The Land of Tiny Castles

February 16, 2013

Across the Wide Dark Jungle mentions a portal to The Land of Tiny Castles. Actually it’s called a Dimension in the book, but what difference does it make, Hillary?

This is my interpretation of The Land of Tiny Castles…

The Folk
There are no humans in The Land of Tiny Castles, only halflings, elves, and dwarves. Let’s call them Folk, collectively.

The halflings are like this…

fleeinghalfling

Hi, I’m looking for “XP = gold pieces”…and a clean pair of shorts.

The elves are short, like the yellow shirted one in this old D&D advert. They don’t make toys or cookies.

shortelf

High quality adventuring.

The dwarves are short and round. Like on the cover of Dragon 180.  They get angry if called gnomes or “garden sentinels”.

dragon180

Dragon 180. Them are dwarves I tell you.

The three folks generally get along, but with the usual mix of spats, feuds, and traditional grudges.  It’s not unusual for castles and adventuring teams to contain a mix of Folk.  If you want to add more detail to these races, I recommend Kesher’s Devil’s in the Details tables.

Any human PCs in The Land of Tiny Castles are “visitors”.

The Rule of Visitors:
A player can only have one human PC in the land of Tiny Castles…the visitor. If that human dies, the player must play Folk PCs while the campaign remains here.

rockpiles

Rock piles that cover dungeons.

The Land
It’s is mostly rolling plains dotted with patches of trees, marshes, and rock piles. These piles hide the dungeons that become castles. It’s these many castles, perfectly sized for the Folk, that give the land it’s inter-dimensional moniker. More on the castles later.

The Land is a precise rectangle of unknown size…nobody has thought to measure it. Around its perimeter is The Ditch, a mist shrouded chasm, beyond which is unknown.

More often than not, exploring The Land actually IS a walk in the park. Dangerous monsters are usually found below ground, not above. Most overland hazards are seasonal and the only year round threats are the wolves and the Fox Guys, anthropomorphic fox bandits (Haha…totally not trying to make a funny about the fair and balanced news source.)

A walk in the park.

A walk in the park.

The Seasons
A power known as the Intractable Overlord creates the four seasons…

Winter is the season of snow and white and treasure gathering. Winter Obstacles: blizzards, snow dunes, and the winter wolf.

Spring is the season of melting and grey and cleaning of castles and treasure.  Spring Obstacles:  Flooding, mud, and the tattered wolf.

Summer is the season of sun and green and castle construction.  Summer Obstacles: thunderstorms, construction crews, and the lazy wolf.

Fall is the season of morning frost and brown and dungeon finding. Fall Obstacles: wild fire, dungeon prospectors, and the hunting wolf.

The Castles and Dungeons
The two main industries of the land are treasure hunting and castle building.  All else is in support of those two.

Finding a dungeon is like drilling for oil. Once found, a castle is built on top.  Everybody lives in these castles.  Rich dungeons lead to larger, more elaborate castles being built atop. Some castles are eventually abandoned when the dungeon is out of treasure. Discovery of another level in a dungeon is greatly celebrated, because it ensures the prosperity of the castle for another generation.

The dungeons are the domain of the Inscrutable Underlord..of unknown relation to the Intractable Overlord.

The Adventurers
Among Folk, money and fame are explicitly the most important considerations.  By their nature, they are inclined to seek out treasure.  Folk will usually suggest a treasure hunt as the solution to most problems.

Adventuring parties usually have Sponsors. Most often the sponsors are taverns in their home castles. Along with this is a “Contract of Adventure”. Treasure hunters are under oath to recover a quota of treasure from the dungeons, and give a percentage to the castle and the sponsor. In return, the adventurer receives benefits such as outfitting expenses, “fame insurance”, death coverage, and carousing forgiveness.

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2012 was the year of the homemade digest booklet here in the jungle.  The limitations of the format were actually liberating in a way and I cranked out a couple last year.  Best of all is that they were cheap to send to anywhere in the world.

