This article is a companion piece to the earlier article 100 Dungeon Descriptors Table. Just like that article, it’s a d100 list you can roll on for random descriptors. This time it’s for overland areas. Roll a few and see if it inspires you, or roll a few for an overall area and more for sub-areas.

Here’s an example: Rolling 5d100, we take the first two results for the entire area, then the next three for extra traits for smaller sub areas. Results are 16, 56, 10, 37, 96. Air: Cutting, Resources: Land/Water, Earth: Rocky, Dead:Ruined, Wealth: Traders

  • We have an overall area with rich farming soil and good fishing waters but plagued with cutting winds. This means that large plots of cropland are out. Inhabitants probably try to build shelters in the lee of rock outcroppings and tree breaks and grow small plots of crops either behind wind breaks or in greenhouses. Livestock are probably common but closely tended and brought into shelter to avoid storms. This implies a fairly sparse population since the level of farming necessary to feed a dense population would be very difficult despite the fertile soil. Uncommonly used creatures that would be right at home in this area are air elemental creatures as well as burrowing monsters.
  • We’ll say that there is an area with the same fertile soil but rocky and very hard to till and littered with large boulders and rocky outcroppings. This area houses a medium sized city with walls strung between large rocks and outcroppings, which owns large herds of grazing animals that they bring in the city when storms rise. However the area is also home to many bandits and dangerous creatures that also take shelter in the stones. At least there are relatively few burrowers waiting to pop up beneath your feet.
  • Next is an area dotted with ruins. For some variety, we’ll place this area in a forest of large solid trees with wind blasted outer bark and needle leaves (none of our rolls say anything about local flora, so why not?). Interspersed among the trees are many tumbledown ruins, some largely intact. The winds are stronger and more frequent here and accompanied by a fearsome howling and may originate somewhere in these ominous structures. Strange skulking creatures with tough hide and tiny almost vestigial eyes and ears roam the forest. How they hunt with such deadly efficiency is a mystery.
  • Finally we have another medium city. This one is located in the lee of a huge rock outcropping and surrounded on the other sides by a wooden palisade. It sits on one of the area’s major waterways. It has a small fishing fleet but is mostly a giant walled bazaar. It’s fleet of shabby merchant houseboats ply the area’s rivers visiting homesteads and trading odds and ends and resupplying the locals.

Note: Dave Woodrum of Fishwife Games was inspired by this example and made me a the matching map, seen above! We’ve featured some of his cool gaming products on Gnome Stew previously. 

