Thursday, June 22, 2017

Hexcrawling a City, an early look

One thing I've been slowly working on for the last year is another fantasy sandbox campaign.  My prior one was generally map-based, although a city featured prominently in it.  As time went by, it lost a lot of its "sandbox" quality and became more directed on my part.  In the process, I think it lost something.

So, after being away from fantasy for a solid year, it's time to get back to it.  I spent some of that last year thinking about cities.   Some fantasy RPG treat cities on a very detailed level, with maps of streets, etc.  But while that's fun "map porn" for GM's, how often would the players actually be seeing or using a map like that?  And how long would it take for them to just accrue that knowledge by exploring the city.  I've lived in my current city seven years, with a car, and I don't know how all the cities line up.  What I know are areas, neighborhoods, etc. some intimately, others not so much.  And if I was going to a new city, I would get to know it on a fairly abstract level at first as well.

All of which is the long way of my saying that I'm experimenting with the idea of creating a "city hexcrawl."  Unlike a wilderness hexcrawl, the hexes aren't necessarily exact discrete units of distance but represent distinct regions of the city: e.g. "Common temples" or "The Wizard's College."  You'll have to go through certain parts of town to get to others, but I'll understand that while the actually pathways are abstracted,  the time to travel will be a pretty standard rate (with the understanding that hexes that represent larger areas, like the Artisan's Market, will be easier to traverse than The Guardhouse.

So my yet-unnamed city has 22 hexes (that the PC's can knowingly identify) in a city that is stratified by class.  Areas 1-13 are the lower class. common areas.  Areas 14-19 are the artisan class where professionals, lesser nobles, and other specialists reside.  Areas 20-22 are the section for the elite, including the castle in Hex 22.

Movement is not free from region to region.  Low-level PC's will likely not be allowed into the upper two regions unless accompanying some patron.  That will mean that sections of the city will remain a mystery to the PC's as the campaign evolves.  The blue lines represent the walls, interior and exterior, that block off the sections of the city.

Each hex will have its own "character," its own style, with random or established encounters, NPC's, etc. for each of them.  Since whole sections are blocked off, I don't need to do the whole area at once; just the first 13 hexes, really.  Plus there's the possibility of areas outside, or under, the city as well.

That's the current state of my project.  Thoughts are welcome.


  1. One of these days you, and I will have to have a long conversation about hexcrawls.

    I seriously can't even imagine how they work. I can't picture the game in which they're used.

    Does a hex represent an area? How much of an area? How do long does it takes to go from one hex to the other? Is a hex an encounter? It boggles my mind!

    I'm interested in following this if only to see how the other half lives. Game On!

  2. Looking good so far! Don't forget that you could also work in 3 dimensions if you wanted to, having a dungeon area in the castle or multi-story buildings/towers in the rich district.


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