If you like random tables, then you might like this Hex Flower Game Engine idea.
Hex Flowers are different to other kinds of random tables because they have an
inbuilt ‘memory‘, that is to say the last outcome affects the next outcome.
I wrote this PDF guide to Hex Flowers, and I think it is the best place to start: Hex Flower Cookbook. Below I outline the idea:
How it works
Basically you arrange your 19 possible outcomes into the 19 hexes of the Hex Flower i.e. you populate the Hex Flower. The (general) idea is to group the 19 outcomes in a way that makes sense. Often this means grouping similar things together. In play, you roll dice and the rules of the Hex Flower dictate which Hex you move to next. That is, you move from the current hex to one of the 6 adjacent hexes. In that way the last outcome limits the next outcome … a sort of ‘memory’ of a kind.
Examples work best
Here’s a Hex Flower that randomly generates terrain:
You can see you cannot go from ‘plains’ to ‘mountains’ without transitioning through ‘hills’ first. In most cases this makes sense.
Here’s a Hex Flower that randomly generates weather:
In this case sunny weather is mostly on the top left, rainy weather is near the top right and mixed weather is near the bottom. Extreme weather is at the very top.
… and here’s an example of 7 days of generated weather starting from the middle of the Hex Flower:
What really makes Hex Flower Game Engines new and interesting is that the rules for moving around the Hex Flower can be tweaked!
For example using 2D6 to determine where you move next, you can introduce a probability gradient and skew movement around the Hex Flower like this:
This means common outcomes (like plains) can be grouped at the bottom of the Hex Flower and more extreme outcomes (like mountains or a volcano) can be at the top of the Hex Flower. So, placement and rules can generate more logical outcomes. So mountains can be made rare and always proceeded by hills; or for weather: blizzards are rare and when they do occur they do not follow a day of blistering heat. .
Also edge rules can be introduced to the rules for moving, to introduce a wildcard jump like this:
This introduces some chaos, i.e. helps to prevent outcomes becoming a simple logical procession. That is, sometimes heavy rain can happen after strong sunshine etc. Nearly everyone seems to live in that place right?
Here are examples of some movement:
There are lots of extra things you can do. You can introduce ‘points’ that players can spend to alter the direction for exiting the current hex. You can introduce a rival token independently moving on the Hex Flower, this might be a rival party of adventurers trying to catch the party. You can change the rules of movement depending on the situation e.g. in the Kingdom of the Plains the movement rules are mainly downwards towards the plains, but in the Kingdom of the Mountain Orcs, the movement trend is mainly upward, favouring mountains etc.
Basically, if you can think of a mini-game you can probably make one using a Hex Flower Game Engine.
Making a Hex Flower Game
You can bring this all together to make a game tool. For example I made a one-page random wilderness exploration tool (In the Heart of the Unknown) that generates terrain, weather and encounters:
Here’s an example of 6 days of travel:
Hex Flower Cookbook
Want to find out more, please see my Hex Flower Cookbook.
– – – Original post on this, has more examples and points to other posts – – –
More on the ‘theory’ Blog post.
A podcast review/overview can be found here
A video ‘talk through of my Hex Flower Cookbook can be found here.
If useful here is a Hex Flower template
Recently, I’ve been experimenting with using a simple 19-hex rose to list various outcomes, in combination with a 2D6 navigation system (to cause a bias “downwards” and “leftwards” in the outcomes), and where the edges of the rose ‘wildcard’ over to the diagonally opposite edge of the rose (except for the top and bottom hexs). It’s like a random table, but with a built in memory.
This idea could be used to make a simple engine for tracking an event, be it an erupting volcano (now done), the mood of a village to the PC’s presence (now done), or as in the case below, the terminal event should a Rot Grub reach the infected PC’s heart. I also used it to make a simple random hex generator tool, the 2D6 method favours plains over other terrain and de-favours mountains and a chase mechanic.
Some Hex Flowers on DriveThruRPG:
:: Carapace – a procedural dungeon about exploring a giant ant colony. It contains a HF as one of the ways to navigate the maze-like passageways
:: Combat Morale Tracker – when will the henchmen and/or monsters break?
:: Hex Flower Template – make your own Hex Flower
:: In the Heart of the Sea – a procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ engine
:: In the Heart of the Unknown – a procedural wilderness Hex Crawl
:: In the Heart of the Delve and Dangerous – procedural ‘Dungeon’ Crawling Engine
:: IT came from below (or above) – track ‘something’ relative to the PC’s in 3 dimensions
:: Mythic-Style Hex Flower Chaos Emulator – for use with Mythic Game Master Emulator
:: Race & Class Hex Flower Generator – a fun way to generate Race & Class combinations
:: The Gambler – a bolt-on class for the daring-do classes, heavily influence by fates
:: Trial by Jury – procedural determine if the PC’s are found guilt or innocent
– – –
Some Hex Flowers found in the ‘wild’
For more info see the blog link
– – –
Some early Hex Flower examples:
:: Where’d the Rot Grub Go Next?
:: What the Hex’s Next? (not a map, but a tool for generating terrain)
A variant with a sample path
:: Volcano Eruption Tracker (assumes eruption fairly is imminent)
Variant without background
:: Taking the Town Temperature (have the adventures outstayed their welcome?)
:: Random Encounter Tracker (more interesting than rolling a D6 every turn?)
Variant without background
:: Maze & Pursuit (a chase mechanic or stand alone game)
:: Social Encounter Engine (Pc’s need to convince someone to do something … )
:: Procedurally exploring a giant tree (incorparting ideas from David McGrogan’s blog):
Hexing that alignment grid – blog link
Fate Mechanic Hex Flower – blog link
Random Social Interaction Hex Flower Generator – blog link