Hex Crawl Advances

Mapping by hand really brings back that Old School feeling.

I took the liberty of rolling up the next ring.

After this, I’m only rolling for the hexes as the party enters them. Should be entertaining. I’ve already rolled one hex from the Paraelemental Plane of Mud, two jungle hexes, and and a random desert hex. Mapping by hand really brings back that Old School feeling.

The Hex Map Round 2
  • (Home) The quiet town of Dunbury Glen and its immediate surroundings before they were flung across time and space.
  • C3 Mountains. Dungeon here.
  • D4 Forest
  • D6 Wasteland. Elementals present.
  • C7 Plains/Grasslands. No roads.
  • B6 Fresh water.
  • B4 Plains/Grasslands.
  • C1 Grassy hills
  • D2 Forest
  • E3 Mud from the Paraelemental Plane of Mud. Elemental Chaos!
  • E5 Eerily cold, some trees, some grass
  • E7 Forest
  • D8 Jungle
  • C9 Grassy Hills
  • B9 Jungle
  • A7 Fresh water.
  • A5 Desert/Sand
  • A3 Jungle
  • B2 Grassy Hills.

So far, the group has explored enough to discover the 6 hexes directly around Dunbury Glen. They have not, however, run into sentient beings or any signs of civilization yet. They made a note of the dungeon in the mountains north of town, but decided to come back later. They are currently working their way Northeast through the forest at D4.

Thank you for stopping by. More fun tomorrow. I appreciate you!

DCC RPG: Hexcrawling Around.

Your characters are everyday villagers, or maybe even young, budding adventurers in a run of the mill medieval fantasy village of Dunbury Glen. Dark forces have been at work, unseen in the background for years in the quiet farming/fishing village.

Welcome to my thought exercise/solo roleplay hexcrawl to start defining my new campaign world.

Hand drawn. Colored pencils. Starter map. (Already has a coffee stain.)

A Little Background: Your characters are everyday villagers, or maybe even young, budding adventurers in a run of the mill medieval fantasy village of Dunbury Glen. Dark forces have been at work, unseen in the background for years in the quiet farming/fishing village.

Black stone obelisks appeared in the fields and on the river bank. No one knew where they came from or when. It was if some great dark hand planted them during the night while everyone slept.

Then one day, it all changed. In the early dawn hours just before everyone would normally rise to do the daily chores, the entire village and much of the surrounding area was ripped from the very ground and flung across space and dimensions, possibly even time itself.

The PCs at first find themselves waking up to this strange new world. Everything is askew from the village’s abrupt landing in the new environment. Livestock and pets are behaving strangely. Crops somehow look different. We are definitely not in the proverbial kingdom of Kansas any more.

Things are just getting started. There are many questions to answer and ground to explore. We’re just beginning to uncover the mysteries.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

First Step: Dealing with the DCC Character Funnel. The characters’ lives have just been turned upside down when some unseen force wrenched the world that they possibly grew up in out of the ground and planted it millions of miles away. This makes it easy for the characters to have come from almost any walk of life waking up in this new reality.

The first and most obvious mystery will be the swirling dark portal at the center of the town square. It contains a dungeon suitable for 0 Level characters that will unlock part of the mystery regarding what happened to the village. Upon surviving, the characters will receive their 10 XP and First Character Levels.

At the Judge’s discretion, would-be adventurers can face trials and tribulations elsewhere, possibly just running around the village checking on friends and family in the wake of the disaster. All kinds of secrets lie within Dunbury Glen itself, including the “who” and “why” of what happened to the village. Eventually the group may wish to explore the mysteries surrounding the obelisks and assist the village in recovery.

However, the emergency town meeting held by the local baron and the village elders will take precedence over much of the day’s proceedings. The second way to proceed with the Character Funnel will be in the form of volunteers to explore the immediate surroundings outside the village. At first no one will be allowed to travel more than one day (A single hex) in any given direction. A hex will be worth 10 XP regardless of the encounters within, assuming the characters survive.

Please note there are only so many pack animals and mounts available to start. Certainly most horse owners will NOT want to part with their animals. If nothing else, the various animals are still panicky from being moved abruptly by unseen magical forces. The characters will all be on foot to begin their journey.

The third potential character funnel will come in the form of NPCs the characters know asking for help and support in the early days living in the new environment. The village could randomly come under attack from any number of threats, causing the 0 Level characters to come to its aid. The group should be rewarded accordingly in conjunction with their efforts.

Time to break out the 12-Siders.

Step 2: Random Tables and a Map.

To be continued…

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Lots more to come.

