Sunday, November 7, 2021

Solo science fantasy hexcrawl - Session #1

I played a ~2 hour solo hexcrawl session today, set in my weird pulpy science fantasy world. Every detail of the world is generated from a gigantic Inspiration Pad Pro file - it's over ten thousand lines, I've been working on it for a long time, adding new items, expanding word lists, etc. You might recall the settlements I posted before - they were sourced from this generator.

"Red Dward" by JustV23

So today I did a hexcrawl, with four random characters:

Duke Seneb, hungry professional drunkard (Magic-User 1)
Sappho, heartbroken merchant (Fighter 3)
Eucarpus, exquisitely dressed archivist's husband (Fighter 2)
Posidonios, hideous servant of jeweler (Fighter 1)

Here's the write-up! Raw output (for comparison) in the comments.

Day 1 [entering hex 1309, plains with settlement, weather is neutral, no random encounter]

The story begins on the red salt-encrusted plains in the middle of nowhere. The village of Apollonia ad Rhyndacum stands here, a stop on the long north-south caravan road. A small community (pop. 170), clustered around a foul-smelling power plant (used to refuel any motored vehicles, but hated by locals) and a reconstructed caravanserai. Most buildings are of concrete. All of them are covered by a bright orange fungal infestation.

The exhausted party heads to the caravanserai’s bar. Their every movement is watched by the scary-looking human-shark hybrid bouncer. “Don’t cause any trouble here, fellas,” warns the barman, “Djed over there bites and is the best shot in town”.

Duke Seneb orders the cheapest, vilest drink, downs it, and orders two more.

The rest of the team consumes more cautiously. Sappho, who is currently unarmed, checks if there are any weapons for sale. The flamethrower on offer is too pricey, so she settles on a simple polearm.

Eucarpus inquires about the local situation. “Ask Pediamun,” says the barman and points towards a person who just entered: an older gentleman with unruly hair and haunted eyes, with a dirty puppet on his left hand. He immediately launches into a long-winded paranoid rant about how the orange mould is an alien organism and must be stopped. The only tool to stop the spreading is located in an ancient tech-orchard, some 30-40 miles to the north-east… and offers 800 silver shekels if the artifact (an occult microscope) is brought to him. Eucarpus agrees in the name of the party, then they drag Duke Seneb away from the bar and tie him to a bed upstairs in a rented room.

Day 2 [travelling from 1309 to 1408, jungle with ruins, unfavorable weather, no random encounter]

The party sets out towards the north-east first thing in the morning. Duke Seneb is hungover, so Eucarpus takes on navigational duties and pushes into the jungle that borders on the plains. The density of the vegetation, coupled with the slightly acidic rain makes the journey a nightmare. They don’t encounter hostile wildlife – or any wildlife, for that matter. An eerie silence sits over the jungle. By dusk, they arrive at some overgrown ruins. A collapsed gatehouse and explosion craters tell the story of a past conflict. The silence is deafening. And in the middle of all this – a pitched tent, intact, recent! Duke Seneb sneaks forward to inspect… after a minute of anticipation, he opens the flap – and finds the tent unoccupied! A large sack filled with stuff lies abandoned in the corner. Seneb rummages through it and finds some assorted adventuring equipment, but also a strange object: a discus, some 10” in diameter, made out of a diamond-like material. Seneb greedily grabs it – the discus flashes once – and Seneb is left with a weird sensation that something now is missing from his mind, or maybe not? He just sees that he is in a tent, which probably doesn’t belong to him, but who are these three people that rush in shouting “Seneb, what happened? What was that flash?”

The other adventurers find that Duke Seneb doesn’t remember coming on this journey with them. They feel that this is more serious than just his usual drunken blackouts, so they carefully take the discus out of his hand, don’t let it touch their bare skin, and shove it back into the sack. Then they spend the rest of the night talking to Seneb. Duke Seneb still doesn’t have any recollections about these folks, but he is convinced that he is part of the team.

Posidonios, who was the servant of a jeweler before becoming an adventurer, examines the discus, using the runic equipment he “borrowed” from his former employer. He can only tell that it is a magic artifact that overrides memories – more research is needed.

