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Guide to TTRPG Travel Using Hex Grid


In TTRPG systems like Dungeons and Dragons combat and dungeon exploration are most easily expressed through traditional square gridded maps, but that isn't necessarily the case for overworld travel.


Many tables opt for realistic maps to represent the countries or continents in which the bulk of a campaign takes place. These are amazing for immersion but in addition to such maps I always recommend a map of the campaign area be expressed as a hex-grid, and that this map be made available to all players.


Maps Built in Hexographer

Why Use a Hex Grid Map?


There are many reasons these maps work well for tabletop gaming. A hexagonal shape can better accommodate natural paths of travel across long distances as it adds a natural visual representation of "diagonal" paths. This map will help players plan and understand the length of travel between major locations. This can lead to great moments of tension as players debate more dangerous shortcuts against the safety of a well traveled winding road. It also allows those with favoured environments to visualize and fully utilize those often overlooked skills.


Running travel this way also creates evidence for the necessity of acquiring mounts/vehicles, rations, and camping gear. Many of my own parties have enjoyed the process of improving their shared ship or caravan because of this system.


Hex Grid Built from Handmade and Handprinted Tiles

How to Build a Hex Map?


The grid map in question can be hand drawn (there are even great papers to do it!), created in a software like Hexographer , or can even be built as a physical tile map.

(I've experimented with all three methods in my own games and they've all been very easy to implement!)


When starting the creation of your own grid consider first the scale of each hex. I like to base my hexes on the time it takes to traverse one, with the basis being a large city that would take 6-8 hours to traverse on foot, or a 10 hour traversal total for the hex as we consider that it contains some of the surrounding landscape/outskirts/farmland.


My exception to this is that even if a settlement or notable location is small (1hr or so to traverse) it is still considered for the entire tile in terms of movement as the surrounding area is likely to be maintained for ease of movement.


Once you've determined the scale of each hex it is time to build or replicate your map using said scale. Outside of settlement/location tiles I recommend labeling each tile in colour or iconography denoting what landscape covers the majority of said tile. This will never be perfect but keeping it simple will make using the map easy for players to quickly pick up the rules of using this map.


Finally note any maintained roads overtop of the hex map.


Travel Time Example

Running the Game with your Hex Grid Map:


Now you're ready to use your map in game. I recommend giving each player their own copy of the map for personal reference and providing the rules for travel across the varying hexes. (eg. travel by road is one day on foot, travel through a forest without a road is 2 days) You can follow our guide linked in our resources below or create your own just make sure you keep to this standard once it is set.


Next when calculating travel time we consider four factors for movement: terrain type, mounts, weather, and survival bonuses based on favoured terrain if applicable. Within the guide linked below we have our own recommendations for how these factors should effect travel but building what suits your setting best is also a great idea. As an example we halve most overland planes and forest travel if done on horseback, or we double the travel time when under the effects of significant snowfall.


Movement Methods for Hex Grid Table

Make Your Maps!


However you choose to build your maps we hope you'll share them with us and tell us how they work in your own games. Like calendars hex maps for overworld travel are one of the main additions to ttrpgs that I stand by as a strong addition to any game.


Share your creations with us through posting with @silverdicesociety / #silverdicesociety



 

Resources:



Our PDF Hex Grid TTRPG Travel Guide: https://www.silverdicesociety.com/adventures


Link to Travel With Hex Grids PDF


 


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