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The Judges Guild Campaign Hexagon Sub-System has been a hoot so far (here are all of my “Let’s roll up a…” posts), so I’ve got high hopes for Island Book I.

I was a bit disappointed to see that it only has three pages of tables (fewer than Castle Book I or Book II, or Village Book I), though that’s one page more than Ready Ref Sheets has for ruins, and that one generated some fun ruins. If they’re three good pages, that’s what counts.

Let’s see what sort of island we get!

Land ho!

  • Island Type: The first roll is a d20 for type, and my 7 yields up a Rugged Isle. That’s got a follow-up d4 roll for size, and I’ll set aside my 4 for the moment. It also has a fun letter code after the type: VHCRT, which the handy key tells me stands for volcanic, hilly, dominant creature, mineral resource[1], and trap. Looking ahead, those appear to be sub-tables. Other types include barren rocks (no features) all the way through paradise, a huge island with every possible feature. Sweet!
  • Size: My 4 plus another roll, 6, plugs into a little formula: This island is 2,400′ in diameter. That’s about half a mile, much smaller than most hexes.
  • Feature: A 4 on the Island Feature tables gets me a tarn, which Google tells me is a small mountain lake. How big’s that tarn?
  • Feature Size: Why, it’s d100 times my previous die roll in feet, so 94 x 4 nets a 376′ diameter lake. Since I know the island is volcanic, I assume it’s dormant and the lake is in the crater, but we shall see!
  • Landmarks: Another d20, and an 18 gets me a mountain peak. That seems fairly obvious, but okay.
  • Weather: For weather, I get heavy rain. 17 of the 20 possible results are just normal stuff, but three are pretty funky: peeper frog fall, sticky downpour, and oily drizzle.
  • Elevation: I rolled a 22, which says “1 to +500′.” Much lower, and it would have been an island below sea level. That’s kind of cool. I own a d5 and I like round numbers, so I roll a 4 and multiply by 100; this island is 400′ high.
  • Annual Precipitation: An 83 on this table is the highest bracket, 71″-170″ of rain — or three times that if it’s near the equator. That looks like about d100 + 70″ to me, and I roll a 76: 146″ of rain a year (438″ near the equator!). That sounds like a lot, so it’s back to Google. Yep, it’s a lot: Hawai’i gets about 240″ a year, and I’d say that counts as “near the equator.” So in “fantasy Western Europe,” this non-equatorial island would get about 61% as much rain as Hawai’i. Stick it near this setting’s equator, and it nearly doubles Hawai’i’s annual rainfall.
  • Growing Season in Days: A 48 here indicates 141-180 days, and notes a rough equivalent to Illinois. I don’t feel like digging out another d20, so I roll d20 x2 + 140, for 176 days a year. I’m not a farmologist, but half the year seems like a hell of a growing season — but then again, on this island it stops raining approximately never.
  • Temperature Extremes: I get 49-60 Fahrenheit. There’s some seasonal calculation stuff I’m not going to worry about here, but could easily calculate in play.
  • Island Sounds: A 2 is “chirking.” A bit of dictionary-poking suggests that might mean creaking, which I like.
  • Volcanoes: This is the first of the sub-tables indicated by the very first roll (Island Type). Our island doesn’t have provisions or game, so we’ll be skipping those. A 12 for the volcano gives me the somewhat cryptic result “Shield A.” Ah, another letter code: A is for active. Spicy! It gets spicier, too: Every day the PCs are on the island, there’s a 10% the volcano will move to the next category — and for active, that’s “erupting.” But wait: What’s “Shield”? Says Wikipedia: “A shield volcano is a type of volcano usually built almost entirely of fluid magma flows. They are named for their large size and low profile, resembling a warrior’s shield lying on the ground.” Okay, cool.
  • Eruption: Let’s see what that eruption would be like. A 5, “Thin Flows,” with the note that a saving throw every turn must be made to avoid taking 5 damage. Yikes.
  • Protective Inhabitant Creature & Plant Traps: Assuming it’s not currently on fire, this island has quicksand. Looking at other possibilities, some are alive, like the giant clam. I guess that explains the weird table name.
  • Creative Dominant: I think “Creative” is supposed to be Creature, but whatever the case my roll of 12 says it’s a paleocincus. I should just have a Google tab open by now, shouldn’t I? Apparently it’s basically an ankylosaurus. Cool beans.
  • Mysterious Finds: There’s a 20% probability per day marooned that you’ll stumble across one of these things. I’ll roll just to see what might come up: a starving castaway. I like that there’s a chart just for being marooned.
  • Non-Potable Water: I love this table!

  • I rolled a 6, for bitter nausea, and followed it up with a 5; that nausea will last 5 turns. But it could be so much worse! You might instead permanently lose all your teeth, go blind for a little while, or turn orange for several days.
  • Habitations: An 18, which is tree house. Our rugged island has at least a few trees, but they don’t bear fruit. This also explains the creaking sounds I rolled earlier.
  • Isle Inhabitants: Here’s where things get a bit fuzzy. All of the other Campaign Hexagon books I’ve used are prescriptive about their tables, and I expected there to be some control roll that indicated whether or not the island was inhabited — but there isn’t. I mean, I could always skip it, but where’s the fun in that? Especially when I roll a 16, which is cannibals! And there are 70 of them.
  • Seabed Inhabitants: The nearby seabed is likewise always inhabited, and an 8 indicates lacedon ghouls. I get 30 for the follow-up roll. This island just got nasty.
  • Island Approaches: 7, “Shallow Shelf.” Looking at the rest of the table, this is stuff you run into on the way in, so I’d interpret a shallow shelf to be a hazard for ships.

There are three more conditional tables, mostly useful in specific situations. Shore Party lets you randomly determine what happens to the boat full of hirelings the PCs send in to check out Cannibal Island (7, lured into trap). Coastal Encounters does wandering monsters (15, d8 giant pike), and Passing Ships would be handy if you got marooned (1, cannibal canoes!).

Up until inhabitants, this was an island with only one oddity: its ankylosaur population, which was somehow surviving without food. (Perhaps magically transported there, or new to the island for some other reason — and, of course, very hungry…). Edit: As Mr. Teufel points out below, ankylosaurs are herbivores, and could probably survive on tree leaves and other vegetation.

But with ghouls swimming around its shores and a cannibals on the island itself, things get really interesting. Cannibals eat people, and there are no other people on the island. (There’s also no food, assuming they wanted to forego human flesh for a little while, although I guess they could always go fishing.) The solution? Head out on kidnapping raids, of course! Boom, built-in adventure hook.

With that in mind, I’d say that the ankylosaurs are native to the island, but all the food died out at some point. Now they’ve been tamed by the cannibals, serving as watch-dinosaurs and fearsome “shock troops” in exchange for food.

The cannibals live in treehouses, probably to avoid the aquatic ghouls (who I’d guess can come up on land, but not for long; the Monster Manual doesn’t get too specific). I picture them building boats big enough to hold an ankylosaur or two, which would be pretty terrifying when they roll up on some unsuspecting village.

So to sum up, the PCs’ ship has to navigate dangerous waters just to get to the island. If they get hung up on the shallow shelf, the lacedons will pay them a visit. Assuming they make it ashore, they’ll find no food, near-constant rain, quicksand, and a low, flat volcano (with a lake partway up) that’s statistically likely to erupt sometime in the next 10 days or so — which might come as a relief, since the next thing they’ll encounter will be a cannibal tribe with war-ankylosaurs.

I love this place!

[1] Weirdly, there’s no sub-table for mineral resources. I wish there were, because possible wealth is a great motivator for PCs (and a fun way to explain odd results on other tables).

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