D&D 5E Hexcrawl tips?

WBruce

Explorer
Hi,

I am about to run my first Hexcrawl, not sure I can call it this way though. What I really want to do is a city hexcrawl (and its surroundings). I come here for some ideas on how to properly create a map.
How many hexes? What travel mechanics and time to use?

I have read some amazing online articles about hexcrawls but all of them on the wilderness while charcters travel huge distances. My main concerne is that before I comitt both myself and the players to that, I want to do a test, a small village with some interesting landmarks, encounters and some homebrewed exploration rules, but I don't want it to take more than 3 sessions, and I also don't want it for them to just keep changing hexes and ending everything in one session. I see some recomendation (like in Tomb of Antion) to make one hex/day, but that would not make any sense in a city area. Since I would like to keep all hexes the same size I will just say you travel faster in city hexes just the same as you would travel slower in a swamp hex. My issue is how to cope with that considering the scale needed to keep things balanced when I take the groupoo to a really huge city? Can I use the same scale? Wouldn't that make it too long in a huge city and too fast in a small village? It seems obvious that to explore a small town is faster than a huge city, that is not my point, I am just wondering how should I mesure things. Should I consider every hex a neighbourhood, or should I consider many hexes a neighbourhood, or even completely ignore that and make it comply to the concept of the city and the purpose of the neighborhood in question? I want them to go out, explore the surroundinggs and get back inside, and I don't know how to adjust things so that makes sense mechanically?

Anyone with experience in hexcrawls care to throw me some pointers?
Thanks.

Edit: I realize I may not be as clear as I wish. The rule for 1hex/day would not work for a city scale and:
a) I don't know what rule to use.
b) Can I somehow use the same scale for a region map and a City map? Sure I would have to multiply the number of hexes but I don't know how to cope with both.
c) What I really want to do is implement something similar to an Assassin's Creed game where characters can get a bird's eye view of the city in some areas, but to do that I need to have more hexes so it makes sense to climb up to see things, and that breaks the scale.

Hope I have clarified a bit more.
 
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Quickleaf

Legend
The area you're describing – village & nearby landmarks worth 3 sessions of exploration – can be handled with a "hex flower" (5 hexes across, 6 hexes high), or potentially even a smaller area. Google "hex flower" and you'll see what I mean.

For ex, if you use the "hex flower" that's a central hex (village) plus 18 surrounding hexes. Assuming your party can explore 3 hexes per session (in addition to village play), that means they'll only explore HALF of the hexes. So, for managing the workload on you as GM, you want to find the right balance of Detailed Hexes vs. Vague & Evocative Hexes, and then you make up the difference with your Procedural Generation (random encounter/event tables, weather, discoveries, etc).

For this sort of local area designed for very low-level PCs, you really don't need to make the hexes bigger than 6 miles, so using that "hex flower", nothing is more than a half day's walk (maybe a full day with difficult terrain or if encumbered) from the village. Thus, for easier/closer sites they can leave in the morning, explore, and return to village by nightfall. While for the slightly further/difficult to reach spots, they may need to camp overnight.

There are many travel rates out there. I recommend using something that feels realistic to you. I regularly walk and hike with a light pack, and over a 6 to 10 mile hike I can do about 3 mph on relatively flat ground. I'm healthy. I'm not fast. I maintain a high level of alertness when I hike. So if I was crossing a 6-mile hex of rolling hills, I probably would cross it in 2 hours. If it was rough terrain, however, or I was carrying a really heavy pack, that might be 4 hours or even 6 hours. Whereas if I was riding a fresh horse at a steady clip, I could probably cover it in 1 hour, give or take.

I'm not going to discuss city crawls too much, since that's a more advanced topic and it's not relevant for your current scenario (the village & surrounds). Yes, the map scale will change. No, using a "hex" shape isn't critical. Yes, city districts play a huuuge role. Yes, you need a mix of planned scenarios & procedural generation. Yes, it's way more complex and more work. The Alexandrian has a superb breakdown of ideas for how to do a city crawl – WHEN you're ready for that.
 

aco175

Legend
I never done this, but I would think about having specific locations as their own hex and the rest of the neighborhood as another hex. This way the Inn becomes a focus and you are free to add more places in the rest of the neighborhood as they are needed.

Plan on what specific locations the PCs will be visiting as part of the adventure and make them more developed that the other places. Focus on what you need without developing that much more. Each week you can add more places or NPCs to develop more hexes.
 

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