50 miles
  • Major Islands-Kingdom occupies most of one or two major islands, bordered on all sides by the sea
  • Coastal with offshore islands-A major portion  of the kingdom border is a coastline, may have inlets, peninsulas and offshore islands under control of the kingdom.
  • Coastal, no islands-A major portion  of the kingdom border is a coastline with no significant offshore islands.
  • Multiple coastlines-Kingdom borders on two or more major bodies of water, with coastlines on several sides.
  • Landlocked with an inland sea-Kingdom has no exterior seacoasts but includes a major body of water. The inland sea is 6d8 hexes in extent on the kingdom map.
  • Landlocked with major lakes-as above  but kingdom features 1d4 major lakes each 4d6 hexes in size.
  • Landlocked, no significant water-No major bodies of water exist although minor lakes (1 hex or less) and rivers may be common.

The sections below will be updated later with additional information, there are links to other sections with information on the topics.

Mountains, Hills and Topography

  • Mountain Ranges
  • Foothills
  • Rolling Hills and Tablelands
  • Depressions and Gorges
  • Plains and Plateaus

Refer to WB03.1 for more information on  geography concerning the above topics.



  • Climatology-For more information see WB02.2
  • Prevailing winds and humidity-see weather patterns in WB03.2 for information.
  • Terrain and Ground Cover
  • Rivers and drainage


Posted in World Building

WB04.1 Kingdoms and Sociology (People and their culture.)

WB04.1 Kingdoms and Sociology, people and their culture.

There are four basic steps for describing a kingdom, we will be breaking this down into 3 parts and combining steps 3 and 4.

  1.  Detailing the people and their culture within the kingdom (Part one)
  2. Charting the physical boundaries and terrain within the kingdom (Part two)
  3. Describing how the people live in the terrain and where they have changed it, built cities or farmlands etc. (Part three)
  4. Populating the region with monsters, fantastical ecologies and adventure possibilities (Part three?)


Detailing the people and their culture within the kingdom .

Who lives in the area? What are they like? How do they get along?  These are some of the questions we will answer as we create a culture for the kingdom.  Culture  in reference to the guidebook is a broad generalization of several gross characteristics  which include:

  1. Race
  2. Language
  3. Technology
  4. Government
  5. Social Alignment
  6. Situation
  7. Class and kit biases

Cultural Archetypes

It may be easier to use existing preconceptions of certain cultures  then to completely invent an imaginary one from thin air. Use any cultural model that you think fits your need but the guide book has a table (table 21) and descriptions  with the following cultural characteristics.

  • Aboriginal
  • African
  • Arabic
  • Aztec/Incan
  • Barbarian
  • Central Asian
  • Egyptian
  • European
    • Renaissance
    • Middle Ages
    • Dark Ages
  • Indian
  • Oriental
  • Persian
  • Roman
  • Savage
  • Viking


  • Race  besides human, kingdoms and realms can be built by demihumans, humanoid or monstrous races.
    • Number of Races, primary and secondary races, who are they?
      • Small kingdoms
        • 1d2 primary and 1d4+1 secondary races.
      • Moderate kingdoms
        • 1d2 primary and 1d6+1 secondary races
      • Large kingdoms
        • 1d3 primary and 1d8+1 secondary races
      • Empires
        • 1d4 primary and 3d4 secondary races
      • Primary races comprise 25-50% of the total population
      • Secondary races account for 1-10% of the population
      • Sub-races can be substituted for different races.
    • Race Status and position, how do they get along?
      • Table 22 lists possible situations
        • Completely intermixed
        • Common communities, separate districts; one race is dominate over the others
        • Common communities, separate districts; one race is dominate but secondary race is considered equal
        • Separate communities, one race is dominate over the others
        • Separate communities, one race is dominate but secondary race is considered equal
        • One race enslaves the other
    • Good vs Evil races
      • Normally good races find it easier to cooperate together, share a realm and get along.
      • Evil races seldom run together unless when command to do so by a more sinister power.


  • Language – how do they communicate?  this is an important marker in cultural boundaries.
    • Language as a social distinction
      • When one race subjugates another language can be a mark of distinction between rulers and subjects.
    • Common tongue
      • This can be the tongue of the dominate race in the region and thus can change  from region to region or you can have an actual universal language that is common.
    • Literacy
      • Possession of a written language is a key characteristic of a culture.
      • In the absence or a written language a strong oral tradition of memorized epics can serve as an alternate for recording tales.


