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[AD&D/OSRIC] (Let's Read/Play) The World Builder's Guidebook


Drowning in Armour
Validated User
In noisms' post (thread here)regarding the Tabaxi from the Monstrous Manual for AD&D, two things caught in my mind. The first was that the cat-people are usually presented in D&D as having come from a jungle environment, and a society that is in decline. There's some discussion in that thread about the whole situation, none of which is really pertinent to this thread. I'm just pointing out what got my mind in gear.

Now, I'm not a big fan of jungle settings, nor particularly the meme of crumbling aztec/olmec/mayan cities to be found there. Just a personal preference. So I thought "why not have cold-weather tabaxi?"

This idea festered in my mind for a bit, until today I decided to pull out the World Builder's Guidebook and do something (marginally) useful with it. What follows is the development of a Kingdom using that book. It will likely be a stream-of-consciousness and rather a rambling affair.

So as I said, I had "Cold Weather Tabaxi" as the merest kernel of an idea when I opened the book. I should note that I've done dozens of worldbuilding things with the book in the past, and consider it to be one of the best and most useful campaign aids in my library. It fits well with my deep and abiding love of random tables and connections between their results, and it rarely fails to create something that sparks my imagination.

The book presents two approaches to World Building, both top-down and bottom-up. In this case I'll be using top-down, but focused on a small area of a world. Just one Kingdom. I've used it to make whole worlds in the past, but for the purpose of posting to the forum I'll constrain myself to just one Kingdom that might be inserted into any world.

If anyone is inspired by this thread, I hereby open up the content herein for anyone's non-commercial use. I'm going to be developing things as I go, and will post this in whole later, so contributions to development aren't forbidden, they're just unlikely to be put into practice :)


Drowning in Armour
Validated User
I started the development of the Kingdom with the choice (random) of races found there. The book calls for 1d2 Primary races and 1d4+1 secondary races, so I ended up with:

1) Cold-Weather Tabaxi (Primary race)
2) Minotaur
3) Giff (I rejected this), modified to Goblin
4) Goblin again
5) Human
6) Hybrid Tabaxi/Human (as Shifters, most likely)

I decided upon the Tabaxi arbitrarily, and rejected the Giff simply because I don't like 'em. The choice of races, if I were developing this for AD&D, would mean that some of them would be standard fare from existing AD&D sources. However, I rolled them up in this case just to give me a rough idea of what might be present there, something to build upon. Chances are good that the goblins will not be very goblin-y at all, and Minotaur are more likely to be a variant as well.

Next I had to determine race status and position, which came up as "Common communities, separate districts" with one race dominant. That's obviously going to be the tabaxi. So we have the races all on equal footing under the numbers of tabaxi, but people keep to themselves for the most part.

Next came technology level. This came up as Renaissance level, which normally I'd kind of reject because I like to keep a lot of things like firearms out of my fantasy, but I figured what the hell and embraced it in this case.

The society is going to be on that is on the rise, not one that is declining, as with most jungle-bound Tabaxi. I randomly determined some other characteristics of the society, in that it would be Lawful good in alignment, would be a militocracy, and seemingly contradictorily, it would have a "savage" flair.

How could I resolve all of these elements into one society? Renaissance-level technology, but they're "savage"? And how can you have a militocracy that's Lawful good in alignment in a savage setting? Of course, these things are not set in stone, but merely suggestions, so I began to think about it to see what I could make of it.

I figure that the Tabaxi and all of the other races live in a militocracy, and thus under martial law, because they are constantly at war. Given that in general, everyone in the kingdom is law-abiding and of good bent, I'd have to have some outside force that kept them at war. I haven't decided this one just yet.

The savage aspect, at least to me, indicates that the tabaxi like to live solitary lifestyles or at least in small bands. They are rovers and rangers, as a general rule. They have access to great learning and technology, but are not inclined to build too many cities. It would conflict with their nomadic nature.

So, I've decided that the major Tabaxi settlements are actually military outposts, which serve as the "light in the darkness" meme. These outposts are bastions where the roaming Tabaxi can come together to find protection and trade, and they keep the Enemy at bay. In general though, each person would like to be making his way through the world and use these places only occasionally.


Drowning in Armour
Validated User
The Lay of the Land

Now that I have the beginnings of the Kingdom people-wise, I need to know what sort of land contains it.

As with most things, this can be determined randomly thanks to the World Builder's Guidebook as well. I ended up with a kingdom that is "landlocked with major lakes". The climate is temperate. There are rules for things like water and terrain placement, and that of mountains, so I'll create as I go and post a rough map of the region when it's set.

The Kingdom hex map is roughly 35 hexes by 25 hexes. Since I don't have much in the way of hex mapping software, I'll use what I do have, Arr-Kelaan Software's HexMapper v0.90b, to get down the basic layout.

