Thursday, 16 September 2021

HEART OF THE PRIMAL UNKNOWN: A One-Sheet Adventure Powered by Hex-Flower Tech

This has been available online for nearly a month and I haven't really mentioned it on the blog other than as a footnote to my recent posts. I would therefore like to announce that my this PARIAH hack of GH's In the Heart of the Unknown is currently available to download as a PWYW PDF on Drive Thru RPG:

Hex-Flower Power

For those unfamiliar with the concept of Hex-Flowers, I suggest taking a look at Goblin's Henchman's blogpost on the subject, or indeed downloading a copy of the Hex-Flower cookbook:

This particular iteration of the concept is directly modelled on Goblinsh's bestselling adventure, In the Heart of the Unknown:

Game Engine

In the Heart of the Unknown a journey through the wilderness is abstracted into a series of 2d6 dice rolls to determine encounters, terrain and weather. Sometimes the encounters will throw up a wandering monster, which is determined by modifying a 1d6+1d10 roll according to the terrain and consulting a table.

Navigation around the hexes is random: a pair of D6s is rolled and the navigation hex (pictured) is consulted. This determines the "direction" the pariahs move from the current point:

Of course, following the famous distribution of the 2d6 means the navigation direction skews down and towards the right, but certain encounters can also "nudge" the result in certain circumstances!

Below I will show you how I stole adapted this idea to Pariah, with a view to recreating a specific adventure through a misty mountain valley, in search of a lost city.

Encounter Hex- Flower

Pariahs at the bottom of the encounter hex-flower: each "turn" (which might represent an hour or more of game-time, it's really down to the GM) they move around the flower according to their 2d6 encounter roll. The dinosaurs represent wandering monsters, and the ultimate goal is the city at the top of the hex.

This is also includes the following random encounters:
  • Trails
  • Rivers
  • Hazards
  • Mishaps
  • Lairs
  • Megaliths
  • Neolithic villages
  • Ruined temple complexes
...all of which, more later!

Terrain Hex-Flower

As with encounters, pariahs begin in the bottom hex of the terrain engine. Movement through the terrain is abstracted, it's assumed the choice made by the players is to press on in pursuit of their ultimate goal, the fabled lost city. Terrain's affects the modifier to the wandering monster roll, but also provides a bit of narrative for the journey. Presumably (if rigid time records are kept...) GMs can also determine the passage of time based upon the terrain passed through...

Weather Hex Flower

I've shared weather hex-flowers for pariah on this blog before. This is a slightly sunnier version of "tropical wet season":

There's no "mechanical" effects of weather, but GMs and players are encourage to come up with rulings as to how it might impact the pariahs' journey.

Wandering Monster Table

As stated, wandering monsters are rolled for using 1d6+1d10. this is neat as it provides a flat "core" of monsters flanked by tapering encounters at its extremities. 

That's a poor description, let me show you:


A modifier will move that shape up and down, meaning you can "map" it to the table. Just another example of the clever innovations Goblinsh has come up with:

Adapted for the PARIAH implied setting can also see how this mechanic creates a neat overlap: so you might find a creature of the hills down in the jungle, and vice versa.

Most of the creatures/NPCs are to be found in your common-or-garden OSR bestiary, including the free PARIAH bestiary, which also includes the "outliers" (Genius Loci, The Others etc.). Be warned: very much a work in progress, with my "idiosyncratic" spelling and grammar not yet fully ironed-out!

But that's not all!

Because I like to give extra inspiration for GMs (and also because I don't think I've put enough resources out there for Pariah GMs yet) I included a B-side to this one-page product: for brevity's sake, this consists of tables of hazards and mishaps (again, modified by the terrain), and simple generators for villages, lairs, temple complexes and even the Lost City. These are not exhaustive, instead they're supposed to be a launchpad for further ideas.

Actually that is all

Okay, done now: you can get on with your lives. As mentioned, this mini-adventure is PWYW, with profit shared equally between me and Goblin's Henchman. You won' find anything in the PDF that hasn't been shown here already, but you can use your purchase as a kind of "tip" for myself and he aforementioned!


  1. It's cool to see the two of you collaborating on these kinds of tooling.

    1. Thank you! I'm a massive fan of Goblinsh and their continual innovations, : but this is more of a "tribute" to them from me than a full collaboration. Wouldn't rule it out in future (though I think we both have rather a lot on at the minute).

      I am hoping to work with with Pat Eyler/Foot of the Mountain Adventures on a sandbox module inspired by the Random Adventure Jam. You may have seen his work in "A Doom to Speak", a series of pamphlet adventures for Best Left Buried. Watch this space!