Saturday, 3 September 2016

Saga of the Goblin Horde: Hex-Based Plot Point Campaign

This is the final post in a three-part series about the geography of the Saga of the Goblin Horde setting, referencing the map created by Eli Kurtz of the Mythic Gazetteer.

In the first post I described the natural borders surrounding the goblin lands, while in the second post I discussed the organization and territorial borders of the goblin tribes. This time I'd like to take a short look at the mechanism for grid-based travel, and Savage Tales triggered by points of interest.

Click to enlarge (to 25% of the full size map).

I've previously blogged about overland travel, and even designed a hex-crawl system for the Heroes of Drakonheim adventure, but the approach I'm using in Saga of the Goblin Horde is intentionally simpler, as the goal of the system is somewhat different.

Each hex represents an area 8 miles across, and characters can move a number of hexes per day equal to half their Pace - so most people can move 3 hexes per day. When moving through swamps and mountains, you move half a hex at a time (either moving from the center of a hex to the line between two hexes, or from the line to the center of an adjacent hex).

Moving across the plain and into Darkmire Swamp.

Each time the characters enter a hex, the GM draws a card to check for a random encounter (if multiple characters are traveling together they only draw one card in total, not one card each). The chance and type of encounter depends on the terrain and other factors, and the card mechanism means that the further you travel, the more likely you are to encounter something. The GM can also simply choose to trigger an adventure at an appropriate point in the journey, of course.

The adventure will depend on the terrain, although some locations automatically trigger a specific Savage Tale, much like the approach used for the Plot Point Campaign in 50 Fathoms. For example there are several possible adventures that are available within any part of Shadowglade Forest, but visiting the Bone Quarry hex for the first time will trigger a specific adventure.

In this way, the players are free to roam the land as they see fit, triggering a combination of Savage Tales tailored to their current location, and random adventures created through the adventure generator. This should give the world more of a sandbox feel, which is something I really liked about the 50 Fathoms Plot Point Campaign.

The actual Plot Point Episodes are triggered in response to the players' overall progress, rather than their current location, although the GM can obviously speed up or slow down the rate at which the main storyline develops. But the idea here is that the overarching plot shouldn't freeze just because the players decide to wander off and do their own thing for a few weeks - the bad guys will continue to follow their own agendas at their own pace.

Thus while the Savage Tales are designed to encourage a sandbox feel, the Plot Point Episodes are designed to feel like an ongoing story that continues to play out at its own pace. The players should still have enough time to explore and do their own thing, but the Plot Point Episodes add an element of pressure that pushes the campaign forward and keeps the overall storyline on track.

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