What the Hex?! Intro to Hex Crawls Part 1 – Web DM

What the Hex?! Intro to Hex Crawls Part 1 – Web DM

Today we’re starting our journey into one of our favorite campaign planning tools: hex maps! If you’re a new DM, this is a must see!
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Chicago Wiz (19:57) https://chgowiz-games.blogspot.com/2017/11/just-three-hexes-campaign-starters.html


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50 replies
  1. Mike Gould
    Mike Gould says:

    Hexcrawl. Made interesting by focusing the players on key landmarks, then making their journey to them no laughing matter.

    I’m running a bit of one right now, and I kept the players engaged by giving them, in essence, a recipe. It was a riddle of things they had to boil in a Hag’s cauldron to end a curse. They were engaged in finding these things, and were willing to account for food, water, and danger just to shut this Hag up. It was interspersed with homebrewed monsters that they have never seen before, magic items they’ve never experienced, and other Feywild nonsense. Speaking simply – I kept them on their toes.

    They tended to fight creatures above their pay grade (or lesser ones in great numbers), who fought like they wanted to win. Death was always an option. Tension was high a lot. But the players also have a great sense of humour, so they broke that tension with great moments of absurdity and hijinks.

    They’re now hardened badasses with a clear goal and the will to get there.

    And you’re right. OOTA was tedious in it’s methodology. We spent more time accounting for food and seeing the same type of caverns than actually doing anything. If I hear another description of Duergar architecture I may have to drink my breakfast.

  2. keckii
    keckii says:

    Anyone got an idea what song they were singing/muttering in the end? The one with firbolg and lightning. Guess it’s Gloryhammer, but not sure which song.

  3. Brad Wolf
    Brad Wolf says:

    The people complaining about Tomb of Annihilation hex crawl aren’t reading enough of the book. The random encounter tables are really robust. Plus the game includes multiple NPC jungle guides who can help PCs find locations.

  4. TheCrippledHalfling
    TheCrippledHalfling says:

    I’ve found that hexcrawls or sandbox games are more interesting if you create or have on hand a handful of situations, locations, or pre-built encounters to plop down in the world whenever a random event occurs rather than a completely random grouping of monsters or things that only serve to hurt the parties resources and lack interesting content that’s worthy of your players time. It’s a bit more work, but if you build a structure for creating them and only spend time creating what you need it’s worth it.

  5. Web DM
    Web DM says:

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  6. randomusernameCallin
    randomusernameCallin says:

    Sounds like a good hexcrawl is a good way to gives more role playing game play outside of combat. I say the player does not need to see the grid while they are playing but still have their skills matter.

    I say make a number of rolls from the start.

    Also who says the whole trip need to be a hex crawl.

  7. Tyler Mcgilvery
    Tyler Mcgilvery says:

    Wait this isnt a video on using the spell hex as your only means of attack through a dungeon crawl??? Lame…

  8. Jason King
    Jason King says:

    By the way, Tomb of A isn’t bad. We’re playing now and the random encounter table is actually pretty well stocked with good ideas. I read the whole end of the book, and there is a bunch of interesting things to put in the jungle.
    But you do get it right. You have to make each encounter interesting. You roll up a coven of hags on the river, where are they, what are they doing, can you escape by accident, etc.

  9. Ed DM
    Ed DM says:

    Felt like ToA took some unnecessary heat in this episode, lol.

    Jim’s right in that all of the Wizards pre-gen random encounter tables get monotonous and boring quick. A great fix is to just change them up, theme them to the PC’s, and even make them not so random? I’m a fan of hand picking random encounters that feel thematic to the moment. Jim was making a lot of great suggestions to interesting random encounters and honestly that’s exactly what you can do with any of the pre-gen tables. The encounters already written in there are great, they’re just limited to the 5-8 pages they can print with them in there. So yeah, you’ll run out of content pretty quickly.

    The pre-gens are meant as a base, like a jump start, not to be taken literally cover to cover. Not everyone can come up with an adventure from scratch, but a lot of people can take something thats already made, point out the bits they don’t like and fix them, and add their own flavor to it. That’s honestly the exact function I feel the pre-gens serve. I’ll go out on a limb and say that running ANY pre-made adventure as written will make for a subpar game. If you put a box on your head and say “Nope, this is all that exists. I can’t think outside of what’s in this box”, well then of course your adventure is gonna be dead in the water.