Hex Crawl Adventures

This style of play isn’t for everyone, but one thing I recommend for players and GMs/DMs who get burned out on the same old campaign world is to drop the player characters onto a brand new planet or sub-plane/demi-plane after an adventure or two in the old world. Much the same way the mists of Ravenloft used to abduct entire groups of adventurers, the PCs could literally just wake up in a new world and have to explore to try and find a way home, if they ever want to go back.

Exploration at its most fun!

Many gamers from back in the day probably still remember the old Expert Set adventure, Isle of Dread. Which is now reprinted here as a deluxe hardcover. My copy came with my original Expert D&D Blue boxed set. I have spent hours pouring over this module. I love it for its simplicity and charm. Not to mention several terrifying adventure sessions running around dodging dinosaurs and cannibals.

Without too many spoilers, X1 Isle of Dread sets up as a shipwreck. Or at least that’s my preferred way of running it. From there, the PCs have to salvage what they can for supplies, pick a direction, and start exploring. Assuming they have time to choose wisely because they’re not being chased by something. Thus, for many of us, began what is now commonly referred to as a “Hex Crawl.”

Small Hex Grid

If you’re running a game, this can be a fast way to put together a campaign world on the fly. Or, for a completely random campaign of fantasy adventure, you can literally roll as you go or roll for any blank surrounding hexes next to the one the party just entered.

This style of game is a hoot because the person running it doesn’t necessarily even know what’s coming next. Personally, I recommend rolling for the adjoining hexes at the end of the session just so the GM can prep accordingly. That, and some landmarks are going to be dead obvious to the group, especially if they can get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area.

I’ve seen all manner of distances applied to hexes from one mile to ten miles across or more. Some people like to draw on them with colored pencils or mark key land features for future reference. If you’re running a game based on random hexes, you can also have tables for encounters in any given terrain type, or even preset adventures for when the group enters “X” hex space. Ruins are a great example.

Example courtesy of Shieldice Studio’s Realm Fables: Hex-Worlds

This style of world generation is also very useful if designing your own campaign world, especially if it’s set in a time before modern or magical global cartography. (There’s an adventure seed there for someone- Imagine a mage’s guild whose entire job is to teleport to random places, make a quick map, and teleport back before they get eaten by the locals…) I use this generation method myself because I don’t want to give away the whole map at once. Usually, I have a page of the larger hexes as my starting campaign map and then make more map pages as my group ventures out from their current hex.

I usually have some vague, general idea of where I want them to end up and what’s around it, but I certainly don’t have the whole thing lined up all in one week. That’s one distinct advantage homebrew worlds have over premade settings. The group can legitimately say, “We don’t know where we’re going yet. No one has been there yet as far as we know.”

How do I (h)explore if my group is in a premade world?

This style of play isn’t for everyone, but one thing I recommend for players and GMs/DMs who get burned out on the same old campaign world is to drop the player characters onto a brand new planet or sub-plane/demi-plane after an adventure or two in the old world. Much the same way the mists of Ravenloft used to abduct entire groups of adventurers, the PCs could literally just wake up in a new world and have to explore to try and find a way home, if they ever want to go back.

Once they’ve been transported from the old familiar maps they may be used to, the group is going to have to become somewhat more resourceful. If you think about it, food might not look the same. There are no familiar landmarks to go by. Heck, the stars aren’t going to look the same, if there are stars. Different planes have different rules. Maybe there’s perpetual day or night. Maybe there’s no metal as far as the locals know. This makes exploration one of the most valuable pillars in any RPG where the group is engaged in a hex crawl.

One word of caution for using this style of play- You may wish to limit certain types of magic if you’re going to have a good hex crawl. At low levels, it’s not a huge problem. Teleportation can be a regular game wrecker for hex crawls. So can certain divination spells. Even basic flying can get out of hand if the GM doesn’t find a way to reasonably limit it. (Freakish thunderstorms, flying monsters, antiaircraft flora…) Obviously technology can make things rough on the GM and super easy on the party. Look how far humans got with just a telescope and a few simple navigational tools here on Earth.

The nice thing about dropping the group onto a whole new world is they can hex crawl for a few sessions or the rest of the campaign. I do recommend if you’re going to turn the game into this style of play that it be mentioned before characters are made. Obviously someone’s 100 page backstory is going to deflate completely if they’re no longer anywhere near those places and events mentioned therein. Artificers, Clerics, and druids are going to be extremely useful or completely hosed depending on where they end up. It’s also a good time to introduce any major rules changes the GM might wish to impose due to the new environment. Please make sure everyone is on board before the hex crawl begins.

Hope this little foray into the worlds of hexcrawling was useful. I may drop another article similar to this one down the line explaining how to set up the random tables with more examples of adjudicating a hex crawl game. Have a great day. Take care. Game on.

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