"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hex Stocking Density

For interest sake I pulled out one of my copies of Isle of Dread. For most, it is the benchmark for hex-crawling modules. I wanted to approximate the ratio of hexes-to-encounters. Using the methodology mentioned in my last post there is a 1-in-3 chance of a hex having a monster for a hexes-to-encounter ratio of 3:1 which gives me approximately 133 monster encounters in my 400 hexes.

Just eyeballing the number of hexes on the island, I would guesstimate that there are approximately 400 hexes (has anyone actually counted them? I am far too lazy). Using the numbered island map from the module which as 24 encounters and adding 5 for the number of locations on Taboo Island, there are a total of 29 encounters on the island. Let's round up to 30. I am assuming that all numbered encounters on the map are with monsters which may not be correct. I took a quick look and didn't see any exceptions but I could be wrong. This gives a ratio of 13 hexes to 1 encounter.

My hexes are far more densely populated with monsters than those on the iconic island.  I'm okay with this. One reason I am okay with a higher number of encounters on my map is that it is for an open, exploration focused game in the West Marches style. I want the PCs to go out into the wilderness and find stuff. Also, the there is an explicit social contract that characters will try to return to town at the end of a gaming session so the quicker implied consumption of resources that will result from more encounter will not be an issue.


  1. I was also surprised, upon looking at the Isle of Dread recently for the first time in years, how few keyed encounters there are on that huge island.

  2. When I run my hex crawl, I will often prepare a wandering monster table and if it makes sense, then the monsters I rolled up will actually have a lair where they were encountered. Thus, the number of monster lairs actually increases as time passes even if for the players, it's hard to distinguish between placed lairs and random encounters that turned into lairs.

  3. Isle of Dread is way under populated IMO. Dave Arneson recommended 1d6-1 encounters per 10 mile hex.