Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hexcrawl: Abasinia

Well, my Tuesday group and I have finally played enough sessions in Abasinia that it has started to feel like I need to do a proper hex map for it.

This will be my third hex map (after Revanwall and the Frogstar Peninsula).

The Eastern 2/3 of Abasinia

It's also my biggest.  41 x 27 hexes.  Fortunately, I don't have to fill all of that in.  About 2/3 of the map is water (the Sea of Camels) and I have no intention of starting to work on the Brimstone Waste (in the NW corner).

I also want to write up unique stuff for about half of the land hexes.  For the other half, I'll just rely on a random encounter generator or something.  ("You see . . . 2d6 genies and they are here . . . robbing . . . a master thief.")

So that's still going to be about 200 entries, which sounds brutal, but pretty doable.  Especially since I have become more comfortable with putting things on the map that are just interesting scenery--nothing more.  (When I first started DMing, that kind of mechanically empty space was anathema.)

I thought about doing this one as a point-crawl, but ultimately decided against it.  I'm still obsessing (perhaps foolishly) over the idea that I can make travel just as interesting and meaningful as a Point of Interest.  I still think I can pack a map with a million small, interesting things, so that a player knows that there is adventure in every direction and they can never, ever run out.

I'm looking forward to writing up all the little islands on the edge of the Sea of Fish.  That'll be fun.  (Is one of the islands a zaratan-lich that breaths shark zombies?  Maybe.)

I like the idea of hugging the coastline on a boat when you want to sail conservatively, and striking out across open water when you're feeling plucky.  Coast-hugging should give bonuses some sailing checks, make navigation automatic, and allow easier survival from a shipwreck.

It feels like madness, trying to apply six-mile hexes to a continent the size of Mexico.  What's more, I want each area to be a complete adventure setting.  There should be enough cool things in each zone that each group of players would be satisfied playing 50 sessions there.  How many zones do I have?  Like 30?  That's 1500 sessions worth of content, or 3000 sessions if we want to create twice as much content as players will ever explore.  (And can andyone really write that much unique shit?)  Which is crazy, really.

And I want to have all of my hex maps connect, so you could hex crawl all 1000 miles across Centerra if you were so inclined.  Is there a word for that?  Mega-hexcrawl?

I want this map to have at least half a dozen dungeons of various sizes.  I have 8 settlements on the map now, but I'll probably trim that down to 6 as I start consolidated concepts and hooks.  Fewer settlements = bigger, more interesting settlements.  It also means more wilderness, which I like.

And the strangest thing is that it doesn't feel daunting.  I have a pile of loose ideas and themes for Abasinia.  All I have to do is weave all of that stuff around my current adventuring party.  Just prep one week at a time.  Sketch the distant things while detailing next sessions.

Taken in this way, it helps me write a hexcrawl organically and naturally.  I'm doing the same thing with Revanwall, in my Sunday game, and it doesn't feel like work.  It doesn't feel overwhelming.  Between two active D&D groups forcing me to develop an area, and my blog where I can post whatever I feel like, I feel like I'm detailing Centerra at a satisfactory pace.

Hopefully, the players won't decide to sail for Charcorra or the Land of Flowers in the east.  Or, god forbid, Valdina in the west.  (I haven't written anything down about Valdina yet except that it's a land-based sahuagin city.)

But, give me a week, and I bet I could.

Abasinia is all that yellow shit near the top.

Slave-trading hub.  Muddy coliseum.

1307 The Burning City
Former capitol of Abasinia.  Was smote by clerics of the Church prior to Abasinia's conversion.  Now it burns eternally, fire sputtering up through the flagstones, etc.  Full of trapped genies.

Town is a major tea producer.  Contains the sacred tea house.  Currently under attack by 2d4 ankheg, Tremors-style.

1605 West Ascent to White Plateau
Rumors about the White Plateau: The people there are wizards who deal in spiders and rubies.  They hate outsiders.  They will shred your dreams and poison your gold, but they do have the ability to regrow missing limbs.  (This place is sort of based on the Plateau of Leng, but it's safe to say that because I know next to nothing about the Platea of Leng.)

1607 Tiny Pyramid
This pyramid sticks out of the sand about 3'.  If the sand is excavated, the pyramid extends down several feet, revealing a much larger, buried pyramid.

1608 Abandoned Wagon
Area around wagon is studded with sand sculptures in rough humanoid forms.  Prone, fetal position, etc.  A bit like Pompeii.  They are being eroded by wind, and will soon be undifferentiated piles of sand.

1609 Monkey Oasis
Hiding in the water of the oasis is a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing.  It puppets corpses by sticking tentacles up their asses.  Currently has 4 monkeys and a merchant.


  1. Now I have the picture of high school bully djinns harassing a nerdy thief in my head...
    So, thanks! ;)

  2. Love the ambition. This could be great for a collaborative project too, with one person designing individual hexes. That'd be a Kickstarter worthy project IMO.