The party decides to spend the night in this tent (as they don’t have a tent of their own), set watches, and hope for the best… The night passes without any encounters.

Day 3 [travelling from 1408 to 1508, plains, favorable weather, no random encounter]

The acidic rain drums on the tent the whole night, but stops at dawn. The party has breakfast and notes that they only have rations for one more day: they must hunt or forage soon. The eerie silent jungle doesn’t seem like a good place, so they decide to use the favorable weather and push on. They pack up the tent, of course. Eucarpus leads (using his scimitar to clear the path), and he is fairly confident that they are still headed north-east, towards the orchard of lost tech that Pediamun mentioned. After half a day of travel they leave the wretched jungle and find themselves, once more, out in the open plains. Every now and then they see a black substance bubbling up from underground, forming tar pits. Sappho drags one of the pits with her polearm, but there’s no catch. They decide to hunt in this big open area.

Duke Seneb checks the area, and finds the tracks of a large feline, headed back towards the jungle. The tracks are profoundly weird – they keep disappearing for long stretches, then re-appear, but there are no signs of the creature jumping or leaping. The party is kinda scared, but they are not ready to admit this to each other, so they start following the tracks. And soon they spot something in the distance: a creature struggling in one of the tar pits! Then the creature suddenly just phases out of existence – then reappears, slightly closer to the pit’s edge. It is a huge sabretooth! It hasn’t noticed the adventurers yet, as it is too busy freeing itself from the black sticky mass.

The hunting party moves closer, and they use their limited arsenal of missile weapons: Posidonios’ sling and a throwing knife Eucarpus carries around in an iron box. Only Eucarpus hits… The rest of the team gets ready with their melee weapons. Sappho steps closer, hoping to reach the beast with her polearm while it is still stuck in the tar – but the sabretooth phases out of existence just in time to avoid the attack. And now it is even closer to freeing itself, and snarls angrily at the adventurers. Sappho’s next attack connects, and so does Posidonios’ next sling bullet. Then the creature disappears – then reappears right next to Sappho and sinks its fangs into her arm. The whole team charges in to save her, but only Eucarpus’ scimitar scores a hit. And they cannot stop the sabretooth from brutally dismembering poor Sappho… The adventurers stare in horror – but then turn around and run as fast as possible. The sabertoothed monster doesn’t give chase. Phasing in-and-out, it stays behind to devour its prey.

The three remaining adventurers run and run for about an hour. Night is nearing, so they must set up camp here in the open plains, and who knows whether or not the sabretooth will come around for dessert?..

So they set one of the tar pits on fire, hoping that the blazing flame will scare the monsters away… And there are no encounters during the night.

Day 4 [travelling from 1408 to 1607, plains, frequent weather changes, no random encounter]

Duke Seneb, Eucarpus and Posidonios do not sleep well. They are haunted by the  memories of Sappho’s gory demise. Posidonios takes out the diamond discus from his backpack and places it in the middle of the tent. “This device suppresses memories. Let us try thinking about Sappho, and then touch it all together – maybe it will help us forget.” Eucarpus eagerly agrees, but Duke Seneb does not: he has experienced the discus’ effect before, and wants no repeats. So Posidonios and Eucarpus touch the artifact, it flashes – and their memories of Sappho are gone. They stare with blank eyes for a moment. Duke Seneb doles out the last remaining rations, but says nothing.

After their last breakfast, they resume their journey. The plains stretch on towards the north-east, and the weather at first is good, but then it changes, and changes again, and it becomes completely chaotic. It’s raining one minute, then the sun shines bright, then a tornado rushes through the plains… They notice that there are strange, smooth metal pillars erected on the ground all over this area. As they walk between them, their hairs stand on end from the static electricity building up. And then suddenly lightning strikes one of the poles, and all three adventurers lift off the ground and levitate mid-air. Then another lightning strikes, and they all fall down, but their bodies feel so heavy they cannot get up, they can barely move. Then they are lifted again. Duke Seneb attaches the grappling hook to his rope, and the next time they are up in the air, he throws it as far forward as possible, then drags himself towards it. The other two use Eucarpus’ hook to do the same, and slowly they manage to make it out from the anomalous zone. And then it is suddenly the evening: looks like their perception of time was also screwed while they were in the network of the metal pillars. They march on a couple of hours in the darkness, then set up camp and rest.

