Monday, March 30, 2020

MINI REVIEW: Hex Kit software

A brief detour from our wildly successful foray into the True Scientific Realism of historical weapons & armour. Thanks to everyone who has commented on those posts so far with an idea, correction or suggestion. Doing those tables is hard on my hands & eyes (all those pointed brackets) and the last one will be the biggest yet, so be patient.


I recently took a chance on Cone of Negative Energy's mapping program. Hex Kit and all the additional tilesets are available in this highly affordable bundle right now. I was booting around on and saw them available there as well. Check out their website for some more details.

Hex Kit is very simple, low-resource, bare bones hexmap software. You can buy the tilesets to use in Roll20 if you do that kind of thing, but the program itself (as bought from DTRPG) works perfectly for me at home for my own use. The great strength of this program is its utter simplicity and ease of use, and the gorgeous hand-drawn artwork.

Here is a player's map I made yesterday in about an hour. Most of that time was taken up with double-checking it against my paper map, to make sure I had it right! There is more territory beneath the black hexes but we don't want my shifty players looking ahead:

Click to enlarge

Hex Kit has a perfect balance between simplicity and depth. All you have to do is pick a tile and start clicking on your map to fill hexes. If you pick a category (eg: forest, mountains, haunted wood, etc) the individual tiles will be assigned randomly, which just makes things look great. Most terrain types have 20 or more tiles so duplicates are far enough apart that I never notice. If you want to fine-tune your map you can click over & over to cycle the look of an individual hex, or just go into the terrain type and pick from individual images. I haven't had to do this yet.

It uses multiple layers for icons like towns, castles, ruins, whatever - but also cliffs, rivers and coastlines that will overlap your existing terrain. The coasts especially are lovely, the Fantasyland tileset has hand-drawn pieces that cover any cross-section of a hex you could ever need.

Click to enlarge

Observe a work-in-progress above. This shows a few of the Traveling Through Dangerous Scenery tiles, and the workspace. Simple buttons for paint, erase, clear a tile, labels & descriptions, rotate a tile, flip a tile, zoom and select a tile. The layers interface which is straightforward, and then your tilesets below. If you've ever used photoshop, GIMP or the like this will be a snap, and if you haven't it won't be too hard to pick up. A few minutes of messing with it is all you'll need.

There is also a 'custom map generator' that I'm still getting a handle on. It allows you to fill a hexmap quickly with any number of types of hexes randomly, based a hierarchy of elevation that you set. At the very least it's nice as a starting point, because if you resize the map it will automatically fill the new hexes for you!

If you don't get the bundle, Hex Kit comes with a default black & white tileset called Classic which is nice, but not nearly as cool as the full colour tiles. At a bare minimum you have to get the Fantasyland tileset, but Traveling Through Dangerous Scenery is also fantastic. There is an outer space set and one made to look like a pirate's treasure-map as well - get them if they sound useful, they look great but I don't know if I'll ever need them myself.

I do enjoy doodling a map with my coloured pencils but CONE's work is just ridiculously good here and I'll be using it from now on. Go check it out for yourself!

No comments:

Post a Comment