Monday, March 14, 2011

And Now I'm Thinking About Geomorphs, Too

This is an age-old problem for me ... but when Arduin started talking about geomorphs several weeks ago, the old thorn began to dig into the ol' haunch in the same way it has a hundred times.  What I've long wanted would be geomorphic tiles that represented urban sections, which could then be fitted together to make villages, towns and cities.

Obviously, just drawing up town sections which would feature a couple of houses plus a street or two isn't the problem.  It's having those sections be fitted with hexes so that they could be used if a combat arose.

I've tried making the sections AS hexes ... but creating unified hexes so that at six points they can fit seamlessly with any other hex is more troublesome that it looks.  True, you don't have to have a road on every edge - but there is a difficulty that in sectioning off a hex with roads, you wind up with triangular sections upon which to set buildings.  Some other individual might be happy with that.  They might even consider the triangular construction to be representative of the curious culture of their world.  But not me.  I like squares.

Alternately, I could go the way of later editions and throw out the hexagon as the mapping system for battles.  I could change to squares.  If it wasn't for that damned hypotenuse.   Funny how my bow fires further if I turn 45 degrees ...

Wouldn't it be wonderful, I try to imagine, if somehow a tile could be made that was a square, and at the same time that tile could be hexed so as to be useful in combat.  Unfortunately, hexes and squares just don't get along.   There's no way to overlay hexes overtop of a square in such a way that when the square is turned, the hexes line up.  For example:

Still, a part of me doesn't care.  Which is odd, since I was just hung up on the hypotenuse a paragraph ago ... and this is unquestionably worse.

In spite of everything,  I'll probably go this way.  My biggest question right now is how many 5-foot hexes across should the square be?  The compromising concern is that my research tells me that Medieval town houses tended to be 13 to 18 feet wide, and 35 feet long ... with another 15 or 25 feet back of that for a yard.  Assuming we'd want to get the whole house on a hex, plus the street in front of it, we're talking about a square at least 60 feet on an edge.  80 feet (16 hexes) would be better, since then I could get houses built on both sides of a 10' wide lane, and then have house yards + center courts as a separate tile.

I can't say for the moment if a 16 hex diameter tile is too large, too small, or just right.  Certainly its too big for a dungeon ... but maybe not for an urban setting.  I haven't done much work on it.  But its been a few years since I've tried, I've learned a lot in those years and Arduin has got me thinking.  Perhaps I might manage something in the next few months.


Carl said...

I'd something like the short range of a light crossbow to determine the size of my square. In my game it's range weapons that cause me to think about how big to make the game table so it will support 25mm figurines for a reasonable skirmish of 20 or fewer participants.

Zzarchov said...

Consider the warhammer solution:

Don't use squares or Hexes, use inches.

Oddbit said...

Well I guess if instead of cutting them off near the point you could move it down/up a bit, but then you couldn't really turn them however you want. So the corner cuts a hex into four pieces. You could flip them 180 but not 90. Limiting, but then at least they'd match up.

Of coarse, you use a computer for your mapping, so maybe there could be a more graceful solution? Like just chunks of city in photoshop (or one of its freebie little brothers) like layers that you export as a .xxx file that is complete?

Lasgunpacker said...

Inches is a solution, as mentioned by Zzarchov, doing layers on the computer is another (or some sort of plastic overlay with the hexes if you do it with paper).

Another solution is to replace the hexes with circles offset in the same manner. Then you would at least get some better looking edges.

Of these options, I think using free movement and measurement is the easiest.

Arduin said...

Not to toot my own horn, but have you considered the whole "hex made of smaller hexes" idea to remedy the link-up problem?

I've actually got physical models I'm working with for my hexmorphs, it's just difficult under my current resources to convert them into a digital, distributable image.

The other thing I want to ask, since it's bothered me too is, just how big does your section need to be before it's "too big". I mean, sixteen hexes is pretty large.

Then again, if I understand correctly, you're working in a digital space here, and not on a table at all, so maybe that's just a comfort level thing there.

In any case, glad to fuel the fire, it's sure to be good.

Alexis said...


Back in the '70s we used to play a combat game called Tactics, which enabled us to use model tanks on very large surfaces like a rumpus room or a back yard as combat areas, measuring movement and range in feet and inches.

Gotta say, didn't really like it. The preference for hexes is that the measurement for everything is right there - easier to count than measure.

And you have all awoken the obvious solution, that I am clearly too stupid to see.

Why not make two templates for everything? One turned 90 degrees from the second ... so whatever orientation you want, the hexes line up.


Oddbit said...

Not stupid, close. It's why I'm writing my blog. I'm too close to the problem, I'm using my magnifying glass to scour for a solution when if I had someone walk up and tell me what it was I feel stupid.

Roger the GS said...

Or try a staggered tiling of squares (every other row offset 1/2 square length), topographically equivalent to a hexgrid.

Strix said...

What about diamonds instead of squares? It worked for Shreddies! (runduckhide).

richard said...

what's your source for typical Medieval house and yard dimensions? I'm guessing it's England and based around 3-field villages, but I'd like to know.

Colonies and other planned towns tend toward grids; I personally avoid them if I don't have an artistic reason to embrace them.

I bet one could do a lovely hexy variant of the Very Clever Pipe Game to make an Islamic medieval town generator, that just dealt with streets and "urban fabric" rather than individual houses. Right now I'm imagining a Sindbad Street Chase game where you can parkour right through that urban fabric but have to roll to overcome hazards every round and you wind up with a Benny Hill train of irate homeowners following you.

Alexis said...

Chief source? Lewis Mumford, scholar who studied cities and urban architecture in the early 20th century. I prefer his work to later material because, frankly, the world had changed less from the Medieval world in 1930 than it has now; he had the benefit of seeing more places as they were, rather than as they were described.

richard said...

That's certainly true. It's a long time since I last read Mumford, though. I don't recall how much attention he paid to discontinuities between the 14th, 16th and 18th centuries.