First things first. This is a landlocked kingdom with "1d4 major lakes, each 4d6 hexes in size". That'll have a lot of effect on the terrain in general, so I'll lay those out first. Rolling the dice, I see that I have 3 lakes, of the following sizes:
1) 12 hexes
2) 12 hexes
3) 14 hexes
4) 12 hexes

That's going to be 4 lakes of roughly the same size, so I'll try to mix up their borders and such as I lay them out. I'm going to just divide the map into quadrants (it's a big rectangle anyway), and place them via that route.

First lake goes in quadrant #1, the northwest of the map. Second goes southeast. Third is southeast. Fourth is northwest again. With those placed, being a mix of deep and shallow water and as random as I can make them, I can move on to other terrain.

According to the book, there are roughly 5 terrain belts in each kingdom, with occasional patches of appropriate terrain interspersed. I can do that, it's just more quadrant placing and random doodling. First though, I need to place the mountain ranges.

One would think that I'd do that before the water since it would dictate where the water might pool, but what the hell. There are 3 mountain systems in this kingdom's region, each being 1-6 ridges or lines of peaks, 4d6 hexes in length. I'll start marking them as placeholders now, and throw ground cover on them later.

1) 1 ridge, 12 hexes in length. Southeast quadrant.
2) 3 ridges/lines of peaks, 18 hexes in length. Southwest quadrant.
3) 1 ridge/peak, 1 hex in length. Sounds like a solitary mountain to me. Northeast quadrant.

Okay, the mountains are placed. Now comes the groundcover/terrain. As I said, there are 5 terrain belts. These are interspersed with patches of other terrain, randomly. Each terrain belt is placed randomly, and rolled on a chart to determine just what ground cover is found there. Instead of that method, I'm going to work in quadrants from the northwest to the southeast, adding 1d4 "patches" of terrain in each quadrant. This leaves me with one terrain belt that will stretch through 1d4 quadrants (2), the southwest and the northeast. I'll open up the Sub Arctic/Arid, and Sub Arctic/Humid for the mix of patches of appropriate terrain.

1) Terrain belt #1: Temperate/Humid, Forest, Medium. 1 patch (4 hexes Barren)
2) Terrain belt #2: Temperate/Arid, Desert 1 patch (1 hex Glacier)
3) Terrain belt #3: Temperate/Arid, Barren 4 patches (3 hexes Prairie, 4 hexes Marsh/Swamp, 7 hexes Scrub/Brush, 3 hexes Prairie)
4) Terrain belt #4: Temperate/Humid, Forest, Light 3 patches (6 hexes Prairie, 3 hexes Prairie, 7 hexes Scrub/Brush)
5) Terrain belt #5: Sub Arctic/Humid, Forest, Medium. 3 patches (6 hexes Forest Heavy, 3 hexes Desert, 1 hex Steppe).

That fills in my map entirely. Of course, it now looks as though I divided it into 4 quadrants and filled with that in mind, which is exactly what I did, so I have to add in some interim terrain along the borderlands and smooth things out a bit. Light forest gets put along the borders of medium forest, and broken rock gets put in the desert/badlands borders.


It still looks as though it is a rectangle or square divided into quadrants, but not quite as badly as before.


Drowning in Armour
Validated User
Population Dispersal and Subsistence

Now that I know the lay of the land, I can start to figure out how many beings live in the Kingdom, and how they live.

The majority of the people found here are the "cold-weather tabaxi", which make up roughly 59% of the population. Second to these are those beings that have a mix of human and tabaxi blood, and make up 20% of the population. Trailing behind them are those humans with no tabaxi blood in their ancestry, which has over the years become the exception rather than the norm. The pureblooded humans make up 10% of the population. The two major groups of goblins come in at 5% of the population each, while the minotaur are rarities and only account for perhaps 1% of the total population in the region.

So where do they live?

I want the tabaxi, at least some of them, to be close to the humans. A few random rolls for settlement patterns and such, and it shows that the tabaxi prefer to live in temperate areas, which is of little help. The minotaur get the hills and highlands as their preferred living conditions. Both goblin populatiosn want to live in temperate areas. The pureblood humans show up as desiring coastal regions, which of a bit more help. Lastly, the hybrid tabaxi/humans curiously wish to live in marshes and swampland.

If we take Temperate to indicate the vast medium forests (mix of deciduous and coniferous trees), there's plenty of room for a lot of the races to stretch out. I kind of want the tabaxi to hold the northwest of the map, with pureblooded humans found along the shores of all four of the kingdom's major lakes. The hybrids either live amongst the tabaxi or in the swamps farther inland from the lakeshores. The goblins roam all of the kingdom's forests, even having dug tunnels which help them to bypass the more inhospitable regions. The minotaurs, since they have such a low population, will eithe rbe found in the southwestern mountain range or the southeastern one, I have yet to decide.

The book suggests that 1d10 (7) subsistence systems are all that is needed for the kingdom. This gives me 1 major source of subsistence for each of the racial groups, plus one left over. I'll roll those up, and see what I get...

