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I ended my extended example of using Hexmancer to generate hexcrawl terrain and features by rolling a castle. Stopping there made sense for the example, but in play I’d have grabbed Castle Book I and Castle Book II and generated the actual castle. (Or rolled up a few castles in advance, to save time at the table.)

These two books are part of Judges Guild’s Campaign Hexagon Sub-System, which I’ve talked about a bit here on Yore), and they’re great.

I got out some dice and cracked open Castle Book II. Book II opens with a table for castle condition that can end the whole rolling process pretty quickly, depending on what you roll, so starting there makes sense to me.

Castle one

My first roll, on the Castle Conditions table in Book II, was a 10: “Foundations Only.” Which is close to being a one-roll castle, but not an uninteresting one: Was it blasted down to the foundations by terrible magic? Was it under construction, but abandoned for some reason? Either way, neat!

I roll on the sub-table for Foundations (under Occupants) and get an 8, Abandoned. There’s a note under that table that gives a 40% chance for an abandoned castle. I roll percentile dice and get a 76, so it’s truly abandoned. I still like this castle.

It could be used later by the PCs to reduce the building time for a castle of their own, or it could be occupied the next time they visit it (I’d probably roll the 40% chance every so often — the tables for who lives there are nifty).

Castle two

Let’s try again. (In the list below, “I” or “II” denotes the book I’m rolling in.)

  • Castle Condition (II): Ancient (6), which sends me off to the Ancient sub-table in the Occupants section to see who lives there
  • Wall Sections (I): I have to decide if this is a castle or a citadel, which doesn’t involve a roll. I choose castle, duh. A 1 gets me just 1-6 wall sections, and I roll a 2. I guess this castle is built against the side of some natural defensive terrain, like a cliff or hill.
  • Wall Thickness and Type (I): 40′-thick earth walls with 1″ diameter iron grates.
  • Wall Height (I): Wall height is next, and it’s not a table, just a formula. It yields 80′-high walls. There’s also a roll for grate height, which gets me 12′-high grates.
  • Wall Length (I): Also not a table, but there is a roll. My 10 gives this castle 400′-long walls. Assuming that’s per wall, and now I’ve got a pretty good picture in my head of this castle.
  • Wall Characteristics (I): Cantilever platform, which I Google to learn that it’s basically a walkway accessed by stairs. I started off pretty skeptical about the wall length, thickness, and height stuff — it seemed too nitpicky. But having rolled them, I get it: This is useful stuff to know, and these characteristics all help give me a clear picture of this castle.
  • Wall Defenses (II or I, but I like II’s better): This is such a great table, with options like volcano, hallucinary terrain (which I think may be a really cool portmanteau, not a misspelling), cactus, and orange. Yes, orange. (I think it may be a typo for “onagre,” because Village Book I has an onagre on its version of this table, but I also think onagre is itself a misspelling of “onager,” so who knows.) But I rolled a 3, which is arrow traps. Still pretty cool!
  • Occupants (II): Garrison (2), which is an unusual result for this table — only 1-3 on d10 results in a garrison. 4-7 is invaders, 8-10 is abandoned.
  • Garrison Size (I): 10-60, and I get 10. That’s a tiny garrison!
  • Garrison Technical Level (I): Mercenary
  • Garrison Morale Level (I): Shakey [sic]
  • Garrison Composition (I): A 3 gets me 20% light foot, 30% pikemen, 10% crossbow, 20% light horse, 20% medium horse. With a garrison of just 10 people, that feels like the remnants of a much larger force, or maybe a scattering of scrubs fobbed off on guarding a crappy castle. I’ll file those ideas away for now.
  • Siege Engines (I): A 3 gets me 4 onagres (onagers, I think?), 3 ballistae, 2 springalds, 2 mangonels, and 1 catapult. That’s 12 siege engines…and a garrison of 10. Interesting! I’m not sure yet whether the garrison is alone in the castle, or if there are a bunch of non-soldiers there as well, but either way they need a leader.
  • Leader Class (I): A 92 makes her an amazon. Cool.
  • Leader Level (I): Level 9
  • Leader Type (I): Dwarf, making her a dwarven amazon. Even cooler.
  • Leader Alignment (I): Lawful good, one of the two least-likely results on the table (the other is CE).
  • Leader Disposition (I): Sympathetic (+2)
  • Followers (I): Sweet, a 97…which is 1-9 ogre magi, and I get 8. Now this looks like a very different castle indeed — what the hell is a tiny, mixed garrison led by a dwarven amazon doing with 8 ogre magi?
  • Castle Names (II): A 94 sends me to table 24.
  • Table 24 (II): This castle is named Yonezana, which actually sounds like kind of a dwarven-amazon-y name to me. Yay, serendipity!

There are a few more tables for use if the PCs find themselves inside the castle, and some sub-tables rolls I didn’t trigger, but I’m calling this castle done.

Yonezana Castle

Built up against a great hill, this ancient castle sits inside two 80′-high earthen walls, into which are set 12′-high grates. Forty feet thick, these enormous berms have plenty of room on top for the castle’s formidable defenses: automated arrow traps and a host of siege engines. Precipitous stairs give the garrison access to a walkway that rings the inside of the walls.

If it weren’t important, Yonezana would likely have been abandoned decades ago. Instead, it’s being garrisoned by a lawful good 9th-level dwarven amazon — a hero of the realm — who commands a small force of mercenaries bolstered by eight ogre magi. The garrison’s morale is poor, though, maybe because they’re sharing Yonezana with eight powerful monsters — or perhaps because they’re expecting an attack, which would explain why the earthen walls have been newly rebuilt…

Yonezana’s four mounted mercenaries, and their ogre mage allies, are the castle’s scouts — and the folks the PCs are most likely to encounter outside its walls.

Other possibilities

There are other interpretations of those results, too — if you’ve made it this far, I bet you’ve thought of a couple yourself.

As a proof of concept for the Castle Books, Yonezana feels like a win to me — it’s an interesting place. I love weird juxtapositions that force me to think creatively about random results, and these tables delivered on that front. I liked that the ideas I had early on changed as I kept rolling, which in turn gave me new ideas.

I also liked that this castle fits one of my hexcrawl maxims, “The world is the world.” It’s in no way tailored to the PCs — a first-level party riding up to Yonezana isn’t likely to expect 8 polymorphing ogre magi with all sorts of powers.

I’d drop this castle into a campaign for sure, and I’d be excited to see what the PCs did about — or to, or with — Yonezana.

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