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Sunday, 28th September, 2003, 08:08 PM #1
Novice (Lvl 1)
How do you handle travel in your campaigns? The characters in my campaign are currently on the road for what will take slightly over 10 days, with no interruptions. I have no major events planned for the trip, it is just a matter of getting them from point A to point B. Do you fast-forward past this type of travel, or do you select a few choice encounters to use along the trip, or do you play it out in its entirety?
I have En Route, from Atlas, and it is a great source of ideas, as is Toolbox from AEG, but I mainly want the trip to pass so we can get on with the adventure. However, I don't want the the group to start thinking that they can just travel any where they want and not face any dangers while on the road, but our gaming time is very precious, so some advice would be appreciated.
I should also mention that a 5-day stretch of their travel is over unconquered wildlands, where orcs are known to roam.
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Sunday, 28th September, 2003, 08:31 PM #2
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
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Last year, I started a new game which involved a group trying to flee from a country that wanted to kill them to a safe haven a thousand miles away. I wanted to give the group a sense of how far they were traveling, and let them know what sorts of terrain were in the way, because they'd be coming back this way eventually.
What ended up happening was that after the first three descriptions of just boring days of traveling, one of the players asked, "Alright, how long will it take us to get there at this rate?"
"About a month," I replied.
"Okay then. So we travel for a month, resting every once in a while, until we get there."
This irked me, so I had them have an encounter with some bandits, and later with some creepy witches in a swamp, and then eventually with an army blockade trying to stop them. After each, they again said, "So we travel for the rest of the month, resting every once in a while. Do we get there?"
It took me a while to get into the groove with this group, but eventually I learned to just gloss over the details of travel, and only tell them what was pertinent to the challenges they were facing. It made the game faster.
Sunday, 28th September, 2003, 08:38 PM #3
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
Scene: the players are sitting around the table, and they're just about to start the PCs on their journey.
Mutter to self: "Let's see..." and roll dice.
Say: "Okay, the first day passes uneventfully. Weather is ... " blah blah blah. "Now, you settle down for the night. Watch order?"
PCs: give you their watch order.
Roll a die and point to a random player, saying, "Make a Spot check."
- High Spot check: "You see a large shadow pass in front of the moon."
- Low Spot check: "Hmm, you don't see them!"
Roll a d20, and mutter: ".... but apparently they don't see you (either)."
Out loud, say: "The night passes uneventfully."
Repeat similar things. Make up details about tracks the PCs can find, giving them clues to what kind of critters live in the area.
One fun non-threatening event is a hunt. Have the nature-oriented (or high-spot-check) PC see some kind of yummy game just off the trail. The PCs can chase it, roll some attacks, etc. just to break up the monotony of you rolling dice and saying the word "uneventfully".
Key to tension: look disappointed at your dice just before announcing that nothing happens, and look excited when there's a "chance that something will happen".
Sunday, 28th September, 2003, 09:37 PM #4
Novice (Lvl 1)
Lots of nice ideas, thanks Nifft, I appreciate it. I will try fast forwarding over most of the trip, but breaking up for camp is a good time to ask for watch order and a few Spot and Listen checks. I might also ask the ranger for a few Survival checks along the trip, in order to avoid/locate other little encounters.Originally Posted by Nifft
Sunday, 28th September, 2003, 10:27 PM #5
Superhero (Lvl 15)
It depend on the road, if it is well travelled there is going to be little or no danger to be meet, for this I have some event set aside:
The broken down wagon that they could help with
Kids throwing rock at travellers
The fellow travellers
The patrol (could give a hard time to the players)
New shoes - party member blows out shoes and needs repairs
Mostly it "another day of travel comes to an end and you find it time to make camp".
Now if they are off the beaten path, then we have events planed.
The bandits in the forest - the party sees some cloaked riders at a distance
The wandering monster - nuff said
The way around - bridge or forde is out, how do they get around
Either way it is important to take a toll on the party, lost gear happens, weather turns bad. Horses throw shoes, illiness hits parties. People who have lived their lifes in cities do not sleep well on the ground, they hear strange noises and see creatures where there is nothing but a tree in the night. This is where snake bites, insect bites, poison ivy, those little things can break a party.
Sunday, 28th September, 2003, 10:41 PM #6
Defender (Lvl 8)
It depends on the terrain, the civilization level of the area, and how good a road it is. I usually break down areas of my detail map into 'civilization levels'. Frequency of encounters and types of encounters are based off that.
Major roads/esp. between large cities:Travelling along these trade arteries you can expect either a small town or fortified inn/trading post about every day. They're spaced out for that very reason, so travellers don't have to sleep in the grass or woods. Encounters will be during the day for the most part, and mostly involve merchants, patrolling troops, other travellers, etc.