Well, at some point last year Magcloud significantly lowered its cost for international shipping.  So I’m heading back onto the print-on-demand service (actually never left…as the original FitJ Supplement has always been available there.) and the first order of business was to get Across the Wide Dark Jungle on there.

It’s ready!  Bigger and better than before…

Across the Wide Dark Jungle Find out more on MagCloud)

Click the image above to order. $5 for the book+PDF combo. $2.50 for just the PDF.

What is it? The table of contents page describes it well:

tocsample

Additional preview of the book can be found at the Magcloud page. This is the same format as the original Fire in the Jungle Supplement: 16 full size pages (including covers) of heavy stock paper. Order both together to save on shipping. 😉

This book was originally published as a homemade digest in June 2012. This new edition has the full text of the original (slightly changed to fit the new layout) plus a few more small sections such as a Resurrection Quest table, an expanded Hunter Band Names table (including groaners such as Ded Lyppyrd, Blue Örangutan Cult, and Trampled by Monkees), and new Tribe Peculiarities tables based on the What Makes Them Special system. Plus another dozen old jungle woodcut illustrations.

Featured in the book is The Sacrifice Pit, a ready-to-play adventure location that starts out as a low-level mundane jungle hack, but gets weird, weirder, and utterly bizarre. Here’s the intro to the location and a section of the Pit’s map:

sacpitsample

sacpitmapsample

So the digest edition of Across the Wide Dark Jungle has been discontinued.

To get completely out of the business of printing, folding, stapling, stuffing, addressing, and stamping, The Rise and Fall of Zamzer is also no longer available as physical digest.  Instead, it’s now a free PDF download, with which you can create your own digest in the comfort of your trophy room.

Escape from the Dark Cathedral on the Mountain lest you become…”A Eunuch for Zamzer”!!  Amateur Illustrations by yours truly.  I’m very embarrassed by it…check it out.

zamzer_map_sample

Significant inspiration for “The Sacrifice Pit” adventure location in Across the Wide Dark Jungle came from the cenotes near Chichen Itza and all across the Yucatan in Mexico. (Click here for some pictures I took there last year.)

What if the cenote were to be drained of water? Why did it drain? Who would do that? What would be found? That’s what guided the creation of The Sacrifice Pit. Here’s portion of it’s map:

I like to think of the “Entrance Pits” as looking something like these:

I came across some cenote maps that contain cross sections of various locations in the caverns, like the following. These really got me rolling on creating The Sacrifice Pit.

Here’s another cave map that has cross sections. I like how it is a network of passages offering multiple paths to get to where you want to go, which influenced the design of caves in the Sacrifice Pit.

What are some other modules that use cave cross sections? One of my favorites is Snakepipe Hollow, a RuneQuest module by Greg Stafford and Rudy Kraft. This map is from the Avalon Hill version of the module:

You thought Gary Gygax invented the Caves of Chaos? Nope. Snakepipe Hollow contains its own Caves of Chaos and it was originally published prior to Keep on the Borderland. I’m sure Gygax totally didn’t intend to rip off Greg Stafford.

Okay, now this post is just rambling, but I have one more relevant note. After I snapped the above pics from my copy of Snakepipe Hollow, I pulled out the hex map from the Dragon Pass war game and noticed something. Just to the northeast of Snakepipe Hollow is a Vale of Flowers. No relation to the Valley of Flowers in Across the Wide Dark Jungle! I totally didn’t intend to rip off Greg Stafford when I brainstormed the valley’s name last year.

The woodcut engravings on the front and back cover of Across the Wide Dark Jungle are by Paul Landacre, originally published in the 1904 novel Green Mansions by William Henry Hudson.

There are several other woodcuts by Landacre that I considered using in the module. I really liked this first one as a depiction of Lung Eatin’ Hayes, but my inkjet printer couldn’t print it with enough detail…

Next are some illustrations from a South America exploration book that caught my eye, but the greyscale details didn’t reproduce well on my printer. (Another one of these was seen in this post.) I liked how these kept with the hunting and trading theme of Across the Wide Dark Jungle:

One last woodcut. Electric Megatherium? Sloths are true monsters…

Across the Wide Dark Jungle, the sequel to the Fire in the Jungle Supplement, is now ready for release! Go here for more info.

