A Review of the Hex Crawl Chronicles – Pathfinder Edition

The Hex Crawl Chronicles by John Stater are a set of role playing game supplements published by Frog God Games. The ones reviewed are for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (they are also available for Swords & Wizardry) and are covered by the Open Game License, with material in some of them considered to Open Game Content as a result. For more detailed reviews of the individual supplements, click the links to them

There are seven supplements in the series and they are connected to each other, so that they can be combined to make a larger setting, that of Namera. There are spaces between them, so a GameMaster would need to flesh things out.

Hex crawls themselves are a type of encounter that actually predates Dungeon & Dragons itself, with the OD&D boxed set referring to Outdoor Survival from Avalon Hill. A hex crawl is a wilderness sandbox where characters can wander around discovering different things and encountering different creatures. As it is a wilderness, unlike a dungeon which tends to have increasing levels of difficulty, it is possible for characters to wander into an encounter that is far too dangerous for them. The hexes on the maps are 6 miles across, which is incidentally the same size of those in a classic adventure of this type, The Isle of Dread.

Hex Crawl Chronicles - Valley of the Hawks - Pathfinder EditionValley of the Hawks introduces the Golden Men and the Northmen, although neither are based in this region. A borderland region, the Golden Men were once a major power but their civilisation has since collapsed.

The Winter Woods introduces the Beyonders who sail undead-crewed boats on Black Water. A cold wooded realm, the Queen of the Winter Wind holds influence here, although she is never met.

Beyond Black Water is a twilight realm where the Beyonders are based, situated in the region between life and death. Many undead are found here passing through and nine petty deaths rule much of the region. The whole area has a Lovecraftian Dreamlands feel to it.

The Shattered Empire is the empire of the Northmen, now in turmoil following the emperor’s death and being fought over by his three daughters. Powers from outside the region are looking to benefit from the turmoil.

The Pirate Coast is the home of the Sea Lords from a sunken island and pirate fleets. The area was once ruled by an empire of stone giants, but they have since been overthrown.

The Troll Hills was where the Golden Men had a major city, which was destroyed in a cataclysm. There are remnants of advanced technology and a rather different relationship between hags and trolls than is usual.

The Golden Meadows is largely wasteland from a cataclysm, probably a technological one, and is visited by the Golden Men and Grey Travellers amongst others.

Some of these supplements are better than others but most feature wonderfully evocative writing with interesting and often downright weird encounters. Places may be described in a paragraph or two or in more detail, and there are a few mapped out mini dungeons to explore.

If there is one problem with the supplements, it is that they cover a decent sized area individually and are well described, which means that dropping an entire region into another world will not be easy.

They can still always be scavenged for encounters, taking various encounters and placing them into another setting, and perhaps this is one of the best ways of using them. It is certainly one of the easiest. There are dozens of encounters of different sizes, per supplement, that can be used to flesh out other regions.

Entire regions can be dropped into another setting, with a bit more work, and a GM can always combine the various supplements into a world, although it will require more fleshing out.

This series is definitely recommended. Your players will, well, perhaps not thank you – there are some truly nasty encounters that they can blunder into – but their lives will be made a lot more interesting. The entire series can be found by clicking here.

 

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