I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

How far can you see (in hexes)?

Just a passing thought.

From the top of the Everest, you could theoretically see things that are more 300 kilometers away. I'd assume, however, that conditions are not always perfect, and that getting to the very top of the Everest is an adventure in itself (taking 6 to 10 weeks).

Six-mile hexes are almost 10 kilometers.
2. Horizon. Your average human in a flat area without any obstructions in view (think a becalmed sea) can see up to 3 miles. Thats the distance to the horizon best case scenario. So a party travelling straight through a 6 mile hex is not going to see out of it. Unless they climb a tree or find a high place with a view. But the idea is that a 6 mile hex with varied terrain covers the distance that the party can see. A good rule of thumb is that if they take the time to survey the surrounding land then a party should be able to be aware of the terrain of the next hex over. Some pushback might come with the idea that you can see a mountain quite a ways away. But mountains are tricky in that you really can't tell how far away they are until you are a few hexes away. Getting a good vantage point (like the top of a hill or mountain) could be the opportunity for adventure in itself and being aware of the lay of the land can be its own reward. If you want to be able to tell your players how far they can see when they climb up the hill or tree or tower a good rule of thumb is that the distance to the horizon is the square root of thirteen times the height they are viewing from (http://enwikipedia.org/wiki/horizon).
"The square root of thirteen times the height" would be okay if I could come up with mountains heights easily, which I can't (conveniently enough, the Everest is almost 6 miles high; an easy way to remember how tall the highest peak in your setting might be).

For my games, I'd prefer an easier formula, even if a bit inaccurate.

So, here is what I'm thinking: pick a number from 1 to 10. 1 is finding and climbing a high tree, 10 is finding and climbing the highest peak... IF available in your region (finding it should be easy!). That's how many hexes you can see. Also, if the number is 2 or greater, it takes at least as many days to get there - in addition to any hexes you traverse while getting there (I always thought that the expedition to the Amber Temple, in Ravenloft, should be very hard...).

(Here is a post on how to make a map, BTW).

Not sure this would be useful. Seeing further than a few hexes would be good if the players were looking for something specific. Maybe the Tomb of Annihilation? I often consider running this one again. Or other campaign that involves mapping and exploring. Let's see...


  1. you might also find useful:


    1. That is indeed very useful! The Alexandrian writes great stuff! Thanks!

  2. None of this works for my world ... which is set on a flat earth (or rather, one side of a cubic heliocentric planet). Atmospheric haze does a lot for me, there.

    1. This is interesting! You could (potentially) see the edge of the world from a vantage point? How far can you see with atmospheric haze?

    2. I'll figure it out but I think from the top of a reasonably big mountain they should be able to see the whole 125 mile mega-hex.