Monday, March 21, 2022

Hexcrawl Dashboards

[Voiceover] You're just a GM who wants to run a hexcrawl! But has THIS happened to YOU?!

...You have the module open!

...And the map!

...And the random encounter tables!

...And a virtual dice roller!

...And the monster manual!

...And your notes!

Soon, there's so many windows open that you don't know which is which! There's GOT to be a BETTER WAY!

Introducing! The...

Hexcrawl Dashboard

I've put together a proof of concept for something I've been calling the Hexcrawl Dashboard: a patchwork of iFramed tools cobbled together onto a single site for ease of GM access. The gimmick is that you have a single page for your map, your encounters, your random encounters, your dungeons, your monster's stats - anything you need to reference during play.

Click the image to check out the sample Hexcrawl Dashboard

For this example, I have created a map of the Trollshaws of Middle-earth. There are forty keyed hex sites. Some sites have links to One-Page Dungeons. There are hundreds of random encounters

This site is written in a system neutral format. 

The content is borrowed from many sources (see below) but has been curated by yours truly to provide that *chef's kiss* Tolkien experience. 

For my machine's resolution, the site is best viewed at like 200%. If I was a better designer or wanted to spend more time on this, I could probably tweak it - but I'd argue that speed and efficiency are more important to a GM prepping a campaign and this is pretty easy to set up.

How did you make this?

This sample site is made up of a few different tools:

  • The website is just a simple Google Site. Everything is just iFramed into it.
  • The hexmap image was stolen  borrowed from a MERP book. I overlaid a basic hex pattern over it and added the numbers manually in an image editing program. 
  • I used to place clickable hex descriptions onto each hex. 
    • Note: Interacty is free for people who list their purpose as educational but otherwise requires a fee. 
    • Note: Interacty limits the number of clickable icons to 40 per image. 
  • I used to create a nested overloaded encounter table. I talk about my process for making a random table here (including the robust sources I drew from). 
    • Each time an encounter is rolled, it is marked off of the list. Your generator won't give you that result again until you refresh the page.
  • The content of the hex map is mostly borrowed from old MERP modules, hammered and chiseled to fit my own personal predilections.
  • The images for the hex map are either from Evind Earl's paintings for Disney films or from the background art of The Banner Saga (which was obviously inspired by him). The goal here is to evoke a particular tone for the GM while running the game.
  • Several hexes include content from entries to the One Page Dungeon contest.

What else is there?

There have already been some very good work in this space. For my money, everything Numbered Works does is prettier and shinier than this. But I slapped this together with a sort of simple speed that appeals to me. I would use my methodology if I was running a game for myself instead of publishing it.

If there are other no-code/low-code tools I should be aware of, please do put them in the comments!


Basically, this sort of prep is indicative of what I would do the next time I wanted to run a hexcrawl or dungeon game. I don't want to flip around between all of my wonderful books - my old modules, my new modules, my friend's random tables, my own notes. I would just cobble them together into a few tools and then slap them in a website. 

Now that I've figured out what tools I want to use and how to employ them, I think this sort of prep would take ~an afternoon-ish of work to do, once the basic content has been generated/curated/selected. 

I am hopeful this level of up-front work will minimize the work I need to do at the table in the future.