The Hexcrawling Game: Part 1- Rules as Written

The adventures I ran most in my youth were hexcrawls; specifically, Isle of Dread (X1) and the Volturnus series (SF0-3) for Star Frontiers. Looking back, after reading a lot of good articles on hexcrawling in the last couple of years, I didn’t run them well. I want to do much better when the Crusader Kingdoms campaign (which seems less aptly named all the time) moves into it’s wilderness exploration phase. So, I have been doing a lot of reading, and even ran Mutiny On The Eleanor Moraes (SFKH2) as a one-off to practice. Based on this, I have decided I want to house-rule the ACKS wilderness adventuring rules a little bit. Most importantly, I want to move to a movement points model as similar as I can get to the one from Avalon Hill’s Outdoor Survival game, as described in this Damn You Gygax! article at Delta’s D&D Hotspot. However, not wanting to screw up the delicate balance of ACKSonomics, I don’t want to change the actual distances moved per unit of game time.

As a first step, this post will summarize the ACKS Wilderness Adventures rules-as-written and restate them as a movement point system.

The ACKS Wilderness Adventures rules imply the following steps in a day of wilderness travel.

1. Determine whether or not the party will be foraging or hunting.
2. Make navigation throws to determine if the party gets lost, if necessary.
3. Decide where and how far the party is going to move.
4. Check for wandering monsters.
5. Determine the results of foraging or hunting, and then calculate food and water consumption.

Taking the steps in order:

1. Determine whether or not the party will be foraging or hunting.

If the party decides to hunt, they cannot move this day. If they decide to forage, it has no effect on their movement.

2. Make navigation throws to determine if the party gets lost, if necessary.

The throw is based on the terrain, with a bonus if the party includes characters who have certain proficiencies or custom powers. If the party gets lost, when and how they figure this out, and where they really are, is left to the Judge’s discretion.

3. Decide where and how far the party is going to move.

Here we come to the meat of it. ACKS gives movement wilderness movement in miles per day. We’ll instead call the same number Movement Points (MP), and say that crossing a 6-mile hex of clear terrain costs 6 MP. We get the following:

Exploration Movement Normal MP/Day Forced March MP/Day
30(10) 6 MP 9 MP
60(20) 12 MP 18 MP
90(30) 18 MP 27 MP
120(40) 24 MP 36 MP
Terrain Type (Examples) MP Cost per 6-Mi Hex …With Road
Clear (grassy plains) 6 MP 4 MP
Rough (desert, hills, wooded) 9 MP 6 MP
Very Rough (thick jungle, swamp, mountains) 12 MP 8 MP

 A couple of other points on movement:

Movement In Groups: A party’s MP per day is based on the speed of its slowest member. There is no advantage to being the one thief who has a speed of 120(40) in a party of fighters who move at 60(20).

Not Enough MP to Enter a Hex: A party moves into and partially across a hex if they do not have enough MP left to completely cross it. The Judge needs to keep track of fractional hexes.

Crossing Rivers: The MP cost of crossing a river, canyon, or similar obstacle is left to the Judge’s discretion.

Flying: If you are flying, you double your available MP for the day, and anything other than very high mountains counts as clear terrain.

4. Check for wandering monsters.

If the party is traveling in Civilized areas, you check for wandering monsters only once per month. If they are traveling in the Borderlands, you check for wandering monsters only once per week. If they are traveling in actual Wilderness areas, you check for wandering monsters every time they enter a new hex, or once per day if they remain in the same hex. If the party is hunting, they trigger an additional wandering monster check that day.

5. Determine the results of foraging or hunting, and then calculate food and water consumption.

From ACKS (pg 94), “Each day, characters must consume food and drink weighing a total of one stone. This assumes 2lb of food and 1 gallon (about 8lb) of water.” Since stone and items are abstract units of encumbrance, lets restate the requirements as 1 item of food and 5 items of water per person per day.

Foraging, therefore, provides 1d6 food items on a throw of 18+. Hunting provides 2d6 food items on a throw of 14+. In each case, one throw is made for each member of the party. Characters with the Survival proficiency gain a +4 bonus to these throws, and find 1 food item on a failed throw. Food items found by hunting or foraging are standard rations (that is, they are “fresh but untreated” food). There is no mention in RAW ACKS of hunting or foraging providing water.

That’s it for the basics. Next time, I’ll start actually house-ruling things.

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