I’ve spent the past two days working on a test page for the hexmap in the next adventure. Yesterday I drew this up
And after 100 hours in ms.paint, I finished turning it into this an hour ago
If you’ve seen any of my prior projects, you know that most of my art is ms.paint tier. I can’t seem to get above ms.paint tier so I figure I’ll just own the fuck out of it and be really good ms.paint. So there are two aspects to this that I want to talk about. Gameplay design with hexmaps and visual design.
For gameplay, I thought of the idea of “3 paths” at the minimum. This way you can funnel the players into certain paths. Say, from the Inn a player will likely encounter either the caves, the bridge or the paths next. Think of in hypothetical stories what order of events would work best for providing drama. I used 3 “stories” as a way to make sure there’d be a good dramatic order of locations regardless of where players start on the map. You can see this in how the entry to the central swamp is funneled into a few locations. A lot of hexgrids are designed with a kind of realism logic but honestly, if you run it smartly then the realism will come through regardless of how silly the actual map is.
As far as visual design, my first decision was to go with both representational and color based hexes. Representational being pictures of forest or mountains, a style good for black and white hexgrids. Why not both? Color your grid, then add pictures on top of it. I wanted a bit more texture than just solid pastels, to give it a bit more weight. So I got samples out of google image search paintings, then used the textures and made them more dark, less saturated and pastel than in regular hexmaps. I want something weighty and easy on the eyes.
The main advantages of a hexmap are consistency and the individual symbols or color being very distinct. If you have consistency and your hexes are simple, you can get away with a lot more uniqueness than the 5e almost non-functional hex or the “We’re going to use the functional but boring 1981 hexes” style that OSR tends to. My home game uses extremely detailed hexmaps as far as having say, 3 kinds of forest and 5 kinds of swamp all with different effects, but given that this is for a product and the kind of feedback I’ve gotten on /tg/ when showing my home game maps… I wanted to keep it a bit more simple and stick closer to d&d conventions.
Except for that I’m triggered by maps that don’t show direction with rivers. Fuck that. For narrative reasons, I wanted the area around the castle to be marsh with chest high water. It needed something different from a regular swamp gameplay wise. For the extraneous elements, snap them to an invisible grid. There’s invisible lines going up and down from the sides and bottom of the hex upon which all other elements are relating to with their position. Consistency is the key to the grid. Then I just took a fell type font and google image searched some 1600’s-ish border work.
So this is the hexmap. I hope all 3 of you guys like my map. Any feedback or comments are appreciated.