Back roads, or roads between political entities: May or may not have accomodations but will usually have rest stops, or cabins that depend on a system of hospitality (there will be food, water, bedding in there; you're expected to chop wood and carry water to the place to replenish what you've taken, or leave some dried game). Encounters will be people, animals, the occassional unusual beast. Possible bandits. Possible humanoids.
Lesser roads. Roads that are not travelled frequently. Probably not patrolled to the level they need to be. Probably few if any accomodations. Usual encounters possible, though few real terrible 'monsters' will be seen (dragons, otherplanar things, etc).
No road, or game trail. Usual range of encounters, monsters included.
'Unrest' in an area will up the encounter rate, and the severity of the encounter. 'Conflict' will up both again: this is when there are known humanoid raids, frequent suspicious patrols, etc.
Mostly, if the party is travelling a long distance over good roads in peaceful times it's not unusual for me to say 'You get there; mark off xx gold as per your weekly expenses' or maybe 'pay xx in taxes and tolls'. Cutting across country is cheaper but ups the encounter chances and severity.
If I know there is trouble in an area, then we go to the 'set watches, Spot and Listen rolls'. Encounters might also be modifed if the party is somewhere that something has occurred in the past. 'Well, you get to the Inn and find it a burned husk, then you remember that you burned down this place last year...'
Sunday, 28th September, 2003, 10:59 PM #7
Superhero (Lvl 15)
There are also Rules to remember, not all party members will know these right away but shoulf be informed by rangers, durids and barbarians:
You always put out your fires and make sure they are out.
You do not approch a camp without warning.
You share your camp to those that ask.
You share news and information of the road.
You don't sleep in a barn without the owner knowing about it.
If you are offered someones home you repay kindness with work or goods.
You don't kill live stock.
You share news and information along the road with other travelled and at stops.
Sunday, 28th September, 2003, 11:44 PM #8
Gallant (Lvl 3)
Keep in mind that any amount of travel through a well traveled region will turn up a good deal of information even if you aren't intending to gather it. This is as true today as then - at any truckstop you'll hear stories being told of events - people who travel a lot get lonely and like a chance to share stories.
This all of course is something the bard excels at - indeed it is the sort of thing that is the foundation of a bard's 'bardic knowledge' ability. So tell them of rumors and stories they run across - follow up on any that strike a gleam in the player's eye.
Monday, 29th September, 2003, 12:23 AM #9
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
I'm glad this topic came up right now. Next Sunday is our next session, and my players are embarking on a long journey.
It's deep winter in the appropriately named Ice Mountains, and they have two goals in mind. They are travelling to see a mage who lives about a 4 month journey from where they now are. They hope this mage will be able to tell them about a mysterious map and an even more mysterious artifact that Nadja's Uncle Cherry gave her on his deathbed. But now they have an even more urgent goal. They must also get their Baroness and her newly born infant to safety. Her husband was executed by Imperial Loyalty Officers last session, and the Baroness managed to sneak out of the province by hitching a ride with a caravan which was heading north to the aformentioned Ice Mountains. They ran across her at a border fort, and they know that her newly born son is the next in line to the Imperial throne, because Emperor Strudek Kinslayer has killed everyone more closely related. (Including 15 siblings and his own mother, who cursed him with impotence as he twisted the knife in her heart.)
Anyway, I have a 4 month journey in the middle of winter to plan, with 7 PCs, a noblewoman and a newborn. Oh, and did I mention that the Broken Tusk Orcs are right pissed at the party, which will be travelling through their territory? And did I mention that at least one imperial scout is on the Baroness's trail? There is a village 3 weeks to the west, which is as far west as the PCs have ever gone. Beyond that is completely unknown to them. (And to me, but that's another story, eh?)
So, I want to strike a balance between "the time passes and you get there" at one end of the spectrum, and making them play through 120 days of travel. And if they earned a thousand experience points on the way to see this mage, I wouldn't mind at all.
Monday, 29th September, 2003, 08:55 AM #10
One thing you must do is, one night while the party is camped, select a player at random and tell them, "during the night, your character wakes up because he/she has to relief himself/herself. While you are peeing out away from camp, you are attacked. Roll for initiative."
Another fun thing to do, to keep them on their toes: Whoever is on watch, tell them they hear something rustling around in the leaves. Have them keep hearing something. They can either investigate themselves, or wake everyone else up to prepare for an attack. Either way, it turns out the noise was being made by a rabbit/armadillo/some other harmless creature.