Exploring New Frontiers – Part II


February 23, 2012 by deadorcs

Drawn by J. J. Sloane of www.vanitygames.comGreetings, Readers!

If you’ll remember last week, I showed you a great idea I had to encourage exploration and at the same time, represent exploration with something physical and tangible. I had made the fortuitous discovery of an old U-Build Monopoly game by Hasbro. Stripping it of its parts, I isolated all the hex-shaped units to convert them. Today, I wanted to show you how that conversion process worked out.



Spoiler alert: There’s a twist ending.

So, let me bring you back by once again showing you what I had to work with:

As you can see, while the tiles are full of pretty colors, I had to somehow convert them into something more familiar for gaming use.  My first step was to pay a visit to these fine folks:

Inkwell Ideas

I.I. produces a number of clever mapping and role-playing tools in both free, and pay versions. I needed something simple, so I fired up their free version of Hexographer and built some mono-terrain maps (maps with just one kind of terrain) and saved those files as a JPG.You’ll want your mono-terrain maps to be large enough for each to fill at least one 81/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper.

After that’s done, you can use pretty much use any image software. I found that my files were large enough, I could simply use the Windows Image Viewer to size them properly, and print them to a PDF file.

Once printed to a PDF, I loaded some full sheet label paper. It looks like this…

…and can pretty much be found in just about any office supply store. When you get done printing the PDFs, you’ll get sheets that look like this:

And, just in case that photo (even after clicked on), isn’t enough detail, here’s a closer look:

After printing out the sheets, it was a simple matter to cut them in rough squares approximating the size of the tile, applying the label to the tile, and then trimming off the excess label with a sharp x-acto blade.  The end result is something that looks like this:

The nice thing about these modified tiles is that they’re designed to snap together. All of the sudden, I now have a physical hex mapping exploration solution!


The M. Night Shyamalan Twist Ending

I was going to go into further detail about how best to modify these tiles, but I was struck with a rare bout of true inspiration. As I worked on this little project, the following factors all zoomed through my head in rapid succession:

  • DnDNext is on the horizon, a stated pillar of that game is to be exploration
  • Overland hex terrain maps are popular and remind people of the look of those Old School Greyhawk maps
  • Terrain mapping can be tedious to do, and not everyone is an artist.
  • Players often hate mapping.
  • Tactile things are cool.
  • Kickstarter seems to be working out for my friends, how can I make it work for me?
  • I could eat some popcorn about now.

Well, maybe that last one wasn’t really on the list, but as you can see, I had a LOT of stuff coming together in my head. Then it struck me that I could see something like this come to fruition. Something that players and DMs alike could use to map traditional looking hex terrain without having to go to a lot of trouble.

Enter Hexplorations.

That’s a working title. I understand it’s currently in use (at least as a URL), by a fellow blogger, so it may not become the permanent name of the product. My idea (and you heard it here at THIS IS MY GAME first), is to sell sets of magnetized hex terrain that you can put together yourself. Use a vertical board, use a table, with the Hexplorations (again, working title) tiles, you can map out the world as you go.

It’s an ambitious idea, but I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on Twitter, and I hope to be able to use Kickstarter to help fund the project. Still in the dark as to what this project would look like? Imagine taking an old style hex terrain map (much like the World of Greyhawk map), and cutting it up into 2″ hexes and printing it to magnets. Varying terrain types, add-ons like Towns, Cities, and lakes, and many other features. If that sounds like an ad, well…yeah…maybe that does sound like an ad. But, I am excited about this idea and in the coming weeks will be completing the research phase and working into the prototyping phrase.

I’ll keep folks posted as to how things are going (although maybe not on this site). It’s strange how a simple DIY idea can be come the genesis of a full fledged product idea. I’m getting excited just thinking about the possibilities.


My name is Randall Walker and This Is My Game



4 thoughts on “Exploring New Frontiers – Part II

  1. Jester David says:

    Sounds cool. I was eyeing the Monopoly game after you posted it, but I’d much prefer to just buy than make. You’d have my money on Kickstarter.

  2. Simon says:

    A quick thought before you go too far with this idea…. And heck there’s nothing to say that this isn’t an extra use for the tiles…

    My first thought when I saw the terrain pic (the last one) was “hey a Settlers of Catan board”.

    That is to say:
    1) some gamers will already have terrain hex tiles.
    2) same gamers may have a use for “better than cardboard” terrain hex tiles outside of RPGs as long as the tiles come in the correct assortments as Catan tiles, and have a uniform back so they can be shuffled and chosen at random.

  3. Alphastream says:

    What I most like about this idea is using it as a diversion – a sort of game-within-a-game that can spice up play. I particularly like the idea of either having a blank hex map (or tray) upon which these would go or to have some sort of cover. In both cases, the idea would be to reveal what is below as players explore. For example, they might only have a very rough map of where they are going within a valley. You set up the valley walls (maybe by negative space around the covered tiles). As they choose hexes through which to traverse you reveal both the terrain type and possible encounters.

    It ends up really similar to what SRM described with his Hexploration idea (in part based by Outdoor Survival, a game actually suggested for use with D&D in the OD&D white box).

    This all works really well with random encounters and/or sandboxing. In my own experiment with SRM’s idea, I found that it worked fine. However, it comes back to my issues with sandboxing and random encounters. If you have 4 hours to prep, and you prep 4 possible random encounters or sandbox options… wouldn’t that have been better if you created just 1 encounter designed to feel like a wandering monster but which you worked on really well for 4 hours?

    That’s what makes me think such a thing needs a lot of flexibility so it can be used in a number of ways.

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