Side Note: the whole point of this design series is to approach posts like this from the opposite direction. Rather than starting with air currents, erosion, and forests and then building population centres that make sense given the terrain, I'm trying to build a system that does the feudal politics first, and then uses the politics to determine the terrain.
Fast Barony Mapping
Step 1. Pick a County
Draw the approximate borders of the county and then zoom in. The previous maps used 18-mile hexes, but we need to zoom in to the standard 6-mile hexes. If you prefer another scale, zoom in accordingly.
Your county should include some "Core Regions" (the full circles), some "Developed Regions" (large circles), and some "Undeveloped Regions" (smaller circles). It might also contain impassible hexes (wastelands, mountains, etc.). I haven't included any in this example.
Step 2: Prime Barony
Start with any your Core Regions. Pick the central hex of your central Core Region and assign it a letter. I'd suggest starting with A. Mark all adjacent hexes with this same letter. I'm using colours as well to make things more clear. This barony should contain the major city or town of your county.
Roll 1d8. This is the number of "extra" hexes the Prime Barony can occupy. Using the same system as Step 4 from the previous post, add on extra hexes until you've used up all your "extra" hexes.
Step 3: Barony Borders
Every other Barony occupies 1d8 6-mile hexes. If you want larger Baronies, use 1d10, 1d8+2, or whatever you think is appropriate.
The most protected or central hex contains the barony's small city, large town, massive castle, or seat of power (marked with a black octagon)
Baronies with 5,6, or 7 hexes also contain a small town (marked with a black triangle)
Baronies with 8 or more hexes contain 2 small towns (marked with a black triangle)
Towns should be placed at least 1 hex away from other towns or cities.
Step 4: First Pass Baronies
Starting with the central hexes of any other Core Regions, assign a letter, and then move migrate to adjacent hexes until you have assigned all hexes for that barony. If you are stuck in a corner and can't assign any additional congruent hexes, mark the nearest empty hex.
Then, move outwards to the Developed Regions, and then to the the Undeveloped Regions. Remember to assign black octagons and triangles as you progress. If the central hex of a region is inaccessible (because it's in water/mountains/a neighboring county/etc.), don't worry about it, and skip that region.
Step 5: Filler Baronies
There should be some empty space left. Starting with the Core Regions, assign baronies of 1d8 congruent hexes. If you are stuck in a corner and can't assign any additional congruent hexes, mark the nearest empty hex. You don't need to follow the directional assignment / "random walk" rules at this stage. In fact, you don't need to stick with the "1d8 congruent hexes" thing at all. Just fill in the gaps.
If you've run out of letters, switch to numerals or greek letters. Any baronies far from the Prime Barony are likely to be rebellious or completely independent.
Draw some wiggly borders and get rid of unneeded letters.
Step 7: Assigning Ownership
The Prime Barony (A) will usually belong directly to the Count or Duke. It may share the same name as the county, or it might have a different name entirely.
The Count or Duke will also have at 1d4 other baronies as part of their personal territory. Assign them randomly.
You may want to set 1 small barony, preferably in an Undeveloped Region, as a Royal Forest instead of a barony. This doesn't mean it's covered in trees, but it does mean the Monarch has kept it as a special, completely wild preserve for hunting deer, boar, goblins, etc. Remove any settlements.
1 or more small baronies might be owned by archbishops. The church's lands are mostly within individual baronies, rather than being concentrated into a central seat of power, but from time to time an archbishop acts as both a secular lord and a religious leader.
All other baronies will have individual Barons. If you really want to complicate things, some baronies might owe fealty to another Count or Duke, or directly to the Monarch. In a fantasy setting, you may also want to set aside land for elves, goblin clans, etc.
Step 8: Naming
Each barony has an name. You can use lists like this one, or this one, or any number of online generators to invent plausible names. Town names work fine, as do last names. You can probably name baronies, towns, and cities on an as-needed basis. I've gone a little overboard with my map as a demonstration. Feel free to repeat town names. It happens all the time in real life.
The county is called Pellamy
Baronies A, J, and N belong to the Count of Pellamy
Barony J is an Elf enclave, and can more or less be ignored going forward.
Barony D is owned by the Church directly, and has an Archbishop rather than a Baron.
Barony I is replaced with a royal forest. Any settlements inside are removed.
Step 9: Done!
You now have a map of your county.
For the sake of convenience while hexcrawling, you might want to fill out any adjacent counties (or portions of them) using the same method. I went ridiculously overboard here. There's no need to do any of this for your games.
By comparing the baronies to the "Core/Developed/Undeveloped" lands created in the previous part, we will be able to see which baronies are prosperous and which are sparsely populated. I will cover terrain, prosperity, and castle assignment in the next post. I will also cover how to avoid the whole "one-and-only-one interesting thing per hex" problem.
Table of Barony Names:
French names were taken from a list of French authors. English and Scottish names were taken from existing lists of baronies.
|29||Soignies||Chilham||Duart & Morvern|
|46||St. Gelais||Marshwood||Anstruther & Balcaskie|
|61||Urfe||Brecon||Haliburton & Lambden|
|62||Bertaut||Great Bealings||Ardblair & Gask|
|65||Monstrelet||Weedon Pinkeny||Fairholm & Kirkton|
|71||Grevin||Stainton le Vale||Strichen|