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 1/6 chance for a random encounter during the day and another 1/6 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