D&D 5E Hexcrawls/wilderness adventures

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
@iserith That's a beautiful map.

Thanks. I just cropped out the Talenta Plains from an Eberron map, threw it in Roll20, set the grid to hexes, sized everything up, and put little icons from the image gallery in the hexes to represent terrain features. Saved me from having to recreate it in Hexographer and it looks pretty clean.
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
On the topic of visibility, I'm using Roll20, so I'm going to put on fog of war and dynamic lighting so that all hexes adjacent to the PCs' token are visible. This amounts to 30 miles of visibility which is beyond the curve of the horizon, but I'm justifying this fictionally by saying the PCs can reasonably infer the terrain that lay beyond the range of their sight. I want the players to have a meaningful choice when it comes to deciding where to go next rather than choose blindly.
 

Libramarian

Adventurer
Interesting. Did you have a "plot", or was it just exploration? This is what I've struggled with. I'd love to make it simple like that, but I'm reworking a module that has some plot points (since that's what the group preferred).

Right now my system is to check for the entire day at once. Roll 12d6 (one per 2 hours) with 6 being an encounter (so, about a 17% chance). Then 1d4 for the half hour. So I know how many encounters they have and when they'll occur, but not where they'll be or what the encounter is. So, at the encounter half hour, I roll on the encounter table. Encounters are split 50/50 between places and creatures/events. If the check was a place, it was whatever corresponded to the hex they were in (all locations are keyed); if it was an encounter, they rolled on the table for monsters, weather, NPCs, and so on. If they were resting it was automatically an encounter. I also had a special condition roll - lair, tracks, or wandering for monsters; friendly, hostile, indifferent for locations.

My preferred would be something easy like 1d8+d12 on the encounter table while traveling, and 1d8 while resting (with the 1, only possible while resting, being something special like a plot related dream), but I'm not sure how to work plot related encounters in to that.
I was going to let them just start exploring if they wanted to, but I had a thing in mind if they wanted to ask around for rumors first: miners are getting mutilated so the foreman wants the party to find out who or what is doing it. No time limit or anything, just an excuse to get the party in the wilderness and looking in ruins and lairs for clues. After this I expect the lure of treasure and magic items to mostly propel the campaign (I'm awarding 1/3 XP for monster kills, the rest for treasure). The other thing I'm going to do is flesh out the towns/civilized sites bit by bit as the party takes long rests there, depending on what downtime activity they choose. Carousing is the most expensive, but also has the best chance to make a friend with valuable info.

Your encounter system seems overly complicated to me. With hourly turns I make like 20 encounter checks a session so it's really nice that the table is simple enough to memorize. Big tables are best used for things that happen like 3-5 times a session IMO. It's the same thing with combat: the basic attack roll needs to be as simple as possible, but a table for critical hits or lingering wounds can be a nice addition because it's only used once in a while.

You might be interested in this system: http://rolesrules.blogspot.ca/2011/04/one-page-wilderness-system.html


I really like choosing the closest monster on the map for a random encounter. I started doing that in dungeons even before reading that blog post. When a wandering monster is indicated just have the nearest monster wander out of their room towards the party. Makes the encounter feel more organic and chaotic.
 

Libramarian

Adventurer
On the topic of visibility, I'm using Roll20, so I'm going to put on fog of war and dynamic lighting so that all hexes adjacent to the PCs' token are visible. This amounts to 30 miles of visibility which is beyond the curve of the horizon, but I'm justifying this fictionally by saying the PCs can reasonably infer the terrain that lay beyond the range of their sight. I want the players to have a meaningful choice when it comes to deciding where to go next rather than choose blindly.

Fog of war isn't satisfying for my purposes because terrain that affords greater visibility should also be visible from farther away. A mountain that lets you see for 40 miles should be visible from about 40 miles away.

It's tough to make this gameable. I'd reallllly like to avoid counting a specific number of hexes radially outwards. The DMG says visibility is 2 miles, or 40 miles from a tall hill or mountain if the weather is clear. That's obviously very simplistic but it might be the right way to go: you're either in a spot with a really good view or not. If you have a good view and the weather is clear, you can see the basic terrain of the whole map, but have to make perception checks to see sites/buildings, depending on the terrain the site/building is in.

And I would just describe the terrain in broad strokes, not the exact info hex by hex.
 
