Procedural GM-less Terrain Generation for Crusaders in the Snow

I started writing a cooperative, umpireless wargame. All players are in the same team, a small chapter of knights of the Teutonic Order converting and fighting the pagans in the lands across the Eastern Baltic. A game of exploration and conversion. But it’s really about oppression and reprisal.


First, I had a few hours on a train going to an OSR-UK meetup.

Second, a while ago I started writing Crusaders in the Snow, an OSR domain game on the same topic. And the writer’s block on that is massive because of many reasons.

Third, cooperative wargames are interesting. You need rules for handling the fight without risking that any of the players will pick dumb choices for the opposition.

Fourth, I love terrain generation, and the terrain around the Eastern Baltic was awful.

Mires and forests and lack of roads made overland travel a pain. Horses drowned in swamps pulling down their riders. Travel times of five miles a day. And the locals knew the ground like their pockets. And you thought your DM was severe. This is high-level douchebaggery.

How did the Order wage war in such a place?

First, they had boats that could easily go up and down rivers. And there are plenty of rivers in the area, so, during the summer, river movement is easy-peasy, which is useful because the rest of the terrain is a big mire.

Second, during the winter the frozen landscape became a warpath. Rivers froze enough to allow knights to use them as roads, and battles were fought on them (sometimes going really badly for the Crusaders).

So, what do we have now? Randomly generated terrain, asymmetric wargame, difficult movement.

More next time, where I discuss the randomly generated terrain.