Lets Build a World: Part Fourteen: Weather and Terrain

Now that the physical landscape of our region has been mapped out, we turn to the next stage, giving the region its weather, and through that, its terrain.

To begin with, we need to know the climate of the region. On a normal world, you have tropical regions at the equator moving through to arctic at the poles. Of course, various factors may make that differ. On ours, we have less of an axial tilt resulting in a smaller arctic zone. For worlds starting out at this design step you can roll for what climate bands are present. Given we are taking ours from the world map, we can work it out for this region from the world map. The polyhedral maps that come with the book have the climate bands marked on, and from that we can judge where they would be on our map. They end up looking like this;

It is quite a range of climates we have, from the cold subarctic in the north to the warm subtropical in the south, though it is mostly temperate.

Altitude also plays an effect on climate. Higher elevations are cooler than lower ones around it. A mountain range and its foothills, the highlands, drop one climate band, so that in a temperate zone they would be subarctic. The peaks themselves would be two climate bands lower, so in this case they would be classified as arctic.

The following map shows those regions on the map, with the highlands (one band cooler) in orange and the peaks (two bands colder) in grey.

Combining the climate bands, the altitude and the prevailing winds (which we have already mapped out) we can now work out the types of terrain that are present. For each block of terrain, usually between natural boundaries like mountains and seas, we roll to see what the predominate terrain is, based on the climate band and whether the prevailing winds are humid or arid. Arid winds are one that form over large land masses, which we don’t have, so the prevailing winds here will be humid.

The predominate terrain for each area isn’t the only type that will be present, it is just the most prevalent. For example, arid sub-tropical regions could have barrens, deserts, scrub/brush or grasslands. One will be predominant, such as scrub/brush, but the other types will be present in patches throughout it.

Starting on the large island, we roll for the mountain peaks, which are either humid/subarctic or humid/arctic, depending how you read the rules in the guidebook. As these are medium mountains in a temperate zone, at one point it says that they are treated as humid/subarctic while in a temperate zone, despite it only being one climate band down. We will go with that, which gives us options for marsh/swamp, light forest, medium forest, moors or glaciers. Of the options given, swamp/marsh is not allowed in medium mountains, but the rest are (though there might be some small patches of swamps in valleys.) On a 1D8, we roll a 5, which gives us Light Forest. The mountains are dominated by needleleaf evergreens, like in taiga forests. There might also be medium forest, moors and glaciers around as well.

The foothills to the east of it are humid/subarctic as well. On a 1D8, we roll a 6, which gives us medium forest, denser broadleaf evergreens. The interior of the island is turning out to be one larger forest, one that thins out the higher you climb.

We continue on doing the same for the rest of the map, resulting in plenty of forests, but also regions of marshes and moors and even some tundra, glaciers and steppes. The final map looks like this;

Next time we move onto the rivers and lakes of the region – and the inhabitants.

Lets Build: Pantheon #2 with the World Builder’s Guidebook (AD&D 2E)

Time for another one off world building exercise with the World Builder’s Guidebook, rolling up and designing another pantheon.

For this one I am skipping the first step – the type of pantheon it is. It may link into the previous one that I designed or it may not. I haven’t figured that out yet.

Starting with the size, we roll Small, and the number of deities in it comes out as 1 Greater, 3 Intermediate, 3 Lesser and 2 Demi-powers. 9 all told. A decent number to be working with.

The organisation itself rolls up as Racial. This means that each race (or culture) has one deity who embodies the virtues of that people. So the God of Oceans and Trade will be worshiped by a people who are sailors and traders while the God of Dwarves, if of the traditional variety, would have the portfolios of mining, crafting and war. A good literary example of that is The Belgariad. This sounds an interesting option. We can roll up a bunch of different portfolios for the various deities and work out what kind of people their worshipers are from that.

Our roll for the involvement of the pantheon comes out as Moderate. Basically an average level of involvement. Sometimes they are involved in their own affairs and sometimes they are looking after their followers. Their most important followers get guidance and help and while avatars aren’t common, they won’t hesitate to manifest in times of danger or opportunity. So they are around, as needed, but not all the time.

Now lets see who makes up the pantheon.

Greater Deity; We roll up 3 portfolios for them and get War, Death and Sun. An interesting mix. It has some Aztec vibes about it. It is made even more interesting when rolling up their alignment and gender. They come out as a chaotic-evil goddess. Chaotic-evil believes in might makes right, with strongmen ruling by fear. If the most powerful deity in the setting believes this, and she has the domains of war, death and sun, the neighbours of their culture had best be watching out.

Intermediate Deity #1: They have two portfolios which roll up as Agriculture and Fire, and they are a chaotic-good female deity. Agriculture and fire make it sounds like a civilised community, of growing crops and cooking food, and being chaotic would indicate a less centralised society. Shades of The Shire by the sounds of it.

Intermediate Deity #2: They have two portfolios, Prosperity and Guardianship, and they are a lawful-good female deity. Much more centralised than the previous deity, they value guarding what they have and building a well ordered, peaceful and prosperous society.

Intermediate Deity #3: They have three portfolios, Fortune, Earth and Magic, and they are a neutral-good male deity. Thinking about this, I can see a way to work them all together – the earth, or more specifically, the land, gives the people who follow this deity both magic and good fortune. Outside of that geographical region the effects of it are not as strong.

Lesser Deity #1: They have the domains of Moon and Wisdom, and they are a lawful-good female deity. In effect they stand in opposition to the Greater Deity, but they are much weaker, both the goddess and her people. In addition, they value knowledge and understanding over war, but unlike the greater deity and her followers, they have friends.

Lesser Deity #2: They have the domains of War and Fortune, and are a neutral-good male deity. His people are warriors and are seemingly blessed with good luck in battle. Things just seem to go right for them, or wrong for the enemy, which helps offset their smaller size.

Lesser Deity #3: They have the domain of Wind, and are a chaotic-neutral female deity. The winds are fickle, blowing a soothing breeze one minute and destructive storms the next. So too are her followers, possibly creatures of the air who never stay in one place long, and who are regarded with some suspicion wherever they go.

Demipower #1: They have the domain of Darkness, and are a chaotic-neutral male power. The shrouded lands of the dark are a place of dreams and of nightmares, wherein dwells the one who brought it into being. Not a true god, nor a mortal either, he walks the divide between..

Demipower #2: They have the domain of Oceans, and are a chaotic-evil male power. From the oceans come reavers and raiders, who strike the shores seeking plunder and bringing death and destruction. Like the power of Darkness, they are not a true god, but seek to elevate themselves through the death their followers reap.

So there we have an interesting collection of deities, and one that I can work with. In fact I plan on expanding on it in further posts, of the powers and the cultures and races that follow them. So keep an eye out for that coming soon.

Lets Build a World: Part Thirteen: Details and Landforms

After selecting the region of the world map we want to explore and making a rough sketch of it, we come to starting to add the details to it.

The first thing to do is sharpen up the edges of the islands, to make it look more like coastlines. There are no rules for this, so just make it look however you want. In addition I throw in a bunch of smaller islands scattered across the map, forming lesser chains between the larger ones. One larger island is added as well, right in the middle of the map. I have plans for that.

