4E Failure stakes for a travel Skill Challenge

pemerton

Legend
"fail forward" presumes that the PCs will meet their goal (travel to destination X) so that play does not grind to a halt, even if they fail the SC
I think this is one usage of "fail forward", but not the only one and in my view not the primary one. "Fail forward" in a game like Burning Wheel is a way of adjudicating a character's failure to meet his/her goal.

In BW, action declaration requires a declaration of both intent and task. If the player's check succeeds, then the PC succeeds at the task and achieves his/her intent. If the player's check fails, then the GM has to establish the consequences of failure, and is encouraged to focus on intent as much as or moreso than task when narrating failure - so the character may succeed at the task but not realise the desired intent.

In the context of a travel skill challenge, we know that task is travel from X to Y. But what is intent? If it is simply make it from X to Y, then maybe there is really nothing at stake at all - and then the GM might just "say 'yes" and/or call for some simple roll to determine what/how many resources are lost (this is pretty much what [MENTION=82106]AbdulAlhazred[/MENTION] suggested upthread, I think).

But if intent is arrive within time or arrive without having spent all our rations or whatever, then that might provide a focus for the narration of failure (similar to [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION]'s famous example of the character climbing the mountain with the intent of finding the pudding (?) at the top, and running the risk of losing his/her pudding detecting wand in the course of the trek).

For there to be a chance of not making it from X to Y at all, then there needs to be some reason in the fiction why the PCs mightn't make it, and that should be part of the intent eg we travel from X to Y without getting lost, or we travel from X to Y without being caught by the Ringwraiths who are hunting for us. If there is nothing of this sort that emerges from the fiction, then that makes it a good candidate for "saying 'yes'" rather than framing a check.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
As others pointed out : Fail forward = success but is only required when the goal of the endeavor is the singular and obligatory path forward.

If the game/story can still continue with a "regular failure", then that shouldn't be taken off the table for [Fail forward] to work - it can work with the goal's failure.
 
As others pointed out : Fail forward = success but is only required when the goal of the endeavor is the singular and obligatory path forward.

If the game/story can still continue with a "regular failure", then that shouldn't be taken off the table for [Fail forward] to work - it can work with the goal's failure.
Right, and that forms of gist of a reply I would make to [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] above. It is perfectly OK to say that failure to arrive at all is in the cards. It simply must be true that whatever scene frame is thus entered serves to advance the story and doesn't thwart it or turn it in a DM-determined direction, at least to too large a degree.

That may mean that 'in the end' the PCs DO get to the destination. It is just that, really, play should be able to continue in most directions. Really the only thing that shouldn't ever happen is "you fail, you're now still no closer to your goal and nothing has changed."

So the consideration of what [MENTION=1282]darkbard[/MENTION] should do next, is just advance the story in some direction, giving the players a sense of progress if they succeed and a sense of complication or cost if they don't. And make it genre appropriate and coherent with the rest of the plot and setting.
 

pemerton

Legend
As others pointed out : Fail forward = success but is only required when the goal of the endeavor is the singular and obligatory path forward.
To address this further: as I understand things, Jonathan Tween in 13th Age is correct about the origins of "fail forward" as a self-consciously identified technique (from the 13th Age rulebook, p 42):

A simple but powerful improvement you can make to your game is to redefine failure as “things go wrong” instead of “the PC isn’t good enough.” Ron Edwards, Luke Crane, and other indie RPG designers have championed this idea, and they’re exactly right. You can call it “fail forward” or “no whiffing.”​

Tweet has something similar in his commentaries in the 20th Anniversary edition of Over the Edge.

Fail forward or "no whiffing" as Luke Crane and Ron Edwards advocate it is not, in general, "success but . . .". Because in the games that use it, success means not just success at task but success at intent. And fail forward is all about failing at intent, while nevertheless perhaps succeeding at task (hence, no whiffing).

In a travel challenge the PCs can succeed at task and yet get lost if the fiction is appropriate: eg if the intent and task is "We use our compass to strike out boldly north" then a failure - if the fiction permitted - could be narrated as some external influence affecting the compass, so that the PCs succeed in following their compass and yet end up not heading north. That is not "success but". It's failure - but forward, because now the challenge is for the PCs to identify what it is that is influencing their compass.

