Friday, October 31, 2014

Dinky Little Villages

I've been reading a lot of DM blogs lately; picking up some neat ideas, filing some away, and fiddling with others. One of the neatest ideas I've seen is Dice-Drop Villages, but it seems that most people are tied to ZakS' Letter/Number Street Mapping when they do this. Here's my take on the way I plan to use the idea.  Source 1, Source 2 , Source 3

Step Zero: Pre-Planning

You can skip this entirely if this is the very first village in your world. But in case it's not, let's think about the minimum village possible. It has minimal occupancy, only one path in, and not much in the way of outstanding features. Call it a Size One Village.

At the other end of the spectrum would be a Size Ten Village: nearly a Town, it might be at a crossroads, with multiple paths through the Village and a good number of local merchants and other features.  If you want to go past Size Ten, I don't think the methods here are the way to go, but feel free to let me know how your experiments go.

If you have some idea of the larger environment beyond the Village itself, this will help to choose the size of the Village.  If you don't, there are a few ways to determine this.

Method 1, "I have no idea what I'm doing":

Roll 1d6 for Village Size. If it's 4+, assume the Village is on a traveled route, that is, there are two ways out of the area. If it's 5+, assume the route is either a major highway, a navigable waterway, or both.

Method 2, "I have some idea of what I'm doing":

Roll 1d3 for Village Size. Add 1 for each additional route out of the area beyond the first. Add 2 instead if the route is a major highway or a navigable waterway. Add 1d3 if you know there's a Town or City within a day or two's ride.

Note that a "navigable waterway" is different from just having a freshwater stream; think a major river or the sea.

Step One: Pick Up and Drop

You know how large the Village is (let's say Size Six for this example). Pick up Six white dice. Hold on. Now pick up Six red dice. (They don't have to be red and white, but half should be easily distinguished from the other half) Get a piece of paper, or two, or four, and drop them bad boys.

Step Two: Improvements

See your red dice? Those are your major features, the Improvements which give the Village some character. What are they? You've already rolled, so check the Improvements Table:


        1.    Tithe Barn -> Chapel -> Church
        2.    Tavern -> Inn
        3-4  Craftsmen
        5.    Smithy -> Mill
        6.    Stables -> Council Hall -> Great Home -> Keep

Some lines have Greater Improvements possible in the case of doubles and triples:
  •  If you rolled two 1's, this indicates a Tithe Barn and a Chapel. If you rolled three 1's, this indicates two Tithe Barns and a Church. Further 1's are treated as Craftsmen.
  • If you rolled two 2's, this indicates a Tavern and an Inn. Further 2's are Craftsmen.
  • If you rolled two 5's, this indicates a Smithy and a Mill. Further 5's are Smiths.
  • If you rolled two 6's, this indicates a Stables and a Council Hall. Three 6's indicate both, plus a Great Home in the village: a Mansion or even a Keep. A fourth 6 can be a second Stable (indicating an upper class Stable and a lower class Stable), or the 4th and beyond can be re-rolled, or count them as elite Craftsmen, such as jewelers or bookbinders.

Drawing Improvements

Now it's time to trace the property outlines for the Improvements.  Draw boxes around the red dice as follows, noting the type of building within the shape:
  • Craftsmen, Smithy: square the size of the d6
  • Tithe Barn, Chapel, Stables: rectangle the size of 2d6
  • Tavern, Mill: L-shape the size of 3d6
  • Council Hall, Mansion, Inn: square the size of 4d6
  • Church, Keep: rectangle the size of 6d6
Once the shapes are traced and types noted, you can remove the red dice.

Step Three: Residents

Make sure your white dice are outside the boundaries of the Improvements you just traced. I treat each PIP on the dice as a full family dwelling; each die, then, can be thought of as a neighborhood. For each white die, draw a d6-sized square for each PIP. These are individual homes, clustered together around where the white die dropped. Each dwelling represents a family, not an individual resident. Once you've drawn a square for each pip on a die, remove it.

Step Four: Clean-Up and Finish

Remember Step Zero where you determined the routes in and out of the village and whether there is a waterway? Time to draw those among your layout. That's it. You're pretty much done.

I suppose you might want to determine what kinds of Craftsmen are in those spots, what kind of Smiths or Mills are here, etc., but that's beyond this quick and dirty method of generating your Dinky Little Village, and I won't tell if all your Smiths are Blacksmiths and all your Mills are Flour Mills.

Feel free to let me know what you think about this modification. My thoughts in developing this were aligned with the idea that a Village doesn't evolve in a vacuum, that there is an increasing likelihood of certain Improvements as the Size of a Village increases, and that a Size X Village wouldn't have X
 houses, but rather X neighborhoods.


  1. Nice work! One suggestion, you should probably reduce your tithe barn->chruch->Cathedral progression to Barn->chapel->church, since a cathedral would be too large for a town like the one which would be generated.

    and Telecanter was my original source... he has a ton of great ideas.

  2. Yes, I suppose "Cathedral" and "Dinky Little Village" don't mesh perfectly. I'm going to modify the table just a little bit.

    Also, I did credit Telecanter; but your d8 'Improvements' table was also inspirational.

    Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully I can keep up the output.