Thursday, October 15, 2015

ACKS Blackmarsh (2)

So, continuing from before, from what was unexpectedly a popular post:

I ended up utilizing 896 of an available 500 hexes on the Blackmarsh map just tossing the "default" ACKS demographics at it, so let's adjust.

First off, when many folk imagine a D&D world, it's much more a medieval world than ACKS initially assumes; and populations are a lot denser as a result. Let's shoot high, for Medieval France,  and go with an average 650 families per hex:

RealmSettlementHexPopulation (Families)TypeWhole Realm SizeSubrealm SizeRemaining PopulationRealm Hexes @650/hex
BlackmarshCastle Blackmarsh9131294Small City6470033150100
Jorvik1316481Small Town24050
Blackmarsh Isle912100Village5000
Inuacus Keep111350Hamlet2500
OstrobardsMuncaester1305895Large Town447501155069
Wedmor1002255Large Village12750
Camden1302214Village 210700
Wessex Keep160250Hamlet2500
Blackmarsh RangersBlackoak Castle407170Village8500245014
VasanCastle Taldene2505200Village10000-3500085
Daretop2704415Large Village20750
Gamla2508405Large Village20250
Ysby241180Small Village4000
Grand KingdomNorbury Castle1518120Village600010
Bolzak (D)Oldan Hold217342Large Village1710027
Greywood (E)Stardell Falls804503Small Town2515039
Newcombe (H)Greenton610642Large Town3210050
Strangeholms (H)Strangeholms409292Large Village1460023
Total Hexes417

So that's a bit better, but still a lot of people living on floats in the Smoking Bay.

Rob Conley himself posted on the humble blog here in the last installment, noting that dividing those populations by 4 would get one "family" numbers for ACKS purposes, which is more-or-less (less) the same as what ACKS does with 5 folks per family.

That multiplier drops Castle Blackmarsh down to a Large Village, Class V; in a realm of 12.5K-22.5K families, which certainly gets me some breathing room. I'd like to see what I can do to get there in a way that preserves Blackmarsh, at least, as a Class IV proper.

First, I'll divide populations by 2 (or 2.5 in the case of the non-seat settlements), dropping my hex size @650/hex to 202 hexes. Blackmarsh settles in as a Large Town, with Muncaester two families away from becoming a Small Town - it, Stardell Falls and Greenton are Large Villages.

That's better still, but almost half the map still.

Another great way to reduce populations is to modify settlement patterns. ACKS, pg 231 lists various column shifts one can do on the Villages, Towns, and Cities Placement table.

The one I want is "Centralized Settlement Pattern". Take your realm, and go down two lines to find a (larger) Largest Settlement. We're going to reverse that - we're taking our Largest Settlements, above, and going up two lines on the table to get our resultant realm size.

After running the settlement populations through Koewn's Frambunchious Population Remogrifier, I get realms that look like so:

RealmSettlementHexPopulation (Families)TypeWhole Realm SizeSubrealm SizeRemaining PopulationRealm Hexes @650/hex
BlackmarshCastle Blackmarsh913647Large Town11700600317
Jorvik1316193Village 24107
Blackmarsh Isle91240Hamlet460
Inuacus Keep111320Hamlet230
OstrobardsMuncaester1305448Large Village7226209211
Camden130286Small Village1714
Wessex Keep160220Hamlet230
Blackmarsh RangersBlackoak Castle40785Small Village158810373
VasanCastle Taldene250580Small Village1060-599112
Daretop2704166Village 23684
Gamla2508162Village 23638
Grand KingdomNorbury Castle151860Hamlet7712
Bolzak (D)Oldan Hold217171Village 235276
Greywood (E)Stardell Falls804252Large Village45707
Newcombe (H)Greenton610321Large Village55229
Strangeholms (H)Strangeholms409146Village31195
Total Hexes72

72 hexes seems manageable at a glance.

Note I got Blackmarsh down to a realm of 11.7K - very close to the range I wanted from dividing the initial population by 4.

Here's the "artsy" map I've been puttering with. I'm still trying to figure out hills, so there's 4+ styles there...and ...well, everything else, really. I like some of the mountains more than others. I need to differentiate the swamps a bit more, and the texture on the water is too large, and any number of other things...

Still deciding how to present the markup for the settled lands, next installment. Got to pace yourself when you don't have a lot of time to work on this stuff.


  1. This is pretty close to what I did for Blackmarsh in the PbP you're playing in. As it's a PbP, you'll probably never see any of that, but there you go! The Grand Duchy of Karameikos required similar jiggery-pokery.

    I love your hex map, by the way! What did you do it in?


    1. Well, that's good. Duplicatable results means the system works, right? :)

      Map: GIMP, mostly.

      I first did an overlay map in Hexographer. and that hex grid is the result of a 'blank' hex export at the right size.

      In GIMP, I imported several Hexographer exports (with terrain, without terrain, blank, and the original Blackmarsh map, in multiple layers. I traced the outlines of the water, forest, swamp, to fix the borders of those.

      The mountains are a (lazily modified, poorly done) version of the tutorial from here: - mainly I skipped the ridge lines, as I decided it looked better with the hex overlay if each mountain was generally a single entity in a hex.

      The hills are a (poorly done) version of the tutorial on hills from the same site: - the hills need work.

      The forests are a series of grungy brushes done in differing shades of green. I attempted to do the swamps in more icky shades of green with some blue (for pools of water) but I don't think it really came out in the scale I'm working at.

      It's...super labor intensive, for me at least as I'm not an artist by any stretch and I don't have the patience to put up with my skill level, nor the time to put into it to get better.

      What I might end up doing is attempting to get a "set" of mountains and hills done to a standard I can accept and just copy/paste/rotate. Doubtful, tho.

    2. Ah, yes... that does sound exceedingly labour intensive! I just used out-of-the-box Hexographer, with the original map as an underlay. It looks nowhere near as nice, but it was quick and easy, and very clear in play. I've looked at those tutorials for GIMP (I use it pretty extensively for messing with RPG images), but they all seemed like a lot of work (and hence time, which I do not have). I'm no artist, either; I have trouble with stick-men.

    3. Ayup. I'll almost always fall back to the default Hexographer look. I just have occasional fits of wanting to be as awesome as the gals and guys.