In the indie games that Tweet refers to there is no such thing as "the singular and obligatory path forward". Those games are about avoiding railroading, not operationalising it via "success but" narrations of failure.

Equally, in those games, if nothing that matters to anyone in the game turns on the success or failure of the PCs getting from X to Y, then there is no need to call for any sort of check. Just narrate it and move on. Likewise, if everything that matters to the game's participants turns on the PCs getting from X to Y, then there is no need to call for any sort of check. Just narrate it and move on.

Once there are clear stakes - we need to get there to rescue our loved ones, say - then that is where "fail forward" is an invitation to the GM to twist the knife: eg the check fails, the GM narrates some appropriate delay-causing consequence, and then when the PCs arrive at Y from X they find their loved ones in even worse strife than they thought. Note that, in this example, there is a significant extent to which the fact that the PCs are now at Y rather than X is mere colour: the real action is the state of their loved ones, and the narrative logic of the check is not "will we make it from X to Y?" but "will we rescue our loved ones?"

It is perfectly OK to say that failure to arrive at all is in the cards. It simply must be true that whatever scene frame is thus entered serves to advance the story and doesn't thwart it or turn it in a DM-determined direction, at least to too large a degree.
If we are talking about the sorts of systems that are the origin of self-conscious application of "fail forward", then whether or not failure to arrive at all is on the cards depends entirely on the details of the fictional situation and how it relates to what anyone at the table cares about.

In my Prince Valiant game, most of the time the PCs' travel across Britain is simply narrated as occurring. There is no need for any checks, because everything that any participant cares about is premised on the PCs getting from X to Y. The travel is just a backdrop to the events that actually matter in play.

Conversely, if you are going to call for checks - as [MENTION=1282]darkbard[/MENTION] is intending to - then you should know why you are doing that. What is at stake? If you don't know that, then you haven't framed your check properly. Once you do know what is at stake, it may or may not turn out to be the case that non-arrival is among those stakes. There's no way to ascertain that possibility in the abstract - it's all about the details of the fiction.

(Of course in some RPG systems, travel always requires a check - which is to say that the system itself always puts some stakes forward as part of travel. Interstellar travel in Classic Traveller is an example of this. But 4e doesn't fall under that description - there is no rule of 4e that demands a check because the players declare that their PCs travel from X to Y.)
 

darkbard

Explorer
Well, we were supposed to play yesterday, but plumbing and electrical problems at my home this weekend made that impossible, so I have more time to opine here instead. :D

In BW, action declaration requires a declaration of both intent and task. If the player's check succeeds, then the PC succeeds at the task and achieves his/her intent. If the player's check fails, then the GM has to establish the consequences of failure, and is encouraged to focus on intent as much as or moreso than task when narrating failure - so the character may succeed at the task but not realise the desired intent.

[...]

(Of course in some RPG systems, travel always requires a check - which is to say that the system itself always puts some stakes forward as part of travel. Interstellar travel in Classic Traveller is an example of this. But 4e doesn't fall under that description - there is no rule of 4e that demands a check because the players declare that their PCs travel from X to Y.)
Generally, this first part is excellent advice, and I agree that intent takes precedence over task in such cases. Of course, part of my dilemma here is that I'm trying to shoehorn stakes into a game where the default system does not assume the setting of stakes as part of travel (as a result of all at the table agreeing that this is how we want travel to be at Heroic tier in a PoL setting, as discussed above).

For there to be a chance of not making it from X to Y at all, then there needs to be some reason in the fiction why the PCs mightn't make it, and that should be part of the intent eg we travel from X to Y without getting lost, or we travel from X to Y without being caught by the Ringwraiths who are hunting for us. If there is nothing of this sort that emerges from the fiction, then that makes it a good candidate for "saying 'yes'" rather than framing a check.
Again, this makes good sense. And this is one of the reasons why initially I was reluctant to include failure to travel from X to Y without getting lost among possible outcomes: the PCs will travel along one of only two clearly marked roads in the Nentir Vale, and getting lost in such a situation seems to defy what makes sense in the fiction. But perhaps this is "holding on too tightly." Part of playing to find out what happens (for all of us!) might very well entail discovering a fork in that road that isn't marked on the map, etc.

