Monday, September 19, 2011

Mini Review - Hex Crawls 3: Beyond the Black Water (Swords & Wizardry)

Hex Crawls can lead to a wonderful campaign, if the GM is up to the task.  They are never as simple as running a prewritten adventure, but in the right hands it can lead to many sessions of gaming.  This is why I find people either loved the old Judges Guild products or they hated them - they were ingredients to create your own masterpiece, with no two campaigns ever looking the same.  Some folks want more of a a detailed list of situations.

I find myself these days really appreciating the "Hex Crawl" type of products.  They are pretty much direct opposites of what WotC puts out for their settings.  Lean, mean and lots of green (outdoors) is what I like these days.

Beyond the Black Water fits the bill of what I look for in a Hex Crawl type products - lots of adventure seeds with hexes that aren't so large as to defeat the purpose of a hex crawl.  6 miles wide is just about perfect in my opinion.  It makes for a nice, localized campaign setting

The PDF is bookmarked (as well it should be) and we get a handful of new creatures at the end, but I do have one complaint.  The map takes up about half a page.  If they had changed it's orientation to sideways, it would have been a full page and much easier to use, never mind the increased usability.  As this is a PDF product I'm looking at, they could always tack on a full page map to an update of the file.  Just an idea.

Otherwise, it's a nice setting.  Dangerous as all hell, but still nice ;)

From the blurb:

When the game was invented and sold in a little woodgrain box, the author told us a required supplement was an Avalon Hill game called Outdoor Survival. This was a wilderness survival game that consisted of a hexagonal map system that players would travel around, trying to find their way back to civilization, all the while trying not to die of thirst or get eaten by bears. This game map was used as the first wilderness "hex-crawl" for what eventually became D&D. Later, Judges Guild took this to a whole new level with the Wilderlands series. For many years, hex crawling was just the way the game was played. This series brings that back, or supplements existing games that use that system of travel.

What a hex crawl is, literally, is a wilderness sandbox of areas, encounters and villages that players travel around in. It provides no story line, just hundreds of story hooks and possibilities. An example of what this looks like that I published a few years ago can be found at:

3--Beyond Black Water
These books provide a sub-setting in your own campaign world. They populate the world, and allow you to let your players explore that world, rather than just "travel 20 days" to the dungeon. Written by John Stater of NOD fame, each of these supplements details an area with a specific theme. Monster and NPC statistics are provided for each encounter area detailed.

Among the reasons many adventurers choose to end their day in the cannibal-ridden, hurricane-savaged isles of the south is the immense distance it puts between them and the terrible land beyond the Black Water. The Black Water is a great inland sea filled with black, viscous water that sits as still as death. Nobody but a fool would willingly cross the Black Water, save for the strange men who sail the black arks, but many fools have crossed those waters in search of a lost love or a secret taken to the grave, for beyond the Black Water and its grey shores lies the icy Land of the Dead.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review! I didn't know they had released it yet.


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