What is hex-crawling?

glass

Registered User
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Hi All,

I saw this on another thread:
They include it in their list, but give no practical examples, frameworks or systems. AD&D had full rules for hexcrawling and generating random dungeons. BECMI even moreso.
But rather than drag that thread (further) off-topic, I thought it better to ask in a new thread:

What, exactly, is meant by the term hex-crawling?

I thought it was just an old-school term for wilderness exploration, but there must be more to it than that to require "full rules" in AD&D...


glass.
 

Seroster

Miw!
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Yeah, wilderness exploration, with random encounter tables by terrain type and I don't remember what else. :(
 

glass

Registered User
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Yeah, wilderness exploration, with random encounter tables by terrain type and I don't remember what else. :(
Yeah, it was the "what else" that I was after...assuming there is actually something else.


glass.
 

naturaltwenty

Roll and Shout!
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If memory serves there were subrules for:

Checking to see if you become lost, wandering monster checks, weather, encounter distance, camping, etc.
 

glass

Registered User
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If memory serves there were subrules for: Checking to see if you become lost, wandering monster checks, weather, encounter distance, camping, etc.
Are all those missing from 4e? Because 3e at least has (not) getting lost, weather, and encouter distance.

EDIT: The context in the original thread was "things that should be brought back", hence the query. I guess am insufficiently familier with either 1e or 4e! (I started with 2e, and am currently running PF)


glass.
 
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naturaltwenty

Roll and Shout!
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EDITING - Reread the original post

Yes those types of rules are in 3e (and I suspect 4e). What wasn't specifically in AD&D vs. 3e and/or 4e is that wilderness encounters were not based upon any sort of CR or monster/encounter economy. You were just as likely to face an adult dragon with your party of 1st level characters as you were with your 10th level characters. Those wandering monster tables were a bitch.
 
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glass

Registered User
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Sorry - not following you. I thought the question was what were some of the specifc hex-crawling type rules presented in AD&D? If this is some "4e has rules for hex-crawling" type edition comparison then I'm outta this thread.
Sorry, I'm guessing you replied before my edit. In the context of the other thread, full hex-crawling rules are something that Ratman_tf wanted bringing back. Thus I was curious as to what rules you need for hex-crawling that you don't currently have, which lead me to think that there must be something more to hex-crawling beyond what I had previously thought. It now seems that there isn't really.

Yes those types of rules are in 3e (and I suspect 4e). What wasn't specifically in AD&D vs. 3e and/or 4e is that wilderness encounters were not based upon any sort of CR or monster/encounter economy. You were just as likely to face an adult dragon with your party of 1st level characters as you were with your 10th level characters. Those wandering monster tables were a bitch.
Yeah, but that's a playstyle thing, not a mechanical thing. You can do tailored or status quo encounters in any edition (or a mix of the two, which is my usual preference). EDIT: It was perhaps significantly more common when older editions were current, but that isn't the same as being baked into the rules.


glass.
 
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Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
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I don't have the link, but there are some great websites with editors for hex maps.
 

MonkeyWrench

Whatchu readin' fur?
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Traditionally hexcrawls don't have appropriate level limits or encounters per day (except if you go way back and only check for encounters once per day) other than what makes sense for the terrain. Mostly though it's the random tables. For the wilderness surrounding my campaign dungeon I've made tables which account for day and night travel, whether they decided to make a campfire or not, whether they're traveling by road or cross-country, and what season is it. The tables are then subdivided into categories - NPCs, humanoids, animals, monsters, ruins, and environment. Occasionally I'll have set features within a given hex as well.

Unlike exploring a campaign dungeon, hexcrawling works for any edition of DnD. For me the only real difference is whether or not you choose to scale the encounters to PC levels if you're playing 4e. On the other hand you could probably do some really cool stuff with wilderness exploration and skill challenges.
 

Melan

Radio Free Internet
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The classical idea of hex-crawling is a fairly simple technique for running wilderness adventures. It is not associated so much with 1e AD&D as Judges Guild's Wilderlands of High Fantasy setting and (to a lesser extent) Traveller's Spinward Marches.

Hex-crawling is based on the concept that the world map is superimposed with a grid of numbered hexes, essentially forming a sort of game board. The GM has a complete map that has geographical features, settlements, roads, fixed encounters, adventure sites etc. marked, while the players have a corresponding but incomplete one (with a few coastal outlines and known areas, but otherwise blank). A GM map might look something like this (from the WL, notations mine):



The players explore the wilderness by moving from hex to hex, filling in the blanks and of course bumping into adventure on their way. Random encounter charts, as well as charts for creating random ruins, terrain features or things of interest are strongly associated with the playstyle, but they are not essential - the technique can benefit from them, but does not require them. Most people who run hex-crawl campaigns tend to go with a middle-of-the-road approach: creating a bunch of smaller adventure sites, and filling in the gaps with tables (or using the tables to generate ideas to expand on etc.).

Hex-crawl campaigns can be very interesting where long-distance travel is a central focus of the experience, since it allows people around the game table to "translate" the idea of moving through unbounded physical space into something where you can manage "steps" and compartmentalise encounters (dungeons, of course, already do this by putting you in corridors where you can say, "I go left" or "I descend the stairs") without turning travel into a linear exercise. They are also excellent where the focus itself is exploration and discovery - Sindbad- or Odyssey-style adventures, for example.

1st edition AD&D and various editions of the D&D Expert sets have elements of the hex-crawl idea, like in The Isle of Dread, but I think they are either missing important elements (the numbers in the hexes which make location identification easy, or the dual map solution), or expressed in a way that seems too complicated (the 1e DMG is totally guilty of this) or do not really show the potential of the game form. It is interesting that, although the method is really intuitive and goes well with spontaneous adventuring, it lay mostly forgotten until the 2000s. Nowadays, though, yolu can find some new products that use the concept - like Points of Light, or the Hex Crawl Classics series.
 
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