Thursday, February 13, 2014

[Map] A section of the Cyclops Wood, and thoughts on wilderness adventure.

Although I have made a few in my time, I have gown increasingly less fond of big hex based sandboxes. I think wilderness adventues are a great idea. I do not believe, however, that hexcrawls are to the widerness what dungeons are to site based adventures. Walking and exploring have become big parts of the work I do in meatspace and hexcrawls absolutely fail to capture what I love so much about both.

Imo, most hexy things try to cover too much space and getting lost is a ticket to boredom. Now, my worklife aside, when I was a neglected child and spent my time wandering around defunct railroads and empty country, getting lost was fun, because you poked around until you were not lost, and you found stuff along the way. Also, you can easily spend days exploring what is represented by just one hex on most maps, but they usually have like one detail. This strikes me as too little and too arbitrary.

This map is the beginning of an attempt to convert some of this thinking into gamables.


1. Constrains the players- the ravine is in the west, the east side is mountain cliff face. The bridge is flimsy or magic and you can only cross once, maybe- or just finding your way back to it could be the challenge.

2. Ensures that you will have to leave the road.

3. Gives you stuff to find once you get lost. That is the moon capsule from The First Men In the Moon up there on the top left, btw. I don't think lost should be a matter of rolling a random direction, but rather a random destination with a random duration of travel.

4. Has room for factions.

5. Has an ecology (take my word for it)

So the idea is you have to explore and interact with the environment (e.g., deal with the locals, figure out how to cross the boiling mud, decide which way to go on the road at the fork, discover that someone has fucked with the signposts, and so on...) on the way to your goal (which in this case is the big skull hill thingy) instead of just passing through. Not every landscape is an adventure, of course, in the same way not every building is a dungeon.

Note: I don't have the scale on the map but it is like a 4 hour walk from the bridge to the fork in the road. Also, the apex predator here is an insane allosaur.

I'll key this up in a day or two, probably like the Molt map, but with stats and shit

Come at me, bro.



  1. Cool. How do you tell an allosaurus is insane?

  2. I was going to ask you that!
    Actually, it is fighting the control of the Ghostwell, an evil cenote in the skull hill.

  3. I really want to like hexes, but when I try using them as a player they take me out of the game, and as a DM they're good for tracking movement I guess, but unless they're going straight from center of hex to center of hex you still have to abstract/hand wave. You're five things look like a great way to set up a wilderness.

  4. I dislike hexes myself. Time in hours or days and a few notes/random encounter table are sufficient for me. I can see hexes working in a game of conquest, but not exploration really.

  5. Outside of more wargamey things like that pbp PLANET MOTHERFUCKER thing I ran, I can't get down with hexes. I think this would work much better for me.

  6. Obviously, I agee with all of you. There is also a certian charm to using a ruler and a pencil to keep track of where everyone is or has been on the map.