Saturday, March 20, 2021

How to Hexcrawl

This information can be found in video form here. The video goes into more depth with more examples and visuals.


You will need:

  • A one-inch three-ring binder
  • Clear plastic insert sheets
  • Graph paper, about 4sq/in.
  • Some hex graph paper (available for free online, around 15 hexes by 18 hexes is fine for your first map)*
  • Colored pencils
  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Wet-erase marker

 An invaluable resource is Judges' Guild's 1977 "Wilderlands of High Fantasy" but it is not strictly necessary.


    1. Set up a calendar section in your binder. On one page, list six months with space in between them (can put six months on the back as well for a full year). Write down future events as necessary. On the next page, list the month at the top and write down the days going vertically, as well as a column for weather and a column for weekdays. Generate weather using your preferred method beforehand. Next to the days, note any upcoming events. Check days off as they pass.

     2. Have some tables to generate hex features on the fly. "Wilderlands of High Fantasy" has some fantastic tables for this, but you can also make your own or pull them from blogs. I use a broad table to determine if a feature is natural, manmade, or magical in nature, and sub-tables to determine the feature itself (e.g. a hollow tree, a ruins, a fairy ring)

    3. One two-page "spread" should be composed of your hexmap and its key. The spread before that can be your random encounter tables (X57 and X58 in Moldvay Expert, or your own).

    4. Use colored pencils to make terrain on your hexmap, and a pen with black ink to show rivers. Dashed lines are roads, and dotted lines are trails (or whatever makes sense to you). Six miles per hex is the standard we will be using.

    5. Put numbers in your hexes for features, and write the associated feature on your key in a numbered list.

    6. If a feature requires more description (including a map), insert a page after your key, write the number of the feature on it, and describe the hex. In this way you may insert hexes as they are fleshed out, which is why a three-ring is superior than a marble notebook.

    7. Create a rumor table regarding the features on your hexmap.


  • The players have "movement points" equal to their miles per day divided by how many miles each hex is. E.g.: 18mi/day movement and 6mi hexes = 3 movement points.
  • Each hex costs a number of movement points to move INTO.
    • Clear terrain (plains, farmland) = 1 point
    • Rough terrain (forest, hills) = 2 points
    • Very rough terrain (swamp, mountains) = 3 points
  • ONE point may "roll over" to the next day (if players end the day with one movement point left over, they have one additional movement point to use the next day)


  1. Describe the players' surroundings (features in the hex and the terrain of the surrounding hexes)
  2. Players decide on a direction
  3. Check for lost chance (d12):
    1. Veer 60 degrees clockwise
    2. Veer 60 degrees counter-clockwise
    3. Veer 120 degrees clockwise (only in rough and very rough)
    4. Veer 120 degrees counter-clockwise (only in rough and very rough)
    5. Move backwards 1 hex (only in very rough)
    6. Lose a day of travel (only in very rough)
    7. - 12. No change.
  4.  Check for encounters
    • X-in-6: 1 for clear, 2 for rough, 3 for very rough
    • Check encounter time: morning (hex they start in), noon (halfway through their movement points), evening (hex they end in), night (hex they end in, spellcasters cannot prepare spells the next day).
    • Check "% in Lair", if Lair, generate Lair and add to key
  5. Moving into a featureless hex = 1-in-20 chance to generate a feature
  6. Describe surroundings again and continue to move players until movement points are exhausted, then begin a new day (check off a day on your calendar). ONLY CHECK FOR LOST/ENCOUNTERS PER DAY, NOT PER MOVE
  • Track movement using wet-erase marker on plastic sleeve
  • Eschew lost chance if navigating using rivers to navigate or terrain is familiar
  • Remember that combat scale is in yards, not feet, in the wilderness
  • Check for follower morale if extremely demoralizing things happen. Failing by a great margin might result in mutiny.


    Players may spend movement points to have an X-in-Y chance of finding a feature, where X is movement points spent and Y is 6 for clear terrain, 8 for rough terrain, and 10 for very rough terrain. Hunting may be done in the same way, with 6/8/10 being for teeming with wildlife / normal / sparsely populated rather than terrain roughness. If found, generate a feature perhaps with some treasure and add it to the key. Some features may be pre-generated and decided to be hidden and keyed on the map. These features should generally have rumors leading to them, and some reward for finding them.


*NB this is about one-sixth of the size of the original Outdoor Survival map, about 45x36 hexes.


  1. Look who's back! Nice to see this one man. Bone-stock guidelines for the busy DM on the go.

    I reinstalled DF the other day, and I am having a hell of a time. I promised I wouldn't play much until my next exam is done, or I might fail...

    1. Thanks! Yeah, DF has been sucking me in too, but I kept losing fortresses to the Civil War bug. Unlucky!


How to Hexcrawl

This information can be found in video form here. The video goes into more depth with more examples and visuals. PREPARATION You will need:...