D&D 5E For those with experience on OotA: Getting rid of travel rate (and tips on time management overall)

AbhorrentLesson

First Post
So recently I picked up Out of the Abyss, and have a few questions on DMing when it comes to travel rate and time management. I am someone who prefers a more narrative game with less focus on mechanical aspects. That being said, would the adventure be drastically affected if the travel pace mechanic was taken out completely, and all travel save important points be instead summed up? I'd prefer to instead use theater of the mind rather than game pieces, albeit with the occasional rough drawing of a dungeon or place being shown, and feel that this rule is more designed for use with pieces and graph paper. This does not mean I would avoid random encounters by any means either, but instead of anyone having to actively calculating the exact distance of a place in comparison to there rate of travel, I'd reduce it down to short sentences such as "You've been traveling several hours, after traversing various caverns, you see a peculiar opening in the distance and can hear bellows of anguish coming from it." I know there is actually a short entry about this on page 30 entitled "Summarizing Travel" but I would like to know how this goes when put into practice.

The other topic that confuses me is time management, and is more about 5th edition overall. I quite understand how tracking the passage of time can be important for obvious reasons, but I am a little confused as to why they tried to include it into combat. Is this merely meant to provide players who would like more realism? On one hand, I guess I can see the point of at-least making it known to players how long a round is in in-game time. However, there are certain spells, traits, and other game effects that last time periods such as minutes, hours, days, etc. which make things confusing for me. When used out of combat, these things are easier to handle as you can be rather loose with it as a DM and just decide when in-time passes to fit around whats going on at the time, and what you feel is appropriate. It gets rather tricky to me when it comes to in-combat phases where time is used as a duration of a game effect. How do you manage this? I really don't want to have to time my players with something like a stop watch when they fight. Is there a conversion table anyone knows of with time to turns or rounds? This is another game element I'd really like to eliminate if I could, or at-least find a less tedious alternative. I really appreciate the help everyone!
 

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Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I mostly narrated travel. I rolled all the encounters in advance. I inserted a few of the premade encounters. I started off having them make navigation and survival rolls. It became tedious and boring, especially considering the rolls weren't difficult and they never failed. It did not affect the pacing at all. You can narrate the travel and pick a few key encounters to run to sprinkle in some combat to get them xp.

Not sure what you mean with the time. The combat times are as they were in 3rd edition. 1 minute is 10 rounds. I usually make the players tick the rounds when they cast a spell or use an ability. It's up to them to track it. I do the same with monster or NPC abilities. I write the name of the spell or ability next to their name and tick it off with a pencil mark on their turn. I don't freak out if I miss a tick or they do. As long as they're in the ballpark, I'm good. No need to be too exacting with timekeeping in combat. The combats are usually over before anything expires in 5E.
 

mgshamster

First Post
I had planned on rolling encountered in advance during travel time. Didn't happen. So I've been rolling encounters at the table during game play.

I only roll up encounters every few days during travel, the rest of the time I say things like, "You've been traveling for a few days..." I skip days at a time while they're traveling to help speed things up. Also, I give decryption a of long travel as tedious and difficult, where several days may be spent simply tracking a single path that loops back and forth up a steep cavern wall to a tunnel up top; or they may spend hours crawling through a passage so tight that at times they feel claustrophobic. I may pause the descriptions to allow for some roleplay here and there.

Every so often I'll have them roll a survival check, not every rest. I do require them to track food and water, but as we have a Druid who can cast goodberries, it's not as big of a deal. Conversely, we have a ton of NPCs; they have every single NPC from the start of the campaign and have added one 12 more. About half of the NPCs are completey dependent on the PCs for survival; the other half are actual allies that assist with survival, navigation, combat, etc...

Soon, some of their more dangerous allies will be taking advantage of the weaker NPCs. >:)
 
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CapnZapp

Legend
So recently I picked up Out of the Abyss, and have a few questions on DMing when it comes to travel rate and time management. I am someone who prefers a more narrative game with less focus on mechanical aspects. That being said, would the adventure be drastically affected if the travel pace mechanic was taken out completely, and all travel save important points be instead summed up? I'd prefer to instead use theater of the mind rather than game pieces, albeit with the occasional rough drawing of a dungeon or place being shown, and feel that this rule is more designed for use with pieces and graph paper. This does not mean I would avoid random encounters by any means either, but instead of anyone having to actively calculating the exact distance of a place in comparison to there rate of travel, I'd reduce it down to short sentences such as "You've been traveling several hours, after traversing various caverns, you see a peculiar opening in the distance and can hear bellows of anguish coming from it." I know there is actually a short entry about this on page 30 entitled "Summarizing Travel" but I would like to know how this goes when put into practice.

