Hexplore: Borderlands


Courtney Campbell
Self Published
OSR

Discover the hidden wilderness game in Dungeons and Dragons! It will bring the actual experience of discovery to your players faces. They will be excited to explore a strange fantasy world!

This eighteen page hex toolkit is something new under the sun. Maybe? I bought it expecting something like Wilderlands. I got something ELSE hex related: a domain play product. Those things are rare as fuck, henc this review of a non-adventure

Pre-1e D&D is a masterpiece of design. You can see how it evolved. Ear worms for people listening at doors. ESP to stop those fucking prisoners from betraying you. Resource play. The spell ist, in particular, doctates the play style. (along with gold=xp.) High level adventures don’t typically work because they are not SUPPOSED to work. By the time you’re high level you should be moving on to other things … doman play.

The first page of the product does a great job explaining its role in the world. Early D&D had a high-level play style where you went in to a hex, with your retainers, men-at-arms, etc, and cleared it of creatures. You set up some points of lights, got some settlers, and taxed the fuckers. TaDa! High level play.

This thing supports that play style. It’s a one-hex overview. That one hex is broken down in to some nini-hexes with features in them. There’s a couple of medium adventuring locations, a demi-human tribe, three lairs, four landmarks,, rumors, and a wandering monster table. Everything has a kind of relation to the description style from Wilderlands. This landmark is the house of an albino woodsman with mongolisn and is a superior warrior. This one is an abandoned herb garden, or a ruined tower, or a talking bird. The lairs are a sunken ship, hill caves and a basalt obelisk. The medium sites are a towerful of bards, a bandit camp, and a volcano with a lost world inside. All have nice little pictures meant to be inspiring. The Medium sites have some floorplans with a true minimal key. “9. Thone. Table.” or “12. Bodies on floor. 2d12 zombies.” The lairs just have a big “notes” section for you to jot things down on.

Nothing here is really put together, or interrelated. That’s all up to the DM. There may be a sentence or two of description of the general area/lair/etc description, but then it’s just he minimal key and picture to inspire you to create something. Sit down for an hour, think, jot notes, and have a big hex for people to clear … up to and including ye old 110 bandits.

It’s an interesting concept. There’s no scale to the maps, so I assume it standard hex sizes. Would it kill ya to put that on the map Courtney? Anyway, I’m not sure how to evaluate it. It’s trying to be useful to a style of play doesn’t really have many supplements for it, so its hard for me to judge … and I LUV judging things. It’s a toolkit, not an adventure. It’s a toolkit for something that I don’t think has any other examples. If you take Wilderlands as your guide, then this supports the DM well. You, the DM, will need to flesh this out just as you would a Wilderlands hex. Riff on thing much more than a standard adventure.

This is $4 at DriveThru.
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/247916/Hexplore-Borderlands

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4 Responses to Hexplore: Borderlands

  1. squeen says:

    Look, it has to be said: most days there is very little exciting happening in the OSR. Despite a multitude of blogs and mini-products, it frequently doesn’t evoke the same giddy excitement I felt re-discovering D&D with the help of the internet several years ago after a 30-year personal hiatus.

    This site is the one exception. I look forward to every review. If it’s a positive one, I snap up the product and pour over what was “good”—trying to incorporate some of that in my own campaign-design. If it’s “bad”, I just sit back and enjoy the good-spirited derision the author has earned through naivety, lack of effort, or general OSR situational ignorance. While I don’t always agree with everything Bryce writes (e.g. I don’t detest humanoids the way he does), I do sincerely appreciate the time and money Bryce has expended for all our benefit and entertainment. I don’t know him, but I think he must be one of the “good guys”—a generous fellow, who asks for little in return.

    I write this in part because I just put 2+2 together and realized that Gus L., a frequent commenter here, used to run the site http://dungeonofsigns.blogspot.com/, that I have recently been exploring (and enjoying!). His published works are/were evocative, original, and…too short! Unfortunately, Good Things seldom last long, and it saddens me that Gus has recently closed the doors on his blog—having become disillusioned with some of the internet-typical bile that has leaked into the OSR. Alas, things wax and wane. That’s life. He’s not the first or last to “burn out”.

    In short, I am thankful that tenfootpole.org and Byrce’s prolific reviews are still going strong. Reading it has become a favourite part of my day. A routine that, along with dungeon-prep, helps fill the gap between gaming-sessions and keeps a passion for (O)D&D alive in my heart.

    Thanks again for the review.

  2. Jeff says:

    The dimensions of the hex are not given in the product, which is a shame. However, the product blurb on DriveThru says it is a 6 mile hex.

  3. ola j says:

    I read this myself a while ago, and it’s a very interesting attempt at a new kind of product, with great room for further improvement.

  4. shaneward says:

    I’m going to buy this based on this review. Thank you.

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