Sunday, July 14, 2019

Unified wilderness travel table

I've been testing out some wilderness travel rules, and I'm pretty happy with them so far.  For the GM, the goal is twofold:
  1. Reduce how much you have to think about in game.
  2. Force the adventurers to make decisions.

There's a single die roll that drives all this, on a single unified wilderness travel table.  The table includes so many different things, and the best part is that I don't have to think about them until the table tells me to.  Some things that can come up on the wilderness travel table:
  1. Signs of a potential encounter from far off (footprints, a bird in the sky, noises, etc.).
  2. Getting exhausted from travel.
  3. A change in the weather.
  4. Getting lost.
  5. Suffering ill effects from weather, like getting lost in the fog.
  6. A rare encounter without any warning signs.
Each half day of travel, you roll once on the wilderness travel table.  The die roll tells you how far you travel (in "steps") and what else happens along the way.

The length of each "step" varies by terrain, which sounds difficult, but in practice it's been very easy.  On open, level ground, I put a little tick mark for a step every 2 miles on a trail.  In rougher terrain, I put the tick marks closer together.  On steep slopes with rough terrain, I put the tick marks really close together.

And that's it.  The party sets out in the morning, so they roll a die.  That tells me how far they get, how the journey affects them, and what kind of encounter they have.  If they decide to travel further in the afternoon, they roll again and repeat the process.

I'll post more on this process soon, but for now, here's a brief travelogue using this travel table:
  • Day 1.  The party sets out from the tip of Ghost Cape on a cloudy day, traveling a few miles before spotting a warship out at sea.  It starts to rain around nightfall, when they make camp on a high area overlooking the sea.
  • Day 2.  It's still raining as they head west across open fields, hoping to find the river on their map.  The rain grows heavy and everyone is drenched to the bone.  They find the river and head north along its banks, straggling into the town of Goose Meadow by nightfall, drenched and exhausted.
  • Day 3.  The weather has cleared up.  The party hikes north, upriver.  Around midday they notice the dark form of a blood vulture circling over the falls up ahead.  They fire a few shots and scare it away.  They spend the rest of the day clambering up the bluffs near the falls, ending up a mile or so away from the river at the top.
  • Day 4.  Cloudy skies and not much progress as they hike through the forested hills, continuing roughly north and getting back to the river.  By midday they've found the settlement of Hidden Rapids.  By nightfall, they've run across a trail heading in their direction.  They make camp just off the trail.
  • Day 5.  A light rain starts up.  From a hilltop, the party can see the silhouette of a fort a few miles up ahead.  They arrive at Fort Protection by midday, finding it looted and abandoned.  According to their map, the elven settlement of Refuge City is only five miles or so past the fort, so they continue onwards.  The rain grows heavy, soaking everyone thoroughly, but they arrive at Refuge City by nightfall and get some rest at the inn.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed this little vignette.