Looking at the map, I also decide that I want to break up the larger island in the southwest a little as well. It is a large landmass and so I break off two smaller islands from it while still retaining the original shape overall. This is, after all, a world of islands and archipelagos and a land mass of that size stands out.

With shape given to the landmasses, and islands added, we begin to add in landforms – mountains, hills and the like. We already know where the mountains go so we add those in on the map, following the outline we previously sketched. How exactly to shape them is left up to the world builder.

If we were starting fresh with no world map to draw from, we would roll for the mountains. Each region would have 1d4+1 mountain systems, rolling 1d4 for which quadrant of the map they were in. The systems themselves are 4d8 hexes long, rolling a 1d12 for the direction they run in. Each system can be flanked by 1d4-1 lesser systems, shorter in length than the main system. But we don’t need to do that.

With the mountain chains put in, I also add the volcanoes that we had marked down early as well. I add one extra one, in the new island in the middle of the map.

Next step is to add foothills. On either side of the mountains we have added, foothills 1d3-1 hexes wide exist. On some sides the mountains can rise sheer up, while others others can extent out into rugged hills. There isn’t a lot of room on the islands for these, but we add them in as best we can.

In addition to foothills maps can contain rolling hills, much less rugged and more inhabitable. Each region would have around 3d4 of these, though given we are a mostly water map there isn’t much room for that. On a mostly land map we could add that many in. Instead we find a couple of islands where we can ad in a couple of patches of hills.

Maps can also have special features, like depressions, gorges and escarpments, usually about 1d6 in number. Again, given our lack of land, that isn’t something we can really add in on our map.

As can be seen, a lot of fun can be had rolling up landforms and experimenting with where to place them and what they look like. At some point I will do it as an example given they can’t really fit on a mostly water map.

The end result of placing all of the landforms and detailing the islands produces a map that looks like this;

The map is made with Wonderdraft.

Next time we will be working on the climate, weather and terrain of the region.

Lets Build a World: Part Twelve: Continents and Geography

We’ve finished with Chapter Two of the World Builder’s Guidebook, covering Worlds and Planetology. Now we are moving on to Chapter Three: Continents and Geography. This is probably the stage of world building that most are familiar with as a lot of fantasy is set at this level, with a continent or continent-sized region. Middle-Earth. The Hyborian Kingdoms. The Wheel of Time. A Song of Fire and Ice. Earthsea. The Belgariad. Faerun. The list goes on. It is a large area of multiple kingdoms and nations and plenty of scope to travel.

This is also a very good starting point for worldbuilding with the guidebook and possibly the most common too. The book covers how to do that, by rolling the hydrography of the world, ranging from a region of archipelagos all the way to a region with little to no water, draw up a rough map of the region, followed by rolling for the landforms of the regions, its mountains and hills, its plains and gorges and more and placing them on it.

We aren’t doing that though. We have a world map to work from and so we are going to select a region from that. For that you select one of the twenty regions on the world map, or an equivalent area, and roughly sketch them on a new map. As the book points out this is a vast area. If working from an Earth-sized world, one of the twenty regions is equivalent to about to twice the size as the continental USA.

As I mentioned previously, I had an idea of where I wanted to work with, as indicated on the map below.

Why that region in particular? I thought it looked an interesting spot, with the volcanic activity and the layout of it. As can be seen, it isn’t centred on any one region but is about the size of one region.

The next step was to roughly map it out on a new map, and adding to it the wind and current movement, the presence of the plates and the mountains, to produce the following map.

Each of those hexes is about 100 miles across, so that larger island is about the size of France. As can be seen, in the southeast corner, we have low mountains running along the islands there with extinct volcanoes, while to the north and west we have medium mountains, with active volcanoes present. A deep ocean trench lies to the northwest and we have wind and current patterns.

All right, so what is next? Well, now we start adding details. We will take the rough map and give it proper coastlines, followed by expanding on the mountains and hills and then moving on to the climate and terrain.

Lets Build a World: Part Eleven: Climate

Last time we worked on starting to map the world, which included working out tectonics. This time we look at the last part of the entire planet build, and that is its climate.

In a typical Earth like world, there are five climate bands; arctic, sub-arctic, temperate, sub-tropical and tropical. That isn’t necessarily the case in all worlds, and each band can have variance based on a number of factors, such as altitude, weather patterns or even more extreme things like the presence of a deity. Adding a second sun could also change things up substantially as well.

Our first step to determine the climate is to work out the mean planetary temperature. Is it similar to Earth, or is it hotter or colder? The hotter it is, the further north people have to live as the equatorial regions become to hot to live in, at least for humans and others like them, whereas the colder it is, the further south people need to live as it may resemble an ice age.

On a 1d100, we roll a 43, which results in a normal temperature, similar to Earth. Not super hot or super cold. Which means we can find people all across the globe.

The next step is seasonal variance. Seasonal variance is produced on Earth by its axial tilt. The more a world tilts, the more extreme seasonal variance is. Of course, axial tilt doesn’t have to apply to fantasy world. There could be other explanation for seasonal variance, ranging from the sun waxing and waning in strength or an eternal war between the gods. A Song of Ice and Fire is an example of a world with extreme seasonal variance.

Rather the roll on the seasonal variation, I instead choose, going with mild. This results in a world with less variation than on Earth, resulting in the arctic circles being pushed back further north, and the ice sheets being smaller. Seasons are present but reduced in strength, with the tropics and sub-tropics seeing no seasonal variation, while temperate and sub-arctic bands have warmer winters and cooler summers.

This could explain why, at least from a scientific view, the world has more oceans. The warmer temperatures in the the artic regions caused the ice sheets to melt and raise the sea levels.

Now we know what the temperatures are like, we have to work out the prevailing winds and ocean currents which drive the weather. For both, north of the equator, they move in a clockwise direction, while south of it they move counter-clockwise.

For currents, take a look at the major bodies of water and draw a circle in the appropriate direction depending on what hemisphere they are in. They will follow along the edges of land masses, which in the case of my map will be the undersea mountains and island chains. In the map below, the currents are marked in blue.

For prevailing winds, they are generated by oceans and large land masses, the latter of which we are lacking. Unlike ocean currents, they aren’t impeded by shorelines, but mountain ranges, especially large ones, will hamper them. For my world, the wind currents are shown in orange.

And that is it for the planetology stage of the world building. Next time we will choose one of the regions on the map and drill down into it, starting the Continents and Geography chapter of the book. And looking at the map, I have a fair idea where I am going to choose.

Lets Build a World: Part Ten: World Mapping and Tectonics

After a long break we are back to the world building process with The World Builder’s Guidebook (AD&D 2ed). We have come to the slowest part of the process – maps.

The book came with a pad of blank maps to use, as this was in the days before mapping software was really an option. The expectation was that it would all be done by hand. For the world map, they provided a polyhedral map, as seen below. The world was split into 20 sections, as we previously rolled for, and you assigned the various sections based on the continents you had rolled up.

