Thursday, 10 November 2011

Advanced Fighting Fantasy Random Mapping Technique

I've been playing with the random dungeon map generation system from this...

Graham Bottley's redo of Advanced Fighting Fantasy. (Graham probably remembers me not buying the game off him at Expo - well I ultimately bought myself a copy from my FLGS).

This is a brilliantly simple and fast idea. Put a piece of A4 or Letter-sized paper in a similarly sized box (I use some slim red thing from about 1983 with a warrior fighting a Red Dragon on the front - it seems appropriate somehow) and roll a bunch of d6s into it, one per desired room.

Read each d6 as a d3 and that marks the position of a room and the d3 score the number of exits from the room. Join it all up and you get a semi-random map that doesn't suffer from the "Snap-to-Grid" effect like drawing on graph/construction paper does.

Here's the first effort from this evening.

Click to embiggen...

The example in the AFF rulebook just draws little circles around each number and links each with lines. I've adopted the idea of assuming that dice that fall cluster in close proximity represent rooms that are adjacent to one other, dice seperated by distance are linked by corridors. This produces dispersed clumps of room such as in The Shithole of Sardonicus above.

The downside is that dice tend to hang at the edges of the paper where they hit the box sides creating a sort of "drawn to fit a rectangular sheet" effect, which you see can in rooms 10,11 and 12 above. To get around this I experimented with closing the box and vigorously shaking it but this produced worse results, whereby all the dice were clustered together in one area. Maybe a taller box is required.

It also can only produce rooms with 1,2 or 3 exits so in the first attempt I swapped out some of the d6s with d8s, reading them as d4s. By changing the types of dice and how you read them you can seed the generation towards lots of exits or few of them.

Again, click to embiggen...

(I apologise for crappy digital photos rather than scans but have you seen the price of flatbed scanners these days, at least the ones that don't come attached to a cheap and nasty inkjet printer? I remember when they were about £20 even in PC World).

As it happens only one of the d8s came up with the maximum number of exits but both maps are the sort of thing I wouldn't have ended up with just by getting the pens, ruler and graph paper out.

A good technique, especially useful for sandbox DMs caught on the hop and needing a dungeon within the next 5 or 10 minutes.


  1. Good one! What a great idea. Cheers for passing that one. It'll come in handy.

  2. Nice. I like the idea of using the different types of dice. A D12 could be the hub of a dungeon with many doors leading off etc.

    I am glad you got a copy eventually (i do indeed remember), and i really enjoy seeing what people come up with from the book!

  3. Where are you from? Midlands? North? I detect a note of Scouse.