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Interview with Ithai of Hexroll at Pen Paper and Dice

Duncan Thomson

I'm now play-testing a Hexroll-generated sandbox together with my kids. I have a tablet instead of a GM screen and I run the game using the pre-generated sandbox

Interview with Ithai of Hexroll over at Pen, Dice and Paper.

Q & A with Creator of Hexroll

How did you get into creating random generators?

I wanted an old-school zero-prep sandbox that will keep me surprised together with my players. A setting that I'm not emotionally attached to, so I can truly let the players lead, improvise as needed, and enjoy the unknown.

What part of Hexroll are you most proud of creating and why?

Hexroll's ability to link elements of the sandbox together, for example:

"Radhilde's husband from the Village of Ashra is missing for two days. There's a rumor in Black Sword Inn that he is held captive in the Temple of the Dark Souls, and a different rumor claims the temple is located in the Ironhammer Forest. If the party finds the dungeon and manages to get to the Altar Hall, they will find Radhilde's husband chained to the wall. He will then try to warn the party about the spring-loaded trap in the room."

What is the most fun thing about creating generators?

Knowing the community finds it useful :)

Hexroll at Pen, Paper and Dice'

What are the most biggest challenges of creating generators?

Sequencing the generation of different element types became an issue when I started linking entities together. This led me into taking a multi-pass approach, generating the sandbox in layers.

[More technical version] More specifically, I separated the data injection pass from the text rendering pass. I first make sure all entities have their data attributes set, including anything coming from sibling branches of the sandbox entities tree (this is done using 'injection' directives in the model YAML files). After this pass is complete, I go ahead and resolve the text rendering pass (using Jinja2 as the text templating engine).

This helps me resolve the 'race condition' where entity A feeds entity B with attribute C, but entity B was created before A and if it had its text rendered already, it would miss attribute C in the rendering.

How do you use random generators yourself?

I'm now play-testing a Hexroll-generated sandbox together with my kids. I have a tablet instead of a GM screen and I run the game using the pre-generated sandbox, taking notes of issues as I find them.

What is the most interesting generator or tool you've seen?

It's really hard to pick just one.. mapgen4 by Red Blob Games is super fun to play with and very inspiring. [previous interview with Amit Patel of Red Blog Games]

What are your next big projects (generators or otherwise) that you can talk about?

There's still a lot of work to be done on Hexroll, adding variety, quest hooks, dungeon types, shop inventories and more content. I'm also thinking about other game systems, PDF generation, mapping tools and VTTs.

Where can people find you on social media?

We're on, Instagram and Patreon. I will also post key blog updates on Reddit.

Is there anything else you would like to talk about?

I wish everyone a very Happy New Year! packed with amazing hex crawling, dungeon crawling and other table-top gaming.

More Interviews

You can find more more Creator Interviews on Rand Roll.

I have a discord for discussing random tools and tables and I'm also on instagram as rpg_generators with random tables and gens.