Over at Hill Cantons, Telecanter’s Receding Rules, Lasgunpacker, (and a shout out to Aeons & Augauries), there has been some talk to making wilderness travel in D&D-type games more interesting, on both sides of the screen. I’ve discussed this myself in the past, but I think it’s time to revisit the idea; especially after a rather dull episode of wilderness encounters in a recent gaming session (playing on-line with Map Tools, makes wilderness travel rather duller than it should be).
First of all, since I plan on using this in conjunction with the ACKS rules (as that is what I’m playing, and travelling has become part of the sessions recently), I need to understand what rules already exist:
- At ‘normal’ move rate of 120′, a character can travel 24 miles in an 8-hour day;
- A forced march, 12-hour day, increases this to 36 miles, but characters need to rest a day afterwards;
- Terrain adjusts this, as does the actual movement rate of the characters;
- The chance of getting lost also depends on the terrain, but is modified by proficiencies (Navigation, for example, adds 4 to the throw);
- Characters can also forage for food as they travel;
- Wilderness encounters are checked every 6-miles travelled (or 6-mile hex), and any monsters encountered can be evaded;
- The Explorer class gives bonuses to some of these (notably avoiding getting lost, and evasion of monsters).
Note: a throw is the roll of 1d20, target number equal or greater to succeed. It’s just the terminology used in the rules.
So, a party travels through the wilderness, checking for encounters every 6-mile hex (i.e. every two hours), evading as desired, rolling to avoid getting lost, and foraging for food if they run out of rations. It’s a sort of mini-game in itself, and these will provide an excellent basis for my own Wilderness Travel Mini-Game, which really needs a better name :)
Now, let’s think about what elements this mini-game should have:
I’m calling this the E’s of Travel, (as in Ease, get it?) Let’s move on. I also need to take into account the proficiencies that characters might have, and how these might affect the outcomes. After looking through that section, these are the ones I’ve highlighted:
- Animal Husbandry;
- Knowledge (Geography);
- Land Surveying;
Some, such as Navigation and Survival have already been taken into account by the rules (avoiding getting lost, and foraging), the rest should allow characters to overcome difficulties. Endurance, for example, allows characters to do a forced march without resting for a day.
The basics then: the mini-game is based on four 6-mile, 2-hour segments, covering a day’s travel at normal rates over unchallenging terrain; or, simply, four segments per day’s travel, regardless of the actual terrain and travel speeds. The actual distance travelled with be calculated by the party’s movement rate, the terrain, and any encounters along the way.
The basic rules: each segment, check to see if the party is lost, check to see if an encounter occurs or a hazard is encountered, check if the party’s endurance is flagging, and whether their equipment (that includes any animals, as well as rations) has suffered any damage. On failed throws, deal with the consequences, which may be countered if the characters have the right sort of knowledge or skill, or are particularly clever. Repeat as necessary, end the day, and carry on for the next; and so on, and so forth. You can also alter the time, changing days to weeks, to speed through lengthier journeys.
With that in mind, I hereby present for you…
The Es of Travel
Travel is based on the 8-hour day, as standard, covering 24-miles. Each segment (full version) covers a quarter of that (2-hours, 6-miles; basically 3 miles per hour). Each segment assumes certain activities, requires a throw to avoid mishaps, and is modified by certain proficiencies; as per the table below. Roll once per segment, assign a player or character to the throw (Exploration is for guides, Encounters for scouts or look-outs, Endurance & Equipment for anyone).
|Segment||E for…||Throw Required to Avoid…||Modified by… (bonus)|
|Morning||Exploration||…getting lost||Navigation (+4)|
|Afternoon||Encounters||…hazard||Land Surveying (+4)|