BEARDED DEVIL

Monsters, Horror, Gaming

How Detailed is Too Detailed: Granularity vs. Practicality

I have also asked this over on Google+.

In light of positive reactions to the map here, on reddit, and on Google+, I’ve started seriously thinking about putting together a setting book to accompany the map of Hex. Consequently I’ve been looking over my notes on Hex. My plan at this point for each district of the city is to provide an overview description, plus possible encounters and adventure hooks for each area.

However, I’m wondering which the following two approaches would be better to flesh the districts out:

1) A detailed, street-by-street description, as if the city were a dungeon. I have this level of granularity for several districts already in my notes, though not all. This is generally seen as a bonkers approach to cities, but so is spending a year drawing a map by hand with every building in the city, so I’ve already crossed that particular Rubicon of lunacy.

My worry here is that this might be too much even for the most detail-oriented DM, and it could make a setting book harder to use since it’s a bit harder to find the detail you’re looking for quickly, generally a must for any sort of roleplaying product.

On the other hand, it would make the city entirely 100% playable with minimal prep, and it seems to fit with the “maximalist” approach of the map. If it were organized right it might not be as unfeasible.

2) A slightly lighter approach picking out the most important buildings and features of a district for the DM – major temples, taverns, shops, universities – etc. There’d still be detail, but the street-by-street description would be absent. This might be more usable in the long run, but there’d be a loss of detail.

So, for example, following this approach the reader would know about the particulars of the Witching Hour Alehouse, important neutral haven for thieves, and its mystic, tatoo-keyed portal to the numinous Midnight Market, but wouldn’t necessarily know that in Chough Alley there is a family of spiderfolk weavers exiled from Cobweb Cliffs for their ancestor’s crimes, or that an illicit alchemist on Widdershins Way sells memory-modification potions.

What do you think? Which would you want more – full granularity, or slightly-zoomed out?

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5 Comments

  1. Joel

    Just a thought, but you could combine both approaches. For each district, have Notable Buildings & Important Features up front, so DMs can access the vitals quickly and easily, and then afterwards have the Nitty Gritty, your detailed street-by-street description, for the DM who wants to dig around. It would be a shame to miss out on such incredible creative details as the spiderfolk in Chough Alley and the alchemist in Widdershins Way.

  2. Steeve

    As you’ve just recently posted Genial Jack and Jackburg on Reddit, I had to come here and read your material. This is fantastic stuff. You should commit to some kind of small worldbook and keep it fairly superficial, only diving down on stuff that may be more pertinent to your setting.

    Leave the rest to aspiring DM’s, so they can inject a bit of their own in it.

    What I’ve read so far makes me really eager to use this. Something I haven’t felt in quite a long time. Congratulations on your wonderfull imagination!

    • Thanks!

      There may eventually be a more granular, fully-detailed version of Hex, but currently I am in the process of putting together something closer to what you’re describing.

      • Anonymous

        That’s fantastic. Hopefully in 2018? 🙂

        One can always hope!

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