Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hex Crawling with Tessellation

The standard method of hexcrawling uses a straight forward method of description or location that has a hex and an description of contents of the hex. With a hex covering a relatively small area or trravel being quick this method is perfectly reasonable and gets the job done. With events happening at walking speed, possibly with exploration as the goal, and hexes many miles across the hexes start feeling a bit empty. Just where is that cave in hex #2314? Will everyone walking into the hex find it  or does it take some searching?

One way to do this is to assign a discovery chance, I do this often myself exmple:
Hex 1407.  Forested Hills. 
Strige Cavern, occupied by a flock of  Stirge . Stirges have a 75% chance of attacking anyone that camps in hex each night. There is a 2 in 6 chance the cave can be discovered if searched for.

The above works fine if folks stay to camp but what if the party is just walking through, will they ever see the stirge cave if the hex is more than a mile across? Not likely.

One way to resolve this situation is to zoom in and subdivide the hex into sub hexes. Bur this is a lot of work if you don't have multiple subhexes in most of the hexes in your wiulderness. One way to define locations with greater accuracy is to tesselate the hex. Break it in to six triangles.

Place an encounter into one of the six sub-triangles even on the map or simply by indication in the notes.
Now the encounter example above could look like this:
Hex 1407.  Forested Hills. 
Strige Cavern (5), occupied by a flock of  Stirge . Stirges have a 75% chance of attacking anyone that camps in hex each night. There is a 4 in 6 chance the cave can be discovered if searched for in SW.

Not a huge difference, just the identification of the area/wedge where the cave is located and the notation of the wedge where the cave is located and the odds of finding it with a more detailed search. The minor shift in notation adds a lot more detailed information.

As said above one could keep track of location within the hex simply by notation. It could also be added graphically on any hex map large enough to accommodate the notation. Here's a hex tesselated hex sheet if anyone want to draw features into a map precisely for their own use.

Click for full image.


  1. The interesting part is I was thinking about this a few days ago.
    It seems this seems to be a good way to handle "sub-hexes" in a way all of them are the same as the "main hex".
    So you have a main forest hex with, let's say, 5-mile radius and everything inside it is forest. You can have 19 (iirc) 1-mile hexes inside, or you can have 6 triangles with 3.5 sq. mile area inside (again, if my math if good without using calculators).
    This is just a matter of scale really, but I tend to like it.
    How do you intend to use this? The party will have to tell you if they are searching a specific region of the hex? When crossing the hex there's a 1-in-6 chance of finding something there (in your Stirge example, just crossing the hex could grant a d6 roll and, if a 5 is rolled, they find traces of the cavern)?

    1. when searching a hex a party would declare which sectors they were actively searching Northern, NorthEast, SouthEast, and such. Finding the specific feature would be more likely on such an active search instead of simply stumbling upon it. Stumbling on it would require a path that crossed the sector and a die roll or not depending on how I was running the campaign.

      Also: I'd have time spent searching a sector equal to half the time that would normally be spent crossing a hex so searching an entire hex would use up as much time/movement as crossing 3 hexes.

    2. Ok, that's a great way to handle this. Thanks for the explanation.

      Have you tried on your gaming table? A playtest is always the final judge on these matters. :-)

    3. I have some in notation but recent campaign was dungeon-centric so a lot of my outdoors methodology is still waiting for heavier use.( I just realized I never posted some of my older split hex maps, now I need to go look for those.)
      I did use a triangle sheet a ways back and liked it more than hexes for tracking movement but it was a pain to write coordinates on, by lumping the triangle together inside the hexes it should provide an easier way to track things.

    4. I'm really inclined to use the tessellated hex as my approach from now on. At least I'll try to recreate one of the regions of the campaign using it instead worrying about sub-hexes (while I love the detail of sub hexes, they take too much space).

      However, in order to use it properly, I'll need to create 6 triangle icons for each "special info" (lair, temple, village, and so on) I want included there (one for each position). It may me a waste of time of a huge time saver in the end.