  1. Water: Swampy – swamp, marsh, bog or any very wet land
  2. Water: Lakes – a land studded with multiple lakes of various sizes
  3. Water: Islands – mostly water with lots of islands
  4. Water: Rivers – an area criss-crossed with many rivers large and small
  5. Fire: Burning – affected by regular wildfires and uncontrolled burns
  6. Fire: Ash – an area that has burned to the ground and never recovered
  7. Fire: Volcanoes – volcanoes or other geothermal activity
  8. Fire: Lava Flows – has open flows of lava and similar hazards
  9. Earth: Gravity defying – impossibly high or overcropping cliffs and mountains
  10. Earth: Rocky – rocky soil, littered with large boulders
  11. Earth: Broken – split and broken ground with chasm and ravines
  12. Earth: Living – populated with earthen creatures or living rock
  13. Air: Noisy – constant whistling winds
  14. Air: Floating – features floating rocks, plants, buildings or whatever else you like
  15. Air: Flying – inhabited by a large number and variety of flying creatures
  16. Air: Cutting – dangerous gale force winds that can injure those caught in them
  17. Forest: Light – young trees
  18. Forest: Heavy – heavy forest
  19. Forest: Dense – ancient dense or massive forests
  20. Forest: Brush – scrub trees with underbrush
  21. Inhabitants: Magical – elementals, undead, constructs and other unnatural things
  22. Inhabitants: Humanoids – primitive or advanced humanoid tool users
  23. Inhabitants: Animals – area is populated with animals, predators, scavengers etc…
  24. Inhabitants: Lowlives – slimes, fungus monsters and insects
  25. Elevation: Lowlands – ravines, gorges, basins and the like
  26. Elevation: Flat – largely flat and featureless
  27. Elevation: Medium – hills and slopes
  28. Elevation: High – mountains, buttes, etc…
  29. Weather: Constant – always a light precipitation falling
  30. Weather: Heavy – more precipitation than usual and/or heavier than normal
  31. Weather: Erratic – likely to change quickly and a wide variety of weather
  32. Weather: Extreme – probably usually heavy but with a much more intense season that can be dangerous
  33. Live: Verdant – extremely green and covered with vegetation of all sorts
  34. Live: Genius Loci – a spirit inhabits the land and can manipulate it to a limited degree
  35. Live: Carnivorous – large plants or even the land itself is predatory
  36. Live: Growth – plants grow quickly to larger than usual size
  37. Dead: Ruined – scattered with ruined and partially destroyed buildings
  38. Dead: Haunted – spirits, ghosts or just strange feelings haunt the area
  39. Dead: Decaying – plants and soil don’t last long and actively decay
  40. Dead: Ancient – similar to ruined but far fewer and far older ruins
  41. Hot: Desert – covered in sand and blistering heat
  42. Hot: Tropical – full of vegetation and wet but unbearably hot
  43. Hot: Veldt – dry grassland with burning overhead sun
  44. Hot: Bare – dry cracked earth
  45. Cold: Snowy – covered in a layer of snow, snows often
  46. Cold: Iced – freezing rain coats everything in a layer of ice
  47. Cold: Spires – ice makes strange flowers and spires
  48. Cold: Frigid – cold with cutting dangerous winds
  49. Development: Frontier – isolated fortresses with small populations
  50. Development: Secret – hidden settlements, isolated farmsteads etc…
  51. Development: Points – points of light in largely unsettled wilderness
  52. Development: Dense – highly populated settled lands
  53. Resources: Wildlife – game and fur animals are abundant
  54. Resources: Ore – lots of valuable metal and gems
  55. Resources: Materials – wood, stone etc…
  56. Resources: Land/Water – arable land, fishing, water access
  57. Vegetation: Grassland – rolling grasslands with only grass scrub and isolated trees
  58. Vegetation: Ancient – strange old plants uncommon elsewhere
  59. Vegetation: Fungal – mushrooms and other fungus
  60. Vegetation: Overgrowth – thick underbrush and tangling weeds
  61. Government: Balkanized – many small countries or city states in tense relations
  62. Government: Democracy – government by a representative body
  63. Government: Oligarchy – government by a council or small group
  64. Government: Monarchy – a single ruling figure
  65. Architecture: Simple – uncomplicated unpretentious buildings
  66. Architecture: Efficient – larger and more complicated building style with little ornamentation
  67. Architecture: Ornate – lots of decorative details and shapes
  68. Architecture: Unusual – strange or unusual building materials, shapes or styles
  69. Relations: Warlike – inhabitants are threatening or war on their neigbors
  70. Relations: Traders – trade with neighbors
  71. Relations: Diplomats – peacemakers and diplomats
  72. Relations: Isolationists – keep to themselves, possible xenophobic
  73. History: War – area or people once involved in a significant war or conflict
  74. History: Diversity – due to historical events, area is host to a large diversity of people
  75. History: Religion – hosted significant religious events or personages in the past
  76. History: Events – other significant historical events happened in this area
  77. Production: Agriculture – makes food and ag products
  78. Production: Materials – exports raw materials
  79. Production: Manufacturing – produces crafted and finished goods
  80. Production: Art – exporter of art objects
  81. Technology: Primitive – stone or bronze age technology
  82. Technology: Iron – low fantasy iron age
  83. Technology: Advanced – high fantasy renaissance
  84. Technology: Steam – steam tech
  85. Food: Hunt/Gather – sustains population with hunting/gathering
  86. Food: Livestock – primarily raises livestock
  87. Food: Crops – crop farms for most food
  88. Food: Advanced – uses advanced ag technology like aqueduct irrigation, crop rotation etc…
  89. Learning: Religion – region has learned religious experts
  90. Learning: Crafting – region has master craftsmen of note
  91. Learning: Scholars – region has many secular scholars
  92. Learning: Education – unlike most areas, the common inhabitants are mostly literate and have a basic education
  93. Wealth: Poor – inhabitants are very poor
  94. Wealth: Wealthy – inhabitants are wealthy
  95. Wealth: Non-standard – the wealth of the area is in unconventional goods or coinage
  96. Wealth: Traders – inhabitants mostly operate via barter or trade
  97. Magic: People – most people either know a few magic tricks or have very minor magic items
  98. Magic: Creatures – creatures are strange and magic touched
  99. Magic: Landscape – landscape has odd magic features
  100. Magic: Effects – odd effects can be found here, fountains, auras etc…