Launching the Expedition

November 30, 2017 at 6:40 pm

I’ve also regarded a sense of humor as one of the most important things on a big expedition. When you’re in a difficult or dangerous situation, or when you’re depressed about the chances of success, someone who can make you laugh eases the tension.

—Edmund Hillary


What were we thinking?

This seems like a pretty valid question. In a world with hundreds of RPGs of different genres and complexities, why create another one? I guess the answer is personal taste. We loved the simplicity and action-focus of old school RPGs like The Fantasy Trip, but wanted to take advantage of nearly 40 years advancement in how these game are actually played. To capture the original spirit of those first generation games, but add in better organization, streamlined systems, greater consistency, and easy to use mechanics.

Those RPG pioneers loved seriously complex tables and intricate subsystems a lot more than they liked continuity or proof-reading. We wanted to play, and tried not to let the game get in the way.

What’s old

Heroic Expeditions takes TFT as an inspiration, using a small base of Attributes to define a character. It also uses a skill-based system of gaining abilities and spells, without class restrictions beyond ‘Explorer’ and ‘Adept’. The dice mechanics are based six-sided dice rolled over the target number of 11.. We also tried to adhere to the idea of letting the dice decide just the consequences of actions, and leaving the rest between the GM and the players.


What’s new

Hopefully, HEX is better organized than RPGs from the 80s. Rulebooks have come along way since then, and I’d like to think we’ve learned some lessons.

We added a set of secondary Attributes to help characters gain power in a more playable manner.  TFT used Strength to power spells — which is an effective and evocative method — but it meant that powerful wizards would end up physically powerful and capable of lifting great weights. Similarly, a wily veteran with a number of skills would have the Intelligence of a rocket scientist. We use Stamina and Expertise to allow characters to gain magical prowess and worldly talents without having to become brawny geniuses.

We also tried to keep things as consistent as possible. Rather than separate rules for whips grabbing arms, nets entangling combatants, and getting stuck in spider webs, we tried to build consistent procedures for handling all these actions. Whenever possible, we tried to create a simple Attribute test that could work for a broader range of possibilities.

Things like grappling have always been the bane old school systems. Creators often tried to simulate real world experiences of wrestling or boxing in a world of flaming longswords and dragons. We streamlined this along with movement, encumbrance, and a few other often-complicated aspects of RPGs.

Equipment listings in the HEX book are minimal. We wanted to cover the major bases, but leave room Game Masters to personalize their worlds. With all due respect to the glaive-guisarme and bohemian ear spoon, the weapon and armor charts list only the basic types and leave room for individual expansion.

One major difference between HEX and other systems is its use of the offset grid for mapping and combat. Games like TFT and GURPS use hexes, which allow for more flexibility in combat, but do not map well to a world that involves a a lot of right angles. Offsetting every other row of squares can replicate the benefits of hexes without the strange look that hex maps give to structures.

What’s next

We’re pretty pleased with what we’ve done here at the Imaginaerie, but the proof of a game is in the playing. We hope you’ll take the opportunity to download our draft rules, check them out, and give them a spin at a gaming table near you.

Meanwhile, we are going to use this space to play with these rules ourselves. We’re going to do some more world-building, and see how the system inspires new fantasy worlds. We’re going to look at traditional character concepts, and see how can be executed (and reimagined) in HEX. And, we’re going to inspire you with rule modifications, monster explorations, and additional material you can use in HEX, or any game you might be playing.


Is there something you’d like to see in Heroic Expeditions? Or some great idea you’d like to share? Let its know. Or maybe there is some massive oversight we’ve made that you’d like to correct. By all means! Games are communal, after all.