Loviatar 5 & Hex Rewards

Issue 5 is my favorite of the zine so far. If I had to pick, B/X would probably be my game of choice, and the bulk of this issue is dedicated to basic D&D hexcrawl content! It also has the best cover of all the Loviatars. I hope that Hex 001 is the start of a series of hex articles.

Hex 001 also introduced a new rule (to me at least) that I am considering adopting in general. There are four main encounter locations within Hex 001, and if the PCs investigate at least 3 of them, they get a “hex reward” (in this case, the reward is the companionship of a flying cat). I really like this. If I had to define D&D, I would not cite treasure, or fighting, or monsters, or even magic; I would point to the concept of exploration. I know that is not true for all players. In fact, most of my players seem to be most enthused by killing enemies and accumulating treasure. (Maybe that’s the difference between players who are at heart referees and players who are at heart adventurers?)

I’ve thought about giving XP for exploration in addition to treasure and defeating monsters, but I’ve never gotten around to actually trying it. I have given XP for completing particular journeys, but I’ve never generalized the rule. Giving XP for specific journeys is really too story-based for me now, so I don’t think I would do that again. Using hex rewards outside of the XP system is another interesting way of approaching rewarding exploration. The only question left is: how much metagame information about the incentive should be communicated to the players? On the one hand, saying that “there are four encounter zones to find here” seems to break immersion. But I do want players to know what they are being rewarded for. So I would probably compromise and explain the the general concept of hex rewards to players without going into detail.

7 thoughts on “Loviatar 5 & Hex Rewards

  1. perdustin

    I think defining D&D as exploration is apt; not just exploring dungeons and wilderness hexes, but exploring options.

    Does every hex have a potential hex award? If so, players may root around every hex more extensively than they reasonably would in order to get the award.

  2. Brendan

    I’d probably opt to make the reward randomly determined as part of the wilderness generation rules (maybe based on the type of terrain?). Not sure though, what do you think? I tend to dislike it when metagaming influences PC decisions too much; that’s the danger with using any incentive system.

  3. christian

    Hey, look at that! I am so glad you liked the issue. ๐Ÿ™‚ Jay did an incredible job on that cover. Once the zine gets more of a following he’d like to auction off the original.

    I am working on Hex 002 and think that we might have a nice series on our hands. I don’t think each hex will have its own reward. I thought it would be fun for the first hex, but perhaps not for all of them.

    I have zero experience with hex crawls, so I’m trying to write one in a way that makes sense to me. As is my usual style, that means WAY more background detail than the players would ever need, but I like to have lots of material just in case the PCs decide to delve deeply.

    Thanks for the kind words and I hope you enjoy the next hex.

    Rock on,

  4. perdustin

    You’re right about incentive affecting metagaming. Since you asked, here’s what I think. Don’t tell players that there is (or might be) a hex award. I think you should give experience for exploration — That should be sufficient incentive. The award should be a bonus, not a carrot on a stick.

    As Christian states, he didn’t plan on every hex having an award. That’s good, they would be less special if every hex had them.

  5. christian

    I love the idea of xp for exploration. As I work on the second hex I find that there is not enough gold to fuel much in the way of xp advancement. I think I’ve written the hexes this way because I’m coming from a World of Darkness/GURPS style where xps are awarded for adventuring and not really finding or hacking per se.

    The xps for exploration is an elegant solution. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Brendan

    I think I agree with perdustin about the hex award; it should not be too systematized. But I’m definitely going to work hex awards in here and there.

    I did some searching, and Jeff’s Gameblog has a great post about giving XP for exploration. Jeff points out that MERP awards XP for miles travelled, which is not quite the same thing as exploration, but is perhaps at least worth looking at, if for no other reason than visiting a location is itself only an exploration relative to the starting point of your journey. If you know the origin beforehand, you can just assign XP to locations as Jeff does in his post. But if you don’t, I think you need a formula. Something like hexes travelled * 100 + final location reward. This captures the fact that it is more impressive to visit the Fabled City after crossing 20 hexes of the Swamps of Gloom rather than just going one hex over.

    I also want to reward more than just arrival. This is probably best handled by only awarding the XXP at the very end of the adventure, and only for significant interaction (to be determined on a case by case basis by the referee).

    Another interesting variation from one of the comments on Jeff’s post:

    Exploration Points are only converted into Experience Points when you get back to civilisation and tell the tale. After all, what’s a good adventure if you don’t boast about it?

    Maybe too complicated though.

    A few other posts on XP for exploration:

    – The Wheel of Samsara: Exploration-based Experience for the Dungeon
    – Grognardia: The Primary Activity in Adventures
    – RPG Blog II: XP for Exploration

  7. Brendan

    Here is another apropos post over at Greyhawk Grognard. The only thing is that I absolutely would not hand my players a list of locations to visit that was so long at the start. Way too much information. I would trickle out the locations slowly, probably no more than 5-10 initially, and perhaps expose the others through rumors and treasure maps during the course of the campaign.


Leave a Reply