Jonathan Tween in 13th Age
Wouldn't that make him Jonathan Teenager, or are you considering the 13th year [Age] as age twelve? :D

Fail forward or "no whiffing" as Luke Crane and Ron Edwards advocate it is not, in general, "success but . . .". Because in the games that use it, success means not just success at task but success at intent. And fail forward is all about failing at intent, while nevertheless perhaps succeeding at task (hence, no whiffing).

In a travel challenge the PCs can succeed at task and yet get lost if the fiction is appropriate: eg if the intent and task is "We use our compass to strike out boldly north" then a failure - if the fiction permitted - could be narrated as some external influence affecting the compass, so that the PCs succeed in following their compass and yet end up not heading north. That is not "success but". It's failure - but forward, because now the challenge is for the PCs to identify what it is that is influencing their compass.

In the indie games that Tweet refers to there is no such thing as "the singular and obligatory path forward". Those games are about avoiding railroading, not operationalising it via "success but" narrations of failure.
This is a very useful way of thinking about these matters.

In my Prince Valiant game, most of the time the PCs' travel across Britain is simply narrated as occurring. There is no need for any checks, because everything that any participant cares about is premised on the PCs getting from X to Y. The travel is just a backdrop to the events that actually matter in play.

Conversely, if you are going to call for checks - as [MENTION=1282]darkbard[/MENTION] is intending to - then you should know why you are doing that. What is at stake? If you don't know that, then you haven't framed your check properly. Once you do know what is at stake, it may or may not turn out to be the case that non-arrival is among those stakes. There's no way to ascertain that possibility in the abstract - it's all about the details of the fiction.
At the beginning of our next session (or, perhaps, the one after if this journey doesn't come about immediately), I think we need to have a clearer discussion about intent as well as task. Regardless, since we all want there to be stakes to travel and not just simply have this be an instance of color, I will implement [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION]'s proposed system above for each day of travel (C1 SC per day with checks made to Quartermaster, Navigate, Scout, and Take Watch). However, pending the outcome of that discussion, failure to arrive at their destination may or may not be an outcome of failing the SC overall. (Interestingly, using Manbearcat's proposed system means that, statistically, short journeys like this will almost never fail but long journeys have a much higher chance at failure (as the players run into a string of poor dice rolls), which models well the uncertainty of travel we are looking for!)
 

pemerton

Legend
[MENTION=1282]darkbard[/MENTION], obviously you know your table and you know your game's fiction, so I can only offer a couple of general thoughts:

* The idea of clarifying intent, if it's not entirely clear, seems worthwhile;

* In my Traveller game, part of what makes the subsystems for travel able to fit with a broadly "story now" approach to the game is the background setting, which I'll say more about.

The background setting for Traveller is an Imperium, with a somewhat nebulously characterised government, a group of interstellar agencies (the Imperial Navy, the Imperial Marines, the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service), and communication between planets dependent on news being carried by starships. In practical terms, this means that more-or-less any planet the PCs travel to can have as much or as little of the prior backstory catching them up as seems appropriate given what is going on in play. That's not to say that there is nothing partiular to particular worlds - Olyx had the bioweapons research base, Enlil is a backwards world that is the source of the virus and also (possibly) of aliens, Byron has the corrosive atmosphere and (doomed) domed city, Ashar is cold and high-tech and has psionics - but they all sit within and are connected to this background context - for instance, the bioweapons research is being run by a group of breakaway marines, and on Byron the PCs were hired by an Imperial agent to investigate their base on Olyx.

If I wanted to run a game in which loved ones were a frequent or significant stake, then I wouldn't use Traveller as the system, because loved ones aren't the sort of background element that can easily be dispersed across many geographic locations in the way that an Imperium and the conspiracies within it can be.