I was playing around with different colors for the card stock cover, as you can see in the picture above. The black printing is really vivid and crisp on the tan colored covers, so the “official” cover will be one of those, as soon as I get to the store again. In the meantime, I have these extra covers available in other colors, so the first couple orders will get an extra cover (with map inside). Let me know if you want a particular color. First come, first serve.

How to order? Go to the ordering page, here.

How much is it? $5. Cheap. I’ll pay shipping cost no matter where in the world you are. I’ll be using the regular First Class rate. Much more affordable than the expensive Priority Mail rate that I stubbornly insisted on using for the original Fire in the Jungle Supplement digest.

The following memo was found on the corpse of a recently murdered agent of the company…

Notice to all COMPANY AGENTS: The following NEW list shall regulate your negotiations to ensure FORTHRIGHT and MAXIMUM profits for THE COMPANY this year. Always trade a SINGLE ITEM in question for a SINGLE ITEM listed above it.

Item…….ANY DRAGON SKIN OR SKULL
Item…….Large Calico Panther Pelt
Item…….Gallon of Jaghio Honey

[portion of memo obscured by blood stain]

Item…….Square Foot of Levitacean Blubber
Item…….Set of Electric Megatherium Hooks
Item…….Bushel of Rambird Feathers
Item…….Cleaned Fallogator Skull
Item…….Complete Licking Toad Tongue
Item…….Large Octs Hide
Item…….Spool of King Gibbon Sinew
Item…….Pound of Thogibex Ivory
Item…….Gallon of Titanoviper Poison
Item…….Bushel of Tiny Bats
Item…….ANY EMPIRE MANUFACTURED TRINKET CERTIFIED FOR THE JUNGLE TRADE

Back when creating the Mahjong Tile Dark Jungle Sandbox Generation System, I didn’t put much effort towards populating that setting with new monsters.  Most of the monsters there I had recycled from the Fire in the Jungle Supplement.  I was in a monster-makin’ mood this week, so decided to give the Dark Jungle setting its own roster of nasties and uglies. Here’s the Dark Jungle bestiary so far…

Licking Toad
These large amphibians are named for their preferred mode of ambush: hiding high in a tree and letting their unbelievably long tongue hang down over a path like a vine, waiting for a victim to brush past. Only highly skilled jungle travelers are able to spot their tongue among a tangle of vines covering a path, and the Licking Toad is known to snatch men, women, and children as snacks. Even outside of their usual ambush tactic their tongues are deadly ranged weapons, striking with great accuracy. Licking Toad skin is highly valued for its medicinal properties. The skin is poisonous if eaten raw, but can be dried, shredded, and smoked for a psychedelic and other effects. The tongues are a delicacy, often sliced and eaten raw with a ball of sticky rice.

This Licking Toad just ate a rat the size of a zebra.

This Titanoviper just ate that toad. The snake will be dead in less than a minute.

Levitacean
This is a massive jungle whale-thing that glides through the canopy, gobbling up birds and insects as if they were plankton. It’s blubber is very rot resistant and usually harvested as blocks. Often an incision is made into a block and items are inserted for storage and preservation. The blubber is also an excellent insulator, keeping contents warm or cold for long periods. Oil rendered from the blubber is of high quality and burns clean.

Electric Megatherium
This massive sloth will latch onto its prey with a hug, inserting its great hook claws into their body like jumper cables, then send a powerful current of electricity though the unfortunate victim. Then the sloth devours its meal in a gruesome display of creative destruction, cleanses itself meticulously in a river, and hibernates for a month or two until it gets hungry again. Shamen and wizards have been yet unable to unlock the secrets of the sloth’s electrifying attack, but it’s hook claws are highly valued as surgical instruments.

You can't see it. It's electric.

