Exploration

The wilderness is dangerous, it is vast, and it is untracked. I would like exploration to be a key part to this campaign, but the exploration rules as written are not really up to scratch; hence this system, following the guidelines of the AngryGM[external link]. Basically, I’m re-focusing the lens so that travel is not something you get through before the real adventure happens – it is part of the real adventure. You can expect to get lost, you can expect random encounters that aren’t just fights to the death, you can expect to discover new locations along the way, and as you grow in power, the map will start to open up.

NOTE: This feeds in to one of the quirks of the game: you will not find adventure in Town. Dragonsbrink will be a safe zone, where no enemies can enter. There is not really a fictional reason for this, though I will attempt to supply one – it’s just to stop you from staying near the healers and weapon suppliers and allies and stuff while you adventure, and go on to adventure out in the wilderness, where all the FUN (and also pain) is. The most you will get will be quasi-social scenes as part of the downtime mechanic to uncover new leads, or more information about old leads..

SECOND NOTE: this emphasis on survival will have a knock-on effect on some abilities, including the feature of the Outlander background, the Ranger’s class abilities, and possibly a couple spells as well (Goodberry, I have you in my sights). This is because D&D as written sees travel as something to be hand-waved away, so we’re gonna have to do some stuff to change that.

Exploration.

Every area you travel through to get to a destination has four values associated with it, on a scale of 1 to 5: Resources, Navigation, Danger/Population and Discovery. As a party when planning your travels you will also have to consider the route, which factors in time and speed.

The route

Each adventure destination will have at least two routes you can travel by. Each will present challenges – normally variations in resources, navigation or danger values. This will allow you to plan your journey, see which routes you can take, and acquire resources/hirelings to help you. how the route is presented (as a map or instructions) will vary, but the journey time will be measured in days, which assumes a standard travel pace. This time will factor in difficult terrain.

Note: I’m still debating whether to put travel time in distance or days. Angry does it in days, so I’ll follow his example, but I’m not as confident about implementation here as I am about the other aspects of the system.

The Exploring Day

The day is split into six periods – morning, afternoon, evening, dusk, midnight, predawn.

At the beginning of each day of adventure, you choose the pace of travel: slow, medium or fast. This has various benefits and penalties:

Pace

Progress @ end of day

Other effects

Fast

4/3 day’s travel

Disadvantage on resource and perception checks, -5 passive perception.

Medium

1 day’s travel

-

Slow

2/3 day’s travel

Advantage on resource and perception checks, +5 passive perception.

Depending on encounters and other happenings, you can choose to vary the pace over the course of the day. Generally speaking, encounters will happen at the end of the travel period. If you travel at a varied pace, I’ll take the average speed to calculate your progress at the end of the day.

At the end of the day (which is assumed to be three periods long), you make camp, at which point we roll for resources and navigation, to see if you’ve gotten lost. Alternatively, you can attempt to push on for a period, but this will necessitate a CON save (10 + 5 for each consecutive extra period travelled). You may also be more likely to get encounters and/or lost at night (that part of the system is still under construction).

At night, I don’t give a damn about shift pattern. We’ll assume everyone can take a turn, and randomly determine who’s on watch, unless anyone has a crippling desire to check that for themselves.

If you have mounts, you can make them travel at a gallop for a period, which counts as two periods at a normal pace. You can attempt to force the mount to travel further, following the rules for a forced march, but you will need to make an animal handling check to convince the mount to do this. The DC equals 10 + 5 for every consecutive period spent forcing a march.

Carriages, wagons and other vehicles let you choose a pace as normal. Water vehicles don’t let you choose a pace.

Resources

This measures how easy it is to live of the land while travelling through the area. When you make camp for the night, each character makes a Wisdom (Survival) check to determine whether or not they find enough food to feed themselves (= 2 lbs of food). The DC is equal to 5 times the resources number. If they don’t, they must consume one measure of rations. If they have no rations left, they must or roll a DC 10 CON save or gain a point of exhaustion. This DC scales by five for each consecutive day the character goes without food.

Each character also requires water to survive – 1 gallon a day, or two full water skins. If you succeed on the day’s navigation check, it’s assumed you have found enough water to drink and also fill up your available water supply. If you fail the Survival check to find resources and have no water left, you immediately take a point of exhaustion, no save allowed.

Exhaustion gained from starvation can only be cured once the character finds adequate food and water. If a starved character eats and drinks sufficiently for one day, they remove a single point of exhaustion.

If travelling in civilised lands (or at least friendly and populated lands), you can forgo foraging entirely. Instead, you spend money at half the rate of your standard upkeep cost (found here[external link]).

Navigation

This measures how easy it is to find your way through the wilderness. When you make camp for the night, the lead navigator (who can have assistance) rolls a Wisdom (Survival) check (Or other applicable check if the circumstances arise – buggered if I know what they are yet, but I don’t want to lock in Survival as the only game in town). The DC is equal to 5 times the Navigation number.

If you fail the check, you become lost and do not progress towards your goal that day. If you fail the check by five or more, you’ve gone backwards at one interval slower than the pace you’ve set.

To find your way again, you need to spend a travel period finding the path, rolling against the navigation DC. If you succeed the check, you may travel for the rest of the day as normal. If you succeed the check by 5 or more, you weren’t as lost as you thought, and that period counts as progress at a slow pace.

Travelling by road, or along a river, or having a knowledgeable guide, or some other constant, renders navigation moot.

Danger/population

This measures how likely you are to come across other creatures, whether hostile or not. Every day, I roll 6d6, one for each period. Every result that is equal to the population number or less is an encounter. Don’t expect every encounter to be hostile. Don’t expect every encounter to be killable, even if you try. Hostile encounters will pose a significant challenge by themselves.

Travelling in friendly lands means you will get fewer hostile encounters.

Discovery

This refers to oddities that aren’t what you came for, but that you might spot anyway. These might be small dungeons of their own, or locations of interest, or small events, but they will all present to you a choice between pressing on to your destination and investigating and potentially finding cool things. Every day, I roll on the discovery die (a d6). If I roll equal to or under the discovery value, you will be presented with a discovery opportunity. 6’s explode. As with encounters, not all of these will be killable if you choose to go in blades swinging.

Note: Imagine the feeling that Bethesda capture so well with their games of “oooh, what’s that over there?” that’s what I’m going for.

Exploration

Interregnum bewilderbeast