  • Technology – what level is it?
    • Four basic categories in AD&D following a European model
      • Ancient
      • Dark ages
      • Middle ages
      • Renaissance
    • Kingdom technology level (table 23) also breaks down additional levels
      • Stone age
      • Savage
      • Bronze age
      • Roman
      • Dark ages
      • Crusades
      • 100 Years war
      • Renaissance
    • Other technologies
      • If you are referencing a specific cultural archetype you can also pull from their technology level or as always create what works best for the story or campaign .


  • Government – who runs the kingdom?
    • Table 24  provides some possible options
      • Autocracy
      • Bureaucracy
      • Confederacy
      • Democracy
      • Dictatorship
      • Feudalism
      • Geriatocracy – reserved for the old or very old
      • Gynarchy -reserved to females only, paired with another type
      • Hierarchy
      • Magocracy – wizards
      • Matriarchy
      • Miltocracy – military leaders, martial law
      • Monarchy
      • Oligarchy
      • Pedocracy – scholars or sages
      • Plutocracy –  wealthy
      • Republic
      • Satrapy –  conquerors and representatives of another govt.
      • Syndicracy
      • Theocracy


  • Social Alignment – like individuals a city or kingdom can have an alignment describing the way people get things done. Can affect the laws of the land  and unwritten codes.
    • Table 25 provides these options
      • lawful  good
      • lawful neutral
      • lawful evil
      • neutral evil
      • true neutral
      • neutral good
      • chaotic good
      • chaotic neutral
      • chaotic evil


  • Situation
    • This is a catchall for any kind of scenario or fantastical element you want to add into the immediate campaign or story.  Examples could be:  disorder, unusual organization, unusual laws, mature of magic, persecution, plane-walking and spell-jamming as examples


  • Classes, Races and Kits
    • Are there any special character considerations to be aware of?  Examples: if you have no oriental cultures the samurai or ninja characters would be travelers from a far away land, or if only one human kingdom in the world knows the secrets of magic then human mages should be from that kingdom.
    • Look at all the classes, races and kits and determine what would be considered native to that kingdom.


Next part we will look at the physical cartography of a kingdom.







Posted in World Building

WB03.3 Reginal Continents and Geography ( “Human” Geography)

“Human” Geography

For our purpose this will include demi-human, humanoid or monstrous geography.

There are several basic  components for this:

  • Races
  • Culture
  • Kingdom and States
  • Monsters and Ecosystems

This week will be mainly looking at Races and Culture.

  • Races
    • Identify the kingdom building , intelligent, races with in the region
      • Dominate Races-account for 1/4 or more of the sentient population
        • The region normally includes d3-1 dominate races
      • Major Races-account for 1/20-1/5 of the total population
        • The region normally includes d4+2 major races
      • Minor Races-account for less than 1/20 of the total population
        • The region normally includes 4d4 minor races
    • You can use the table in the guidebook or create your own.
    • Marine and Subterranean Races
      •  Marine
        • Region contains any sizable bodies of water
        • 2d-1 dominate races
        • d3 major races
        • d4 minor races
      • Subterranean
        • d2-1 dominate races
        • d4 major races
        • d6 minor races


  • Culture
    • Rough Guidelines
      • Dominate race includes d4+1 separate cultures or sub-races
      • Major race includes d3  cultures or sub-races
      • Minor race can include d2 cultures or sub-races
    • Geographic features often define borders of different cultural groups.
    • Sub-races serve as different cultural groups for the race.
    • If a race has no sub-races it may have cultural differences.
    • Races or cultures tend to have common geographical factors, or settlement patterns, linking their kingdoms and states together.
      • Hydrographical Grouping
        • Coastal/seafaring
        • Inland /nomadic
        • Riverine
      • Favored Terrain
        • Grasslands
        • Forests
        • Jungles
        • Marshes/swamps
        • Scrub lands/deserts
        • Hills/highlands
        • Mountains
      • Favored Climate
        • Tropical
        • Sub-Tropical
        • Temperate
        • Sub-Arctic
        • Arctic
      • Geographical Grouping
        • Northeast quadrant
        • Southeast quadrant
        • Southwest quadrant
        • Northwest quadrant
    • Kingdom, state or tribal federation
      • Each culture or sub-race will include d8-3 
      • Realm size for races
        • Dominate – 6d6 hexes
        • Major – 4d6 hexes
        • Minor – d8 hexes
      • They usually extend out to some natural boundary and follow terrain and geographical features.