While it does make for a more realistic global map, not all worlds are necessary global, and if you are using other means to map, such as mapping software, they may not always have the option to be polyhedral.

So for this I am going with a more standard looking map. We place the two continents we rolled in squares 4 and 7 and then assign the rest of the options were we want. The end result looks like this.

That is, of course, the easy bit. Now we have to sketch out the shape of the world based on what we have. Half land/half water is what is says, while major islands have around 25% land and 75% water. Minor islands have a scattering of land, maybe 5%, while water is pretty much just water, with maybe a small island here or there. On a piece of paper I map out a rough design of the world, as show here.

With an idea of how the world works, we come to the next stage, the seismology and tectonics of the world. This, of course, is based on the concept that your world is similar to Earth. You may not need to worry about this step if you are going for something wild and unusual, but for this example we are going to keep following the book.

A Earth-sized world has 4d4 plates, each of 1d6 regions. Our roll is 11 plates, so we start to roll to see how many regions each has. We start rolling with 6, 2, 2 and 5. That brings us up to 15 regions already, leaving just 5 left. As we have rolled more plates than that, we just add 5 more of 1 region each and drop the last 2. It may be that you end up with not enough regions, in which case you can just add the left over region to the last plate.

Now we have the plates we need to add them to the map. Generally along the boundary between land and sea, or along island chains is a good place to put then, though they don’t necessarily have to follow that; looking at Earth’s plates you can see one running right down the middle of the Atlantic. One to three plates per ocean basin or continent is recommended. The red lines on the map below are how I allocated them.

So what are the rest of the markings on the map about? Well, where plates meet is a good place to find mountains and rifts as well as volcanic and seismic activity. Plates meet each other in one of three ways; away from each other, towards each other or alongside each other. Starting with one plate, you roll on the plate movement table to see in which way they are moving (and from that you know what the other side is doing), and see what it causes. Plates moving towards each other tend to make the largest mountains, while those moving alongside each other will result in seismic activity.

The red arrows on the map indicate the movement of the plates. As can be seen I didn’t fill them all in; you can if you want, but it isn’t required. The blue lines mark deep ocean trenches, forming where one plate is sliding underneath its neighbor. The brown lines mark mountain chains; 1 line for low mountains, 2 lines for medium mountains and 3 lines for high mountains. In this case the ‘mountains’ are submarine ridges that the peaks of form island chains.

World size can play a part in adjusting the size of mountains, if you wish for that. World’s smaller than average adjust mountain ranges up in size, while larger world’s than Earth adjust it down.

Volcanic chains are also marked on the map. The solid orange triangles active volcanoes, the solid yellow triangles are dormant volcanoes and the hollow orange triangles are extinct. Given that one of the most important deities in the pantheon of the world is the Lord of Volcanoes, these are liable to be important places.

I haven’t marked down anything about earthquakes, but will keep an eye on any regions that might experience them as we further explore the world.

Of course, if you are going with a fantastical world and don’t want tectonic plates, you can roll on a sperate chart to place mountains per region, ranging from normal mountains to fantastical ones, like ones that are gates to elemental plains.

Next time we move on to the climatology of the planet.

Lets Build: A Pantheon with the World Builder’s Guidebook (AD&D 2E)

For a project I am working on, I am going back to The World Builder’s Guidebook (AD&D 2E) to work out some details. First up will be the creation of a pantheon using the guidebook. I have some ideas which I want to explore but need to get a proper feel for the place before I get started. So lets get rolling.

Firstly is to work out what type of pantheon it is; the dice roll a 53, resulting in one pantheon per major culture, with overlapping deities. In effect this means that there is one deity per portfolio (war, love, sun etc), but that they are known by different names to different cultures. A prime example of that are the gods and goddesses of the Roman and Greek pantheons – many of the Roman ones were rebranded Greek ones, similar in a lot of ways but with different names.

Int his case, I am thinking that there would be one fairly large pantheon and that each culture uses elements of it. Some deities, the main ones, may be fairly universal while others may be more specific to only a few cultures. The relative importance of them will vary from culture to culture, so a deity of agriculture may not have much meaning to nomadic herders, while a deity of rain would likewise not be followed in a desert dwelling culture. The deity of war would be of far grater importance to a militaristic, expansionist culture than a more civilised, peaceful one.

Next we move onto the pantheon size. In this case it is the size of the pantheon for the culture we are working with, and not the size of the overall pantheon. A roll of 23 results in a Small pantheon. Given the culture involved it a relatively minor one that can work well. Rolling for the number of deities, we get 1 Greater, 2 Intermediate, 2 Lesser and 2 Demi, a total of 7 all told. We will work out who they are later.

With the size worked out we work out what the organisation of the pantheon is, or at least this portion of it. The larger pantheon will be a mixed one, with various elements as the pantheon evolved. This portion rolls a 63, a Natural pantheon. Basically, they represent various elements of nature; animals, plants, seasons, weather etc.

Lastly we work out the involvement of the pantheon in the affairs of mortals. A roll of 37 results in Aloof; the deities don’t get involved much, if at all, and only in times of great need. The Valar of The Silmarillion are an example of that, at least later on.

Now to work on the specifics of the Pantheon.

Greater Deity; We roll 3 on 1d3 for the number of portfolios they have. The first roll is a 19; Oceans. That fits in very well with the Natural theme of the pantheon and indicates that the culture we are working on has deep connections to the ocean. The second roll is 06; Animals. In this case it wouldn’t be all animals, but oceanic animals. Our last roll is a 36; Sun. That one doesn’t seem to fit as well, so I re-roll and come up with 51; Fate. Given the nature of the sea, that one fits in well.

There are no actual rules for determining gender or actual alignment of the deities, beyond a range of them. Animals, oceans and fate could be of any alignment. My house rule is to just flip a coin for gender and use the alignment chart for cultures to figure out the alignment of a deity, re-rolling for any non-allowed ones.

Rolling gives a male god who is neutral-good, completing the picture of him. The God of the Ocean is seen by this culture as a benign ruler, concerned for the well being of his people over the rules of law and individual liberty. He preaches acceptance of the fate that comes on all, whether raging storm or unexpected wealth, and the creatures of the sea are his, the bounty of them provided to his followers. The sea drakes that explore the depths of the ocean are his sacred creatures.

Intermediate Deity #1; We roll 2 on 1d3 for the number of portfolios they have. The first roll is 73; Music and the second is 54; Fire. They are also female and of a neutral-good alignment as well. At first glance it seems a bit of an odd combination but I can see how it works.

The Lady of the Flame, at least in this culture, welcomes all to her warmth and represents all that is good about fire; the provider of heat and of cooking. Moreso, hers is a place where people gather around to share, to sing and make music. She represents the good aspects of fire and most likely was one of the early deities worshiped by early people, simple hunter-gatherers at their campfires.

Intermediate Deity #2; We roll 2 on 1d3 for the number of portfolios they have. The first roll is 10; Earth and the second is 80; Trade. I like this combo and will keep it for the overall pantheon but I think I will set it aside for this pantheon and roll again as it doesn’t quite fit the picture I am building up in my head for them. Instead we roll 27; Seasons and 37; Sun. They are a male neutral deity.