Rambird
These large birds are entirely black, except for a bony and bald red crown.   They attack by first puffing their feathers to give the bird a spherical shape, then ramming their victims head-on from above. If the ramming itself doesn’t kill the target, the impacts releases a cloud of asbestos-like feather dust that causes deadly internal bleeding if the victim breaths in it. The meat is good-eating, like chicken, but what is most highly valued are the feathers, which is made into a variety of consumer products found in every home back in the empire’s cities.

Fallogator
This alligator climbs a tree and blends in perfectly due it’s uncanny resemblance to a log. Then it falls onto its victims with tremendous pile-driving force. It’s very startling to see this log open its mouth to reveal rows of flesh-ripping teeth. The hide of fallogators are highly valued due to a current fashion trend in parlor furniture. Their skull is always in demand and makes for a good urn, due to its unique shape and shock resistance. (The Fallogator was inspired by the illustration of Gygax’s Log to Lizard spell in Isle of the Ape, and also Justin’s “Crubber”.)

Illustration of Log to Lizard spell found in WG5 Isle of the Ape

Octs
This buffalo-like creature has a long body to accommodate its eight legs. Its spiked hooves enable it to crawl up and around trees like a caterpillar, grazing on the tastiest of foliage. Despite being a herbivore, Octs are ferocious fighters when cornered or injured and will eat their victims out of spite. They use their great size to deadly effect, thrashing their long body about and impaling attackers with their sharp horns. They are a major meat source for many humans and predators in the Dark Jungle. A single octs hide is sufficient to create an excellent canoe.

Tiny Bats
These amigos have a wingspan of no more than 2.54 centimeters, but they swarm around in the millions and there’s nothing you can do about them as they strip your flesh to the bone. When natives and jungle men are able to catch a basket full of these tiny bats, they cook up an excellent soup and there is much rejoicing. Keep boiling the soup and it becomes a high grade glue.

Only known image of a King Gibbon

King Gibbon
Watching this huge golden primate gracefully swing through the Dark Jungle sub-canopy is an experience of singular magnificence. Just don’t get too close, as the King Gibbon is capable of swift and stunning brutality. With its twenty foot long arms and legs, it can travel at very high speeds through the jungle and can be on you before you are able to decide: “Is that a huge monkey a mile away, or a small monkey just a few feet away?” Sinew made from its tendons and ligaments is very useful and spools of it trade at high prices.

Thogibex
More than just a cross between a warthog and an ibex, these angry antelopes are capable of legendary feats of agility and stubbornness. They can leap wide chasms and spaces between trees, deftly landing sideways, upside down, and occasionally right side up on high tree limbs. They can also wallow in deep mud and breath through their horns. They are incredibly immune to physical damage and perhaps the only way to kill them is decapitation. Even then, the headless body is dangerous in blind stampede and the ornately-horned head is able to bounce around and continue fighting for a minute or so. It’s antlers and ivory tusks are much sought after for the production of tea services.

Calico Panther
The fur color patterns on these massive cats is extremely effective in the Dark Jungle environment. Calico Panthers are always female and there are no known male panthers in the Dark Jungle. When not fulfilling their usual role as stoic and unmatched predators of the jungle, they like to purr and rub up against large trees and generally behave like mischievous house cats. Jungle men have an inordinate desire to collect their claws and wear them as a symbol of their masculinity. Huts of native jungle nomads are often constructed from a single Calico Panther pelt.

A Calico Panther watches the Dino Wars


Last year I posted a system for generating a “Dark Jungle” map and sandbox setting using Mahjong tiles.  Included in the system is an unexplained list of NPCs.  Here’s more info about them, and suggestions of relationships between them.  I drew up a crude relationship map, but it was a mess so I decided to just type it out like this:

El Grande Loco (Giancarlo Montoya)
An explorer from an earlier age.  Made a deal with a dragon for immortality.  Worried that Pantherclaw Glin Topp knows where his treasure is located.  Claims to be a “cosmic brother” of Lung-Eatin’ Hayes.

