05 September, 2015

Darkhive Worldbuilding (Part 15) - Locked Inside

Those who've been following the blog for a while know that I like to dabbling in making maps, as well as worldbuilding. There has been some cartographic work in earlier parts of this worldbuilding exercise (See Part 7), but now that I'm looking at developing specific stories within the world of the Darkhive, it's time to start looking at the smaller scale.

The important thing in this game will always be relationships between the characters and exploration of the unknown, so the complexity of maps used during play will probably be pretty simple. Even so, the labyrinthine nature of the Darkhive can make simple things get very complicated very quickly. At a small scale, this takes expands on some ideas I've had floating around for a while, but it also takes some cues from the Node Based Dungeon Design system written up by +Keith J Davies. I'll actually be touching on this system a bit more when I get into the journeys between settlements.

For the moment though, I've drawn up a couple of sample settlements for some Darkhive scenarios. Since everything plays out on a hex grid, it's pretty easy to develop settlements. I'll work through them with you.

There are 8 general types of location within a settlement.
Secured Areas (marked in back) are barricaded gateways and fortified cells that mark the point between settlement (inside) and hive (outside). 
Storage Areas (marked in red) are cells where goods, food, water, commodities, and general communal items of the settlement are stored. 
Fungal Gardens (marked in green) are the closest thing we get in the setting to farmlands. There is no real indication of what types of fungus might grow there, that's up to the requirements of the specific game.
Workshop Areas (marked in dark yellow) are cells where commodities and resources are turned into useful things for the community. Such workshops might be kitchens, laboratories, forges, mills, tanneries, or anything else...each community probably has two or three types of workshop they specialise in while they trade with neighbours for other goods. 
Family Communal Areas (marked in mid blue) are the semi-private cells that certain cultural groups use to entertain friends and extended family, while others use as communal kitchens and dining areas.  
Private Areas (marked in dark blue) are the private cells of families, and depending on the cultural background of the family they might house anywhere from two or three citizens, through to a dozen. Such cells may double as storage areas for personal goods (there may be an overlapped red dot here).
Communal Passages (marked in pale cyan) are cells that see regular traffic from various people in the settlement, some of these passages might have market stalls in them, others might have shrines to local ancestors, spirits, or angels, some be rented for the temporary tents of travellers, it is very rare for one of these passages to be completely empty.
Monitored Open Spaces (marked in grey with a black dot) are areas claimed by the settlement and which are typically viewed by secretive windows in adjacent cells where archers could lie in wait, or guards could simply observe what is happening here.
These are all linked by passages between the cells which are marked by grey lines.

The majority of settlements across the Darkhive occur next to the larger passageways that once seemed to form a mass transit system through the complex. these larger passageways are vaguely "3 cells" wide, some forming canals of fresh flowing water (now used to float merchant barges between settlements), some lined with metallic rails (now commonly used for ore and scrap metal carts), and some simply bare. Such settlements and barricade slums may advertise their presence with fungal farmlands along the large passageway, others might be completely missed with their main doorways concealed by a pile of debris and minimal indication that anyone regularly uses the area. Within these settlements tends to be everything necessary for long term survival, including fungal farms, workshops filled with competent mason-sisters, and excellent storage facilities in case besieged by Shellbrood. 

As well as those settlements that sit on one side of a passageway, there are quite a few wayfarer stops between larger settlements that specialise in providing travelers a place to stop for the night. Such locations tend to be spread across both sides of a passage, with clean areas between the settlement halves to allow travelers a clean place to park their carts (or moor their barges), and possibly private accommodation for the evening. The "workshops" in such places tend to be kitchens, drinking establishments, and equipment repair shops. Such settlements tend to be very open to attack and rely on the help of wandering mercenaries or neighbouring militia groups if they ever get into trouble (although some may be homes to bandit groups who offer "protection" of their own).

