Wednesday 28 September 2016

Grim Tales Hexcrawling

This post sums up the streamlined hexcrawling procedures I developed for Grim Tales. This lacks the tables referenced in the rules (except for the master level "Event Table"). I'd like to thank Gavin Norman, whose recent blog posts really inspired me.

Wilderness Actions

The party has 3 actions altogether; 2 for the day and 1 for the night. The following actions are covered by the rules:
  • Move (move to a new hex)
  • Search (look for hidden location)
  • Hunt/Forage (replenish supplies)
  • Camp (rest and recover in the wilds)
  • Explore (interact with a location)
Move: The party leaves the current hex and moves into an adjacent one. On horseback the party may move through an extra hex, except through swamps, mountains, and particularly dense forests. All obvious features and the terrain type of all neighbouring hexes are immediately revealed to them. After resolving the action, roll on the Event Table.

Search: The party sets out and looks for hidden features within the current hex. Immediately roll on the Event Table with a +2 bonus.

Hunt/Forage: The party collectively replenish their supplies from the wilderness. 1d6-2 rations are gained per character (increase die size for particularly skilled characters and decrease it for harsh terrain and weather). After resolving the action, roll on the Event Table.

Camp: The party stops to set up camp. Every member regains 1 HD’s worth of lost hit points, removes 1 point of Fatigue, and consumes 1 unit of rations. Every night the party skips camp they receive 2 points of Fatigue, penalising all their checks by -1 each; this penalty is cumulative. Roll on the Event Table with a -2 penalty.

Explore: The party interacts with a location in a meaningful way. This includes the exploration of adventure sites (i.e. dungeons and lairs), dealing with people and their problems in a settlement, using a facility, etc. After resolving the action, roll on the Event Table.

Note that things that take only a very short amount of time might not qualify as an “action” in this sense, such as dealing with a Hazard or Encounter.

Event Table

D6 Result
2-   Uneventful
3    Weather Changes
4    Encounter
5    Hazard
6+  Location

Uneventful: No unexpected event unfolds.

Weather Changes: Roll on the seasonally appropriate column of the Weather Table to determine the new weather. Assume it doesn’t change until another Weather Changes result.

Encounter: Based on the time of day and the party’s activity generate an Encounter first rolling on the General and then the Specific Encounter Tables to determine what creature is encountered.

Hazard: The party comes across an environmental hazard that test their skills and possibly diminishes their resources.

Location: The party stumbles upon a hidden location within the hex, or a known one if they set out to reach a specific location.


  1. These are compact and usable rules; varied without overcomplicating things. Like.

    One stumbling block that seems to affect these kinds of game procedures, though, is that the results are discrete. If you get a weather change, you don't get an encounter or a location.

    That's why I do an immediate double-check if I get a positive - there may be two things going on at once. Stormy weather *and* dickwolves? Bad news.

    1. Nice point, that makes a lot of sense to me. Great post too!

    2. I used to do separate checks for the different possible results, which made the whole things sluggish at the table (especially if I had to roll on multiple tables to generate results for each outcome), so making it a single roll with discrete results is a design choice (sacrifice?) at this point.

      The doubling on results is a neat idea, and I suppose I could increase the die size and adjust the probabilities (say, D8 and 4- is Uneventful, or D10 and 6- is Uneventful or something like that); with a D6, too many doubles would take place, I think. I might give it a try eventually, but I'm quite stubborn when it comes to parting ways with my simple d6 tables :P

    3. I can sympathise with not breaking the Zen of the simple 1d6 roll. .)

    4. Another way to do it is to increase the number of d6s for random encounters.

      Enter a hex gives your first d6.
      Each action adds another d6.

      So we enter the hex and try to make camp. We roll 2d6 and get 3 and 5; the weather changes andwe stumble upon a hazard. "While looking for a good clearing the sky opens up and rain is peeling down. We push through the thick underbrush, hoping to find space to spread the tent when Thumus slipped down a rocky ravine...."

  2. Q:when it says "-2 penalty on the event table," that means add 2, right? otherwise things would get easier as they didn't sleep.

    1. -2 looks perfect to me. They can´t get the "hazard" or "location" results, which makes sense since they´re not moving around, but the odds for any other thing occurring remains the same.

    2. I think you get the -2 on the event table, when you are resting not, when you are exhausted.
      But it is a little unclear.

    3. Sorry for the delayed response; the intention, as Anders Nordberg points out, is to avoid Hazard and Location results (because without movement, it makes little sense bumping into those). I should probably move that sentence right after discussing the costs of camping to make it clear it has nothing to do with Fatigue.

  3. These are good! Have you changed anything since?