Friday, 14 April 2017

SCRAWL: Random Realms

I had a bit of a brainwave this morning as I lay there in my think tank (it looks like a bath, but it's where most of my better ideas come to me).

I had a lot of fun creating the realm for my current SCRAWL / One Man And His Dice campaign, but wouldn't it be great to have loads of unique realms ready to go; that you can just pick up and run with? I think so. So, I explored the idea further.

As well as how am I going to do this, my initial thoughts concerned just how much detail to go into. I see this very much as a sandbox tool, so I don't want to go to heavy on detail. Just enough for players to have an environment to explore, where all the larger details are largely covered. Stuff like climate, the general lay of the land; and with the finest details covering places of note, major cities and maybe a brief on what monsters are commonly found causing trouble.

SCRAWL already does a pretty good job of this with the wealth of random tables it boasts, but what I am proposing is a more focused version of those tables, plus a few others that come together to create what I would almost call a signature for a specific land.

One element that I am keen to steer clear of with this whole idea is the inclusion of maps. Instead I'd rather the player maps the region in their mind as they explore it via a series of weighted tables; skewed towards building something similar to that of anyone else playing through that particular realm, but still unique to the player. A close analogy would be human DNA, where whilst we all look human (and our building blocks are the same), we're all relatively unique.

This is something that is still very much at the drawing board stage, but I thought I'd share it with you now whilst the idea is still fresh in my head.

Any thoughts?


  1. Following along with interest as I have never been a 'solo gamer' but find the design principles intriguing to gain a sense of 'why this or that decision'.

    1. That's great Leon, and I really hope you get something from it. :0).

  2. This is a great post and I'm looking forward to your ideas - I think I might make the lack of map thing canon - SCRAWL is all about doing things with a minimum of work and a map might add too much work for not enough payback. I'm thinking of coming up with a realm with a certain climate x regions. Each region is primarily a particular terrain and then working out what's in that region with the dice. Adding into your societies post, the realm could have a partiular society which will affect encounters in certain areas.

    1. Hi Stuart,

      I'm glad you like the idea, and I certainly agree that maps can be a lot more trouble than they're worth. They can be useful for working things out, such as travel between locations and, what you'll likely encounter along the way; but I much prefer to travel at the rate of plot. Plus detail like that isn't really what SCRAWL is all about.

      It's about the meat and gravy of adventure. About kicking open doors, cracking skulls, and looting lairs.

      The region idea that you have there is exactly what I was gunning for. The core rules do a great job of allowing you to have endless overland adventures, with unlimited possibilities - where Random Realms is much more about having an adventure in a contained environment.

      For example, Realm A is temperate and made up of Hills, Forests, and Plains (with a weighted chance of each being in the next area you travel to). So in Realm A you'll never encounter a mountain or a swamp; and the inhabitants you meet will tally with those you might expect to set up home in this type of environment.

      Your way of looking at societies is however something I hadn't considered.. And I like it. Tying societies to environments is a very interesting idea, and I can certainly see how it would work. I'll have to give this one some more thought!