Evolving Hex Crawls: My New Approach Where Sandbox Meets Hex Crawl


You know how my preferred campaign design approach is Sandbox meets Crawling meets Adventure Path? I wrote on that recently here.

Well, over the weekend I tweaked it a bit. On the surface, it’s just wordplay. But to me, it’s an exciting change in how I do things behind the screen.

First let’s review. My Basilica has three campaign parts:

Sandbox

I’ve carved out a region in my world of Duskfall that serves as the player characters’ home base. It’s called The Barony, and players have started forming bonds with it.

While campaign play might pour over into other areas of Duskfall or the greater universe, we’re focusing gameplay in this region for now, dealing with different kingdom events, treasure opportunities, and conflicts currently boiling up within its borders.

Hexcrawl

We haven’t explored much of this yet, pun intended. There was an initial caravan duty mission that saw the party traverse the Barony from east to west. And I’ve dropped hooks to certain adventure sites. But otherwise, the map still is 80% blanks or Fog of War to the players.

These blanks are also unknown to me. When players enter such a hex, I’ll roll for terrain, features, and denizens.

Adventure Path

Last session, the players learned the BBEG, Hadrack, has designs on becoming Pope of The Barony’s official religion, which is called Pantheon.

Hadrack is currently leader of the most powerful faction in The Temple of Elemental Evil, or Basilica as it’s known to locals.

My current plotline is for Hadrack to attempt to become the most powerful person in The Barony and eventually make The Baron his puppet, thus control of the land.

His ambitions do not stop there though, but that’s a chat for another time.

Hex Crawl is Dead: Long Live the Hex Crawl!

The insight I had last weekend was to combine sandbox and hex crawl into something I’m calling SandCrawl.

Wordplay, yes. But behind the scenes I’m hooking my Treasure Table, Loopy Planning, and Wandering Encounters to be more deeply integrated.

Instead of pure random hex generation as PCs trek into the wilderness, I’m integrating more plot hooks and other tools in my GM Toolbox to make the sandbox experience more compelling.

A common complaint with sandboxes is lack of player motivations to explore. A Treasure Crawl is one solution. But such hooks also need to appeal at a deeper level with many players who want a stronger narrative.

In addition, as GM I want relationships and connections between my world building, plotting, and characters.

Thus SandCrawl was born.

It fuses plot with exploration. It gives players even more reasons to get out there, hazard the wilds, and make discoveries. And it helps me as GM connect my Laws, Legends, and Lore into something that’s still almost no-prep and randomly generated.

I’ll keep you in the loop on how it works out in my Basilica campaign. But I’m excited to update my prep with SandCrawls so that gameplay will connect player motives even better with my sandbox, hex crawl, and adventure path!

Cheers,
Johnn
roleplayingtips.com
https://discord.gg/6MxTRAqQ76
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