On Google+, Jeff Rients recently wondered whether he was feeling dissatisfaction with his hexcrawl procedure. I’m interested in comparing notes. How do you run wilderness exploration?
When I read procedures like the ones Justin Alexander recently posted on his blog, I realize that my own procedures are super simple in comparison.
Here are the basics:
- My player characters cannot get lost.
- When non-player characters tell the player characters about a location, it gets placed on the map in the correct hex.
- When player characters enter a hex searching for a particular structure they will always find it.
- The default is one hex traveled per day unless there are roads (rarely) or they are traveling by ship along a coast (in which case it’ll be eight hexes per day). As it stands, this ignores movement speeds and hex size. You travel one hex per day, that’s it. I usually think that one hex is five miles, but players don’t need to know that.
- Many hexes have a structure in them seeded by the Wilderlands of High Fantasy but I add One Page Dungeons, I place other stuff I got from the net or from books I bought, all the intelligent monsters on my encounter tables have a lair in the region, and I will add more structures when the party moves through the hex again if it seems plausible.
- There’s a ⅙ chance for a random encounter during the day and another ⅙ chance for a random encounter during the night.
- The encounter tables usually reflect the general region’s makeup. A typical region is an area of 5×5 hexes.
With this in place, players will usually learn about a new location from NPCs, decide to travel there, have one or two random encounters on the way providing side-quests, other plot-hooks and adding to the wilderness. After exploring the dungeon or doing whatever needs doing, the party will travel back, sometimes picking a different path for their way back in order to learn something about the area they’re in.
Thus the actual procedure at the gaming table is simple:
- When the players enter a new region, prepare a new random encounter table with eight to ten entries. See the Swiss Referee Style Manual for more information.
- Players tell me where they want to go. Roll 1d6 for a daylight encounter and 1d6 for a nighttime encounter for every hex traveled. Combine encounters if that spices things up.
If your procedure is more complicated, I’d love to know what you do and why you do it. Maybe it’s something I could add to my own procedure!
Tags: RPG Old School Sandbox