Night Bird’ s Shadow
Accomplished warrior of the Bat tribe.  Seeks to kill Lung-Eatin’-Hayes.  Has a wager with Thed Zoltar.  Is arranging a business deal with Eberhard Dunwitty.  Annoyed by Singing Python and Taken By Dragons sometimes, but he tolerates their chumminess.

Lung-Eatin’ Hayes (Mossy Hayes)
Legendary jungle man, now rarely encountered in his wanderings.  Knows that Night Bird’s Shadow is after him, but unaware of Singing Python‘s bad heart against him.  Wishes El Grande Loco would just leave him alone.  Often trades panther claws to Pantherclaw Glin Topp.

Singing Python
Warrior of the Greyfoot tribe, daughter of Chief Broken Rain and sister of the slain Running Bird.   Seeks to kill Lung-Eatin’ Hayes for some reason.  Has Taken By Dragons under her spell, but she’s falling for Night Bird’s Shadow.  Sees Through Leaves knows something about her that nobody else does.

Pantherclaw Glin Topp
Elusive but gregarious jungle man who hunts panthers obsessively.  Claims to have smoked with El Grande Loco.  Best pal of Lung-Eatin’ Hayes.  Believes Thed Zoltar is an abrasive blowhard.  Had a fling with Sees Through Leaves in their younger days and the old man is trying to woo her again, but she’s having none of it.

Taken By Dragons
Outcast half-breed warrior of the Squarehead tribe.  Hates jungle men, even his father Thed Zoltar. His mother is Sees Through Leaves.  He is Singing Python‘s whipped lover.  Has an inferiority complex towards Night Bird’s Shadow.

Thed Zoltar
An old timer and considered by many to be the original “jungle man”.  First outsider to see the sulfur pits and steam geysers now called Zoltar’s Hell.  Believes Pantherclaw Glin Topp is a pompous ass.  Has a wager with Night Bird’s Shadow.  Father of Taken By Dragons.  Regrets past relationship with Sees Through Leaves.

Sees Through Leaves
Medicine trader of the Squarehead tribe.  Has a curious “Harold and Maude” relationship with Eberhard Dunwitty.  Best customer is Pantherclaw Glin Topp.  Knows a secret about Singing Python.  Mother of Taken By Dragons.  Regrets past relationship with Thed Zoltar.

Eberhard Dunwitty
A young and ambitious jungle man.  Plans to renege on a deal with Thed Zoltar.  Wants to build a trading fort deep in the jungle, in Bat territory, but doesn’t fully trust Night Bird’s Shadow.  Supplies Sees Through Leaves with trade goods from the Empire.

Hunting in the Jungle

February 21, 2012

"Jungle Hunter" by Cliffhanger at deviantart.com

The basic ideas of the Jungle Hunting system are:

  • Sometimes, instead of directly entering into an encounter with a monster, the PCs find spoor. They can choose to search out the monster or not.
  • The gap between the hunter and prey is represented by the Distance Factor, an abstract measure of time and distance ranging from 1 to 6.
  • If and when the gap is closed, the encounter occurs. The circumstances of the hunt and the surroundings have an influence upon the nature of the encounter.

This system is intended as a way to spice up monster encounters in the jungle.  It’s NOT intended for “hunting for food” situations, though it could be used in that way also.    It’s also not a detailed simulation of hunting, but simply a series of 2d6 rolls to provide general details that the DM and players can play off of.

As DM, I assume that PCs are somewhat skilled in hunting and tracking, so skill rolls aren’t a part of the system.  If desired, skill rolls could be used to determine if the hunters are able to stay on the trail of their prey.

Pursuing prey inherently takes the hunters off the beaten path or into places they perhaps normally wouldn’t go.  This introduces an additional element of risk.  Also, the urgency of a hunt can expose the hunters or overextend them.  The basic choice the hunters need to make is when to give up.  Pursuing prey into the night increases the chance of being ambushed or becoming lost.

Spoor seldom lasts more than a day or so in the jungle, so if the prey is found, it’s usually just a few miles from where the hunt began (in the same hex).  But…sometimes a long hunt will take the pursuers far from where the chase began and into unknown territory (a neighboring hex).

