Running a Savage Hexcrawl

I hope everyone in the U.S. had a Happy Thanksgiving last week! Since I had some time off from work, I wrote up some rules for running an old-school style hexcrawl using the Savage Worlds system. Now those of you who read my article on How to play DnD without actually playing DnD may remember that I described Savage Worlds as an excellent system for a pulp action experience, which may make it seem like an odd choice for a plodding wilderness exploration game. However, I believe the system has elements that we can use to make a Savage Hexcrawl that still resembles the old style of traversing through rough and rugged terrain at a snail's pace.

In Savage Worlds each character is assigned a pace, usually 6, as opposed to a speed in feet. Pace stands for how many inches the model can move on a tabletop during combat, or squares in a Virtual Tabletop. We can take this pace and convert it to a resource system for travel activities in a hexcrawl. In contrast to the standard DnD type game where a character's speed is unaffected by injuries, pace in Savage Worlds is reduced by wounds or fatigue, meaning that the party will actually want to take the time to heal and rest up as it will have an impact on how many activities they can do in a traveling day.

I will be using Savage Pathfinder as the setting for these rules, although you could easily use the base Savage Worlds and flavor it with the Fantasy Companion. For ease of use a Critical Success refers to a success with a raise. To convert pace to a more typical D&D ruleset divide the character's speed in feet by 5 to get their pace. With that said, let's dive into the rules I created for running a Savage Hexcrawl!

The Rules

Each traveling day the party as a group receives their pace as points that they can spend to do travel activities. They can do as many activities as they have pace points remaining. The party's pace points are always equal to the single lowest current pace of all traveling companions, as you can only travel in a group as fast as the slowest member. If the party has horses, they add extra carrying capacity, not more pace. The party can then spend their pace points to conduct various travel activities in whatever order or sequence they desire. When the points are depleted the traveling day is over, and the party may rest for the night if they Setup Camp that day. If the party did not Setup Camp, they are assumed to have traveled throughout the night. 

Travel Activities

Travel (varies): The party spends the amount of pace to move to the next hex. For these rules a 6-mile hex is assumed. The pace spent is based on the terrain they are moving to, using the terrain chart below as a guide. This cost can be modified by the elements with things like heavy rain making the grasslands muddy and slowing the party down (at the DM's discretion). If the party does not have a landmark to guide them the party’s navigator must make a Navigate check at the start of this activity. 

Push On (varies)If the party does not have enough pace to fully complete a travel move, they may make a Vigor roll to Push On. This check is rolled after the Navigate check. There is a penalty to the Vigor check being the difference in cost of travel vs pace remaining. For example, if the group wishes to travel to a mountain hex, but they only have 3 pace points remaining for that day, the roll would be made at a -2 modifier (5 cost - 3 pace available = 2). Each member of the party must roll the Vigor check individually. With a success they push on without issue, failure they make it but with one level of fatigue. A party may only attempt to Push On once per traveling day.

Rest (1 pace): The party rests for a few hours. A resting party member can do a healing check, regain 5 power points, or do a vigor roll to remove one level of fatigue. Members who wish to be more productive may use this time for Foraging or crafting.

Explore (1 pace): The party may roll a single notice check to reveal any locations of interest in their current hex that were not immediately apparent when they entered.

Encounter (1 pace): Any sort of encounter, be it combat or otherwise, will cost 1 pace.

Setup Camp (1 pace): The party sets up camp for the night. One individual is nominated to make the Setup Camp check, using the rules provided below. 

Terrain Pace Point Cost

  • Plains and grasslands: 2 pace
  • Forest: 3 pace
  • Hills: 3 pace
  • Dense Forest: 4 pace
  • Desert: 4 pace
  • Swamp: 4 pace
  • Mountains: 5 pace


Without a major landmark to guide them (road leading the way, mountains in the distance, coastline to follow), the party's guide or navigator must roll a Navigate check to ensure they remain on the correct heading or path. The check is rolled with Common Knowledge if they know the surrounding area well or Survival if it is unexplored wilderness. Note that the pace point cost is subtracted from their total after the Navigate check is rolled, thus a party who only had 2 pace remaining may get a critical success and not need to Push On to travel through Hills or Forest. 

Critical Success: The party travels briskly without issue, subtract 1 pace from the cost of the travel activity.
Success: The party moves in their desired direction.
Failure: The journey is harder than expected. Add 1 pace to the cost of the travel activity. If the party does not have enough pace to cover this cost, they must roll to Push On
Critical Failure: The party becomes lost. When lost the DM moves the party in any direction or rolls a d6 to determine a heading on a hex map. Once lost the party must find a landmark with the Explore activity to orient themselves, otherwise they will continue to move in random directions.

Setup Camp

The party needs to Setup Camp each traveling day to gain the benefits of a night's sleep and avoid fatigue. One member of the party will roll either Survival or Notice. 
Critical Success: It’s almost like a night back home; the party gets the benefits of a good night’s sleep, and everyone gains a benny.
Success: The party sleeps through the night without issue.
Failure: The party was uncomfortable all night. Each member must succeed on a Vigor roll or gain one level of fatigue.
Critical Failure: Something happens during the night to interrupt their sleep. They wake up with one level of fatigue and no benefit from a night's rest.

A character who willingly goes without sleep must make a Vigor roll every traveling day thereafter or suffer one level of fatigue. Tea or similar stimulants add +1 to this Vigor roll.


Each day at dawn the party must eat and drink enough to sustain themselves. Each member marks off a daily ration at this time. If a member of the party does not have a ration to consume, they must succeed on a Vigor roll or gain a level of fatigue. For our purposes, a ration is assumed to cover both food and water needs, although you can make this more specific if they are traveling in a hot environment.

The party can also Forage for rations. Any member of the party may Forage during a Rest Travel Activity. To Forage the character rolls either Shooting (for hunting) or Survival (for more traditional foraging). A success provides one daily ration, or five with a critical success. 

Crawling to Victory

A well-run hexcrawl makes for an epic adventure, with a group of heroes journeying their way through a dense jungle or arid wastelands in search of treasure and excitement. Hexcrawls have been around since the beginning of our hobby, and there is always room for new ways and techniques to run them successfully.

These rules I have listed out here are by no means comprehensive, as they do not go into detail on the creation of a hexmap itself, random encounter probabilities, or how to create interesting details in the hexes. For guidance on those topics, I would recommend Hexed Press on Youtube or Filling in the Blanks by Third Kingdom games. 

With that in mind, I hope these rules provide you with a good framework to create your own Savage Hexcrawl, and let me know in the comments any feedback or advice you may have.