Building The Hex Key

Having been inspired to draw a small hex map to facilitate my new world of Hiraeth becoming an Open Table hexcrawl/dungeoncrawl game, I now need to focus on getting the damn thing keyed up. With a 10 x 10 initial map, that’s 100 hexes of content…

Here’s what I did first:

  1. Put the “Starting Town” (actually a village) in the middle hex.
  2. Added a Megadungeon to the map – I picked an appropriate hex and slapped the dungeon entrance in next.
  3. Made a list of cool ideas that immediately popped into my head and slapped them each into a different hex.

To be fair, the map was designed with the Megadungeon in mind and I made sure there was appropriate terrain on the map to accommodate it. I also hard-coded (with a symbol) the starting location in the middle.

From there, my plan is to do the following:

  • Come up with a list of cool things I wish I’d put in my classic fantasy games and haven’t got around to yet. Key each idea to a hex on the map.
  • Add some lost barrows to the map – I like barrows. Might steal maps from Barrowmaze, now I think of it.
  • Drag out some other favourite dungeon modules, or just cool maps, and throw them on.
  • Dig out the classic “Book of Lairs” and add some I fancy the look of to the key.
  • Roll some random monsters from the appropriate terrain random encounter tables and key those as lairs.
  • Leave time for my brain to throw up new suggestions… and key the cool ideas in.

For every cool idea, I’ll probably discard a bunch of less cool ideas but that’s ok. I have learned that for good ideas to feel good and get to the table, I need to be open to generating a whole bunch of bad ideas. That’s the creative process, as far as I can tell: you come up with stuff and try to spot the good bits.

Once I’ve got a load of stuff on the map, I can start thinking up clues for each of those things. Given the ideal of the Three-Clue Rule, I am aiming to have a rumour (for the rumour table), a clue (like a map, note, object, whatever) I can place in another location, and a piece of lore for adventurers to discover or gather from NPCs. With a rich cloud of clues, there should be plenty of hooks for players to grab and go explore.

To round it all off and get the Open Table campaign rolling, I am also going to come up with at least three starting patrons or “quest givers” who can offer a treasure-seeking incentive to nudge newer players out into the world. Three choices is a nice starting point. My hope is that, once they start exploring and gathering other clues, the PCs will generate a sense of their own interests once play begins.

And that’s a whole bunch of content, so I know I am going to need a good tiny habit to keep myself rolling once my initial burst of excitement runs out. So, after I write my evening blog post here I am aiming to add just one more thing to the Hex Key until we get to 100 entries.

Game on!


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