Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Journey

To provide some formality around traveling in the game world, I've decided to implement the concept of Journey Roles.  What this does is to allow Heroes to decide on a focus during the journey what this does is to force players to decide what their Hero is going to be doing, while the party is traveling.

There will be break points or encounters that will disrupt these roles, but what they accomplish is allowing each Hero a chance for action.  Each turn at the GM's request, all of the Heroes will make a role Check, to determine how good they do on their desired action.  Assigning a role to a Hero avoids those players that want to be apart of everything by applying the "Me too!" to every good idea that is mentioned.  With the idea of roles, the GM can say all those in the Scout and Lookout roles give me Spot Check, or all the Explorers and Gatherers give me a Search Check.  Those not in the specific roles are initially excluded from action, as they as assumed to be "busy" doing what they set as their goals for the turn.

Some Roles have opposing checks made by the Game Master, such as Hunting...This opposing check is territory or terrain specific, and is meant to determine the randomness of creatures in the area in the case of hunting...Even the best hunter can not kill creatures that are not in the area

Other Roles such as Scouting, also have opposed checks.  These determine the chance of enemies actually being in the party's path, so even a very poor scouting result may not result in a ambush on the party, in the case that there were no enemies nearby.

A journey day consists of six, four hour, turns.  These are typically spent as four active turns (which are all spent in the same role) and two Rest turns.  Based on the results during the Active turns a given amount of progress is made on the journey.  Each day everyone, save the Leader, may switch roles with no penalty.  For the Leader to change role there must be a transition day, where the new Leader takes charge, and the existing Leader falls to the Adviser Role (special case role) for the day.

The party may break these six turns per day up in a any fashion they choose, opting to force march it and skip their Rest turns or take a full day of recovery the spend all six turns at Rest, possibly some members spending the rest in Hunting or Gathering.

During Rest turns, Heroes may switch their roles to new role during each turn, if they so chose.  The most common roles for Rest turns are Rest/Recover (for those that need it), for those taking a watch either the Defender/Guard role or the Lookout roles offers benefit.  Gathering, Hunting and Exploring may only be attempted if it will be their role for the Active turns this day as well, or at a penalty in the case of the Wanderer.

There are a lot more roles than their will be party members, this is intentionally to force the party to decide what their goals will be for the Journey.  For a five Hero party they may have a Leader, a Guide, a Scout, a Lookout, and a Defender, and opt to have five active turns a day, with one rest turn where everyone Rests, betting on the the ability of one of them to conceal their camp.  If any other actions are required during the Journey the GM will pass them onto the Leader to perform.  A more leisurely party have a member Gathering for reagents, and have another Crafting, and perform the standard two Rest turns each day, possibly three if they encounter problems.

The quests should be laid out by the GM, such that Roles matter.  The Heroes only get one active Role a day, so it should be something that they feel is not wasted.  The journey is as much of the adventure as the ruins or dungeon that they are heading to...Often the journey is the real chore, the ruins at the end may be fairly minor or significant in the fact that their is one "Boss" battle...but the journey to there is so taxing that few can make it with sufficient strength to defeat them.

This isn't a system where each day and each battle the party is continually refreshed and at full strength, where they enter the dungeon after a two week journey whose only event was the boxed text as they reached the dungeon.  Each day of travel could possibly have multiple events that could take hours to resolve, but each day will also likely involve a minor (or possibly major) drain on each Hero.  So, they should be rewarded by role-play and Journey Role choices that are relevant and ingenuous, hopefully resulting in multiple days knocked off the journey or possibly being able to bypass a particularly deadly opponent.

Journey Roles

     Leader: This role will settle disputes and their attributes serve as the base attributes for the party in all roles that are unaccounted for.  They also gain bonus checks in certain instances based on if they possess a given Gateway.  The Leader role on a journey can, and should, shift based on the terrain or assumed danger that lies ahead.

     Guide: Attempts to force the party to keep on pace, and take regimented breaks.  When in doubt they make their best guess at which direction to go.  When a guide is doing good, they party will make significant progress on their journey, but if they are doing poor, then the party's progress will be slowed or they may become lost.

