Thursday 15 September 2022

Universal Hex Profile

Earlier this year I wrote about my first dip into Traveller, but I didn't get onto talking about the Universal World Profiles and Universal Personality Profiles.

In short, it's a code you learn so that you can see B785457-C and know that it means: good shipyard, 7000 mile radius, dense atmosphere, 50% water, tens of thousands of people, feudal technocracy, shotguns permitted, and average imperial tech level. 

I worked through the process on this stream and said that I'd love to mess with the system to try a simpler approach. 

Which I did! But then I neglected to post it here, so let's dig back into it with a few tweaks. 

This works for planets or regions, but I'm applying it to Hexes here because they're at the forefront of my mind right now. 


Roll 5d6, drop the highest, then read the remaining dice as: 

Topography: Verticality of terrain.
Water: Wetness.
Ecology: Non-human life.
Infrastructure: Buildings, road, other human stuff. 

1=1: Trace
2=2: Some
3=3: Lots
4=N: Null, actively none, perhaps by design
5=H: Hazardous, not through lack or excess but the nature of the thing
6=S: Super, off the scale. Think big then go bigger. 

So 1-3 represent your "normal" levels, with 4-6 representing more exceptional results. If your brain works like mine you can tell yourself that, if using a d6 with pips, the results for 4, 5, and 6 kinda look like N, H, and S respectively if you imagine a load of lines and really want it to work. 

If you want fewer exceptional results then add more dice to the pool, but only keep the four lowest. Likewise, if you want more wackiness then just roll 4d6 straight. 


12HN: Flat planes with winding rivers and lakes, nasty predators, totally forbidden to enter.  

3N21: Utterly dry mountains, herds of goats, a few trails and the odd hut serving as a vital water supply.  

21SS: Hills, damp ground but no bodies of water, overrun with fungus, huge industry being built to harvest them.

H3NH: Quicksand-like bog, all wildlife wiped out by its toxicity, jealously guarded by hostile inhabitants. 

If we go back to the planetary idea then I guess present-day Earth is 2333


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  1. I really like the combination of generating details, potential threats and opportunities all at the same time - it feels like this method could be generalized similarly to "overloading the encounter die". You could apply this approach to reaction rolls, for example, to generate gameable information about an NPC, something like:

    Disposition toward party
    Physical condition/combat capability
    Mental or mystical capability

    1 low/poor
    2 med/average
    3 high/great
    4 null - area that could be exploited as a weakness, or where they might seek aid from the party
    5 hazardous - an implied threat, even if not an active one; an edge the NPC has that they know they can rely on, and they know others know it too
    6 super - exceptional in a way that isn’t inherently positive nor negative

  2. This seems like a neat way to quickly generate some landscapes. I wonder if there's a way to turn it into a mnemonic? Maybe IWET, or swap Infrastructure for Humans and Ecology for Animals. Of course the words won't match their subject as well, but then the rule is WHAT.

    1. Yeah I really wanted it to fit a mnemonic, but also really wanted the words themselves to be straightforward.

      Instead I tried to have them in a sort of logical order from most fundamental upwards, and literally working from the ground up. Imagine a boat in a lake and work upward.

      Topography (the ground below the lake)
      Water (the lake)
      Ecology (the fish and algae in the lake)
      Infrastructure (the boat)

    2. I made this mnemonic for myself by swapping Ecology for "Nature" ( Ecology is higher fidelity but harder to make a mnemonic, there could also be some confusion as to "nature" being the "spirit" or zeitgiest of a place instead of its natural make up ) and reordering the letters to spell T.W.I.N Topography Water Infrastructure Nature

    3. TWIN is pretty good! I might steal it...

  3. I liked this idea a lot & have been messing around with hex kit recently, so I used a python script to create a set of tiles you can use for quick map population:

    I originally liked my font choice, but am now second-guessing it since the H's look a lot like two 1's. Font suggestions are welcome & I can rerun the script easily :)

  4. 2333 for anyone who isn't aware is Chinese slang for LMAO - which also likely correctly describes our current world :)

    Very cool system Chris - this would be fairly simple to code out as well