So I’m learning a lot about hex crawls lately. Coincidentally, this month’s Unearthed Arcana has some info about exploration which I will be incorporating into my upcoming sessions. You can read it here, it’s well worth it.
My PCs are currently pursuing the disgraced pit fiend General Gorthoklek, who was declared an enemy of the state in the demon worshiping nation of Cheliax. They traveled along the river, catching sight of the ancient green dragon Athervox, and met up with their imp friend Xippa (who is the devil equivalent of a sugar fueled toddler). Xippa let them know that Gorthoklek was somewhere north of the river, which is a pretty big exploration area. Unfortunately it’s now the dead of winter, so they are forced to march through the wilderness looking for Gorthoklek.
Luckily there was the opening of a new play in town (a riveting performance of Asmodeus and the Princess) and at the after-party the PCs managed to find themselves a guide. But before they began exploring the fiend-infested forest, they decided to go on a tangent and kill a bunch of bandits for no reason. Oh well. Maybe next session we’ll get started.
Crawling through the Forest
I like the idea of using 6 mile hexes for the math to work out nicely, so we’re going to do that. I’m also going to take a bunch of inspiration from these two sites, the Steamtunnel blog as well as The Alexandrian. I’ve made a hex map of the forest with points of interest and some basic topography. My players are currently at Senara, the star on the right hand side. From Senara to the far left of the forest is about 110 miles, and top to bottom between the two widest points is about 100 miles.
For visibility of neighboring hexes, we are going to use this chart (height versus horizon) as a guideline, mostly. The PCs are in dense
forest and it is the middle of winter, so we will frame it that way. I’m going to work on some encounter charts and other elements for the exploration like weather. My PCs will need to be prepared to trudge through the frozen woods for (potentially) weeks on end with no nearby civilization. They’ll need to plan their resources carefully.
This will be stamina mode instead of strength mode here, and it might take a few sessions to get through things. There will likely be a bunch of small encounters rather than one big one, and there will be more places that you “could” visit than might be possible (or reasonable). The ultimate goal is to find Gorthoklek, and bring him back to Egorian (the capital city) by whatever means possible. Asking nicely might not work, so I’ve encouraged my players to work on a backup plan.
The motif is ancient forest filled with demons, devils, and other dark creatures. That gives me a bunch of ideas. It’s a big forest, you never know what might be living in it!