The Lord of the Seasons is even more indifferent to the fates of mortals than most, caring simply for the rise and fall of the seasons, from summer to winter and back, and with it the waxing and waning of the strength of the sun.

Lesser Deity #1; We roll a 1 on 1d2 for the number of portfolios. The roll is 52; Fertility. They are a chaotic good female deity.

The Lady of Birth and Growth cares little for the rule of laws, instead being about the growth of all things, the blossoming of new life, the birth of new creatures. Given her inclusion in the pantheon and the more chaotic nature of her personality, the culture in question might have looser laws on such matters as marriage, and less stigma on those born out of wedlock.

Lesser Deity #2; We roll a 2 on 1d2 for the number of portfolios. The rolls are 100; Time and 31; Sky. The deity is a lawful good female.

The Lady of Time is closely connected to The Lord of Seasons. Perhaps related, perhaps married. Perhaps both, depending on the culture and mythology involved. They mark the orderly passage of time, displaying it in the heavens with the wheel of the stars and the moon, and like the Lord of Seasons, being indifferent to all else, but in a far more orderly manner than the passage of seasons.

Demi-power #1; They have a single portfolio, rolling a 78; Thunder. They turn out to be a neutral-evil female deity. An unusual one, but given the oceanic theme of the culture, one that could fit in. The Lady of Storms is a selfish deity who rages at will, caring little for the deaths she brings to those caught up in her displays. For such reasons mortals fear her but also respect her, seeking to appease her nature with offerings in return for their safety, but they don’t exactly love her.

Demi-power #2; They have a single portfolio, rolling 48; Death. They turn out to be a Lawful-neutral female deity.

Death comes to all. It is part of nature, unavoidable. While her sister, The Lady of Birth and Growth ushers you into the world, it is The Lady of Death who ushers your soul on. She is not a cruel or uncaring deity, merely one carrying out the natural order of things, regardless of the standing of the victim. All in the end come to her, and hers is a place where suffering and pain are no more.

That is the pantheon of the culture that we are working on, an interesting mix. The details of the pantheon can now be fleshed out as the culture is built up on but as it currently stands we have a few points of interest to look at. But as you can see, you can get some interesting mixes and from that try and build a story around them, to see what ideas it sparks. You don’t have to stick exactly with what the rolls give you, though they can certainly help get the creativity flowing.

Lets Build: A Dwarf Stronghold #2

After the last stronghold, I feel need to expunge the shame of it being a gully dwarf stronghold and make a proper dwarven one. For this, it will be a mix of rolls and choosing options, a perfectly valid option given in the book.

Stronghold Name

The stronghold name will contain three prefixes to go with the suffix. Our rolls net us Far, Nal and Nor. For the suffix we get Gak. Mixing them up we get Norfarnalgak. It sounds decent but I want a little more, so I make some miror changes to get Norzarngak.

Subraces Present

Rather than roll on the subrace table, I am going to choose – in this case mixed subraces. There are more than one type of dwarf present in this stronghold. I will still roll to see which is dominant, and how many, and what type, of other subraces are present.

We roll 58 on 1d100, which gives us Hill Dwarves as the dominant subrace. A 4 on 1d4 means 4 other subraces are also present, so a very cosmopolitan dwarf stronghold.

Hill dwarves have 3d100+100 adult males present. The roll for that gives us 188, for 288 adult males. That will also give us 144 adult females and 72 children in the fortress.

When other subraces are present, you are meant to modify the dominant race to reduce their numbers – in the case of 4 others, we are meant to reduce it by 75%, but I keep the old numbers. I want a big stronghold. Well, as big as a dwarf stronghold can be.

To find out who else lives in the stronghold, and how many of them, we roll on the Hill Dwarf Subrace Table. The first roll gives us 3d6 mountain dwarves, the second gives us 4d10 gully dwarves (we just cant seem to escape them), the third 2d8 duergar and the fourth 1d12 deep dwarves. We roll 12 mountain dwarves, 31 gully dwarves, 7 duergar and 10 deep dwarves. These are the adult males, so there will be more women and children.

If we had reduced the size of the dominate subrace as suggested, we would have 216 less adult male hill dwarves but only 60 adult males from other subraces, which would make a huge population drop. That is why I ignored it – there are few enough dwarves in a stronghold already to justify that.

Overall Alignment

An 8 on 2d6 for the alignment of the stronghold gets us Lawful Good – very much typical of the LG Hill Dwarves. That isn’t to say that everyone in the Stronghold is LG, but the overall outlook of it. Besides LG dwarves, there would also be Chaotic Good, Neutral Good and Lawful Neutral ones in smaller numbers. Other alignments might be present, but they would be very rare and would keep their alignment hidden.

As discussed in the next part, the other subraces have their own enclaves in Norzarngak, and these may have differing attitudes and ways of life than the rest of the stronghold. Rolling for them, the deep dwarves are overall Neutral and the mountain dwarves are Lawful Good. The duergar turn out to be Lawful Neutral, discarding the Lawful Evil ways of their subrace. The gully dwarves are also Neutral, being less chaotic than the rest of their kind. It seems the hill dwarves of Norzarngak have had a positive influences on their duergar and gully dwarf cousins.

Type of Stronghold

What is the size and importance of Norzarngak? One option we have is to have a primary stronghold for the hill dwarves, and have smaller, secondary ones for the subraces, as trading enclaves or family strongholds. These may end up wildly different to the main stronghold itself, which could make for some interesting adventure hooks.

For Norzarngak itself, we roll a 2 on a 1d100, which means this is a major stronghold, a capital city which may rule over other, lesser strongholds. It also means that the population is doubled – in this case 576 adult male hill dwarves, 24 mountain dwarves, 62 gully dwarves, 14 duergar and 20 deep dwarves. These are just the adult males, for a total of 696 adult males.

For the others, I decide that the mountain dwarves belong to a trade enclave, linking Norzarngak and their home civilisation. The duergar belong to a family stronghold, a single family of 14 males, 7 females and 3 children living in their own part of the stronghold.

For the deep dwarves, I let the dice decide and it comes out as an outpost – outposts have a 35% chance to be mines, and I roll an 01, so this is one of those. The deep dwarves (20 males, 10 females, 5 children) live in the deepest parts of the stronghold and control the local mine, which certainly gives them some power in the stronghold. The question is, what type of mine is it. An early chapter in the Complete Book of Dwarves allows you to roll up mines and see how rich they are. A 1d100 gives us 90 on the Mining Products Table – a silver mine. To see the quality of it, we roll a 1d10 on the Ore Quality Table and get 10, as good as it gets. A 10 allows us to roll again, and on a second 10 it is a pure vein, otherwise it requires smelting. Our second roll is only a 9. Close, but not quite. This mine produces smelted ore equal to 2000 silver coins each week per miner. This, then, is the main source of Norzarngak’s wealth.

The gully dwarves I don’t roll for. They live in the general populace, and I have a few ideas for them to expand on.