(The following guidelines are fresh-from-the-oven and likely need more seasoning or playtesting.)

When the DM chooses to have an encounter become a hunt, follow these steps…

1. Roll d6 to determine Distance factor.
If 1, go to Hunter meets Prey.

The orientation of this rolled d6 indicates the general direction of the prey.  Or spin a pencil or something.

2. What kind of spoor was found? 2d6

(Any double indicates the hunt has ended, go to Why Did the Hunt End?.)
3 scat
4 scent
5 shed
6 track
7 track
8 track
9 markings
10 sound
11 scat

If “sound”, the Distance automatically becomes 2.
If “scent”, the Distance automatically becomes 1 and hunters will be ambushed in five seconds, real time.

Hunters can generally determine the distance and direction of the prey by carefully examining the spoor and surrounding area.  If they choose to pursue, make a 2d6 Spoor roll again.  Result is the number of turns it takes to find another spoor of the prey.  Those turns can be played out if the DM or players wish, but my preference would be to just declare something like “50 minutes later you find another track in the mud”.  A double indicates that spoor is not found and the hunt has ended.  If another spoor is found, subtract 1 from distance.  Continue making Spoor rolls until the hunt ends (i.e. a double is rolled) or Distance becomes 1.

When hunt ends, go to Why Did the Hunt End?  When Distance becomes 1, go to Hunter meets Prey.

3a. Why did the hunt end?
11 Prey is engaged in combat with another monster (random)
22 Hunter encounters another monster, obstacle, or trap (random)
33 Lost (wandered into neighboring hex)
44 If it’s night: Lost
55 Trail went cold
66 Trail went cold

3b. Hunter meets Prey
Determine encounter distance.  Depends upon the type of jungle terrain and vantage points, but my rule of thumb is d6*10 yards.  Very thick jungle would be on the lower end of that range.

When the Distance becomes 1 and the hunter doesn’t have the wind in his favor, the DM may want to give the hunter the option of maneuvering around the prey.  This must be declared before the Who Has Been Detected? roll is made.  The Distance becomes 3.  The Dark Jungle generation system includes a wind direction feature, or any other method of determining the current wind direction can be used.

4. Who Has Been Detected? d6
1. Hunter
2. Hunter
3. Both
4. Prey
5. Prey
6. Prey

Modifications to roll:
-1 if night.
-1 if hunter upwind of prey
+1 if hunter downwind of prey

“Prey” means the hunter has spotted the prey and has time to get in position for ranged attacks or plan an ambush.  The DM should decide or roll to determine if the ambush plan is successful or not.

“Hunter” means the prey has detected its pursuers (via sight, scent, or sound) before being detected itself.  It may choose to get in position to ambush, or it may flee without detection.

“Both” means hunter and prey both detected each other at nearly the same moment.  This may lead to immediate combat or perhaps a pursuit through the jungle (use standard pursuit rules).  Or it could just be a stare down.

If the prey flees and successfully escapes, the Distance become 2.  Return to step 3, but now any “scat” result should be reinterpreted as the end of the hunt.  If the hunter closes the gap again, the Detection roll is at -1.

What's your Prey?

Dark Jungle Sandbox Map

September 13, 2011

Here is an example of Using Mahjong Tiles to Generate a Dark Jungle Sandbox:

It’s just a first draft sketch.  Eventually I’d like to turn it into a fancy “finished” map in the style of Greengoat.  Specifically, inked onto a blank Judges Guild map with a wash of various greens added to indicate that the entire map is jungle-covered.  Not sure when I’ll get around to that.  In the meantime, I wanted to show the Mahjong Tile system in action before it falls into the “no longer on the front page of the blog” oblivion.

The system mentions how the density of the sandbox can be varied by drawing a tile for only some of the hexes, instead of all.  For this particular map, I choose a density of 33%, i.e. for each hex there was a 33% chance that I’d draw a tile to determine its contents.  Some tiles don’t create monsters, so the actual monster density is about 25%.  Wandering monsters should appear at times too.  The numbers on the map indicate hexes containing the pre-determined encounters.

