I am going to start an online Westmarches-style campaign, using a slightly patched version of Pathfinder 2.
I expect the whole adventure to happen on one big island (where the PCs arrive in session 0), and I cartographied it on an hexagonal grid, with different colors for the different biomes, symbols for where the main points of interest are, etc.
I would like the players to have their own map that they can expand session after session. I don't want them to feel completely overwhelmed by the task, but I want it to matter. I want the players to think about how they explore the land, to try new paths and maybe find shortcuts, to sometimes get lost if they are not careful.
I hesitate between the following possibilities (not a definitive list):
- Describe vaguely the shape of the island. Tell them they are on the south coast and the directions toward the most visible things (mountains, a lighthouse...). When they travel, never refer to the notion of "hex": say "after walking ten kilometers to the north, you cross a river". I played a Westmarches (as a player, not as a DM) and this seemed OK to me, but both the other players and the DMs seemed to agree that it made things too hard. As some of those people are going to play my campaign I would rather find something easier.
- Tell them the size of the grid I use, its orientation, and explicitly tell them when they move from one hexagon to the next. I would say things like: "you walk ten kilometers to the north, that's one hex to the north-east and one to the north-west, and don't notice anything special until you come across a river".
- Give them the hex-map of the island, but with only the coast and the position of their main hub drawn on it. I fear this might make things too easy.
What would be the best way to make this cartography fun for my players?