Thursday, January 31, 2013

Traveling System (explained)

As mentioned before the journey is an important part of any quest, and situations encountered on the way to the quest goal can make or break the outcome of the quest.  So I began to flesh out a system to help "Gamify" this, that would be usable in nearly any type of campaign style game.

I figured the maps could default into Hexes that are 10 miles across, or for longer journeys use a 30 mile across hex.  With the guideline below using this 10 mile hex as the default, but it could be scaled using simple math to other models.  Also the basic game movement for the system here is from my HitDice game, but for sake of helping D&D or Pathfinder players (Speed 4 = 6 Move in 4E = 30 feet movement in Pathfinder).  Additionally HitDice use a system of exploding d6s that result in "Hits", the basic check mechanic below would have to be re-worked to allow a functional d20 based system (I'll tackle this in a later article).

Here Goes...

Travel is broken in March Turns which are 4 hours each, thus there are six March Turns each day.  Of these six since rest in the wilderness isn't all that restful, two of these are normally required as "rest" to meet the needs of the adventurers.  Then one is spend on "Guard Duty" while other companions try to get their rest.  This leaves three March Turns for actually travel.

When traveling don't think of this as a leisurely walk through a state park, so your not really moving at the 3 miles per hour pace here.  Adventurer's are wearing heavy armor, with all their food and equipment.  Research I've seen on the Roman soldiers point to travel speeds of 10 miles per day not being unusual, but they could do about 20 miles in forced marches, and rates of 20 miles per day on horseback was a good day as well.

My travel rates take into account that the roads are seldom straight, thus even a 10 mile hex on the map may require 20 miles of walking to cut across it due to obstacles or having to avoid creatures, and such.  So if the speeds seem a little "slow" for your liking feel free to adjust them.  The rationale that I use that grant "road" travel such a substantial bonus has to due with these reasons as well...Roads typically meander less than wilderness travel and you don't require as much rest when your not constantly tripping or having to free gear that is snagged in thorny brush.

Plus Adventurers can always "Push on", they are hardy folk and can cut back on the sleep for days at a time, or skip camping at all and travel all night if they really need to cover a lot of ground (rules defining game effects for not resting or traveling for days straight will come later).  So, that said the chart below assumes 10 miles are typical coverage for a Movement rate 4 adventurer...roughly 1 mile per hour assuming a 10 min rest every hour.  At these rates you can also see why hunting or gathering doesn't really "slow" that party down any further.

For detailed traveling each March Turn can be played out, but for most RPGers this might be "too detailed", it does add a lot of play time to the journey, but if the journey is measured in weeks, then it does probably make a lot of sense combining the three traveling March Turns into one roll for the day, and applying a x3 modifier.  This still makes the time for the journey significant, but other activities still get time during the session as well.

For GMs, if the journey is going to take over two weeks, they should prep at least one or two side trek adventures for every week of travel, in addition to the "random" encounters/events.  This just gives the heroes more opportunities to role play, even if the encounter is abandon ruin or dried overgrown well...something to let them get some exploration on other skill use.  These can also provide hunting and gathering opportunities, or chance to find hidden items or clues to creatures in the area.

The detailed rules (one cycle per March Turn) is as follows: both the Leader and Guide make their "Travel" roll and the higher of the two results is used, using the slowest party members movement.  Additionally, for each dice that explodes they are granted a "Favor", which can be used for "special" bonuses, one of which is a +1 bonus to the parties movement rate.

Typically I will track the party's location on a GM only map, but than use a set of Travel Tiles, which represent zoomed version of the party's current tile.  The Travel Tiles are essentially terrain tiles that are hex shaped and four hexs across.  Each of these sub-hexes require the amount of progress mentioned below to move into one of the adjacent hexes on the other side, each representing 2.5 miles of progress.

Using "Travel Tiles" the party can essentially get idea of what terrain is on the current tile, and what the terrain is on all adjacent tiles.  Sometimes you may allow them to see two or even three tiles ahead, if they are on an especially good vantage point or, if the other terrain is mountains that are visible for great distances.  Then as the party leaves their current tile and crosses into the next you can keep re-centering the tile they are on, and placing the new terrain up ahead, to allow them to adjust their path.

The speed of the slowest member marks the parties progress, which is adjusted by the amount of the Travel Check, increased by one for each "Hit" succeeded by, or reduced by two each "Hit" that it failed by, based on the Difficulty of the Terrain, below.

