We’ve had some great play-testing opportunities in the last weeks of 2021 here at HEXROLL labs (so our family dining table), and you can now see the results online.
Let’s go over the things we’ve uncovered, and fixed.
Visiting the local tavern, the party found out that the local baker, Altrude, has her nephew missing for more than a week. He was supposed to be back after visiting the near-by village, but alas, he is nowhere to be found.
Following a rumor, the party started exploring the areas leading to the village, until they uncovered a mysterious tomb.
Playing exclusively using a tablet and without any preparation or familiarization with the generated sandbox, I found orienting myself (and the party) to be challenging.
I already used separate browser tabs to keep maps open for reference, but that just wasn’t good enough. I needed something better. I needed hyperlinked maps and minimaps:
All maps in the sandbox can now be used to quickly navigate to any of their areas by clicking (or touching) the area number.
Mini-maps are now part of almost every area description and can be clicked or touched to go back to the main map.
After facing giant rats and giant spiders, the party managed to locate Altrude’s nephew and bring him back.
In one of our play-testing sessions, my oldest chose to referee the game and I took a player seat, playing as a 2nd level thief.
My kid has limited experience as a GM, but he was able to take a HEXROLL sandbox he never read before and lead us through a great game.
As a beginner GM, he felt he did not have enough knowledge about a dungeon before leading the party into it. Now, this is something I actually consider a ‘feature’. I want to be surprised together with the player and I like this aspect in my games, but I can see how this can be an issue for others.
So I’ve now added a conspectus section to every dungeon, with a brief summary of the encounters, treasure or quest objectives the dungeon has:
This is now generated by default, but can be switched off in the generator options.
Settlement and taverns details
Taverns and Inns now include staff and a random menu. I started including a pricing variable based on whether we are in a village, town or a city and based on the district type (so that, for example, food prices in a Palace District will be higher than in a Harbor District). The same scheme was also applied to item prices in shops.
I’ve also started adding more quest types and more links between other elements of the sandbox.
After detailing the settlements-level of the sandbox, I will move up to the hex-level again and add more features and text descriptions this should help with some of the repetitions we currently have, especially with large maps. I think I have two or three more months of work before I can be satisfied with the generator.
That’s it for now. It’s 2022. Stay safe and enjoy the crawl.