So I would tentatively suggest that, when you are thinking about intent and thinking about stakes, you might also think about how these tie into these geographic aspects of background, because that will tie into how you can go about narrating consequences that give the colour you are looking for (eg perhaps getting lost, subject to verisimilitude given the road) but also honour the intent and stakes that you are trying to focus on.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
A big hurdle to overcome to create an interesting "standard traveling check mechanic" is that 4e doesn't really have all that many resources that can be lost/wagered.

You can't use money (as in supplies and mundane stuff) for any length of time as the numbers obliterate those requirements as anything other than trivial very quickly.

You can't use consumables as the game doesn't really use that many (I always find it funny to have healing potions as treasure in 4e adventures used in the same way as in other editions - talk about not understanding your system!).

You can't use permanent items - you'll get your tires slashed...

Everything else of note regenerates on it's own. Of course, you can build those in as a DM - but it's important to say that's going pretty strongly in "Type of Game-Land" (which isn't bad, but as you get more specific, well, you get less general - yeah, amazing, I know! I'm so smart! ;) )

On the up-side, there was a resource management system in place in Dark Sun - it's meant to convey that world's harshness... but it could be made rather general if your really going for a PoL where the non-Points are dark!.

... I'm just rambling, aren't I... yes, yes I believe I am.
 

chaochou

Adventurer
To riff off an idea from The One Ring / Burning Wheel, you could give each character a number of Hope points equal to, say, half their Wisdom. When they run out of Hope the character has succumbed to despair and has to retire.

Now your characters have a currency to wager / lose on their travels and one which has an ongoing and long-term impact.
 
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Generally, this first part is excellent advice, and I agree that intent takes precedence over task in such cases. Of course, part of my dilemma here is that I'm trying to shoehorn stakes into a game where the default system does not assume the setting of stakes as part of travel (as a result of all at the table agreeing that this is how we want travel to be at Heroic tier in a PoL setting, as discussed above).
Any game with story and drama has stakes. 4e is lacking in explicit mechanics which put those stakes on the table in a system way, but if there is conflict there are stakes. Moreover 4e DOES have nascent ways of working with them. In an SC it is pretty easy to interpret the system of Advantages and the DMs hard checks as a way to do that for example. The use of consumables as a somewhat expensive resource (rituals too) can also have a stakes effect. Likewise Page 42 has that tenor. None of these HAVE to be interpreted that way, nor used exclusively that way, but its not too hard to do it. Admittedly I developed my own game to make it easier and more straightforward, but 4e is better than a lot of games for this.

Again, this makes good sense. And this is one of the reasons why initially I was reluctant to include failure to travel from X to Y without getting lost among possible outcomes: the PCs will travel along one of only two clearly marked roads in the Nentir Vale, and getting lost in such a situation seems to defy what makes sense in the fiction. But perhaps this is "holding on too tightly." Part of playing to find out what happens (for all of us!) might very well entail discovering a fork in that road that isn't marked on the map, etc.
On the map it is a road, but in fact, after 100 years of infrequent travel, it could be a faint path. Washed away in some places, crossed by other paths, etc. You could also play up the dark between the lights. While 4e takes a fairly conventional D&D-genre approach to that, I always thought it was more interesting to make the darkness dark. The world is strange, and not the friend of man in this new age. Nothing you see or meet is quite to be trusted, there's always more to any situation than meets the eye.

The party comes upon a cabin on the 2nd day out. Its a bit nippy, and dark is falling, a fire burns inside, the door is open and the place looks clean and welcoming! Look there's even some stew cooking in the kettle, and warm bread on the hearth. Strange that the folk of the house are absent, but maybe they just went to feed the animals. Who knows if our brave adventurers will even make it back to the road? I don't...