The Age of the Stronghold

A major stronghold has been around 2d10 generations. In Norzarngak’s case that is 12 generations, each of 350 years, or 4,200 years. Norzarngak is old, and well established. The deep dwarves mine has been around 1d6-1 generations, or 4 generations – 1,520 years. The mountain dwarf trade enclave has been around 1d4-2 generations, or 2 generations – 800 years. The duergar family stronghold has been around 1d6-1 generations. I decide they have been here 4 generations as well, or 1600 years. They arrived around the same time as the deep dwarves.


On a 1d100, we get a 81 for government type. Checking the government table, that results in an oligarchy, an elite group of dwarves elected or selected on the basis of their wealth to rule. These could be drawn from nobles, guilds or merchants, the only requirement being wealth. As such, I can see some representation from the deep dwarves, on the account of their mines, and possibly mountain dwarves as well, in addition to the hill dwarves who remain the majority of the oligarchic council.

For the other enclaves, the mountain dwarves are a theocracy. A priest runs their trade enclave, obviously a dwarven god of trade. The deep dwarves are feudal. A deep dwarf noble is in charge of the mine and all its workers. Meanwhile the duergar are a guild. A guild master runs their small family stronghold, which means the family are all likely part of the same guild. Thinking it over, and trying to integrate them into Norzarngak, I decide that they are the Guild of Silversmiths. They turn the silver mined by the deep dwarves into works of value and intricate design. While each enclave is ruled in its own way, they all full under the jurisdiction of the oligarchic council of the stronghold. The gully dwarves are, as mentioned, just part of the general stronghold.


Now to see how this rich, oligarchic stronghold interacts with the world beyond. Our first 1d20 roll gives us 15, isolationist, but our previous stronghold was one of those, so we are going to try again. Especially given we know that it trades with other dwarves at the least. A second roll is a 9 – friendly. Well, as friendly as dwarves get. They will most likely have more dealings with other races. Only 50% of the adult population is part of the militia, but given the size of the stronghold, that is still more than 500 basic members of the militia.

I decide that the enclaves may also have their own attitudes as well, which might make for a more interesting story for the stronghold. The mountain dwarves are expansionist, with 100% of the adults in the militia. Expansionists societies want to grow and move into new areas, even if it means going to war. It certainly adds an interesting new dynamic to the stronghold – the small religious trader enclave of mountain dwarves agitating for a more aggressive foreign policy to the friendly and more numerous hill dwarwves.

The deep dwarves are dispossessed – they lost their ancestral lands and, though few in number, still wish to reclaim. We need to roll on the war table to find out who drove them from their homes into exile. We actually roll 100 on 1d100, which means three races were involved. They turn out to be ogres, trolls and drow, though whether they were working together or separate we can work our later. Lastly, I decide that the duergar were also dispossessed – they arrived at around the same time as the deep dwarves, so it makes sense that some great war 15 or 16 centuries before in the deeper parts of the world drove the remnants of their civilisation to seek refuge elsewhere. Both the deep dwarves and duergar have 50-100% of their adult population in the militia. Given their background, and desire to reclaim their ancestral lands, 100% sounds appropriate.


Norzarngak is large and powerful, and probably wealthy. To see how wealthy we roll a 1d20 and add 2 for being primarily hill dwarves and 3 for being a major stronghold. The result is 24 – rich. There is great wealth there and even the lowest dwarf is exceedingly well off. Starting dwarf characters get a bonus +1d10x10 gp. A starting fighter normally gets 50-200 gp to start with, but one from Norzarngak gets another 10-100 on top of that.

I don’t roll for the enclaves in this case. The wealth of the stronghold is shared around between all, even the gully dwarves.

Relationship with other Player Character Races

As a friendly stronghold of lawful good alignment and with a lawful good race, Norzarngak rolls 1d20-9 to figure out its relationships with the other player character races nearby. They turn out to be friendly with humans, gnomes and halflings, meaning members of those races visit regularly, trade is brisk and some may even live among them. For the elves, they roll cautious but I downgrade that to merely indifferent. I’d rather steer away from the more antagonistic attitude between elves and dwarves that is often portrayed. In this case they are neutral and businesslike. Trade is done, and maybe a few elven merchants live in Norzarngak, but few other elves come to visit all that much.

The other enclaves have their own attitudes towards the other races. For the mountain dwarves, they roll a 1d20+1, due to their expansionist attitude, though their lawful good nature tones that down. They turn out to be indifferent towards gnomes and halflings, no doubt seeing little threat from them, but cautious towards humans and elves. While gnomes and halflings may visit the trade enclave, humans and elves generally aren’t allowed without close supervision.

The deep dwarves down in the mines roll an unmodified 1d20 due to their neutrality and attitude. They are friendly towards the gnomes, indifferent towards halflings and cautious about elves and humans. They welcome gnomes and their may even be some living down in the mines. If a halfling actually wanted to venture down in the mines, they would be allowed to but humans and elves would be frowned upon, though not actively barred.

The lawful neutral nature of Norzarngak’s duergar gives them a 1d20-1 roll. In something of a surprise, they turn out to be friendly to humans, indifferent to halflings and gnomes, but cautious to elves. None of the enclaves seem to be big fans of the elves.

The gully dwarves, once again, follow the attitudes of the general stronghold.

War and Peace with other Races

Just because the stronghold has a general friendly outlook doesn’t mean their can’t be war. Normally they roll a 1d20-5 on the War/Peace table, meaning they may be in an uneasy peace that may erupt into war, but additional factors have to be taken into account. The disposed deep dwarves and duergar would roll a 1d20+10 and the expansionist mountain dwarves would roll a 1d20+5, making peace all but impossible and war likely. However, having the enclaves be involved in wars but not the stronghold itself would make little sense. The more aggressive nature of the enclaves pushed the the roll back to a straight 1d20 for the overall stronghold I decide. The result comes up as 11 – an uneasy peace. Now to find out who the uneasy peace is – a roll of 1d100 comes up as a 17 which reveals the enemy as drow. That should have been a fairly obvious choice from the history of the deep dwarves and duergar. We also need to find out how long the peace has held. That is a 1d8 roll on the peace table, which is normally a 1d10 roll, meaning always have been at peace is out of the question. The roll comes up with 3d10 years – as recently as 11 years before there had been conflict between Norzarngak and the drow. A few more rolls finds out that war had gone on for 5 generations, or around 1750 years before comings to its end, a steady war of border skirmishers and raids during which time the homes of the deep dwarves and duergar were overrun.

Having problems with just one race doesn’t seem enough through. We need a bit more for the purposes of adventures, so I will roll up two more enemy races and find out what trouble has happened with them.

The first are beholders, always troublesome neighbors. Currently there is a peace with them as well, the conflict having ended 31 years prior after a 6 year long invasion.

Lastly are hobgoblins, and it turns out there is an active war going on with them, it having been going on 34 years currently. It started just after the war with the beholders began, so there may be a link there. Now the other wars have ended, the dwarves have more resources available and the war is escalating in nature.


