Thursday, January 31, 2013

Roles and Terrain Thoughts

Journey Roles

Every member of the party on a quest assumes a role for the day, this becomes their job during this day of travel.  Switching role is only permitted by those that choose the "Wanderer" Role, which is just that.  They can attempt to do multiple things throughout the day, and the GM will normally ask "Where they are", before describing an event, location or encounter.

Anyone can switch into a "Camp Role" once the decision has been made to "hole-up and camp", this transition will take effect at the start of the next March Turn.  After a period of at least one March Turn of rest a new role can be assumed with no penalty.  Otherwise, a role transition requires the hero to spend one March Turn as a Wanderer, before assuming their new role.  This option typically on occurs when the party is on a forced march and is not taking a rest.

Not every role has a function in every day of travel.  Hunters only hunt if there's an animal present, the GM may offer them a risky choice in order to grant them a roll when they may not otherwise have one.  In which case it may be handy to have a Look-out of other Hunter as a partner.  Scout only roll when there is something up ahead to possibly uncover, likewise an Explorer only rolls when there is something in the hex that they are passing through.

The Leader and Guide are the ones that roll each day, and have the most impact on the events of the upcoming day.

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.  Typically bonuses and the skills used for the Leader's Travel checks change based on the type of terrain.

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.  Have skills in various abilities can adjust the chance of success for the guide, so some times it may be advantageous to change guides, but those skilled in Wilderness Survival make the best guide.

Scout: This role will float at various locations and directions ahead of the party, to scout out if it is safe for the rest of the party. They are typically fast and stealthy members (and required to have a speed at least 1 greater than the speed of the party, or the party must slow down to allow scouting to occur), that have skills that allow them to detect enemy ambushes or traps, such as high Perception and Tracking. 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, such as those gathering, wandering or exploring really benefit from a lookout.

Defender: 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 (or luck) 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 hunt creatures to provide 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 chance to locate items along the way will require at least take one party member out of performing this task rather than other duties 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.  This is the role that has the best chance of uncovering hidden entrances, or concealed or overgrown ruins.  The Scout or Lookout would likely be the first to see a tower, village or keep, but the explorer is the one that would like uncover something that is not obvious to passerby.

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, but if the terrain shifts to allow such a role, then some become required or replace other roles above.

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.

Camp Roles

Guard: Like the Defender the Guard is there to protect their companions, but their place is in the camp.  They provide a safety net for those resting, healing or crafting within the boundary of the camp..

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 or 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.  Normally it doesn't make sense to have someone in this role if they not actively applying aid.

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.

1 comment:

  1. North Spot!

    I really like the ideas in this article. These roles are something a real traveling party/expedition might have. I am definitely going to borrow some of this stuff! I never thought of using journey roles for D+D before, but it makes sense.

    Your list is a lot more complete than the one I came up with for our African expedition game. There are a couple of ideas I have that might not be pertinent for a traveling adventuring party, but may be for a larger exploration group.

    Linguist: A lot of people in D+D speak common, and there's also magic, but when venturing our into the hinterlands of Africa, it's handy to have someone who understands and can translate the myriad of dialects encountered. In our game, the expedition party itself had 4 different languages...

    Porters/bearers: Expeditions need a lot of food, ammo, instruments, and supplies. There is also need for transporting trade goods, so food and supplies can be obtained on the way. The porters are dedicated to carrying the various provisions.

    Animal handlers/teamsters: The players in my game usually had a couple of mules to help with the transporting. They also had a couple of goats to give milk. Animal handlers were responsible for their care. If they were in an area that was conducive to it, they might have a cart or wagon and a driver for the team.

    The other roles I came up with are pretty much covered by your list: PCs (leaders) caravan boss, guide, scout, guards/soldiers.

    Good post!

    David S.
    Minnesota, USA