    You’ve got to be willing to adapt and change the bits you find boring around, trying new ways to breathe life into them. Change them to be more relevant to the game you’re running and the world will seem real and alive. This applies to home-brew as much as it does pre-gens. So no, I don’t think ToA’s hex crawl tables are bad. In fact I think what they laid down as a base line is excellent, and outside of them writing a entire new 200+ page book of random encounters based on different locations (which would be great for any pre-gen honestly), I don’t think they need to detail the RE tables of the pre-gens any more than they already do in most of the adventures. Just cause it’s written down doesn’t mean its law! 😛

    P.S Jim & Pruitt, love what you guys do. Keep up the good discussions! 🙂

  10. Sting Gray
    Sting Gray says:

    Alright so I’m running an Out of the Abyss campaign just now and have run into this problem, hopefully someone out there can help. The traveling from place to place is taking up way too much time and like they say in the video it’s the same few encounters, it’s gotten so bad I’ve sat down and improvised my own random encounters on the spot pretty much.

    Here’s the main issue: leveling the characters. Right now they have recently hit level 6, are traveling to Gravenhallow from Mantol Derith and should be (according to the book) level 10 by the time they get there. The last 2 sessions have been traveling sessions and they are on day 8 out of a potential 30 days of travel filled with the shoddy random encounters of the manual and a couple of my own ones I had to come up with in an attempt to make it interesting.

    The only option to get those levels as far as I’m aware is for the party to encounter creatures to fight or other obstacles and if I want to do more narrative based travel they will run into the issue of being under-leveled. Is there any way to make up the levels if I substitute the hex crawl for something else? Any other encounter tables I could use (mainly for places, I can use Kobold Fight Club for creatures) or another traveling system which is superior in this instance?

  11. Dominic Oxley
    Dominic Oxley says:

    Man, I played in a Tomb of Annihilation campaign for a while and it was miserable. Nearly 2 months of random encounters leading to a a points of interest that we only stayed at for a session at most then back into the jungle. That campaign died pretty quickly, especially since we started the campaign at level 5 and we never leveled up for life 4 months because the DM wouldn’t let us.

  12. jerry harper
    jerry harper says:

    So would a he crawl be good for a city location? I’m gearing up to read waterdeep: dragon heist. And was curious if this would be good for that.

  13. Colin Louderback
    Colin Louderback says:

    Gosh, ToA has been a freaking slog. Any time we’ve spent in the jungle has just been a boring nightmare.

    We’ve been looted, razed, thrown out of Camp Vengeance with nothing but the clothes on our backs (which was really unfair, I might add), and everyone in the party has died at least once.

    I’m lowkey pretty done with it.
    I feel like a hexcrawl run right would be really fun, though!

  14. chramesly
    chramesly says:

    Please do go into more detail about using random tables in general! I can’t seem to incorporate them well.

  15. Andrew Eick
    Andrew Eick says:

    I’m running my group through Pathfinder’s Ironfang Invasion adventure path right now. This was super helpful. Great video as always!

  16. Melting Skeleton
    Melting Skeleton says:

    All the Puns are so Hexing….>.> I never even thought about using Hex maps until this video. Thanks….Maybe. This looks like a bit to work on that might not pay off for meh.

  17. Richard Wright
    Richard Wright says:

    Always thought hex crawls were tedious. The only advantage I find is they give outdoor characters like rangers and druids a place to shine.

  18. Benevolent Commenter
    Benevolent Commenter says:

    I think the hex crawl aspect fit the spirit of ToA but, in execution, hurt it. As written, it just seemed too large and homogeneous but scaling the hexes down (or character speed up) drastically changes the feel. Monotony has a compounding effect.

  19. Sciver Zero
    Sciver Zero says:

    Too many mechanics need someone to say this.
    I gave a like just for that.

  20. mdiem
    mdiem says:

    I like all these different ideas. I’ve never done old fashioned hex crawls; to me, it’s just another map. Some maps – battles, dungeons, towns – have a square tesselation, others – large cities, regions between cities, trackless wilderness – can use the hexagon tesselation.

    Either way, figure movement rate, planned and random encounters, and go at it. Just like any other tool: don’t overuse it.

  21. Matthew Lyons
    Matthew Lyons says:

    I’ve just started a new hombrew campaign and wasn’t sure how to do travel between towns but this video was extremely useful and insightful.

  22. Daredhnu
    Daredhnu says:

    i can hardly wait for part 2 of this, need moar information on hexcrawls.
    (and you guys’ particular thoughts on it.)

  23. Zane DuFour
    Zane DuFour says:

    This was a really awesome episode guys!

    I’ve got an idea/request for you guys. Could you talk about grappling at some point?

  24. Joseph Tuccillo
    Joseph Tuccillo says:

    Timing on this video was perfect. I am just starting ToA and my players will be doing the hex crawl. I have never run one so we will see how it goes. I do have lots of unique stuff planned for their adventure though.


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