     Scout: This role will float at various locations and directions ahead of the party, to scope out if it is safe for the rest of the party.  They are typically fast and stealthy members, that have skills that allow them to detect enemy ambushes or traps.  A good scout can give their party the advantage in encounters, a poor scout will fail to detect a trap or ambush or worse set it off themselves.

     Lookout: The role stays with the main party, but is focus on keeping track of where all the other members of the party are, and serves as a in-party scout, as they also attempt to spot dangers and creatures that are in the general locale.  They aide many other roles in the party by granting bonuses or lessening penalties.

     Defender/Guard: Those in this role stay in formation behind the Scout's and the Guide.  Those that roll well on their Defender Check will have the benefit of being where they are needed, for that turn when things go wrong.

     Hunter: Similar to a Scout, this is often roaming out of the main party formation.  They attempt to gather food, to conserve rations or simply aid in the party's survival when the rations are gone.  A good hunter can more than make up for the party's daily food consumption, a poor hunter may mistake tracks and errors of this type can quickly cause the hunter to become the hunted.

     Gatherer: Many types of gathering can be done, but in any case the attempt to locate items along the way will at the very least take this party member out of performing any other roles on the journey.  While Gathering, they may be looking for expensive reagents that will aid in spells, potions, inks or poisons, or they may be looking for mundane items such as food.  They typically wander off from the main party from time to time, which can get them in trouble in the rare case.

     Explorer: Like the hunter and gatherer the explorer is often in and out of the parties formation, but they are looking of unnatural signs, ruins, or various other entrances.  This role is often skipped at the beginning of the journey, but as the party approaches their destination more members will switch into this role to attempt to find the ruins or objects that they are questing for.

     Wanderer: This role is a filler, and can choose to switch focus to any of the other roles, except the Leader and the Guide during each turn, declared before when the turn starts, or they are assumed to be remaining in the same role as last turn.  This role takes a -1 Rank on Checks of the role that it is masquerading at.  This increases to -2 on the third time they switch roles, ignore Rest/Recover as a role for this "switching" calculation.

Special Case Roles
These roles are only usable in certain situations, and some are likely not apart of a typical journey

     Navigator:  While aboard a boat or ship, a Navigator role replaces the role of the Guide, and keeps the boat or ship on course.  It uses different skills than that of the guide, but the benefits and penalties of the good and poor results in this role are comparable to that of the guide.

    Oar men/Crew men: Another boat/ship role that the name varies based on the size and type of ship, but a given vessel will have a minimum and maximum number that can be in this role.  This number and their Check results will essentially determine the speed on the vessel.  Often, locals or experienced men are required to fill in these roles, so the party can focus on other areas.  Even for River travel it may be worth a small investment in a local to perform this task.

     Mountaineer: While traveling in regions of altitude, especially when not traveling on common roads or trails in these regions, this role is essentially required to speed travel and reduce the risk of traveling disasters such as slips and falls.

     Trailblazer: Dense forests, jungles and swamp journeys can benefit from this role.  They serve as the strength, often constantly swinging their machete to clear a travel for others to follow.  They have an additional benefit if the party plans on re-tracing their path out of the area, then they do so at an increased speed.  This may be worth the party investing in a locale guide to perform this role if there is one available.

     Adviser: The day after a Leader is replaced the only role that is open to them is the Adviser role, in this they aid the Leader, and in this role the Leader gains +1 Rank in all Checks that they have to make on the party's behalf.  After serving as the Adviser for a day they must assume another role for the next days journey.

     Rest/Recover: During the resting turn those that make it through this phase without event may attempt a Recovery Check.  Most often this is under the watchful eyes of one or more Heroes in the roles of Lookout of Guards.

     Healer: In the case where some of the party is in particularly rough shape, one or more Heroes may assume the role of Healer during a Rest turn, these will make their Healing Check and then grant bonuses to one or more of their patients, based on the result of their Check.

     Crafting: Certain professions can creation items such as potions or inks, or repair weapons and armor.  This items typically require a given amount of progress.  Most crafting requires the Check be made during a Rest turn, but possibly does exist for progress to be made while traveling...For example if the party is on a boat, those not Navigating or manning the oars might be able to Rest or Craft, possibly at a penalty given the situation.

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