Random Encounters with Hex Describe

Of the many cool tools Alex has put together on campaignwiki.org, Hex Describe was one I’d long admired but hadn’t found a use for.

Hex Describe is an amazing tool. It can create a random regional hex map loaded with cool stuff. Moreover, while by default the hexes are populated from a set of detailed tables Alex created (just click the Submit button on Hex Describe to see an example of an Alex map), Hex Describe makes it very easy to create your own set of tables from which to populate the hex map.

To quickly understand how the tool works on a very basic level, go to Hex Describe and delete the content from the first text box. Then enter these lines instead:

0101 hill
0102 hill
0103 hill
0104 hill
0105 hill
0201 hill
0202 hill
0203 hill
0204 hill
0205 hill
0301 hill
0302 hill
0303 hill
0304 hill
0305 hill
0401 hill
0402 hill
0403 hill
0404 hill
0405 hill
0501 hill
0502 hill
0503 hill
0504 hill
0505 hill
include https://campaignwiki.org/contrib/gnomeyland.txt

Move the radio button as shown in this image:

Hex Describe with the radio button set to “only use the data provided below”

Then, in the last textarea on the page (under “Alternatively, just paste your tables here:"), paste the following:

1,an orc tribe lives here
1,a village of humans is here
1,the stronghold of an Evil High Priest is here
1,this is an empty hex

Finally, click Submit.

You’ll generate a 5x5 hex grid of hills. Each hex will either be empty, or have one of the above three occupants in it, with an equal chance of each.

The help page has a lot more detail on how to use Hex Describe for creating random hex maps based on your tables.

But this brings me to the reason I haven’t really used this tool at all: I already have a campaign setting with a hex map. However, the neat syntax for creating the tables actually makes Hex Describe a handy tool for rolling up random encounters, and I’ve recently started porting my campaign’s existing random encounter tables into it.

To see how this is done, first you’ll want to navigate to the no map version of Hex Describe. This can be used to test your random tables while you’re building them, but is also handy as a more general-purpose generator, including a random encounter roller!

We’re going to use the mountains results from the original game as an example, so in the first box we’ll just type:


Remember to change the radio button to “only use the data provided below”.

Under “Alternatively, just paste your tables here:”, you add the details of your random encounter chart.


That’s enough to give you a result for a broad type of encounter, but you probably want more detail than that. What if we use the following in the last textarea?


1,Evil High Priest

That gives you accurate results for Men encouters. If you keep working at it for a while, you might end up with the full mountain encounters in there. Upload the tables in a text file to someplace where they are publicly accessible on the web (e.g. Neocities). Then instead of copy-pasting the tables into the textarea on Hex Describe, you can paste the URL into the input labeled “Table URL”.

Once you’re done, the table might look something like this: lbbEncounters.txt

And you can generate a single encounter here: one mountain encounter These are really just the basics of what you can do – now go make some encounter charts!


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This page last updated: 2020.05.19