Road/River (Downstream)2*
Hills/Forest/River (Upstream)43
Dense Forest/Jungle44

River travel assumes they are riding in water craft, the actual craft will determine the base speed, and possibly grant bonuses or penalties to the travel rolls.  Progress can not typically "no negative", but I do allow negative progress to be made when traveling on Rivers up stream, if the result ends that way.  I feel that this is a measurement of "going the wrong way", or a minor repair that had to be made.  The GM can assign special consequences for other terrain rolls that result in what would have otherwise been negative progress, like possibly moving them to a tile in another direction (or even backwards).

For typical road or downstream river travel the Guide role is not required as the road/river acts as the guide and assumes that a Successful guide roll has been made, thus this allows a rate of travel higher than walking across plains.  The Leader is rolls a Travel check, and any results above a GM assigned number (likely 0, 1 or 2) further increases the progress, this roll also allows a chance of "favors" to be accumulated.

Traveling on a trail, assumes a "0" Difficulty, but these meander more than roads so they require 3 progress to follow.  Additionally, if a hex has a stream crossing it could add 1 or 2 progress to cross, and crossing a river may add from 1 to 5 progress to the hex, or even have it's own difficulty and progress challenge to successfully cross.

Example: A party with the slowest member movement rate of a 4 is traveling through a Dense Forest, they only roll 2 "Hits" for their Check, so they are 1 short of success, but they do get one "Favor".  So their progress is 4 (base speed) +1 (when favor is applied) = 5, but the failure by 1 reduces this by 2, for a final progress of 3.  Which is not enough progress to move to the hex of the Travel Tile, but they place three progress tokens to note they are nearly off of it.  If the GM is using "Fast Travel" rules, which means 1 roll per day rather than 1 per March Turn, then days travel would be their result of 3 x 3 or 9 progress, which would allow them to move 2 hexes (4 per hex) with 1 progress token on the 3rd hex on the Travel Tile.

Example #2: The party above gets out of the Forest and enters in the Plains, they roll a 5 "Hit" Check with 2 "Favors".  Plains have a Diff rating of 2, so the result of a 5 gives the +3 to their speed, and if the "Favors" are used as well they gain an additional +2, but assuming they use the "Favors" on other travel rolls in this example.  This means they travel at 4 (base speed) +3 (the 5-2=3) for 7 progress, which at 3 progress per Travel Tile hex, gives them 2 hexes of movement and 1 progress on the last.  In "Fast Travel" this would yield 7x3 or 21 progress or 7 Travel Tile hexes (which at 4 hexes per tile is 1.75 Travel Tiles or about 17.5 miles for the day).

The deck of Travel Tiles, that I use includes 10 Tiles for each of the main terrain types (plains, forest, forested hills, dark forest, hills, mountains, swamp, jungle, barren, desert, ocean and deep ocean), but maybe when I post these or allow them to be purchased I'll assume that GM's could get by with half that number.  For trails and streams I use wood sticks of brown and blue (like those in Catan), and for roads and rivers I use double sticks.  Then I use blue wooden disks for ponds or lakes, and various wooden cubes for other landmarks, such as farms or villages.  My supplies allows me to typically keep the current tile and all surrounding tiles, as well as an addition ring around the next Tile in the desired direction, this makes up the 10 tiles of each type, in the cases where all these are the same.

However, I can see dropping off the three "backward" tiles for the current position, so even if every tile was the same, it seems like 7 of each type would be sufficient, and maybe reducing it to one type of ocean, and removing barren (desert would suffice for barren) and forested hills (somewhat redundant)...which would result in half the number of cards (from 10x12 to 7x9).

Other playing aides are Role Cards, that players use as reference and to mark what role they are currently in, then I have a few different event decks that are used to draw from when certain Journey rolls are failed.  These could just as easily be done as tables that are rolled against to see what the consequence of the failure is.

Typically I design for smaller "dungeons" or "quest locations", and create a number of "landmarks" or curious events that occur along the way.  Then a typical session is spent roughly 1/3 travel, 1/3 role-playing, and 1/3 exploration of destination...The actual time is 30% Intro/RP (investigate/prep)/Journey, then 60% destination exploration/encounters...with 10% journey home/conclusion.

This design stresses the importance of the Journey to the campaign, and allow for more character development with being forced into battle after battle for excitement.  More time is spent doing day to day things, rather than some systems that use Hook/Intro/Encounter/Encounter/Boss/Reward session design...There is no time left for role-playing, unless the player does it in combat.

No comments:

Post a Comment