Hex Paper - one of the signature items of the RPG hobby. Originating in the board and counter games of Avalon Hill, hexes formed the basis for mapping nearly all of the early settings. When miniatures returned to widespread use in RPGs hexes were scaled up to be used on battle mats.
For mapping there is a big gotcha in using hexes. Unlike grids it is not as straight forward to use when you are drawing multiple maps to be joined or expanding the scale of a larger map. The advantage of using hexes was that it offered quick and easy management of sub maps and handling movement.
Note: You can click on the thumbnail to get a full image.
There are two types of hex grids
Of the two vertical is by far the most popular used. The examples in this post will be using the vertical hex grid.
Hexgrids have several choices how they can be formed.
These are rectangular hex grids.
You can make the end columns even in number.
You can make the ends uneven in length.
The last arrangement is used when you sub dived a large hex into smaller hexes.
If you are just mapping one region and that all then you don' t need to worry about how to join two hex maps together. However if it is going to take multiple maps to completely cover your campaign then this issue needs attention
Unlike rectangular maps hex maps will have some degree of overlapping. This is because for vertical hex grids the top and bottom are uneven. It is possible not to overlap however you have to alternate two different hex grids.
There are two other ways of handling the vertical joining of two hex grids.
A half overlap
A full overlap
Of the two I prefer the half overlap. It slightly spreads out the vertical coverage of each individual map and I only have to copy the top and bottom hex every other column.
The horizontal joining has several types.
If you use a hex grid with uneven numbers of hexes you can lay them side by side with no overlap.
Judges Guild in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy was one of the first publishers to deal with this issue. They used 18 hex maps arranged in a three maps across 6 maps vertically. Each Hex maps had 52 columns, and 34 rows on the odd columns (1,3,5, etc) and 33 rows on the even columns. The resulting hex grid had uneven ends on the left and right edges.
They decided to use the half overlap to join the maps on the top and bottom edge. However they messed up on the left and right edge and decided to make them overlap. Because of the even ends of the hex grid this resulted in a staircase effect as below. Each map to east was a half row south of the map to the west.
For hex grids that have even ends you can do a full overlap of the last hex column with the first hex column of the next map.
I prefer the full overlap option as it helps ensure that I am correctly drawing from one map to the next. The same reason applies to the half overlap option.
For vertical hex grids the numbering system is XXYY where XX is the column number and YY is the row number. This is reversed for horizontal hex grids.
Judges Guild is famed for having a complete mapping system that goes from campaign level of 5 miles per hex to a regional level of .2 miles per hex and finally to a local level of 42.24 feet per hex. Each larger hex was subdivided by smaller hexes 1/25 th the size of the larger hex. Hence the odd number at the local level.
If your scale per hex is an odd number (5 miles, 25 miles, etc) it is easy to draw up a subdivided hex as shown below. You pick a center hexes and count the remaining hexes outwards. You can use the six points to draw up the six sides of the larger hex.
Hexes with a even scale (10 miles, 30 miles, etc) are not as easy to subdivide. The lines you will be drawing for the sides will be meeting in the center of hexes.
There is alternative for drawing even scale hexes but you will lose the center hex. You will have decide which form is best to use for you game.
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