I saw The Revenant today, which is a great film. However, this post isn’t really a review of the movie. Rather, the whole time I was watching the movie, I kept thinking “this is what a D&D wilderness hex crawl should be like.”
Replace the natives with orcs and goblins. Replace beaver trapping with treasure hunting. Replace bear attacks with owlbear attacks. Place everything in the howling wilderness, weeks or even months away from anything remotely resembling civilization. And give the players actual wilderness hazards to contend with: blizzards, rain storms, floods and the like.
I’m sure the old school grognards have probably been doing this all along, but I noticed in the hexcrawl games I’ve played (particularly Pathfinder), the grit of the wilderness seems to be missing. Certainly, high level play takes a great deal of the sting out of the wilderness, what with teleportation and instantly summoned magic huts, and all that. But even at lower levels, one rarely gets the sense of the isolation and majesty of the wide open wilderness. Anyways, it’s something to think about for the next campaign.
If you’re looking for good inspiration for subjecting your PCs to starvation and exposure, The Revenant is a good place to start. Cheers.