As with everything this are suggestions and options if you have something developed  adjust your world to fit your needs.



Posted in World Building

WB03.2 Regional Continents and Geography (Climate, Weather/Terrain/Rivers, Lakes, Seas)

WB03.2 Regional Continents and Geography

The information is all based on an earth like world. Adjust as need to fit your world, story and campaign.

  • Climate
    • There are five basic categories of climates, Arctic, Sub-Arctic, Temperate, Sub-Tropical and Tropical
    • On the Polyhedral Region Map each region will include three climate bands, on the Polar Region Map it will include two climate bands.
    • You can use the table and roll 1d8 for the Polyhedral Region or roll 1d20 for the Polar display
    • Altitude can be accounted for by adjusting the climate bands for higher or lower elevations by  increasing or dropping a climate band or two as required.


  • Weather Patterns
    • Prevailing winds generated mostly by high or low pressure cells over large bodies of water(oceans) that spiral out or in of those cells.
    • Mark a circular wind pattern around the oceans perimeter, for large landmasses mark the rotation around the continents edge.
    • Northern hemisphere they rotate clockwise and in the Southern hemisphere they rotate counter-clockwise .
    • You can also dive the region into quadrants and roll a 1d8 and randomly pick a compass direction the winds are coming from.
    • Humid winds, those coming from the ocean, will lose moisture the higher the mountain range is. Medium to high mountain ranges may cause a rain shadow on the far side of the range.
    • Very high or extreme mountain ranges change the wind patterns forcing them to flow along the range.
    • Use what works best for your story, campaign and world as far as what is producing the winds, be it magic, elementals or whatever you decide.


  • Terrain
    • Climate bands and prevailing weather combine to create numerous variety of ground cover and vegetation. Ground cover and land forms  describe the type of terrain.
    • You can freehand terrain onto your map and terrain features will normally continue until they hit the next natural boundary.
    • You can also divide the region into quadrants, with each quadrant having 3d4 different terrain areas. Make each area 2d10 hexes long and 2d6 hexes wide.
    • Table 18 has a list of predominant terrain  types.
      • Barren
      • Desert sandy or rocky
      • Forest light, medium or heavy
      • Glacier
      • Grassland
      • Jungle medium or heavy
      • Marsh, swamp
      • Moor
      • Scrub/brushland
      • Tundra
    • Leaving room for transitional terrain on your map between two different terrain types, unless it better fits your world to have abrupt changes.


  • Rivers, Lakes, Seas
    • Inland seas are generally located in ares of low  elevation, never far above sea level.
      • A region will support 3d6-3 major inland seas, 2d8 hexes in size
    • Lakes can be found anywhere and normally feature an inlet and outlet.
      • A region will typically have 2d6 major lakes, 2d6-2 hexes in size.
    • Rivers usually follow the path of least resistance, losing elevation when possible.
      • On average there will be 4d6 major rivers in the region. Connecting major lakes to the nearest ocean or inland sea is a good place to begin.
      • You can also sketch in rivers connecting mountains to a nearby body of water. Rivers don’t cross mountain ranges normally.
      • A typical river system resembles a tree, with the mouth of the river the base of the tree and as you move upriver towards the source there are numerous branches, tributaries.
      • Canyons and gorges are normally found near the river’s headwaters and are 2d4 hexes in length. Rivers can create canyons and gorges overtime  by sinking through softer rock.
      • Waterfalls may have rapids extending 1d3 hexes prior, serious waterfalls only occur in hilly or mountainous terrain, but there may be several in any river.

After placing all the terrain feel free to modify as needed or extend areas.

This week we briefing covered placing terrain, climate bands and weather in your world, next week will talk about human geography.

Posted in World Building

WB03.1 Regional Continents and Geography

WB03.1 Regional Continents and Geography (World Size, Coastlines, Seas/Land-forms)

If you’ve worked through the previous  module, WB-02, then you may already have  the size of your world with continents and coastlines. This module will make it easier to focus on a single region at a time. instead of the entire world.

