Into the Wild: New Unearthed Arcana Covers Wilderness Exploration
  • Into the Wild: New Unearthed Arcana Covers Wilderness Exploration


    February's Unearthed Arcana from WotC is here, and covers wilderness exploration. The new optional rules involve breaking travel into four phases: choosing a destination, choosing activities, resolving the activities and travel, and camping; plus a sample wilderness region from Nentir Vale: the Moon Hills region.





    "This month, Unearthed Arcana wanders into the wilderness, with new ways to approach outdoor exploration.

    "The rules for wilderness travel in chapter 5 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide and chapter 8 of the Player’s Handbook allow a DM to track a party’s progress for each hour of travel. Those rules work similarly to the rules for dungeon navigation, in that the players pick a direction and strike off in search of adventure, adjusting their path as they go .... The following approach to wilderness exploration and travel provides a new overlay for the existing rules from the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Player’s Handbook. They’re built around the idea that the players have a specific destination in mind as the party sets out for the day. They also require that you take a new approach to designing the wilderness regions of your campaign as a DM."
    Comments 91 Comments
    1. vpuigdoller's Avatar
      vpuigdoller -
      Ohh the Nentir Vale - Moon Hills example that Mearls had showed a screenshot of before. Nice.
    1. Elfcrusher's Avatar
      Elfcrusher -
      I guess Mike Mearls has been avidly studying Cubicle 7's work.
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by Elfcrusher View Post
      I guess Mike Mearls has been avidly studying Cubicle 7's work.
      Which example makes me think a system like this could be great for establishing setting: travel activities in Eberron and Dark Sun would be as different from the Forgotten Realms as Middle Earth is.
    1. Remathilis's Avatar
      Remathilis -
      The examples Mearls posted before had some evasion rules for avoiding encounters. I'm disappointed they weren't included here...
    1. Immoralkickass's Avatar
      Immoralkickass -
      Boring. Give us more feats already.
    1. Parmandur's Avatar
      Parmandur -
      Quote Originally Posted by Immoralkickass View Post
      Boring. Give us more feats already.
      More feats seem... unlikely...any time soon, based on the survey reaction to the last batch.
    1. pukunui's Avatar
      pukunui -
      Quote Originally Posted by Immoralkickass View Post
      Boring. Give us more feats already.
      More feats sound boring to me. These alternate/experimental rules systems are exactly the sort of thing I want to see more of in UA.
    1. Kobold Avenger's Avatar
      Kobold Avenger -
      I like the idea of having features for an area, in many ways it makes "Exploration" seem like more of an interesting thing.
    1. Mouseferatu's Avatar
      Mouseferatu -
      Quote Originally Posted by pukunui View Post
      More feats sound boring to me. These alternate/experimental rules systems are exactly the sort of thing I want to see more of in UA.
      This. While I'm fine with UA being used to playtest possible new examples of "standard" material--subclasses, feats, spells--I'd really love to see them get more out there. These are free downloads and pure playtest stuff. Go hog wild. See how far you can push the envelope in a dozen different directions.
    1. RCanine's Avatar
      RCanine -
      A+ for concept, C- for execution. It's just not interesting or inspiring. Travel needs consequences -- like resource drain or story possibilities. Things like the random encounters in CoS.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Oh, I really like this. Great timing for me too! I'm going to try these out ASAP.
    1. pukunui's Avatar
      pukunui -
      Quote Originally Posted by RCanine View Post
      A+ for concept, C- for execution. It's just not interesting or inspiring. Travel needs consequences -- like resource drain or story possibilities. Things like the random encounters in CoS.
      Yeah, it definitely could be better. If enough people respond positively to it, maybe we will see a better version down the line.