At the beginning of our next session (or, perhaps, the one after if this journey doesn't come about immediately), I think we need to have a clearer discussion about intent as well as task. Regardless, since we all want there to be stakes to travel and not just simply have this be an instance of color, I will implement @Manbearcat's proposed system above for each day of travel (C1 SC per day with checks made to Quartermaster, Navigate, Scout, and Take Watch). However, pending the outcome of that discussion, failure to arrive at their destination may or may not be an outcome of failing the SC overall. (Interestingly, using Manbearcat's proposed system means that, statistically, short journeys like this will almost never fail but long journeys have a much higher chance at failure (as the players run into a string of poor dice rolls), which models well the uncertainty of travel we are looking for!)
I would say that in my model of play the length of a journey isn't really determinant. If nothing is really at stake, the a trip of 1000 miles is color, but crossing the street could be a great adventure. I mean, I'd want to make a long trip 'feel' like one to the characters, but the player only needs a vicarious sense of that, much like a trip in a novel where the relevance is getting to the destination. Likewise we depict the trip across the street as short, that is a relevant aspect of the fictional position, but it may be quite eventful and take a long time to play out!

I would say, I don't normally use [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION]'s type of procedure because I want the challenges to represent material changes in the fictional position of the PCs. Its quite possible in his system for the end result to 'the same just one day closer' and since length of journey isn't a very important plot element for its own sake, that isn't really a material change.
 

Sadras

Explorer
This was funny - but permanent items as staked/lost resources has actually been a recurrent feature of my 4e play.
I suspect it is much easier in a system such as 4e with treasure parcels. Costly but easier.

I have only green lit it once in our 5e game where I ruled an Arcana DC 30 (only time above 20) which could be fueled via permanent and consumable magical items providing various bonuses to the roll.
 

darkbard

Explorer
This was funny - but permanent items as staked/lost resources has actually been a recurrent feature of my 4e play.
Agreed! I chuckled when I read [MENTION=22362]MoutonRustique[/MENTION]'s comment but at the same time thought of your actual play reports in which the PCs, for example, leveraged their flying tower in an SC, if memory serves (it rarely does these days). I think it's one of those remarkable instances wherein one can tell that the stakes are just as meaningful to the players as they are to the PCs! (For, as MoutonRustique notes, players hate giving up precious items in about equal proportion to their unwillingness to fail a meaningful encounter. Choosing between the two makes for great tension at the table.)
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
I don’t have the time necessary to address the various points here, but one thing right quickly.

There are more non-thematic pressure points in 4e than is being discussed:

1) There is an assumed, rolling level-1 fungible coin (which can come in the form of, or be used to purchase, residuum, favors/SC successes, Cohorts/Hirelings in the way of Companion Characters, funding Rituals, Mounts, Cobsumables, etc). This, IMO, is one of the, if not the, most significant resources to leverage (either the actual coin itself or related assets).

2) Healing Surges (of course).

3) Recharge capability broadly or the specific recharge of a magic item or Utility.

4) Companion Characters (which may or may not be sentient things).

5) Artifacts.
 

MoutonRustique

Explorer
To riff off an idea from The One Ring / Burning Wheel, you could give each character a number of Hope points equal to, say, half their Wisdom. When they run out of Hooe the character has succumbed to despair and has to retire.

Now your characters have a currency to wager / lose on their travels and one which has an ongoing and long-term impact.
In 4e, this could probably be folded into "death" saves - which would become more along the lines of "destiny" saves or "fate" saves (or something).

It works pretty well with the idea of a major setback, wound, despair, or etc. Of course, it would probably be a good idea to increase the amount they have... maybe 5 ?

To keep the screws on, a long rest in a safe place could allow only for the recuperation of a single "point". Players would need to complete a major quest to regain more.

Or one could tie them to milestones - or something else, but it's a cool lever.
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
I would say, I don't normally use @Manbearcat's type of procedure because I want the challenges to represent material changes in the fictional position of the PCs. Its quite possible in his system for the end result to 'the same just one day closer' and since length of journey isn't a very important plot element for its own sake, that isn't really a material change.
So a quick thought on this:

When you say "challenges to represent matieral changes in the fictional position of the PCs", I'm reading that as "engages with/challenges theme/premise." Is that correct? Assuming that is correct, I have the following thoughts on that.

A D&D 4e game at Heroic Tier (broadly) has the following:

(The game's broad premise of)

* Danger expressed in a Points of Light way (same as Beyond the Wall, C7's The One Ring, DW).