There is a war going on and so we need to know what Norzarngak has to fight it with. While a friendly stronghold with only 50% of the adult hill dwarf population in the militia, there are still 864 adults (576 male, 288 female) in the stronghold. Half of that is 432 milita.

Hill dwarves have elite (13) morale and are normally equipment with chain mail and shields, but because Norzarngak is rich, they are able to outfit all of them in plate mail. For weapons, it is a mix, with each dwarf having two weapons. A fixed percentage of the militia is equipped with each combo, so for instance 25% of them have axes and hammers, and 10% have axes and heavy crossbows.

Hill dwarf leaders are equipped with full plate armour and shields, and there are the following ones; 10 2nd-6th level warriors, 2 4th level warriors, 2 6th level warriors, 2 3rd-6th/4th-7th warrior/priests, 1 8th level warrior, 1 7th level warrior, 1 6/7th level warrior/priest and 1 4/4th level warrior/priest. In total they have 432 militia and 20 leaders.

The enclaves have their own small forces of militia as well, ready to back up the main force.

There are 36 adult mountain dwarves (24 male, 12 female), all of who are in their militia. Given they are expansionist, they get +2 morale, increasing theirs to 15. They only get 1 leader, a 2nd-6th level warrior. The militia also have plate mail and shields, with the leader having full plate. In total they have 36 militia and 1 leader.

There are 21 adult duergar (14 male, 7 female), all of who are in their militia, all equipped with plate mail and shields, with elite (13) morale. For whatever reason, duergar and gully dwarf militias get a lot more leaders than the other subraces. This duergar militia has 5 2nd level warriors and 2 4th level warriors in full plate. In total they have 21 militia and 7 leaders.

There are 30 adult deep dwarves (20 male, 10 female), all of who are in their militia, all equipped with plate mail and shields, with elite (13) morale. In theory they aren’t meant to get any leaders until they have 40 members of the militia but we will give them 1 3rd level warrior in full plate. In total they have 30 militia and 1 leader.

Special Units

A stronghold can have special types of forces, basically the kits described in the books such as Battleragers and Hearth Guards, totaling 10-20% of the total number of male dwarves in the stronghold, which are in addition to the regular members of the militia.

Norzarngak has 346 adult males in the militia and I am giving them the full 20% they can have. Given how large and wealthy the stronghold is, they can afford it, and the current war also would obviously also mean more would be needed and available.

That gives them 69 special units, which can come from any subrace. I am not going to split them up as normally I would assign them from the pool as needed, but each subraces would have certain kits they would favour other others, as follows.

The Hill Dwarves favour warrior kits, like the Animal Master, Hearth Guard (a female warrior kit), Highborn (nobles and rulers), and Sharpshooters. There are also some Diplomats (thief kit) given their relations with other races, and the occasional warrior/thief kit like Traders and Vermin Slayers.

The only gully dwarves that serve in the militia are actually a few individuals who are actual special units, and they favour thief and warrior/thief kits like the Pest Controller and Vermin Slayer.

Given the religious nature of their trade enclave, the mountain dwarves favour priests and warrior/priest kits. I have allocated two members of the speical units to them – a Ritual Priest who rules the enclave and a Trader who oversees the trading done by it.

The duergar, being a bit more stealthy than others dwarves, like thief and warrior/thief kits, especially Wayfinders, warrior/thieves who specialise in exploring in an effort to find ways back down to their lost homes.

Like the hill dwarves, the deep dwarves favour warrior kits, and also have one assigned special unit – a Highborn, the feudal ruler of the mine enclave and the Uncrowned King of their lost stronghold who yearns to reclaim his birthright.

War Machines

With a bit more than 500 members of the militia, Norzarngak gets to roll 10 times on the war machines table, resulting in 9 war machines. We give them 2 grinders, pedal powered machines equipped with a number of huge rotating blades designed to roll down tunnel and chop up enemies, 2 heavy ballista and 5 light ballista.


In addition to regular dwarves, Norzarngak is also defender by brown bears, with 2d4 bears forming part of its defence per Animal Master in the stronghold.


There you have Norzarngak in all its glory, a wealthy, large and fairly open city full of many dwarves of different kinds. There are 576 adult male hill dwarves, 288 adult female hill dwarves, 144 hill dwarf children, 20 adult hill dwarf militia leaders, 24 adult male mountain dwarves, 12 adult female mountain dwarves, 6 mountain dwarf children, 1 adult mountain dwarf militia leader, 14 adult male duergar, 7 adult female duergar, 3 duergar children, 7 adult duergar militia leaders, 20 adult male deep dwarves, 10 adult female deep dwarves, 5 deep dwarf children, 1 deep dwarf militia leader, 62 adult male gully dwarves, 31 adult female gully dwarves, 15 gully dwarf children and 69 special units of various subraces. And some brown bears. That gives a total population of 1,315 dwarves in one of the largest, grandest strongholds in the world. Yeah, numbers in the book may be a little on the low side for cities, but you go with what you’ve got.

In addition to those dwarves, and bears, you’re likely to see a few small pockets of humans, gnomes and halflings living in Norzarngak, maybe a two or three dozen of each, just to give the city a bit of extra flavour. And if you are lucky, or unlucky, depending on how you few it, maybe a couple of elf merchants as well.


When the first hill dwarves struck the earth more than 4000 years ago and established Norzarngak in the Norzarn Caverns in the Silver Hills, they had little idea what their legacy would become. From the first days, Norzarngak grew, and from it spread out the Sons of Norzarn through the hills, founding colonies along its length.

Some three thousand years ago, the first primitive strangers began to appear on the plains below; humans, halflings, gnomes and even elves. It provoked interest in the dwarves of Nozarngak, and they went among the strangers and taught them, and from it friendship grew with most, though the elves held themselves apart and soon trade began to blossom and flourish between the dwarves of the Silver Hills and the growing cities on the plains.

And while there was peace for almost two and a half thousand years since the time of the founding of Norzarngak, it was not to last. Drow began to appear in the deep places , and war was kindled, not just with the hill dwarves but other dwarves too that lived beneath the earth. 150 years after it had begun came the first great tragedy of the war, for the drow brought together a force of trolls and ogres to aid them, and they overran the strongholds of the duergar. Those few that survived fled and threw themselves on the mercy of the hill dwarves of Norzarngak. While the hill dwarves did not fully trust their grey dwarf kin, yet when they saw the pitiful remnant before them, they took pity upon them and took them in, aiding them.

It was not to the be the last tragedy either, for a mere 80 years later the deep dwarves were destroyed by the drow and their allies, and the remnants of their people, lead by their last king, came to Norzarngak and there took refuge, but they were not alone.

With them came another band of dwarves, ones the deep dwarves had rescued from the hands of the drow, a people broken by torture and magic. Of what origins they were none could say, only that they had been reduced to a sorry state. Gully dwarves they were to be called, and ever fear of the drow lurked in them.

Shortly there after the alliance between the drow, trolls and ogres ended until only the drow remained and so a reprieve was granted upon Norzanrgak though the war yet went on, in raids and skirmishes through out the caverns and the depths. It was uncertain who turned on who first, but the three races all turned on each other, with the drow emerging triumphant.