      Nevertheless, I appreciate the thought, and I would like to see more of this sort of thing in the future.
    1. Hussar's Avatar
      Hussar -
      Neat idea. Well organized. Makes overland travel pretty interesting. I think I might give this a spin next week. My group is sailing to a fairly unknown location. I can see this being pretty useful.
    1. Sadras's Avatar
      Sadras -
      Quote Originally Posted by RCanine View Post
      A+ for concept, C- for execution. It's just not interesting or inspiring. Travel needs consequences -- like resource drain or story possibilities. Things like the random encounters in CoS.
      My group recently travelled to Icewind Dale so I took the opportunity to incorporate a skill challenge on the lines of 4e with narration (story possibilities as you said), resource drain and complications (time loss, damaged equipment/tools and other).
      I would have preferred something along those lines with a mix of the ideas presented in this UA. Hopefully they will revisit this.
    1. Weird Dave's Avatar
      Weird Dave -
      I really dig this, and my Storm King's Thunder campaign is just getting to the point where it's going to be really useful (I started with Legacy of the Crystal Shard so my players have been kicking around Icewind Dale for awhile now). I'm going to have to dig into the terrain around the North and throw together a quick page of info for each one like Mike did for the Moon Hills.
    1. vincegetorix's Avatar
      vincegetorix -
      Just having started a 4e game, I re-read last week the DMG on weather and exploration. One thing that 4e did that I think would be interesting for 5e his ''stat-blocks'' for natural encounters, probably using the complex traps model from XGtE for natural obstacles and normal stat blocks for thing like thunderstorm or heavy winds that ''attack'' the players.
    1. vpuigdoller's Avatar
      vpuigdoller -
      Quote Originally Posted by vincegetorix View Post
      Just having started a 4e game, I re-read last week the DMG on weather and exploration. One thing that 4e did that I think would be interesting for 5e his ''stat-blocks'' for natural encounters, probably using the complex traps model from XGtE for natural obstacles and normal stat blocks for thing like thunderstorm or heavy winds that ''attack'' the players.
      Woo I agree with this idea, maybe you should publish a polished version of the concept in the DMs Guild.
    1. vincegetorix's Avatar
      vincegetorix -
      Quote Originally Posted by vpuigdoller View Post
      Woo I agree with this idea, maybe you should publish a polished version of the concept in the DMs Guild.
      Thanks! I wish I could, but I'm not that good with 5e maths and my English is not that great, so the result would probably be crap. I'm better at throwing concepts than realizing them.
    1. MagicSN's Avatar
      MagicSN -
      Hmm. It seems to end in one thing - random dice roll tables.

      Personally (and I think the people at my table agree with this) I find this boring. There is even a mechanic for "Random Encounters". Don't do Random encounters. Instead think

      a) What did the characters do?
      b) How do their antagonists REACT on this
      c) let the antagonists (and their henchmen of course ^^) react

      Also I would avoid any encounters which do not "progress the story". Which works big time against random encounters. About the wilderness - just describe the situation the characters are in, bring in some hindernisses and obstacles, let the characters plan on this - and then let them do a dice roll. Based on what they DID. If it is a good roll - things happen as the characters want. If it is a bad roll - a complication arrives. And the roll should be based on what the character does (if he does some tracking - a Nature roll, if he tries a ritual to teleport to the destination (and this makes sense of course ^^) - an Arcana roll - like that).

      The big flaw in "navigation DC" is - so let's assume the characters roll bad on this one. They don't reach their destination. Nothing happens. Passivity. Passivitiy is never good. Much better if a bad roll means "you reach your destination, BUT - " and those BUT's can be really big (you reach the secret cavern, but your antagonist was faster, and now you are there in front of his WHOLE ARMY - how do you plan to get into the cave without him noticing? Something like that... though that was just quickly made up...).
    1. guachi's Avatar
      guachi -
      I liked this enough I tweeted Mearls to give us more. Basically, I said that with the increased popularity of D&D we need more rules and advice to help all the new DMs. The UA was a five page Wilderness Survival Guide.

      At least, I assume there are lots of new DMs.

      A for concept, B for execution.
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