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Quest for the ultimate auto-populating campaign notebook

I continue to think on my goal for the hex content auto-populating thingy I've been working on. My immediate, personal need has been met. I have a nicely laid-out notebook of 1200 randomly generated hex/square contents for my A Red & Pleasant Land campaign being printed and shipped to me. But what more can I do with this project that would make it useful to the D&D/OSR/RPG community?

Let's ask a different question: What would the structure of the ideal hexcrawl campaign notebook look like?

What information, when pre-written, pre-rolled, pre-generated, pre-populated and quickly accessible, improves a hexcrawl campaign? What sort of layout makes that information easiest to reference, expand upon, replace? What would make the referees job easier?

The hex map

Printed right on the front endpapers for convenience

Hex contents

Structure similar to what I did for my AR&PL notebook. List the following for each hex:
  • Coordinates
  • Terrain type (grasslands, forest, etc.)
  • Territory type (e.g. Kingdom of XXXX, Goblin Territories, Dwarven Hills, etc.)
  • "Theme" for the hex based on the territory type
  • Possibility for an adventure hook
  • One (or possibly more) landmarks
  • For each landmark, possibility of a random encounter
  • For each encounter, possibility the encountered NPC wants something, has a relationship with another NPC, is actively engaged in an activity with another NPC, is carrying something, etc.
  • Possibility of a random treasure located in this hex
  • List of other hexes that reference something in this hex
In general, the terrain and territory are used to determine what random tables are sourced from for the other details. Adventure hooks. NPC wants, NPC relationships, etc. have the possibility of referencing something in a different hex.

Named Important NPCs

Again, similar to what I already did for my AR&PL notebook. Generate a list of Important NPCs with the following details:
  • Name
  • What they are: occupation, race, class, etc.
  • Personality quirks
  • Goals
  • Items they carry
  • Relationship to the next NPC
  • List of hexes where the NPC is referenced
All of these NPCs would be randomly populated to several of the adventure hooks, NPC wants, NPC relationships, etc. listed in the Hex Contents.

Other Named NPCs

A longer, but less detailed list of NPCs:
  • Name
  • Personality quirk
  • Goals
  • Plenty of whitespace for writing notes
This is for the inevitable times when you suddenly need more details on a random NPC. Party just hired a porter? Random goblin #52 just became more important than you expected? Their name and details are now whatever is next on this list. Start writing down notes about them.

Magical Items

List of magical items hidden somewhere on the map
  • Name
  • Description of mundane appearance
  • Description of magical properties
  • Hex where it's located or Important NPC who carries it
There's the intention here (and across the entire tool) that you'd be able to supply as much or as little of the information as you want. If you already have a list of 50 magical items you want in the campaign, you'd just provide those here. Got details on 5 magic items but want another 20 randomly generated? Sure. Got descriptions of magical properties but want the mundane appearances randomly generated? Yeah, let's support that feature.

Putting all of this in its own section should help referees that want players to experiment with magical items to determine their powers. Which one was the "long brass rod" again? How many charges did that have left? You'd have everything listed and ready to take notes on in one place.

Cities and villages

Not sure what structure I'd want for this yet, but it seems like it should be there. So what form should this take? Use something like the Scenic Dunnsmouth generator to make a bunch of villages? Wilderlands-style list of population, type of occupants, name of ruler, alignment, resources? Include a couple adventure hooks / rumors with each village? We could generate relationships between villages (Village A trades textiles to Village B in exchange for goats), but is that useful in-the-moment-at-the-table for a referee to run a better campaign?


My initial thought was "many pages of randomly keyed, one-page dungeons that can be used as-needed". But I'm also thinking, "Maybe we don't need maps?" How about just a list of dungeon rooms using a random stocking method like the one in Moldvay Basic?

  • Type of room (parlor, kitchen, WC, etc.)
  • Details: furnishings, smells, sounds
  • Random chance of the room being empty, being trapped, containing a monster, or being "special".
  • Monsters/NPCs would have similar possibility for goals, relationships, etc. as in Hex Contents
  • Chance of treasure
The idea here is similar to a lot of the other sections -- a list of pre-rolled results that you start pulling from in-order, as-needed, at-the-table.

Jeff Rient's twenty quick questions for your campaign setting

Put this right at the end of the notebook because these are questions that are going to come up in-game. Auto-generate answers where it makes sense (e.g. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?)  Leave blanks to write answers into the notebook elsewhere.

What else?

So, what am I missing? What other things are referees frequently scribbling random notes on in their campaign bibles that would be useful to gather into one section and pre-generate a bunch of details for?

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