Monday, January 30, 2012

Hex Boards as a Mapping Resource for the Hex Crawl

an Avalon Hill Advanced Squad Leader module box cover
I am experimenting with a few things in creating my hex crawl adventures for Sylvaeon.
The goal is to reuse, abuse and randomize my own material and other source material in the process. I have some ideas that I am milling around with in my experiment with the hex crawl and one of them is the creation of the hex crawl map itself.

This is an attempt to not over-think the creation of Sylvaeon - a trap I have often fallen into before when creating campaigns. I am not saying that my top-down world creation has not been useful and effective. It is one way of doing things and is valid. However, I want most of my current Sylvaeon campaign to grow from the bottom up in true hex crawl fashion.

I have chosen to alter a real world map of things as the overall meta-map, but for the filling in of the individual hexes, I want it to evolve on is own, as much as possible. To this end, I have been toying around with the idea of using old Avalon Hill hex boards that I have salvaged from my Squad Leader/Advanced Squad Leader modules.

I have always been fascinated with hex maps. My earliest experiences with them are from Judges Guild material, the World of Greyhawk and Avalon Hill games. I figure I can use the material I have to avoid creating hexes myself and derive many of them from hex boards, like some of these.

Besides Sylvaeon, Jack Ackerman and I have been talking about doing a shared Asian Fantasy world. The maps from the AH Code of Bushido could be an awesome starting point for me, because they include the type of terrain one would encounter, such as rice fields, jungles, lakes, swamps, etc.

I have other methods of generating hex terrain and such, but why reinvent the wheel if you can make a hex crawl easier? Taking portions of hex board like this, I can use them as-is or replicate them using a mapping program such as Hexographer.

I have seen a renewed interest in hex crawls across gaming blogs and articles recently. I am convinced that 2012 is going to be the Year of the Hex Crawl, in many ways. I am glad I decided to do a hex crawl and wonder at why I chose to do so at the same time as its allure has once again peaked in the OSR. It is certainly as worthy an endeavor as creating a mega-dungeon or running a city, but the hex crawl has slightly different challenges than those.

The PCs are off into the wilderness of Sylvaeon to see what is to be discovered and to find their Wyrd. Maybe I can find my own wyrd as it pertains to creating the hex crawl.


  1. Although I've only played Squad Leader a handful of times, my friend Nick has been collecting everything SQ since we were at school (several decades ago) and whenever I've been round to inspect his latest purchase it's always the maps that wow me the most. I think this is a magnificent idea of yours!

  2. @ Tim:
    Thanks for the thumbs up!
    I remember when you could buy replacement/additional boards from AH for dirt cheap... it is so sad that company had financial troubles during the lull that hit most gaming around 2000 or so :(

    Danken Sie :)
    I am so glad I never tossed them out (which I almost did in at a time when I was unloading many of my possessions)

  3. Nice use of old gaming materials for a different venue!

  4. Thanks Anthony... AH made some great stuff!