This world is the creation and plaything of unknown and petty gods.
A while ago I was rereading Secret Wars and this frame caught my eye and stuck in my mind as it never had before:
Around the same time I saw this map over on Jeff’s Gameblog.
I bought the download of that image, ‘shopped off all the details, spun it 180°, made some geographical changes, marked down the five main parallels and covered the whole with a hex grid. The hexes are 300 miles across; basically Romania:
Also around that time the OSR crowd was putting together Petty Gods. I got an idea.
I dug out my early-print copy of Deities & Demigods (with Melniboné and Nehwon in it) and Judges Guild’s Unknown Gods.
The original conceit was this: each hex of the world is an expanse of a single terrain type plucked and placed by a different god. I picked up seven digest-size moleskin notebooks and labelled them Green-and-Pleasant, Bog, Bad(land), &c.
Each booklet details the various facts, features, flora and fauna of the hex in question; they’re essentially a sandbox’-worth of info. The god that put the hex there — and that is therefore tied to it — is also noted. The divinities are playing a game as-yet beyond the ken of mortals on the Hexworld.
I still haven’t decided if the different world-fragments are copies or actual chunks torn from the originals Beyonder-style or what. It hasn’t come up as important yet.
Each hex contains a city — Haven, Waterdeep, the Citystate, Hexopolix, &c. — or a megadungeon (Barrowmaze, the ruins of Mor, Tegel Manor, the Anomalous Subsurface Environment, and so on). In some cases both are present; for instance the city of Dolmvay and Dwimmermount are co-located.
Later — since I’m an inveterate game-switcher and rule-kludger — I decided to open Hexworld up. While many of the hexes are still of the mountains or forest or desert variety, some are areas of different games (like Dungeon Crawl hex, and Lamentations hex and Gamma World hex) or magazines (classic White Dwarf hex, classic Dragon hex and Crawling Under a Broken Moon hex). Boot Hill, Jorune and Arduin are there, as are The Manor and Crawl!. Santicore too.
I’ve also put in hexes inspired by books and comics. The Crimson hex comes from Borges’ Books of the Crimson Hexagon (and conflates into it pretty much everything you’ve ever read that involves the colour red. Hmm, Red and Pleasant Land is soon-to-be; I’ll ponder that). Then there’s Xeonzoic hex (because The Valley of Gwangi) and Okko hex (because combat bunraku; here’s the best one I’ve found for 28mm).
How “the world” works is different in a lot of the hexes, one-from-another. These are the manifestations of the various rule sets and magazines as they affect the physical and metaphysical laws of their world fragments. Crossing a hex boundary is like stepping through a membrane. The very fabric of reality changes hex-to-hex.
And now I present to you, Hexworld: