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Hexcrawl Encounters: The Rough Draft

While I intended to have a nice graphic pdf to put up here today, instead, I am going to keep toying around with wording and graphics and instead post up the text version of my system. This seems rather clunky as text, but once I get off my butt and redo my DM’ing program, I imagine this will be a really quick and dirty generator for all your hex-crawling needs. I made my previously written encounters using this system.

Roll 6d6 for each day. Each pair rolled is an encounter.

1: Morning 2: Late Morning 3: Afternoon 4: Late Afternoon 5: Evening 6: Late Evening

For each encounter, it will be one of the dungeon room types 1d20.

1-8 Empty 9-12 Monster 13-16 Monster + Treasure 17-18 Special 19 Trick 20 Treasure

Each ‘room’ has a 1 in 6 chance of being trapped and of causing the party to get lost.

All rooms will have a number of descriptors for their Locale and their Keywords. Roll randomly for each for a number of them equal to d6/2 +1 rounded down, reroll any repeats.

Locale 1d12: 1 Dry, 2 Wet, 3 Lush, 4 Sparse, 5 Smooth, 6 Rough,

7 Settled, 8 Rugged, 9 Impasse, 10 Passage, 11 Strange, 12 Out of Place.

The Locale is used to describe the lay of the land, as well as the key aspects of the encounter tactically.These are all meant to be vague and relative to the current terrain, allowing them to fit any terrain type the players are currently in when they land upon the encounter. Use to flavor and outline an encounter, but don’t let it hamstring a good idea.


Keyword 1d12: 1 Dead, 2 Animals, 3 Humans, 4 Remains, 5 Blockage, 6 Structure,

7 Peace, 8 Violence, 9 Resource, 10 Trash, 11 Shortcut, 12 Life


Keywords are used to frame out an encounters major elements or themes. These can be as literal or figurative as you want. I find creativity comes quickest within a set of limited confines, where the brain can make (sometimes circuitous) connections and create a scene.

Empty is just those two, a set of keywords and locale descriptors. Empty encounters are not truly barren, but exists as the filler between fighting, looting, or dealing with trickery. Their details can help influence the feeling of an area, flesh out the world, relay useful information, and above all serve the DM by giving them the plausible deniability to make their tricks less obvious. If players only got descriptions of the heat and stonework of the room when there was a trap, they’ll quickly learn your tells and lose agency in avoiding traps.

Monster also gets an Pathology, Rarity, Type, and Attitude. Monster encounters are not always fighting, but fighting should always be a solution to the encounter (although it might not necessarily be the best solution). As the encounters are often a number of hours apart, giving the players time to rest and mend, I tend to push them towards the more difficult end of the scale the party can handle. I rationalize this in a few ways. The types of creatures that would engage the party are going to be at least confident of a victory or crazy enough to be dangerous to superior foes. Also, the things that would be able to survive as ‘lone encounters’ are going to be the tougher sort able to make it without support like a network of dungeon occupants might. Lastly, it makes things more interesting for the players. I leave a niggling of fear that other wandering monsters can show up while the party rests so they can never be sure of a strategy of spending all their daily resources on the first encounter and then resting before resuming travel.

Pathology 1d6: 1 Stalking, 2-3 Tracks, 4 Remains, 5-6 Lair

The monster’s Pathology is how the party encounters the monster. Stalking could mean the monster following them finally shows itself, or maybe that it begins its tracking of the group. The tracks and remains can be investigated to find the creature or its lair, while the lair may or may not have the creature inside.

Rarity 1d6: 1-3 Common, 4-5 Uncommon, 6 Rare

The Rarity of the monster is relative to its type and the location but can also mean special abilities, deviations from normal, or partnerships with other monster types.

Type 2d6: 2 Construct, 3 Magical, 4 Demi Humanoid, 5 Monstrous Humanoid, 6 Humanoid, 7 Beast, 8 Vermin/Ooze, 9 Magical Beast, 10 Undead, 11 Aberration, 12 Outsider.

Type determines what sort of monster is going to be in this encounter. I prefer the encounter generator to stay this generic to leave me as unconstrained as possible while giving limits to get around writer’s block. If you want this down to the monster, replace the rarity and type rolls with whatever monster generation you prefer.

Attitude 1d6: 1 Frenzied, 2 Hostile, 3 Defensive, 4 Indifferent, 5 Neutral, 6 Friendly

Attitude gives an initial impression of the creature. Frenzied and hostile include a number of attitudes of creatures that will attack on sight, most creatures of this type are going to maneuver for advantage before engaging. Defensive creatures should have some line they do not want crossed and will become hostile if it is. Depending on the encounter or the player’s actions, such defensive creatures may already be hostile. Indifferent and Neutral creatures are interested in the party, and may attack or parley depending on their goals. A soldier or guard might be neutral, but cannot let the players pass through so they could make arguments to not let the party through. The difference between these and defensive are that they might have other, hidden goals that can be appealed to. A friendly creature is going to be receptive to the players, and most likely has goals aligned with theirs, but can still be made hostile or attacked if the players disagree with other aspects of the creature’s intent. A lich might be friendly and looking to recruit the party wizard, but if rebuffed enough times could seek less consent-required methods of gaining his new apprentice, intending to leave at least the wizard alive along with any creatures that retreat.