Then I drew the Spindle Rivers in blue.  The guidelines for drawing these rivers are simple but the results are wonderfully complex.  The rivers have a labyrinthine quality to them, creating pinch points and hidden areas.  Not unlike labyrinthine mountain ranges.  The winding rivers are somewhat smushed together in this draft map, but the final version will have larger hexes to better fit in all the bends of the rivers.

Finally, I drew the Fire Ravines in red.  For some of them I randomly determined their directions, for others I choose the direction in order to fill in gaps on the maps or to create interesting barriers and pinch points.  Whereas the rivers can wiggle and wind in crazy directions, the Fire Ravines are more under your control.  This is why I add them last…to fill in gaps and tie the map together.

Notice that the NPC/River/Ravine system worked as intended:  rivers are clustered on the left side of the map (the side I began at) and fire ravines are more prevalent on the right side.  I like how this can give the sense of a changing, increasingly malevolent landscape as the PCs travel through what would otherwise be endless jungle.

Other symbols:

  • Arrows show when a change in wind direction occurs.  When the PCs stumble upon one of these, the wind changes to the specified direction, then move the arrow to another randomly determined hex.
  • Dragons are indicated by a square around the number.
  • Special locations are indicated by a triangle around the number.
  • Special NPCs are indicated by a circle around the number.

Examining the encounter key, there are some interesting clusters that the DM can get creative in explaining:

Why are Sees-Through-Leaves (#19) and Panther-Claw Glin Topp (#20) located near each other in the SW portion of the map?  Perhaps there is a disagreement about each other’s hunting territory?

The Cave of Melting Moss (#41) and a Red Dragon (#42) are neighboring.  Hmm…interesting.  They are also located in a strategic pass through two river systems.

El Grande Loco (#91) and Eberhard Dunwitty (#95) are in close proximity of each other and two dragons: a green (#94) and a white (#96).  Are they in league?  Who is hunting who?

The Sacrifice Pit (#97) is fittingly located at a confluence of Fire Ravines on the eastern edge of the map.  What fiery god is the lucky recipient of these sacrifices?

I chuckled when the Valley of Flowers (#101) was randomly placed in the extreme NE corner of the map.  Is finding the Valley the ultimate goal of those who trek into the Dark Jungle?

The hex map in the Fire in the Jungle Supplement

I created the Dark Jungle map with the intention of placing it somewhere east of the hex map in the Fire in the Jungle Supplement, as the band of Dark Jungle on that original map suggests.  The randomly determined Spindle Rivers fit nicely with that conception.  The rivers exiting the north and west edges of the Dark Jungle map theoretically link up with the rivers on the eastern edge of the FitJ map.

A note about encounter density.  There has been some discussion of this in The RPG Site forums recently.  Also, I started a thread on the topic last year on Dragonsfoot.  Nothing beats a good random encounter system, but pre-determined hex encounters can be useful for giving sections of a map their own flavor and suggest interlocking adventure possibilities, as demonstrated above.

The map in the Fire in the Jungle Supplement is relatively sparse, with only a 10% encounter density.  I see the Jungle Event and Travel System of random encounters as the “core” of the supplement, with the pre-determined hex contents primarily for specifying major adventure sites (such as tombs and ruins) and example lairs of jungle creatures found in the random encounter system.

The Dark Jungle map has 25% encounter density.  Just because PCs enter a hex doesn’t mean they automatically encounter that monster…the hunt is on…hopefully the wind is in your favor.  The increased density allows the DM to examine the encounter key to determine which areas are certain to contain particular monsters.  So when the players ask an NPC…

“Just where is it I could find dragon, panther, and other critters worth cash money when skinned?”

…the DM can give an answer like…

Ride due west as the sun sets. Turn right at the Emerald Mountains.  Swing across the fire ravine.   Slosh through the Swamp of Illusions.  Don’t get lost looking for a gap between the rivers.  Watch out for Zoltar’s Hell.  Yer there.”