Some of the larger settlements and hamlets exist at the terminal ends of the great mysterious passageways. Here there seem to be vast turntables, and workshops that maintained an ancient train system. Some of the carriages used to transport goods and people across the hive are still operational out of these villages, making regular trips to nearby other settlements once a day (or rarely making a return trip in the same day). Some terminal villages house docks for the other parts of the hive that exist on the canal system. Either way, these locations tend to be bustling warrens of activity. Goods are always needed as workshops are continually churning out goods to be traded with nearby hamlets wayfarer stops and outposts. It's also typical for settlements like this to have other "back entrances and exits" often leading into the labyrinthine hidden recesses of the Darkhive, few people tend to approach such settlements through these largely ignored corridors (except rogues, criminals and adventurers).  

But not all settlements exist on these large passageways. Let's work through an example building up a specific small settlement that might exist in the middle of a generic maze of Darkhive cells.

First we start with a blank sheet.

Next we add a pair of open areas that the settlement might focus around. All settlements in the Darkhive have a specific reason for being where they are, and more often than not it is because there is a large open area or specific resource centre that survivors can use as a trade commodity. The openings are drawn and a few starting passages work their way out from this area.

Next we draw in a few more lines connecting various cells together, very little in the Darkhive has a specific order to it. Some of the hexagonal cells might be completely surrounded by occupied spaces, but what lies within them might be a mystery that has not been uncovered for as long as anyone can remember (perhaps doors opened into these cells once but the combinations or keys to open them have been long lost). Lots of zig zag lines, and as the passageways move further away from the centre of the settlement, they start to become less well used and more decrepit.

A few more passageways, including a loop at the top. Maybe less savoury wanderers and adventurers are diverted through this passage do they don't disrupt the main part of the settlement when they pass through the area. Already we're starting to develop some story regarding this location, whether this gets expanded, we'll just have to wait and see.

Private quarters are never thoroughfares, so we mark a substantial number of them in dark blue to indicate this. If we work on the assumption of about 4-5 people per private area, then the 17 indicated private areas house a total of 64 to 85 people, let's say an average of about 70. So this would be considered a typically sized "Barricade Slum".

Next we add in a few storage areas at the remaining ends, and possibly a couple of storage areas that might exist toward the end of passages. Some storage areas are so large that they simply fill two adjacent cells. In this case there are about 8 storage areas, if we haven't used the maximum populations for the given number of private areas then we can probably assume that a lot of the citizens keep personal inventory in their private quarters as well as using them for sleeping areas.

We also add a few mid blue communal family areas adjacent to some of the private quarters. A few of the cultures seem to like this type of living arrangement, and this style of living has spread across various parts of the hive. These areas are fairly open, but are considered "invite only" areas. You could wander into them but it's generally considered bad form to do so.

Next we add some workshops and fungal gardens, all settlements have these. A cluster of workshops exists down at the bottom, probably indicating a fairly major industrial operation, forges, masonry, repairs, maybe weapon crafting and armouring. Another workshop near the storage areas in the middle, perhaps linked to the fungal farms at the centre. There are nine fungal gardens, and it might be reasonable to assume that for every cell dedicated to personal private area, there should be a fungal garden cell. We've got less than half of that ration, so we'll need to consider where the rest of the settlement's food supplies derive from.

Next, we mark every other connected cell as a communal passage. We also add a few black secured areas marking the "formal" boundaries of the settlement. That could basically be the end of the settlement development, but I'd like to explore the food supply issue a bit further.

To put the settlement into a bit of context, we can add a few more smaller passageways around it. Remember that these passages are close to a settlement, they will have been explored by the locals, and will probably be regularly patrolled at least once a week, if not daily by dedicated tunnel rangers. Perhaps rodents and other feral creatures regularly infest these nearby tunnels and are frequently hunted as a supplement to the local diet.

Given these tunnels, it might be worthwhile indicating which sections of the hive are formally designated as a part of this settlement (marked in pale yellow), and which sections of the surrounding tunnels are considered regularly patrolled (marked in tan).

That's pretty much everything we need to know for the layout of a settlement.

Adding a ready made tense situation for players to encounter would be the next stage of scenario development. I usually like developing complex social environments for characters to get entangled in, but this is more of a setting where stories are about travelling and confronting non-social menaces in the darkness. So we'll see how things develop.

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