All About Hex Maps

Hello fellow fantasy mappers,
On the Mule Abides blog I wrote up a small little discussion of my thoughts for designing the official ACKS hex-map formats to be used in play and in publishing.
An exciting sounding topic, I know, but I have also spun out my reasons for why ACKS might particularly need a more exacting framework for campaign mapping than just plain old hexagons.
Check it out:

Very nice!
A 2pence suggestion is that appropriate templates are made for Hexographer ( because although it doesn’t produce maps as beautiful as the one at the top of that thread (and that really is lovely), it produces functional hex maps for the artistically inept.
My personal preference is for functional, practical and usable computer based mapping tools over something that I need to print and draw by hand because my sister got all the artistic talent in the family - hence the desire for something that is Hexographer friendly.
Also to that end - if a set of ACKS specific icons were to be produced for use (based on your art style) with Hexographer, it would be a lovely tie in with that product. I can’t imagine Joe would be upset if ACKS were to show some support or at least consideration of his tool.
Would that be something y’all would consider?

I liked how the JG hex maps had a large hex superimposed over the sheet, showing how the next level of scale mapped to that close up sheet.
Also, in regards to numbering, In found an interesting method in the region sheets in SPI’s Universe game. They turned the hexes on their side, (so they were in rows, with a point going up and down) and number the rows. Then they put a different colored number at an angle in the hexes along the top and side, basically numbering a diaganol row. That way every hex had a coordinate that could be found by looking where they cross.
Its advantage is that the hexes are not all cluttered with numbers in them, just the ones on the edge. But It it not very intuitive, and hard to follow, so I don’t recommend it.

Really nice job on the official maps; I second the suggestion that Hexographer has become the old school default for the artistically impaired. I’m sure once ACKS is published, someone will do some similar templates.

Yes Beedo, I think that’s likely.
The more I think about it, the more I want an ACKs set of Hexographer icons :slight_smile:

How about a sub-local map that divides a 6-mile hex into quarter Mile hexes?
That gets more or less to the scale of a USGS Topo quadrangle map scale. Although mabe when you have zoomed into a 6 mile hex, the GM should really be leaving hexes behind and going over to a regular grid, or just free form drawing.
In either case, a printable sheet that shows the scale inside a 6 Mile hex would be a good addition, since it is handy for mapping the area around a village or dungeon.

On templates and art for Hexographer:
I am not personally opposed to making some icons and items for use in hexographer, although I am unfamiliar with the software. I think it will just take some talking to the ACKS & Hexographer poobahs.
Note that the icons and pattern fills of my maps are slightly different from hex to hex iconography of Hexographer so YMMV. I will check it out.
Jedo -
I think you showed me a diagonal hex grid reference on a map you brought in and my eyes crossed because I had never seen one before. I have to say it is my war-gaming fandom that comes through in my hex-maps. In terms of readability, with all the crazy digital tools available, it is interesting to tweak the texture of the numbers on the map so it is not too intrusive but still functional for locating hexes. The color maps really are just for looking up close or for on the computer. The plan is to print B&W line-art maps in a gazetteer and then provide color digital copies or something of that nature.
You also point out some the reasons why I never really dug hexes on the quarter-mile scale and why I didn’t make it with the other three on the first pass. In my mind I can conceptualize hexes of on a map representing half a day’s walk, and I can conceptualize a square on a grid being an area 5’ or 10’ square in a dungeon. But thinking of hexes as 1320 feet kinda slips through my mental space. My closest personal analogy I have now is that each quarter-mile hex represents the distance of a NYC avenue block that I can walk.
But even then, wouldn’t most medieval towns, villages, and castles only take two of these hexes. Maybe the quarter mile scale is good for areas like the caves of chaos and the keep on the borderlands, big areas. I think Judges Guild used the subscale of this in the 1 hex = 55 feet for the village/castle/caves book right?
Anyway it wouldn’t be hard do make the big hex maps for the two lower scales. I will work on it.

good points all. It is easy to get caught up in the ‘powers of ten’ idea of each hex is made of smaller hexes. But now I am thinking that a 1 page sheet with a big 6 inch tall hexagon, and a faint-ish 1/2 inch square grid.
A page that is mostly filled by a 6 mile across hex seems useful to me, since that scale would be handy to sketch out a valley, or a group of villages, a manor or haunted forest. It is a good adventuring area for levels 1-5, and may represent the entire known world for a peasant.
An actual village would fit easily inside one of the squares, and the assumption is that the Gm (if they need one more level of zoom) would have a another sheet with that 8" square drawn out on the page and the scale would be 1"= 330 feet.
For us Americans, a 330 foot square is easy to visualize as roughly one football field length, and for non-Americans it is almost exactly 100 meters.

GG - I believe (but don’t quote me) that ‘all’ that is necessary to create something that would be compatible with Hexographer is to create a small png icon for each of the terrain and feature types that Hexographer uses (or as many as are appropriate to ACKs).
Then, they can either be uploaded individually or I believe they can be somehow put together as a collection which can be loaded as a group - as per the instructions in this link. I’m afraid I don’t know how the .properties file is created, so that may require some liaison with Joe (Hexographer Grand Pajandrum)
Obviously, this is all on the assumption that the Gods of ACKS are happy with the idea and Joe likewise :slight_smile:

Jedo - I can see the appeal in having some template that shows a transitional relationship from Hexes to Squares. Being able to translate up or down in scale may be mighty useful as adventuring parties ‘grow up’.

Any chance we could get those downloads of the hex maps fixed?

Sorry for the delay folks. The new collection of blank hex maps is available as a single file download below.
I took the opportunity of the fix to add the forth map of jedo’s desire: The big hex with 24 smaller hexes in subdivision for the discussed quarter mile and 55 foot scales for detailed mapping of castles, villages, caves, and outlying areas.
Use in good adventuring.


You mentioned previously wanting some hexographer/acks hack (like myself) to do some work… here’s the first pass of some maps. You’re killing me with some of the hex numbering you’re doing, but that’s okay, I’m wiley and came up with a solution! :wink:
If you have someplace I could host these, I’ve redone the ACKS blank hex maps as Hexographer files to speed people up in their map creation.

Hi Brennan,
Let me see if I can get the ball rolling. How big are the files? If you want to send the files to mr.greengoat at I can take a look at them and see if we can put them up.

Any news on the files?