During this period, the refugees settled into their new life with the hill dwarves. The deep dwarves, under their Uncrowned King, began to explore the depths below Norzarngak, seeking hidden routes to their old home, during which time they discovered silver in the hills and began to mine it. A change came upon the duergar, for a mix of loss, gratitude and the examples displayed by the hill dwarves saw them slowly drift from their darker ways, resulting in a small but respected enclave within the stronghold, devoted to the silvercraft and to the law. While the occasional black sheep cropped up still, the duergar were quick to deal with it least they loose the respect of the wider community, as they see it, though the broader stronghold would perhaps not be so quick to judge.

For the gully dwarves, the hill dwarves sought to rehabilitate their fallen kin, to mend the damage done to them. It was a hard task, with little success, but still the hill dwarves work at it, while the gully dwarves live among them, generally working as servants and in other simple tasks. Yet from time to time one emerges among the gully dwarves who show glimmers of their past selves, the most famous being ‘Chomper’ Dorin, one of the most dangerous battleragers to ever walk the deep caverns beneath Norzarngak.

For seven hundred more years the war went on, with neither side able to gain the upperhand. Then, from the distant Thunderpeak Mountains, from Holy Belnorkak, came envoys and traders from the mountain dwarves. Led by a priest, the religious mountain dwarves establish a trade enclave in Norzarngak, lending aid to the hill dwavres in their struggles with the drow, for to them it was a religious struggle.

Even for the long lived drow and dwarves, the war went on for a long time, for 17 centuries, and would, no doubt have continued further, but for an unexpected change. Into the caverns and the well worn battle fields came a new foe, hobgoblins, a disciplined and numerous foe, and they began to attack both drow and dwarf. Even so, the ancient enmity could not be so easily shaken.

Yet that was just a foretaste of what was to come, for a mere 3 years later came the beholders, seeking to dominate and enslave and they washed over the caverns in a full on invasion. Dire were the battles fought at the very walls of Norzarngak, and only through above ground routes was the way kept open. It was during this war that ‘Chomper’ Dorin came to fame, and while he helped break the invasion, he fell before the end came.

Both drow and dwarf were shaken by this invasion, and the still ongoing clashes with the hobgoblins, and so, a mere 14 years after the beholders were defeated, the war between them came to an end, though neither side particularly trusted the other.

11 years has passed since then, and the war against the hobgoblins is escalating, with all sides seeing out allies to aid them in the growing battles. The fate of Norzarngak, and indeed all of the lands around, both above and below, now hangs in the balance.

Lets Build: A Dwarf Stronghold with The Complete Book of Dwarves (AD&D 2ed)

One of my favourite things is random charts and rolling on them, to see what madness ensues. And of the core races in most fantasy games, dwarves are my favourite. Tough, stalwart, down-to-earth dwarves. And so it is luck that The Complete Book of Dwarves for 2nd ED AD&D just happens to have random charts, specifically to create a dwarven stronghold. And it was fairly balanced, unlike the Complete Book of Pointy-Ears, which should outright be banned.

We are going to go through the process, step by step, and create one with jut dice rolls and nothing more. While the book says that you can pick and choose if you want, we are going to let chaos and fate choose for us. One odd thing to note is that Dwarf Strongholds as presented in the books never get very big, with maybe a couple of thousand people living in them at most. Dwarven cities just aren’t a thing apparently.

First up is the name of the Stronghold. For that we roll 1d4 times on the Dwarf Name Prefix table and then roll on the Stronghold Suffix table, whack them together and mix to come up with a name. Sadly no meanings are provided, like in Dwarf Fortress. For us we get 2 prefixes, which are Bal and Kil, and the suffix of Hak. Balkilhak.

Next is to find out just which dwarven subrace lives there, and how many of them there are. There is a chance of a mix of subraces as well, but we don’t get that. Instead we roll a 23 on the d100, which turns out to be Gully Dwarves. Oh dear. They are unwashed, cowardly, degenerates who give all true dwarves a bad name. They scavenge in the refuses of others for their treasures and are dealt with contempt by everyone.

Why the dwarves get saddled with such a terrible subrace and a certain pointy-eared race doesn’t is one of the great travesties of gaming.

A gully dwarf stronghold has 1d100+100 males in it, plus half that number of females and one quarter of children. We roll a 49 for 149 men, 74 females and 37 children, for a total of 260 inhabitants.

We know that gully dwarves live in Balkilhak, but we don’t know the overall alignment of the place. For that we roll 2d6 and consult the Gully Dwarf column of the Overall Stronghold Alignment Table. We roll an 8 – Chaotic Neutral. Standard for gully dwarves, resulting in a stronghold teetering on the edge of collapse.

A picture is forming, but now we need to find out what type of stronghold it is, from a major one all the way down to a tiny one occupied by a single family. A roll of 44 on 1d100 results in a Secondary Stronghold, the standard size, and one without any population modifiers.

How old is Balkilhak? Dwarves think in terms of generations, not years. For a secondary stronghold, it has been around 2d6 generations, but because gully dwarves are involved, we subtract 2 from the roll. We roll 11 – 2, for a total of 9 generations. Somehow the gully dwarves have kept this place running for 9 generations, and given a gully dwarf lives for around 250 years, that is 2250 years the place has been standing. That is something of a miracle.

How has that happened? Perhaps the government type will give us some clues. For that we roll 1d100, but we add 10 to that for being gully dwarves and 10 more for being a chaotic aligned stronghold. A roll of 75 +20 = 95. Theocracy. Priests rule the stronghold, but what gods they follow we may not want to know.

Our next step is to work out the attitude of the stronghold, which impacts their military strength. A decadent stronghold is not going to be as strong as an expansionist one. In our case we roll a 20 on 1d20 – Isolationist. They avoid all contact with other races if they can help it, and 75-100% of their adult population, male and female, receive regular training. It is probably more likely that all other races avoid contact with them than the other way around. Just for the best really.

What about the resources that Balkilhak has access to? That is a 1d20 roll, -10 for being gully dwarves and +1 for being a secondary stronghold. That is a big penalty. We manage to roll a 19. Modified, that brings us down to 10, or average wealth. For gully dwarves, that is living in the lap of luxury.

Even an isolationist stronghold has some sort of relationship with the other races out there, and the first we roll for are the four other player character races – humans, elves, gnomes and halflings. For that we roll a 1d20, modified by +1 for being chaotic neutral. Isolationists treat all rolls of 4 or less as being a 9 – they cant actually be friendly with anyone. Humans are an 11 – cautious. Elves are a 7 – cautious. Gnomes are a 10 – indifferent. Halflings are a 15 – threatening. Balkilhak is neutral towards the gnomes, even allowing some to visit and maybe have a merchant or two live among them. For humans and elves, the relationship is strained, and any visitors are searched and watched closely. Halflings are warned off with threats of violence and are not allowed into Balkilhak at all, though they aren’t at war. They just really don’t like halflings for some reason.