World Size, Coastlines, Seas

First thing is to decide what part of the region is land and what part is water.  The Regional Hydrography table in the guidebook provides us with a few options.

  • Archipelago-mostly water with chains of fairly small islands
  • Major Islands-mostly water, several major islands, numerous minor island chains
  • Island-continent-One continental mass surrounded by ocean, smaller offshore islands may also exist
  • Coastline with offshore islands-One coastline cuts across the region, may have inlets, peninsulas and offshore islands
  • Coastline, no islands-One coastline cuts across the region with no significant offshore islands.
  • Multiple coastlines-Borders on two or more oceans, with a part forming  a land border with another region. (Continental US)
  • Land with an inland sea-Most of the region is land, large inland sea or several small ones nearby, may also include archipelagos or major islands
  • Land with minor bodies of water-No bodies of water larger then 200-400 miles within the region, a large lake may qualify as a minor body of water
  • Land, no significant water-No coastlines, lakes or seas of note.

In my project, I’m starting on the region that would be considered an Island-continent. Grab what you use for a regional map and start laying out the region.

Land-forms (Mountains, Hills, Ridges, Canyons and Plains)

Mountain Ranges are the most predominant type of land forms.You can look in WB02.2 for information on seismology and plate tectonics or the nitty-gritty on how mountains are created. Or perhaps you have your own creation method.

As a crude guide, mountains tend to parallel the coastline. But you can also place them using the following guidelines:


  • Regional Location
    • Roll 1d4+1 to determine the number  of mountain systems in the region.
    • Roll 1d4 to determine the quadrant of each system, NW, NE, SE or SW
  • Size
    • Roll 4d8 to determine the length in hexes.
    • Roll 1d4 for width variance.
    • Roll 1d12 to determine direction they run on the clock face. 12-N, 3-E, 6-S,9-W etc.
  • Lesser Flanking systems
    • Roll 1d4-1 for the number of lesser systems
    • Roll 2d4 for each systems length
    • Roll 1d4 for distance away from the main mass.
  • Volcanoes
    • Roll 1d4+1 to determine the rough diameter of the volcano.
  • Mountain Characteristics
    • Options from table 11 that you can pick from, or roll for, each chain.
      • No Mountains
      • Foothills
      • Low Mountains
      • Medium Mountains
      • High Mountains
      • Very High Mountains
      • Extreme Mountains
    • A few options from table 12 that you can pick from, or roll for, each chain.
      • No unusual Properties
      • Volcanic
      • Icebound or Glaciated
      • Mountains Sink or Rise
      • Gates to another location, realm etc
      • Mountains are living, sleeping creatures
      • Home to other beings.

Feel free to mix, match or use them in anyway that fits your world, campaign and story.



Steeper and more rugged then rolling hills.

  • Roll 1d3-1 to determine the width of the foothills for each mountain range.


Rolling Hills, Tablelands

Rolling hills are not part of a mountain , less rugged the foothills and can be settled and cultivated comfortably. Tablelands are hilly terrain that has been eroded, leaves steep-sided towers or mesas of harder stone.

  • Rolling Hills
    • Roll 3d4 to determine the number of hills systems
    • Roll 1d6 for the length of the system
    • Roll 1d3 for the width of the system
    • Roll 1d4 if needed for quadrant placement as above for mountains.
    • Hills may connect to or parallel nearby mountains


  • Anything that doesn’t contain Mountains or Hills
  • Variation is based on climate and ground cover.

Depressions, Gorges and Escarpments

Place as many or as few as you like within your region, roll 1d6 for a good average amount

  • Depressions
    • Roll 1d6 for diameter of depression.
    • Inland areas lower then sea level.
    • Large depressions may drain water to the center creating swamp or marshlands or a small salty lake/sea
    • In hot /arid climates seasonal  or vanishing lakes  or salt flats may appear
  • Gorges
    • Roll 1d4 for length of gorge.
    • Usually found in hilly or mountainous terrain, rarely fund in flat terrain.
  • Escarpments
    • roll 2d8 for the length,  1d4+1 for the diameter if circular
    • Marks a sudden change in elevation.


So this covers the section and I’ll be updating my project as an example. My island continent was roughly built knowing I wanted to be mostly mountainous.

Next week we’ll look at Climate/weather, Terrain types and Rivers, lakes and seas.