Day 4 [travelling from 1607 to 1707, plains, favorable weather, no random encounter in the morning, random encounter in the afternoon]

They wake up after an uneventful night. Pangs of hunger strain them, but this is only their first day without food, so the grumble, pack their tent, and continue the journey north-east. The plains seem endless, and here they are even drier, almost desert-like. Around midday, they spot a heap of rubble in the distance. They approach it carefully: it is the wreckage of a crashed flyer. They don’t notice any creatures around, so start rummaging through the rubble, looking for anything salvageable. And indeed, they turn up a couple of intact items, including an electric lamp and a scroll case. Duke Seneb pops open the case, and finds an unusual scroll, written on a spiderweb-like shimmering parchment. He identifies its content as the spell “Create Wings of Glamour”.

In the meantime, Posidonios sees an interesting looking object, and tries to pick it up – and unwittingly sets off a snare! A length of wire rope shoots out from under the wreckage and hooks itself around the adventurer! He is trapped! And his loud scream alerts the mysterious inhabitants of the place, who’ve been in hiding and unaware of the adventurers before this…

To be continued!


  1. Raw output:

    Day 1
    The party enters a new hex.
    The weather roll is 7, Neutral.
    The encounter roll is 6: There is no random encounter.
    Plains (red salt crust, spiderwebs)
    Apollonia ad Rhyndacum
    Village (population: 170)
    Protected by mind-controlled puppeteer (Pediamun) talking about ancient artifacts (some 30-40 miles to the north-east [Hex 2005]: occult microscope in orchard)
    Features: plagued by Fungoid, concrete walls, orange walls
    Important locations: unpopular power plant, reconstructed caravanserai, well-defended bar

    Seeds: exquisitely dressed hunter (Harpalos) betraying jailer
    Day 2
    The party enters a new hex.
    The weather roll is 4, Unfavorable - 1/2 travel speed.
    The encounter roll is 6: There is no random encounter.
    Jungle (eerie silence, crater, pitched tent) Feature: overgrown ruins of gatehouse
    Object in the tent: diamond discus, imbued with the power to repress memories, large sack, crowbar, musical instrument, 50’ rope, mirror
    Day 3
    The party enters a new hex.
    The weather roll is 11, Favorable.
    The encounter roll is 6: There is no random encounter.
    Plains (hard, tarpit)
    Local encounter table:
    1. superpowered lion
    2. Large Snake
    3. Thark
    4. ghostly Sabertooth HD 7+2 hp 18/30 AC 14
    5. alien Pegasus
    6. pyramidal troll

    Day 4
    The party enters a new hex.
    The weather roll is 9, Favorable.
    The encounter roll is 4: There is no random encounter.; The second encounter roll is 3: There is no random encounter.
    Plains (floodplain, frequent weather changes, metal pillar, gravitational anomaly)
    Day 5
    The party enters a new hex.
    The weather roll is 8, Neutral.
    The encounter roll is 5: There is no random encounter.; The second encounter roll is 1: They encounter spotted Dryad. The reaction roll is 2, Hostile. 4 spotted dryads, earth-based
    Plains (arid, crashed aircraft, hunter's snare, metal rod)
    Objects in the flyer: electric lamp, scroll-case, 50' wire rope, unusual scroll: "Create Wings of Glamour"
    This basic sorcery is unusual.
    It effects dangers, alternatively, it has an effect from the Tome of Adventure Design: Lifts or raises.
    It has no special requirements. The spell takes a week to cast.

  2. This is dope! Ever think of publishing your generators as a book or PDF?

    1. The generator is currently a Frankensteinian monster of about 11,000 lines :D So it would take quite a bit of work to turn it into usable PDF. A lot of that is just word lists - adjectives or nouns that I use as sparks.

      But I'm considering it.