* Discovery (for all participants, GM included) in a "what did we learn about the setting and characters this session" type of way (same as Apocalypse World, DW, Blades).

(An individual game's specific)

* Themes and premise baked into Character Theme/Background/Race/Class (these are the equivalent of Bonds and Alignment in DW).

All 3 of these are shared entirely with DW (and are the questions you address in the End of Session Move).

Therefore, so long as the fiction addresses one of those three aspects of play, I'm finding it difficult to imagine how it would fail to "engage with/challenge theme/premise?" If as the situation changes in any given Skill Challenge (be it Parley, Perilous Journey, or Other) with adversity arising around one of the 3 above, then a "material change" is happening.

Even if, ultimately, a journey is segmented into 3 stages (3 days) and one successful SC equals "one day closer", I don't see how that is evidence of neglect of theme or premise. Now, if there are no failures on moves made in a day's travel, then that also tells us something about the above 3 in the same way that all characters' succeeding on their Perilous Journey roles in DW does. The game is less interesting because failure is the machinery of challenge/adversity/more danger and more decision-points (therefore more outputs that express character and setting). But that is the just the way things go in a dice resolution system. Sometimes players come up with the nuts. Now if failures emerge and a GM sucks at dynamically changing the situation and putting interesting obstacles in the way of the PCs (we know that happens for sure as we've seen that cited as "evidence" that SCs are a terrible mechanical device)...then that tells us more about the GM than the system!

Let me know how you (or anyone else) disagree(s)?
 
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Hey [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION]!

I just mean that there's no real change in fictional positioning when a party is in a -lets say- 5 day journey when the first day is an uneventful SC that they succeed at. True, the first day of the journey is over, but it seems like a lot of procedure to go through vs a more 'high level' procedure like 'you travel for 3 days uneventfully...' (which might represent a couple of tosses of dice in a single more complex SC).

Not that anything is wrong with it, per-se. It just seems like a lot of process for little gained. If the entire focus of the game is on this sort of travel and its highly dangerous where most days are NOT uneventful, maybe that's OK, the one that is gives some contrast and the players can wipe their foreheads 'whew! we made it through day 1!' etc. This is a bit like making it down the first hallway in Tomb of Horrors without anyone dying!

But I think, even in a PoL 'travel in the darkness is dangerous and scary' you probably aren't going to run into a vast array of situation in one trip, unless it is really long. I mean, I'd hold with the general principle that a single 'chapter' like this probably can live in a single mechanical chunk of play. Its sort of a chapter and an SC can easily give it a start, a middle, and an end.

Of course, this is just my tastes....
 

Manbearcat

Adventurer
But I think, even in a PoL 'travel in the darkness is dangerous and scary' you probably aren't going to run into a vast array of situation in one trip, unless it is really long.
I'm not sure what work you intend "probably aren't going to" above. Are you working under some sort of internal causality of the local biome? Are working under genre logic? I guess the primary reason I'm not sure is because I'm certain that I've run enough journey conflict in 4e, Mouse Guard, Cortex+ Heroic Fantasy Exploration, Apocalypse World (where AUF, RaS, OYB and class playbooks do the heavy lifting, unlike UaPJ in Dungeon World), DW, The One Ring, and Strike! (and others I'm omitting I'm sure) where a vast array of situations have arisen. Extreme diversity.

The second part I think I'm inherently disagreeing with is that "play to find out" isn't strongly located in journey conflicts. I'm reminded of Vincent Baker's great advice in AW's "respond with 'effery' and intermittent rewards."

"I gave Marie what she worked for, but not really what she hoped for."

Journey's are exactly this, regardless of the system. The same thing as parleys are or any kind of conflict.

The PC's can arrive whole and unscathed, or otherwise, precisely as they had hoped.

Or...

They can arrive in a myriad of combinations of other conditions where the "other" is imperfect and very so...and some or most of the time that doesn't have to just be maths driven.

Perhaps one of their mates has gone missing (or worse)?

Perhaps they discovered an unwanted truth along the way?

Perhaps a relationship (PC to PC, PC to NPC, or an outlook/perspective) has become complicated?

