Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sub-Hex Crawling 1.5 - More Pointcrawl Maps

Since writing my post about pointcrawling, I've come across a few extra examples that I didn't include in the original. The first is something I stumbled upon by happenstance, the next couple are suggestions from people who read my post, and the last two are ones that I remembered too late.

First, Melancholies & Mirth uses a pointcrawl diagram to lay out a dungeon inside the belly of a sea monster, as seen in Figure 1.

Fig. 1 - Leviathan Dungeon from Melancholies & Mirth

My friend at Role High recommends I Don't Remember That Move's text-based dungeon pointcrawl generator. You can see a randomly generated example in Figure 2.

Fig. 2 - Random Pointcrawl Generator from I Don't Remember That Move

In a similar vein, Eric Nieudan (author of Macchiato Monsters) recommends the DunGen pointcrawl dungeon generator by Ruminations of a Geek. You can see another randomly generated example in Figure 3.

Fig. 3 - Random Pointcrawl DunGen from Ruminations of a Geek

Those examples jogged my memory about a pointcrawl dungeon generator I'd forgotten all about. It was posted several years ago by Land Of Nod, and it's intended to provide random lairs and hideouts for Golden Age supervillains. A neat feature of this one is that the pointcrawl you're drawing is meant to be drawn out on hex paper. You can see the example Matt Stater made himself in Figure 4.

Fig. 4 - Random Subterranean Lair by Land of Nod 

The final example is one I vaguely remembered when I was writing my first post, but couldn't find and sort of gave up on. When I mentioned that pointcrawl maps could be used for dungeon interiors, I was thinking of the Red Tide minidungeon I posted, but I was also thinking about something I'd seen years ago, where someone laid out an entire megadungeon as a pointcrawl. After poking around a bit more, I finally found it. In My Campaign has a lengthy series of posts designing a pointcrawl megadungeon (although he calls it a node-based megadungeon, which was part of why I had a hard time re-finding it.)

If I understand correctly, there's a relatively simple overview map of the dungeon, depicting each region as a node (shown in Figure 5), then there are maps of each region, depicting each room as a node (an example, showing the region "The Abandoned Tower" is shown in Figure 6), and then finally, there's a much larger map showing the entire dungeon, but with each node still representing one room (shown in Figure 7.) Incidentally, if I have misunderstood, I think it may be the case that even at the finest level of detail, each node represents a grouping of rooms rather than an individual room.

Fig. 5 - Megadungeon Region Map by In My Campaign

Keith Davies wrote a few framing posts, first announcing his intention to design a pointcrawl megadungeon and laying out the region map from Figure 5, then announcing his plan to make a pointcrawl map for the interior of each region. At the end of the process, he also made the large-scale map in Figure 7 showing the entire megadungeon, and drew a new set of connections between the nodes showing the movement of information within the dungeon. (There's also posts showing intermediate steps in the process, some posts where he talks about the computational tools he's using and how long the whole process takes, plus three play reports about running adventurers through the finished dungeon.)

Fig. 6 - Abandoned Tower Region by In My Campaign

In between the beginning and the end, he wrote a series of posts showing the interior of each dungeon region as its own pointcrawl, like the one in Figure, showing the Abandoned Tower. The regions within the dungeon are:

1 The Abandoned Tower
2 Wolf Den
3 Goblin Warren
4 Clockwork Hell
5 Dwarven Safehold
6 Fungoid Cavern
7 Aristothanes' Sanctum
8 Pit of the Misshapen
9 Aboleth Conclave Outpost
10 Fane of Baalshamoth
11 Shalthazard the Pale

Fig. 7 - Megadungeon Map Complete by In My Campaign

Within each regional node, Keith lays out the role that region of the dungeon is intended to play in a character-goal-driven campaign, the kinds of dangers found in the region, the kinds of treasures and rewards found in the region, the important relationships between the region and other parts of the dungeon, a description of what's visually (or other-sensorally) notable about the region, a rough guide placing the region inside the dungeon, and then a brief description of each room / group of rooms / notable feature within the region.


  1. Bloodofprokopius has some interesting hex crawl ideas for his ‘under portown’ posts. Which were inspired by graphpapergames (see link below). Even though the graphpapergames example is a hexmap, they’re really just areas with some rules that mean you can’t automatically go from one area to the 6 notionally available.

    This seems related and in someways overlapping with the material you’ve been covering. And they’re all different approaches that step away from ‘conventional’ maps, and have a lot to do with conepts and functions and intent - what happens here, who lives here (and why), where can you get to from here/where can’t you get to (and why or why not).

    So thanks for the info. I don’t think I’ve seen even 1/3 the posts you refer to - all quite good thought provoking stuff. Looking forward to your next post.

  2. Have had a chance to check out more thoroughly some of the articles you point to in this and ‘Part 1’. And am even more impressed. A very useful bit of research here and a lot of really good ideas.

  3. Thanks for the links, Alistair!

  4. Thanks for the links, Alistair.

    And you did read it correctly. In most regions each area represents several rooms. I didn't need the higher detail at the time, so I stopped there.

  5. Regarding 'node-based' vs 'pointcrawl', my background is programming and mathematics, so I was thinking in terms of graph theory (nodes and edges and such). I'm pretty sure I wrote the node-based megadungeon before I was aware of Chris Kutalik's posts on the topic at Hill Cantons.

  6. Thanks for sharing some of the history of your design, Keith. It's interesting to hear how you approached the project.

    1. Thank you. I'm about to start on an adventure design series on my blog using similar techniques. I'm building a quickstart adventure (no time to explain, pick a character and go! You'll find out what those stats mean on the way).

  7. This might also be of interest: