kmjii
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Joined: Thu 04 Apr 2024, 20:42

How are you actually supposed to run this game?

Mon 06 May 2024, 07:26

I'm quite a few sessions deep into FbL and still I don't think I've nailed EXACTLY how I'm supposed to run this game. This is me and my entire group's first time doing a hexcrawl and I've been doing a LOT of work to figure it all out. My current pain points are on stocking hexes and figuring out EXACTLY what the players see in regards to the map.

So the game is delivered with these massive maps ready to be dropped down on the table and played on but from my research on hexcrawling, people tend to prefer letting their players make their own map? How do you even run a game like that? I've been playing it with them having the world map in front of them and dropping a little game piece down for them to move around the map as they go and that works fine for them communicating exactly where they want to go. I've also given them a black and white printout they can mark up with things they've found as they travel. Other games I've read up on have used the method of not giving the PCs anything and instead using landmarks inside of hexes the GM has pre-stocked to act as a guide for them which sounds cool but I also should point out that these hexmaps are VASTLY smaller than FbL. I believe Dolmenwood has 200 hexes all pre-keyed and Hot Springs Island uses only 25 keyed hexes. Forbidden Lands uses (by my math) 2091 hexes. This is obviously a completely ridiculous number if you intend to pre-key all these hexes and also for the purposes of running a game in the above method so instead the modus operandi is random generation as they move into them. I can totally expect the PCs to keep 25 hexes and the stuff in them in mind while exploring HSI, I could probably also see them keeping the dolmenwood map partially correct but not 2000+ hexes. This leads me back to the encounters that come pre-baked into FbL. Most of these encounters are people you meet on the road, not a lot of them describe landmarks and places the PCs can use for orienteering while out in the wilds (besides adventure sites I guess). This coupled with the assumption that the game map goes on the table for all to see, there's really no reason to even bother putting physical landmarks in each hex outside of fluff and atmosphere. So how are you meant to run this game? Slap the map down and let them move a miniature around it a la board game style? They never get lost and the visual of the hexes I've found just allows them to go directly to whatever adventure site they'd like to check out without much thought being put into how they get there.

I'm probably overthinking this, but I'd enjoy to do it properly and get the full hexcrawl experience. How do you run your game (physically if possible). What does a player facing map even look like?
 
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Fenhorn
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Re: How are you actually supposed to run this game?

Mon 06 May 2024, 09:09

I do not fully understand what you don't understand, it was to much of a rant on what other people are doing, but in general I can say (edit: sorry, this may have come out a bit blunt, what I meant was I don't know if you have problems with RAW or with how others do this. My answer below here is according to RAW):
  • The PCs move around on the map, hex by hex. The players know the map but doesn't know what the adventure sites are.
  • When the PCs reach an adventure site (i.e. castle, dungeon or village, even ruins sometimes), the GM decides what it contains, he can generate it by using the random tables in the book or just write something himself. He should of course prepare for this before the session. He can also place one of the provided adventure sites (one of the three in the GM's book or one from a campaign book) on the site. Regardless of method, the GM should also place a sticker on the map so the both he and the players know what's there. You can also draw on the map. This means that the map is meant to be used as a legacy map, permanently changing it as you play.
  • The GM can provide rumours or legends about various sites before the PCs reach a site. This way the PCs have a clear goal on where to go.
  • The idea with all this is to add setting while you play. For each adventure site that you place, the players will also learn more about the land.
In my campaign, the map was on the table and I gave out (for the most part) two legends of adventure sites (we played the Raven's Purge campaign), but I also had (by random) generated a dungeon, a castle and a village that I could use. If/when I used one, I prepared a new one for the next session, so I always had two adventures (from Raven's Purge) and three randomized. I also made some adventure sites on my own (instead of using the random tables). We places stickers when the PCs reach a site and sometimes even draw on the map, for example, we made a little dot on hex so we know what hexes the players have been to and we also draw a small line in the river if there was a ford there.

I have seen some players saying that they don't want to "destroy" the map by putting stickers on it or draw on it, but the map is mean to be a "living" map so to speak, that represent your campaign. If I play another campaign in FbL, I will play another campaign (Bitter Reach, etc.). I could also of course use the backside of the map if playing the same campaign again. I also could create a new campaign on the same map, there are enough adventure sites on the map for that.
“Thanks for noticin' me.” - Eeyore
 
JohanR
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Re: How are you actually supposed to run this game?

Mon 06 May 2024, 17:01

I can just say how I run the game, and that might help you?
  1. I as a GM, I read through the campaign material, etc.
  2. I created a rudimentary map. It didn't look exactly like this at first, as I did not place everything and not exactly like this when we started, but my players don't know that. It is not the intended way to have a hidden GM-map with pre-placed locations though! You are supposed to go a little ad-hoc and place things.
  3. I placed the PCs in a hex and told them some aftermath of an event that had brought them together. Each were given one legend to a nearby place. And also know of some relative or so somewhere.
  4. I read up on the closest 2-3 locations before playing session 1.
  5. The players decide on where to go, what to do, do they want to go for the parts of the crown (the campaign goals) or other simpler things? Do they want to build a stronghold? I don't steer them, they just go whereever they want to go, and we roll on the tables and see what happens.
  6. After each session, I ask them what they want to do during their next session. And I say that I say this openly just so that I can read up on the correct adventure site. So if they go else where, it is their fault if the GM starts to "lag".

So far, this has worked very well. My players are very excited that they have so much control.

I have also started to use some GM tools, like oracles. So that when they say, "Is there any guards in the corridor?", and this isn't explicitly written in the adventure. I just roll 1d6 openly, and go with something like. 6 = Perfect outcome, 1 = Its really bad. 2-5 somewhere in between.
 
kmjii
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Re: How are you actually supposed to run this game?

Mon 06 May 2024, 19:11

I was mostly interested in hearing how people approach the game to better inform how I should be doing it. I've been doing largely the same as you two but my main point of confusion was looking at other hexcrawls and methods people use outside of FbL which mostly boils down to restricting the map from the players and having them fill it in as they go. It seems my players are enjoying just walking around with the big map in front of them and it doesn't exactly spoil where things are (although it is a bit of a bummer that they can see all the terrain, never gonna have a real scenario of them accidentally walking into a marshland or something and getting slowed down). I think I need to wield the legends better, I've been printing them out and giving them to the players to manage but that usually just means that they've been placed in a basked we use to store our game stuff and then forgetting about them. Maybe I'll get a cork board for them to pin them to and they can do like red string shit to keep them all connected :lol: .
 
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Fenhorn
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Re: How are you actually supposed to run this game?

Mon 06 May 2024, 19:25

When beta-testing this game we decided to play the old d&d adventure 'Isle of Dread', mainly because we didn't have that much to use yet. It actually worked pretty well. Sure, the maps was a lot simpler back then so it didn't take away that much. To do the same now could work in VTT where you have tools for it, but at the table, it will slow down the game and (regardless of using VTT or not) a lot of time will be spent just walking around trying to find any site at all. Also in this game, people have a basic knowledge of what the world look like.
“Thanks for noticin' me.” - Eeyore
 
kmjii
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Joined: Thu 04 Apr 2024, 20:42

Re: How are you actually supposed to run this game?

Mon 06 May 2024, 20:14

Yeah that was definitely one of my worries with the "map stuff yourself" idea, how much it'd slow the game down. I had them map a dungeon in 30ft chunks once and it really did slow the game down.

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