The other topic that confuses me is time management, and is more about 5th edition overall. I quite understand how tracking the passage of time can be important for obvious reasons, but I am a little confused as to why they tried to include it into combat. Is this merely meant to provide players who would like more realism? On one hand, I guess I can see the point of at-least making it known to players how long a round is in in-game time. However, there are certain spells, traits, and other game effects that last time periods such as minutes, hours, days, etc. which make things confusing for me. When used out of combat, these things are easier to handle as you can be rather loose with it as a DM and just decide when in-time passes to fit around whats going on at the time, and what you feel is appropriate. It gets rather tricky to me when it comes to in-combat phases where time is used as a duration of a game effect. How do you manage this? I really don't want to have to time my players with something like a stop watch when they fight. Is there a conversion table anyone knows of with time to turns or rounds? This is another game element I'd really like to eliminate if I could, or at-least find a less tedious alternative. I really appreciate the help everyone!
Long question, short answer:

"No"
 


muppetmuppet

Explorer
I thought the deciding how fast to travel was actually a good thing. The players get to feel they are making a difference.
I kept a vague track of days mainly because I had decided how long it was till the next full moon for the twins.
I'm not sure how doing either of these stops you just fast forwarding the boring travel days where nothing happens and describing the journey however you like.
Combat is generally so short that you can ignore it for time purposes if keeping track of time is annoying.
There is some danger of endless random encounters in this adventure so preparing in advance is good and just skipping a few you have planned to get to a new scripted encounter if things are starting to flag is also a good plan.
I gave up on the foraging survival too as I had two characters that could gather 7.5 food/water days per day which pretty much meant there was no danger.
 

Endur

First Post
I haven't run it yet, but my plan is to let the players decide the pace (fast, medium, slow), but I plan to do all the die rolls for navigation, getting lost, etc. before the game session to calculate travel time in between encounters. So I might have 3 days inbetween encounter a and b if they travel medium, with a faster time or slower time if they choose a different travel pace.

I don't want to waste time at the table rolling navigation, survival, and other checks.
 

muppetmuppet

Explorer
ahh right yes well with a druid you shd be able to ignore the survival stuff, my group have got round navigation currently by using stool as a compass and having had a member of the society of brilliance tell them the direction of bloopidoop. They are hoping Neverlight Grove is far enough away that its direction won't change relative to the fish city.
They managed to leave all the best navigators behind as they happened to be on work duty at escape time.
Buppido was navigating to start with but they quickly found he was useless and eldeth is now chief navigator using the the above compass to know roughly where they are trying to get.
We tend to play for a whole weekend at a time and I got lucky that I prepared exactly the right amount of things, should be reasonably easy to prepare ahead for a normal session.
My suggestion on that is to read up the 4 set encounters so you are ready to go with them if you need to slot them in if you run out of prepared material or the players suddenly find some weird way to circumvent the preparation.
Good luck hope it goes well and let us know what happens.
 

"after travelling several weeks/days/hours" works really well in D&D! As long as you have an understanding of what the travelling means to the adventure, that's all good. Some adventures the travel and the travails are very important (wearing down resources and/or eating up time) but often that is not the case. Hand wave it, if that is your preference.
 

seebs

Adventurer
I am really, really, confused by the reference to "time my players with a stop watch". It sounds like you're thinking that combat rounds have anything at all to do with time spent at the table by players.
 

Pretty much how I've been doing it. The random tables have been good for when I needed stuff on the fly, though. As long as the group makes some pretext of getting food and water, I'm not too concerned about it. This is about heroes saving the Realms, not those guys that starved to death after 30 days in the Underdark wilds.

One thing I did wrong is that I took some of the early sections too fast. The group is in danger of getting over their heads challenge rating-wise, so I'm hitting the breaks and slowing progress down.


I mostly narrated travel. I rolled all the encounters in advance. I inserted a few of the premade encounters. I started off having them make navigation and survival rolls. It became tedious and boring, especially considering the rolls weren't difficult and they never failed. It did not affect the pacing at all. You can narrate the travel and pick a few key encounters to run to sprinkle in some combat to get them xp.
 

Goober4473

Explorer
I haven't started my OotA game yet, but I plan to use the suggestion included in the book where you roll a die to determine when the next random encounter happens, rather than randomizing it every day. That way, I can plan it ahead of time, and do things like say "you travel though _ terrain for another 4 days, passing _ and _, when suddenly..."

You can easily eliminate the exact rules for travel if you want. My suggestion there would be to include situations where the players run out of food or have a chance at getting lost, as additions or replacements to other encounters. You can then just assume everyone has the food and water they need, and are on track, until it becomes important and dramatic. This also might be a good framing device for encounters. "After days of travel, you find yourselves low on food. Shuushar knows of a species of fish that are easy to catch in a nearby river, but Chuuls are known to lurk in the water as well. Sarith suggests you might be able to hunt some giant fire beetles instead, but they'll likely put up more of a fight."
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
How long does a fight take?

My Tiamat group went up against Arauthator - an Ancient White Dragon with max HP and everything else that is normally variable (I amp'ed him up a bit, because the fights before had been easy).

It took 3 1/2 hours IRL to defeat him.
It took 6 rounds - not even a minute ! - of in-game time.

My players liked "hours" better, for the difficulty involved.
 

mgshamster

First Post
So tonight I had my players rolls the random encounters. They skipped about 10 days worth of travel with "nothing happened." Really easy to roleplay their travel time. Then I had them meet a member of the Society of Brilliance which was working on a shorter path from Gracklestugh to [this other city].

It so happened that they rolled up a ledge, so I had them pressed against the wall trying not to fall into a 200' drop. Half way across, they met a crazy Derro (I know, it's redundant), that claimed to be making a shorter path to Gracklstugh. After much inter-party debate, they chose to believe him. It shaved 10 days off their 28 day journey.
 
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