Perhaps they've actually created a problem in the course of a tough decision-point that will have future implications?

I guess the point is, in so many games with journey mechanics or travel conflict resolution, there are play principles and actually machinery that push play toward "new and interesting fiction has emerged whereby Gamestate START is clearly differentiated from Gamestate FINISH)"
 
I'm not sure what work you intend "probably aren't going to" above. Are you working under some sort of internal causality of the local biome? Are working under genre logic? I guess the primary reason I'm not sure is because I'm certain that I've run enough journey conflict in 4e, Mouse Guard, Cortex+ Heroic Fantasy Exploration, Apocalypse World (where AUF, RaS, OYB and class playbooks do the heavy lifting, unlike UaPJ in Dungeon World), DW, The One Ring, and Strike! (and others I'm omitting I'm sure) where a vast array of situations have arisen. Extreme diversity.

The second part I think I'm inherently disagreeing with is that "play to find out" isn't strongly located in journey conflicts. I'm reminded of Vincent Baker's great advice in AW's "respond with 'effery' and intermittent rewards."

"I gave Marie what she worked for, but not really what she hoped for."

Journey's are exactly this, regardless of the system. The same thing as parleys are or any kind of conflict.

The PC's can arrive whole and unscathed, or otherwise, precisely as they had hoped.

Or...

They can arrive in a myriad of combinations of other conditions where the "other" is imperfect and very so...and some or most of the time that doesn't have to just be maths driven.

Perhaps one of their mates has gone missing (or worse)?

Perhaps they discovered an unwanted truth along the way?

Perhaps a relationship (PC to PC, PC to NPC, or an outlook/perspective) has become complicated?

Perhaps they've actually created a problem in the course of a tough decision-point that will have future implications?

I guess the point is, in so many games with journey mechanics or travel conflict resolution, there are play principles and actually machinery that push play toward "new and interesting fiction has emerged whereby Gamestate START is clearly differentiated from Gamestate FINISH)"
Sure, but my point is that such a Journey as Conflict is one conflict, not an endless series of them. Now, we could of course argue about how "LotR" maps onto a conflict system. Here we have the journey becoming the entire story, and clearly there are numerous conflicts within different parts of it. Even so it could hang together as a single SC in essence.
 
There are more non-thematic pressure points in 4e than is being discussed:

1) There is an assumed, rolling level-1 fungible coin (either the actual coin itself or related assets).

2) Healing Surges (of course).

3) Recharge capability broadly or the specific recharge of a magic item or Utility.
You have encounter & daily recharges, and Milestone up-charges (Action Points, pre-E magic-item-daily-uses, magic item powers that unlock or improve at a milestone).

4) Companion Characters (which may or may not be sentient things).

5) Artifacts.
The handling of artifacts in 4e was surprisingly good, actually.

Also consider:

Death Saves: Honestly, I don't even remember, after running variations of these under Next, where 4e left it with regards to whether death saves accumulated between extended rests or (like 5e) not. But for the version that didn't re-set your failed death saves too easily, it was a pressure point. The PC who's failed two death saves already, even if healed to full, is in a different position than one that hasn't been dropped yet, even if he's down past bloodied...

...oh, yeah, Bloodied or not.

The Disease Track. One of the few things that spanned the long-rest re-set. It was readily adaptable to handle curses or the like. Could have been used to model lasting wounds. A lot of un-tapped potential.

And, of course, Skill Challenges. The accumulation of successes creates a resource/pressure-point, success could be assigned (or taken away) by any number of things, depending on how the challenge was structured.

Sure, but my point is that such a Journey as Conflict is one conflict, not an endless series of them. Now, we could of course argue about how "LotR" maps onto a conflict system. Here we have the journey becoming the entire story, and clearly there are numerous conflicts within different parts of it. Even so it could hang together as a single SC in essence.
Heck, parts of the journey in LotR were just the backdrop scrolling along through one of Gandalf's interminable expositions.

An SC doesn't have a fixed time between turns like a round in combat, so you could even have an over-arching skill challenge that tracks success on the whole-campaign scale, be it a literal or figurative journey.
 

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