Special encounters are the unique, rare, or weird encounters. Everything from encounters with demi-gods, merchants, weird magic, or breathtaking environs might fall into this category. They are like empty encounters in terms of how they are rolled up with this system, but unlike empty encounters they should have an active component for the players to interact with. This is an excellent place to insert setpiece encounters, encounters that advance the plot, or are tied to the party’s connection to the world.

Trick encounters are an encounter that relies on the players interacting with it. Most often, these tricks are going to be bad, but occasionally they can be a boon to the players (just enough to encourage curiosity, but then punish the players for it). They are made up of a Trigger, a Severity, and a Target.

Trigger: 1 Consume, 2 Give, 3 Activate, 4 Disrupt, 5 Linger, 6 Ignore

A Trigger is the action that must be taken to set off the trick. Unlike traps, these must usually be conscious actions. The linger trigger especially only occurs after the players are made aware of the magic, machinery, or other source of the effect.

Severity: 1 Great Harm, 2 Harm, 3 Minor Harm, 4 Even Trade, 5 Minor Boon, 6 Boon

Severity determines what strength the effect has and in what direction the trick affects the triggering party or individual. An even trade effect either imposes some penalty while granting a boon or exacting a price for the boon it offers.

Target 1d12: 1 Health, 2 Physical Abilities, 3 Mind/Self, 4 Mental Abilities, 5 Wealth, 6 Equipment, 7 Experience, 8 Knowledge, 9 Connections, 10 Appearances, 11 Karma, 12 Luck.  

Target is the locus of the boon or harm the trick will impose. I intended for these broad swathes of targets to cover every aspect of things an adventurer could value. Hopefully by leaving them vague, it can inspire unique boons and curses while staying open to any system or rules set.

Traps, on a 6, need another d6 roll to determine what type of trap or if they are false trap signs.

Trap 1d6: 1 Hazard, 2 Weather, 3 Trap, 4-6 False signs.

Hazards use the encounter keywords, locale, and terrain to generate a suitable problem related to their Elements and Lethality. Hazards are intended to act less like pit traps and more as dangerous environmental effects for whatever hex they show up in. This is supposed to be like a overly heated dungeon room or a room with lingering spores. Hazards extract a cost for those that choose to continue in hazardous hexes. Proper traps (in the style of dungeon pitfalls or blades) use a Trigger, a Damage Type, and a Lethality. Traps fuel paranoia by punishing the unwary. Weather takes the encounter terrain type along with its Element and a Duration. Weather is a long lasting cost to travel, visibility, and flavors the environment. Every trap, hazard, and initiation of weather is given a number of clues associated with them when I introduce an encounter. Players can take time to investigate them, at a cost of time, with the benefit of avoiding the trap or hazard. Discovering weather clues delays the onset of the weather by an hour or two, as if they got some advanced warning about upcoming weather instead of being surprised. False signs are the method of adding a cost to investigating, as not every hint is real. They, along with their true counterparts, are simply descriptors that are related to the trouble, like a cold draft, a sulphurous smell, or black smudge on the ground.

Element 1d6: 1 Precipitation, 2 Wind, 3 Heat, 4 Cold, 5 Dry, 6 Toxins

Lethality 1d6: 1 is minimal while a 6 is party killing in strength.

Damage Type 1d6: 1 Slashing, 2 Piercing, 3 Bludgeoning, 4 Fire, 5 Poison, 6 Magic

Duration 1d6: The weather lasts for this many encounters. Each encounter during this duration, it has a 1-in-6 chance of getting worse. Each encounter after, the weather has a 3-in-6 chance of calming down.

Lost checks require another d6 roll like Traps, to decide between false signs and actually getting lost. The severity of the 1-3 results are modified by any modifiers that make it easier or harder for the players to get lost, such as having a map, navigating, or visibility-reducing weather. If the players do not investigate the warning signs, they must make a save or become lost. This results in them losing a the How Lost number of hours, with a critical failure on the save leaving them that far away in a random direction.

Lost 1d6: 1-3 How Lost, 4-6 False signs

Lots of little moving fiddly bits that will get hidden away behind a bland GUI (eventually). Stay tuned for a clever PDF with everything neatly tied together. I imagine it will look something like a flowchart.

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