- Some people will want to generate Big Picture aspects of the game world (world size, axial tilt, number of moons, etc.) and others will either pick or assume these aspects, or not care in the first place.
- The aspects of a terrain we need to know, on a continental basis, are the presence of: salt water, fresh water, elevation, predominant vegetation, and intelligent-life settlement.
- Terrain comes in bunches -- it's not "choppy," though there are pockets of varying terrain. I have come up with a simple mechanic to determine "sameness" from hex to hex.
- Hills are near mountains -- whether due to tectonics, glaciation, or volcanic activity
- Forests are more likely near fresh water sources -- I'm frankly not sure if this is actually true, but it feels right
Order and Method of Generation
The assumptions dictate a certain order of terrain generation; you have to know whether mountains and/or fresh water are present before you can generate elevation and vegetation.
The question then becomes how to generate these baseline elements (coastline/mountains/fresh water) with a simple mechanic and optional user choice.
Weather and Rainfall
One of the harder elements to simulate is that of weather. There are deserts, for instance, in every latitude of the Earth (some of which are fairly close to fresh water features), and areas of forest without a lot of water on the ground. Put another way, the mere presence or absence of lakes and rivers is insufficient to determine the prevailing vegetation. Simulating this in a simple way is tricky.
On the continental level, a larger scale is necessary so that you can create a map of a sufficiently large area within a manageable mapspace. The scale also has to be small enough to depict fresh water sources (which determine vegetation) in a meaningful way. I presently believe about 50 miles to the inch is an appropriate continental/campaign map scale, and 2 miles to the inch on a regional/local level.
Generating a world or campaign map should be a fun experience. I'm experimenting with many different ideas to inject ease of use, creativity, and fantasy into the process. I want to make sure this isn't completely antiseptic and scientific for those who want funkiness and ways to generate campaign ideas.