Tomb of Annihilation – a mid play Reflection

I don’t think they put together much of a hex crawl. With hex crawls you find places on the map in almost every hex. You may even return to them for various reasons. Maybe there are some empty hexes, but generally just between actual locations.

I think WOTC would have done well to present rough idea of TWO locations out in the grid – and nearby, like two or three hexes away from port Nyanzaru. Each location, when found, would then present information as to another two locations (sure, eventually you’ll run out of locations so some of the latter ones can reveal other locations already known about). This presents the players a choice, which when engaged presents them another choice, etc. Soon enough you have a map filled out with locations, or areas to explore in to find locations and possibly interactions between locations – ie reasons for PCs to actually go back to a place.

That or fill a whole bunch more of the hexes with actual locations. That’d be preferable, but for page count reasons the dual linked locations probably works more.

10 thoughts on “Tomb of Annihilation – a mid play Reflection

  1. > With hex crawls you find places on the map in almost every hex.

    Can you support this statement? This has not been true of the hexcrawls I have read, but they might not be representative.

    1. Well, it depends if you thought you’d enjoy what you read if you were to run it, Tommi (keeping in mind that’s reading rather than running and I’m running ToA at the moment). Maybe all the ones you’ve read wouldn’t be fun to me and would have the same problem for the group I run for as I outline for ToA? Take this review of Toa ( ) and scroll to ‘A VAST EMPTINESS OF VIOLENCE’, with it’s final line being ‘As it is this is the sort of hex crawl that has given hex crawls a reputation for being boring and unpleasant.’

      In other words, keeping in mind you’ve read some hex crawls rather than played them, can you support that you read fun hex crawls? Some kind of fun?

      1. Not at all. I’ll only talk about overland adventures either I OR you find fun in some way. Even if your fun isn’t my kind of fun, the point is to not drag in crap methods of overland adventures that aren’t fun for anyone (as if they were some kind of counterpoint). Heck, if you just enjoyed reading them, I’ll take that on board.

        Or are you trying to just frame me as only talking about what I find fun, as if I’d suddenly excluded what you’d read?

        What if, for play purposes at least, it actually deserves to be excluded? Because no one finds it fun? Perhaps ‘ the sort of hex crawl that has given hex crawls a reputation for being boring and unpleasant.’?

        I’m not excluding what you find fun, Tommi. Doesn’t even have to be my style of fun. But I am excluding bringing up adventure methods if you can’t say they fun for you.

  2. In the blog post you made a claim about hex maps, with no qualifiers as to what kind of hex maps. That surprised me, since the claim was contrary to my experience. I understood your first response as saying that the claim was only about “fun” hex maps, by some measure. This is okay, though I would still like to know at least one explicit example of such a hex map where there is an interesting location in all, or almost all, hexes.

    1. Here:

      Three points of interest per hex

      Not empty hex after empty hex and a random encounter table. And every other hex grid someone has put up on the net that I’ve encountered has had a lengthy key list for locations.

      Do you enjoy the empty hexes, Tommi? If you do, okay, then you’ve a fair inquiry. Otherwise you’re bringing up hex grids which aren’t fun but as if they have to be included in discussion – Tommi, that’s being disruptive. It’s like I’m talking about hammers being able to hit nails and you’re bringing up these hammers that are snapped in the middle or rusted to scrap and saying ‘what you’re saying doesn’t apply to these and this is my experience’. The hex grid is a tool to achieve fun – yes, I’m not talking about tools that are broken and do not give fun. If you find empty hexes fun somehow, okay, the tool gives you some kind of fun. But if it doesn’t give you some kind of fun, you’re insisting I have to talk about the broken hammers when I talk about hammers. What’s up with that?

      I worry that perhaps you can’t see some items just fail to be tools. Rusted hammers being put in with the functional hammers. As if when I talk about hex maps, I have to be talking about the badly made ones as well?

      1. Thanks for the reference.

        Players have mostly used roads in my game thus far, so only a little hexcrawling.

        I do not accept your accusations of bad faith; you made a statement of fact (“With hex crawls you find places on the map in almost every hex.”) which did not agree with my experience, so I wanted to know if I should update my assumptions (as happened) or if your statement was false.

        This had nothing whatsoever to do with what I or you find fun, before you suddenly started discussing that.

        But I’m satisfied with your answer and clarification that the original claim only concerned games someone finds fun.

        For the record, whether there are empty hexes is simply a matter of scale of the hexes. This does not significantly change gameplay, supposing the group has settled to some rule of thumb about how difficult it is to find, say, a dungeon entrance in an area of particular size. The hex map is simply a coarse representation of where everything is, and the scale it has should change how difficult or easy it is to find something in play.

      2. “This had nothing whatsoever to do with what I or you find fun, before you suddenly started discussing that.”

        How do you know I wasn’t discussing from the beginning? I didn’t ‘suddenly start discussing that’ – the idea that I do roleplay ‘for fun’ is pretty clear cut from the outset. I don’t do RP to have a boring time, clearly. You’re not talking with me here.

        It had plenty to do with fun right from the beginning. For some reason you didn’t detect that, Tommi.

      3. You might have included fun in the discussion from the beginning, but you certainly did not write that in the blog post. That is also the reason for me not detecting it at the beginning.

        Also, it is completely possible to discuss roleplaying from another perspective besides limiting oneself to some personal definitions of fun. You might do it out of academic interest, because someone pays you to do it, because you want to criticize a product, etc.

      4. To me, treating ‘fun’ as a surprise element speaks of many hours of gaming that just wasn’t fun, until it became normal to look at the activity sans any notion of fun. That’s another reason someone might discuss roleplaying materials from another perspective other than some kind of fun.

        And it’s really not a critique of a product to ignore what the product is for – it’d be like criticising a motor bike for how poorly it does as a canvas for paint and be hung up on a wall. It’d be missing the point.

        Before you started roleplaying, probably most of the fantasy books you’d read you enjoyed (and if you didn’t sufficiently enjoy a book, you didn’t buy the next in the series). And enjoying fantasy reading would have been partly why you were attracted to the idea of roleplaying. It’s worth reflecting on that original motive for entering roleplay.

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