Hexcrawl design notes

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Worldbuilding principles

This is how I prefer to hexcrawl.

The world is the world

If there are giants in the hills, it's because there are giants in the hills. It's not because you've reached a level where giants are an appropriate challenge, or that the giants will somehow be scaled to suit low-level characters.


Good information design is the difference between a campaign setting I want to run and one I'll read but take no further.

The Two Things Rule

I can usually remember two things about a given fantasy setting widget, and in my experience this is about right for many other folks, too. Ideally, the "meat" of any hex should be briefly described in terms of the two most memorable things about it. (More important hexes might need more than two things, and of course long-form nation write-ups and the like needn't follow this template.)

Bullet points

Bullet points make scanning pages simpler. Slowing down to parse large chunks of text sucks. This is sort of a corollary to the Two Things Rule: two things, and use bullet points.

Whistwood (hex 0103)

  • Thanks to inbreeding, everyone in the village of Whistwood is horrifyingly ugly.
  • They will do anything in their power to marry off a villager to one of the PCs.

No boxed text

Boxed text is terrible information design, and it stifles creativity. It's the refuge of the hidebound and I loathe it with a burning passion. Bleakstone will not include any boxed ("read-aloud") text.

Anything not useful at the table is a waste of time

If it's not intended to see the light of day at the gaming table, don't write it down. I have no objection to the lonely fun of detailed worldbuilding, but in a setting book designed to be used in play that stuff tends to be blather 99% of the time.