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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
There are online tools that describe your visibility range based on altitude, you can find it on google with a 30 second search :)
 

Libramarian

Adventurer
There are online tools that describe your visibility range based on altitude, you can find it on google with a 30 second search :)

I've been doing some research. The distance to the horizon can be calculated from altitude, but visibility depends more on terrain and atmospheric conditions. You never notice something for the first time just as it pops over the horizon; it's more about the visual acuity of the person looking, what they're looking at and what's between the two.

It's tempting to try to create an interesting tradeoff between the effort it takes to climb elevated terrain for the viewing distance ( @iserith made a perceptive comment earlier about identifying the tradeoffs and interesting decisions created when considering simulationist rules) but the 5e rules don't support that. Of course you're going to climb the hill for a better view, even if it counts as climbing in difficult terrain. It would cost the same movement points to walk around it. Maybe if it took like half the day and an exhaustion check to climb...

I've kept everything else simple, so I could handle some more complex rules here. I'll take a look at what the 1e WSG has to say on the topic.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I knew of the online tools because someone used levitate in our game to scout around (ie see further) and I knew what they were looking for was huge (but hidden by the tree line). This wasn't D&D (but whatever) but it turns out that levitation is *really useful* for visual scouting.

Normally you can see about 5 km. Here is how the sight radius goes up with every 10 meters:

10M 11 km
20M 16 km
30M 20 km
40M 23 km

Edit: Even if at 23 km you can't see things like that pesky goblin who stole all your gold, you can see a lot of very useful things - like where major terrain features are, rivers, towns, fields etc etc. Or an incoming army.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more Levitation is freaking awesome. For scouting, for accurate cartography, for military commanders...
 
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Libramarian

Adventurer
Edit: Even if at 23 km you can't see things like that pesky goblin who stole all your gold, you can see a lot of very useful things - like where major terrain features are, rivers, towns, fields etc etc. Or an incoming army.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more Levitation is freaking awesome. For scouting, for accurate cartography, for military commanders...

Levitation basically makes you a mobile watchtower which is awesome, yeah. I'm trying not to anticipate the effects of spells too much, so the players can have fun breaking things with them. The two I thought were a little cheesy are Create and Destroy Water, and how Goodberry nourishes you for a day. Create Food and Water is already the magical astronaut food spell--I thought these were unnecessary. I don't dislike them enough to change them though. They still cost resources, and when it comes down to it I don't actually want PCs to die of starvation/thirst. I have some herbs/alchemical ingredients to give foraging an extra benefit.
 

feartheminotaur

First Post
Here's the one I'm using. It's from http://www.d20srd.org/srd/wilderness.htm

I figured eye sight and spotting distance can't be too tied to edition...

Desert: 6d6 x 20 feet
Desert (dunes): 6d6 x 10 feet
Forest (sparse): 3d6 x 10 feet
Forest (medium): 2d8 x 10 feet
Forest (dense): 2d6 x 10 feet
Hills (gentle): 2d10 x 10 feet
Hills (rugged): 2d6 x 10 feet
Jungle: 2d6 x 10 feet
Moor: 6d6 x 10 feet
Mountains: 4d10 x 10
Plains: 6d6 x 40 feet
Swamp: 6d6 x 10 feet
Tundra: 6d6 x 20 feet
Underwater (clear): 4d8 x 10 feet
Underwater (murky): 1d8 x 10 feet
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I've been doing some research. The distance to the horizon can be calculated from altitude, but visibility depends more on terrain and atmospheric conditions. You never notice something for the first time just as it pops over the horizon; it's more about the visual acuity of the person looking, what they're looking at and what's between the two.

It's tempting to try to create an interesting tradeoff between the effort it takes to climb elevated terrain for the viewing distance ( @iserith made a perceptive comment earlier about identifying the tradeoffs and interesting decisions created when considering simulationist rules) but the 5e rules don't support that. Of course you're going to climb the hill for a better view, even if it counts as climbing in difficult terrain. It would cost the same movement points to walk around it. Maybe if it took like half the day and an exhaustion check to climb...

I've kept everything else simple, so I could handle some more complex rules here. I'll take a look at what the 1e WSG has to say on the topic.

Yup. I failed to call it out, but my suggestion reduced spotting distance to half what I calculated to accomodate the difference between theoretical distance and useful distance. It's a kludge, but a working one.
 

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