1) "Cold-Weather Tabaxi" (Forest, medium): Forestry (logging, trapping, hunting). This can't support towns of any size, so I'm going to say that the permanent tabaxi settlements (the military outposts) have an additional source of resources, which will be...Industry. They've got the tech level for it, and the only place they could practice it well would be the permanent settlements. Population level 4 (small cities 40-80 miles apart, villages 10-20 miles apart)

2) Minotaur (Hills/Highlands): treated as surrounding terrain, which in the case of both mountains is scrub/brush, or grassland. They get Light Agriculture and the addition, since they live in the mountains, of Mining. Population level 1. No cities, villages 10-20 miles apart.

3) Goblin variant #1 (Forest, medium): Industry. Hm, that gets a little too close to the goblins we know from Warcraft, but if I take it to mean that they trade their industrial services for food, it might work. Thus we could have this population be the aforementioned tunnel builders, who also make surface roads and stone construction of all sorts. Dwarves aren't the only folk that know how to work with stone. Population level 2 (just villages 10-20 miles apart, no cities)

4) Goblin variant #2 (Forest, Medium): Agriculture, light. These guys have turned the clearings of the forests into their own little farms, and are less nomadic than most of the people in the kingdom. They grow enough for their own use, and are able to trade with passing humans, tabaxi, and hybrids. Population level 2-3. Only one city in the region, villages 10-20 miles apart.

5) Human (Coastal/Seafaring) well, this would be both fishing, and Whaling/Sealing. The lakes are freshwater, so that means that I'll have to introduce either large normal animals, of which there's no shortage in D&D, or fantastic animals (ditto) on which the humans survive. Population level 2-3. I'll give them one fair-sized town on each lakeshore, and villages every 10-20 miles in their territory.

6) Hybrids (marshes/Swamps): Fishing/Forestry. They are a mixed blood people, and they survive in a borderlands territory. They are at home in the marshes and swamps, where they can both fish and hunt for food, while all the time gathering provisions from nature. It might be because of their tabaxi blood that they aren't at home in the fishing villages of the humans, and instead range across vast swathes of marsh and swampland to survive. Population level 2-3. Share cities with tabaxi. Villages as well for the most part.

I've added a whack of random villages and towns to the map. Most of these belong to the tabaxi. The ones on the coasts of the lakes are human, with hybrid and tabaxi interaction. The other races don't have any cities as outlined above, just villages scattered here and there.


Not the best map ever, but I'm just trying to get a visual of the population dispersal and such.


Drowning in Armour
Validated User
The People, and Odds & Ends

I've got two populations of goblins, and that's an opportunity when you're dealing with the World Builder's Guidebook. They might be a variant race of gobbos, they might be a subgroup within the other society, it could be any number of things.

Myself, I prefer to use a resource which I found in Dragon magazine when it comes to variant populations. Found in Dragon Magazine #253, the article entitled "With a Twist" lets you roll randomly to determine quirks that set a certain population of a race apart from the others. The goblin agricultural society turns up as "Plane-Touched, Elemental Planes". I don't want to go with the traditional 4, so off the top of my head I'll say that they're either associated with the plane of Steam or maybeeeee...hmm, Lightning. I don't know what this holds for the race yet, or why they've chosen to become farmers and stay roughly in one place in the vast forests, but it gives me something to consider.

There's a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of work that could be done. I realized too late that this had gone from "why don't we have cold-weather catpeople" to yet another exercise in worldbuilding that got a little out of hand.

Things that still need answers:
1) What's up with the plane-touched goblins? How does their nearly tiefling heritage change their society? How do they fit in well with the tabaxi society as a whole?

2) What would the rules be for the hybrid tabaxi/humans? Would the Shifter rules from 4e work? Maybe.

3) Who is the great enemy or enemies that keep the entire kingdom at war, and thus under martial law?

4) Given that all of the races mentioned so far prize law and goodness, but are ruled by the military, why does their enemy keep pressing the issue? Are they evil? Is their system of beliefs different?

5) What is the history of the kingdom, it's religious structure, etc.? These can of course be found out via the World Builder's guidebook.

6) What's a good name, or any name, to replace tabaxi? For that matter, what could the hybrid race be called?

7) How does a renaissance-level technology base, combined with living in a militocracy, affect tabaxi industry? Expansion of firearms descriptions and efficacy might be prudent.

8) If the tabaxi are primarily loners, yet still follow law and the military structure, how do they advance in rank? Do they get trophies from the Enemy that mark them as a high level? Is the Enemy infernal and possessed of things that would mark experienced warriors of the tabaxi as owed some measure of respect?

9) According to Dragon worldbuilding articles of days gone by, what secrets can we apply to each aspect of the kingdom created thus far?

10) Details of the two major cities, several major towns, and some villages are needed.

I don't know if I'll ever expand on this base very much, but it's been nice to go through the World Builder's Guidebook again and sort out the basics of a Kingdom. All that's left from here is basically the good stuff, which is filling out the details of the races, the technology, adding in plot hooks, etc.

However, I'm suffering from a bit of overexposure after writing all this today, so it goes out into the ether, and only time will tell if I develop it any further.
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