Generally speaking, a hex map should work very much like a dungeon map: the “deeper” you go, the more dangerous the critters should be. The caveat on that is, in the wilderness, the PCs have a lot more flexibility when it comes which encounters they tackle with combat and which they avoid entirely. There’s just a lot more mobility in the wilderness, and if the PCs ever come across a population they don’t want to fight, they can generally get around them somehow.
spider-inspired war costumes.
While the goblins are almost certainly to turn out to be foes of the PCs (though playing one tribe off against another certainly is a possibility) the lizardfolk might turn out to be fairly friendly to the PCs. Having groups that are potential allies is important, especially if you use advancement rules like Jeff’s Carousing rules or LotFPWFRP’s insistence that only treasures returned to civilization count. The deeper the PCs travel into the wilderness, the harder it’s going to be for them to return to Home Base between missions. You need to give them some way to replenish their expendable supplies and level up. Allies can do that for you. We’ll be revisiting this topic later.
Relations between the bullywugs and the lizardfolk are fairly quiet most of the time. Every generation or so, however, the bullywugs swarm out of the swamps in great numbers, bent on pillage and destruction. The lizardfolk have erected a few forts, mostly of earth and wood, to guard against these occasional invasions.
The source of the orcs’ inexplicable organizational abilities is not guessed at by even most of the orcs. In truth, their chieftains and shamans are all in thrall to a cabal of mind flayers who dwell deep beneath the mountain range that makes up the western boundaries of their domain. A complex system of potlatch and raiding between the orcs sends a steady stream of slaves and treasure to the mind flayers in their hidden caverns. The principle foe of the mind flayers is the living ancestors of the bullywugs. To date, however, attempts to invade the jungle with
massed orc hordes have failed to penetrate deeper than a dozen miles beyond the river.
So that’s the eastern quarter of the island. Next time, we’ll populate the western quarter with some less-traditional critters.