What of other races? We need to roll on the War/Peace table for that. An unmodified 1d20 gets us 5 – peace. How long have they been at peace? A 1d10 gives us 7 – 2d6 generations, or 4 generations. 1000 years before Balkilhak was at war, and we need to find out who with. A 1d100 roll on the war table gives us 63 – lizardmen. Not your standard enemy, but gully dwarves aren’t your standard race. On the war duration table, we roll 1 on a 1d10, which gives us a 1d8 day war, or 3 days. To find out what type of war it was, we roll a 1d10, with a +1 modifier for being isolationist. The result is 10 – invasion. Sounds like the lizardmen came across Balkilhak, stormed it in 3 days and then found nothing of real value and so left again.

The last step of the process is to work out the type of militia that Balkilhak has. As we saw earlier, an isolationist stronghold has 75-100% of its adult population in the militia. The total adult population is 223. In this case we will go with the 75% value. Gully dwarves being the cowards they are, a quarter of them hiding or running away before the fight makes sense. That gives us 167 members of the militia.

Looking at the entry for gully dwarves, we find their base morale is 7 (unsteady), +1 for being isolationist, for a final value of 8. Give the base value for all other dwarves is 13 (elite), it gives you an idea how cowardly this lot are. They are only equipped with leather armour and shields, and whatever weapons they can scavenge. Probably only weapons like spears, clubs, knives (rusty ones at that) and not much else.

There are a few gully dwarf leaders who are a bit better than the average gully dwarf. For ever 4 members of the militia, there is a thief of level 2-6, for every 5 a warrior of 2-4, for ever 10 a warrior of 2-6, for every 50 a warrior of level 8 and for every 100 a warrior of level 10 and a priest of level 1-10. Except for the thieves, the leaders have chain mail armour and shields.

The final total for the militia is;

167 1st level dwarves, 41 2nd-6th level thieves, 33 2nd-4th level warriors, 16 2nd-6th level warriors, 3 8th level warriors, 1 10th level warrior and 1 1st-10th level priest. The leaders are in addition to the regular militia members, which means there are 95 more people in the stronghold, increasing the size of it to 355 gully dwarves.

Stongholds may have access to special forces, such as Battleragers and Hearth Guards, but it is unlikely gully dwarves would have any, or be inclined to risk themselves in such a manner. For ever 50 members of the militia, they might have a war machine. We roll 3 times on a 1d10+1 for being isolationist, giving results of 2, 7, 8. A 2 gives nothing, but the other 2 mean there are 2 war machines in Balkilhak. Ramshackled things no doubt, prone to breaking down, but present. From the list, we give them 2 light ballistas, as everything else is a little too complex for gully dwarves. Some strongholds may also be guarded by trained animals as well, but without specialist trainers it means Balkilhak doesn’t. Still, there are rats around. Lots and lots of rats.

Why the mad god Balkil decided to create the gully dwarves is unknown, but created them he did. Somehow they survived and clustered around the stronghold they called Balkilhak, a place that wobbled on the edge of anarchy and collapse throughs its long history. Guided, if it could be called it, by the priests of the mad god, laws and rules were decided on by whim and ever changing. Not that the gully dwarves paid much attention to them.

They are ignored, left to their own devices, and about the only ones that pay them any attention are gnomish traders who arrive from time to time to buy what ever items of value that the gully dwarves have found and sell them baubles in return. The day may come when the whims of the rulers decided that the gnomes are to be barred, just as the halflings are.

Should any be serious about it, the place could be taken easily, as the lizardmen once proved in a one sided three day war, but to date no one has the desire to do so, for their would nothing of value to be gained from it. Thus, their lowly and oft despised nature keeps the gully dwarves of Balkilhak safe for now.

Let’s Build a World: Part Six: Cosmology and Mythology

With the establishment of our pantheon complete, the chapter moves on to the cosmology and mythology section.

Normally I don’t do much with this one but I felt it would be interesting to have a look at for the purposes of giving the guidebook a thorough examination.

The cosmology section has charts so you can roll to determine such things as the astronomy of you system, the number of planets and moons, their sizes and types.

Firstly there is the astronomy to deal with – the laws of physics that govern the separation of the worlds from the void.  Does it follow real physics, does it have Wildspace as in Spelljammer, is there an aethereal void, as in light and air goes on forever, or is there something else, subject to the DM’s creation.

On a D8 we roll 4 – Wildspace with spheres.  So as per Spelljammer.

Next is system organisation – is the sun (or suns) at the centre of the system, or is the primary world at the centre with the sun (or suns) revolving around it.  Is the world a flat earth or is there something else, subject to the DM’s creation.

On a D8 we roll 1 – Heliocentric, 1 sun.  There is only one sun in the system, and that is at the centre of it.

After that we roll a D12 to see how many planets there are, and for each planet D8-3 for the number of moons, with an additional D8-3 if you roll a natural 8.  And after that you roll for each planet and moon to figure out what each world type is, according to the general AD&D view of worlds.  Are they earth, air, fire or water worlds, or something else, which could range from para-elemental, quasi-elemental or anything else according to your imagination, such as giant world-trees or the body of dead deity.

And when you have done that you roll to see the size of each of the worlds and planets.

That is a lot of work and a potentially a lot of dice rolling for what is essentially background information that may never actually impact upon your campaign, which is why I don’t tend to do it.

But for the sake of completion, I am going to do it for this setting.

The dice say there are four worlds in the system.

World One – Enormous (80-100K mile diameter) Air Planet.  A gas giant.  It has two moons, a tiny (800 mile or less diameter) earth world and a terrestrial (800 to 16,000 mile diameter) earth world.  This later one falls into the size range of most campaign worlds, the size of which can be rolled for back in the worlds and planetology chapter.

World Two – Terrestrial Air Planet. Another, small, gas giant.

World Three – Terrestrial Water Planet.  That looks like it is our campaign world.

World Four – Tiny Fire Planet.  It has two moons, a tiny water world and a terrestrial other world.

This last world seems a little weird, with a strange moon orbiting around a tiny world of fire, almost like a tiny second sun, and that strange moon is larger than it.

But I think I can make something of it, tying it in to the mythology of the system that we generated with the pantheon.  It reflect the battle between the pantheon and the Darkness, in miniature.  The fire world represents the sun, the water world the pantheon and the other word the Darkness.  It is a shadowy world of darkness and the fact that it is larger than the water world reflects the relative strengths of the two sides, that the Darkness is, right at that stage, the stronger party.  As the balance between the two sides ebbs and flows, so too does the size of the two moons relative to each other.

After the section on cosmology, the book goes on to discuss planes and myths and legends.

There are no charts here to roll on, just a series of suggestions for outer planes and creation myths and divine myths and sagas and the like, and what they may or may not contain.

Is that kind of detail important?  Possibly.  It does depend on what type of campaign you are running and the type of players you have.  If they are hack and slash dungeon delvers then maybe it won’t come up much, if at all, but if it heavily based on the intrigues of temples and political manoeuvrings between religions it may be very important.

Given the nature of the world as it has developed so far (and my delusions of being a writer) I will, over time, be actually making up a lot of this over time.

And with that done, in our next part, we shall be moving on in the chapter to history.