Savage Hexcrawl - Part 2: Looking at Terrain

We are back with the irregularly scheduled content for Savage Hexcrawl! Part 1 focused on the mechanics of travel. This part will look into those little hexagonal areas players will be travelling on. What are they? What do they mean? How can they become a tool for narrative roleplaying? There's only one way to find out! (that's a lie, there is plenty of ways, websites and content about it. Yet, I hope you will continue reading... ekhm, as we were).

What the Hex?

I am using 6 mile hexes in my fantasy campaigns. Why 6 mile? There's a great in-depth explanation on The Hydra's Grotto. But, in a nutshell - it is big enough to hide plenty of adventure and small enough to wrap your mind around it.
Also, Math
If each hex can hold plenty of encounters, how are you supposed to draw it on a map to show each find? The simple answer - you don't. On the map, both GM's and players', you should only worry about the general terrain type of the place. Note each discovered ruins, village and person  with the hex number on a separate sheet, or in a notebook.. We'll comeback to this notebook later, now we will look into what you should have on the hexmap - terrain.

I get bigger!

Mapping and Noting down...

On the right, you can find a (clickable!) table with some basic terrain types for reference. This list is by no means exclusive. Those types will change depending on the genre, campaign or even climate you are playing in. Each terrain is represented by a simple icon and has a cost in movement points (to be used with rules from Part 1). This is the general layout of the hex region and, by extent, how difficult it is to travel trough the area. It doesn't mean that the whole place is one huge swamp, forest, or hill. Just that it is this land's major feature - you need to fill in the blanks.

This is where imagination and some abstraction gets mixed in. Each icon represents a small piece of the game world. Maybe fully fledged by the GM, or maybe full of random encounters - it doesn't really matter. What matters, is that it is a place where many things can happen. Maybe you'll find a small hamlet where you can rest, a canyon that needs to traversed, temple ruins of a long forgotten god that you can explore, or maybe you will just travel trough this land encountering none of those? It doesn't mean that they are not there, they are just undiscovered.

Because each hex can hold so much, it is much easier to jot each encounter down, than to try to represent it on the map. After some time, you'll find that you have plenty of places, people, leads and other details about the game world. Even smallest detail can lead to a whole evening of adventure. It can also lead to nothing, it might be just a random thing that happened. Or maybe it will payout later, in few game days or even few sessions from now. Those notes, combined with hex map will help, both the players and the GM to immerse themselves in the world.


While exploring the lands and discovering new hexes is in the hands of players, the things they encounter in them depend on the GM. Each time players enter a hex, GM will check for encounters (yes, even previously discovered hex, although odds might be different). Encounters can be anything - people, places even the infamous wandering monsters. We will look at encounters, and the system behind them, in the future. Today, I just wanted to show you how much adventure you be found in a single hex. I will leave you with this artwork by the talented Courtney Campbell of the Hack&Slash blog fame. It shows a detailed 6 mile hex. Just a few hours of travel.

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