Hex Flower Game Engines

Tod's picture

Have you seen the "19 Hex Power Flower" design by Goblin's Henchman? The original summary defines it as "a versatile game engine using 2D6 and a 19-Hex Flower (it’s like a random table, but with a memory)." But the approach is broadly applicable, and turns out to be quite useful for all sorts of interesting things: not just wilderness navigation, but weather, NPC moods/reactions, and even whole game systems. You can also download a hex template for making your own versions here. It's a good mix of flexibility and simplicity, in a nice, tight package.

The original post is here: https://goblinshenchman.wordpress.com/2018/10/25/2d6-hex-power-flower/

Since then, a number of other people have jumped in, using this basic mechanic to design additional games and subsystems, some of which can be found here. Totally worth checking out.

Paul T.'s picture

I've been following some discussions of these over at the Gauntlet forums. It seems like a very interesting idea!

I still can't quite figure out whether it is a genius way to organize and simplify information, or an unnecessarily complicated method which doesn't really fulfill its promise. It's interesting to think about, in either case.

I came *this* close to posting about this in your Hex Chess thread, but eventually decided to hold off, because, aside from the hexagonal grid, the concepts aren't really all that related.

What do you see as the strengths of the Hex Flower?

Tod's picture

I haven't used it for anything (yet), so at this point my attraction lies mostly in its marriage of function and structure in a concise and elegant form. I'm a sucker for things like that. A Systemophile. :-)

The first thing I'd do, when creating a Hex Flower for some purpose, would be to determine the edge rules (i.e., what to do when you go off an edge), because it seems to me that there are some variable fields in the world that are well-modeled by the mechanic of "Chaotic Leaps" and other structures that aren't, and this second type might benefit more from a "decelerated rebound" such as you see in normal models of collision detection.

There might be still other dynamic fields best served by a simple "stop at the edge" model, and -- who knows -- others best modeled by branching off the main flower into a secondary one when reaching an edge. This last type, (to tie into my Deleuzian musings) could represent a phase shift of the entire system into an Actualized Virtuality; a "mini-game" or "mini-model," if you will.

Paul T.'s picture

I have seen versions of the Hex Flower which number the hexes (from 1 to 19), presumably with each number representing how likely that hex is to be visited.

If that math holds up, it could be a very interesting tool. (I’m not sure how to verify that, without it taking days of writing out probability paths.)

I like your thoughts on connecting “leaving the field” with some profound shift in gameplay.

Unfortunately, that won’t work at all as written, I think (leaving the field happens very regularly when using the Hex Flower, and is, in fact, the most likely outcome of the first roll, so attaching that to something of real significance would be difficult to justify).

Paul T.'s picture

I'm struggling a bit to figure out how I might use this in a game situation, though.

Do I literally want to randomize an opponent's position in a fight, for instance? Hmmm.

GHench's picture

Hi Tod - Thanks for the mention and clear summary.

Paul (or anyone else) - if you have any questions, I might be able to help out. I’ve made a few HFs, mainly as a proof of principle, just to see what could be done. Perhaps my favourite out-there mod was making a procedural Trail by Jury. The navigation engine based on actual PC guilt.

Recently I’ve seen an up-spike in use of HFs (which is nice and interesting). Time will tell is this idea lasts ...

GHench's picture

empowermint - I like the almost Ying-Yang design you got going here (I've thought about a Ying-Yang design in another context)!!

Qo's picture

This is pretty neat and I like how you can add structure to the randomness.

Expect that this has already been done but rolling all the dice at once (1d6 for race, 2d6 for emotion, and 2d6 for disposition toward party) and hey presto...

Hexflower with instant NPC race, emotions, and disposition

I shifted the numbers around a bit to make it a bit less friendly to the PCs.

Another idea could be to track which faction is going to get in the way of the party next... might give that a try.

Octiron's picture

It is kind of both ingenious and maybe a bit complicated (but not very).

Since the probability is intended to skew down and to the left, I wonder if this could also be done by rolling two dice and taking the highest, with the 1-6 result always being arranged as:

  3  /       \ 2
  5  \       / 4

(forgive my crap ascii drawing).

Maybe simpler, but not by much.

Qo's picture

Can you give an example of how you would use that in play?

My thinking was roll all 5 dice (eg. 1 red, 2 green, 2 blue) when my D&D players decide to go up to Random Stranger #3 in the tavern. So-oo grabbing my nearest dice I get:

A dwarf (5) who is ambivalent (3+6) toward the adventurers and... ahh crap, also restless (2+4).

I hadn't thought about the second pair of dice heading the other direction in the flower...

That said, the dwarf could be restless due to an in-game reason and not care for strangers, say they've just lost their money gambling, and once the party do get their attention they... okay, they get rather fighty and want to take out their aggression on the nearest wannabe Conan.

I make a fair amount of use of random tables during play, especially when players go off-piste so I think a prompt like this could be useful in a pinch.

Edited to add:

I wonder if this could also be done by rolling two dice and taking the highest

I like this - the addition when rolling those was faintly unwieldy - so I just checked on anydice.com and once I'd copied out the below I realised that you already knew they matched up which is why you suggested it but IT WAS TOO LATE I'D ALREADY WRITTEN THEM OUT so I figure I'll post the %s anyway in case anyone else ever wonders.

Roll 2d6, take the highest

1 2.78
2 8.33
3 13.89
4 19.44
5 25.00
6 30.56

Roll 2d6, add together

12 2.78
2+3 8.34 (2.78+5.56)
10+11 13.89 (8.33+5.56)
4+5 19.44 (8.33+11.11)
8+9 25 (13.89+11.11)
6+7 30.56 (13.89+16.67)

Maths was never my strong suit.

Davey's picture

Sucker for a snazzy mechanic. I really like this for narrative trends and have an idea I’ll toy w. Thanks a million. This is my first look at this idea and my first time back here since story-games ended. Glad to see some familiar names here!

Qo's picture

Ohhh... right and if you use the lower of two dice you can go in reverse (to top left) on the hex flower, if a situation calls for it.

Oh! (he said after thinking about it on his lunchtime walk today after only a month's delay) like an advantage/disadvantage mechanic? Or throw a third dice for advantage/disadvantage...

Going to try a couple more: 1) the path of a runaway catoblepas (after a player set one loose), and 2) a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare for the same party trying to meet a paladin high in a palace's hierarchy.

It's the second which I think could work well with advantage/disadvantage but I'm not sure if the theme will be particularly fun to play out at the table...