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Playtest (A5E) Level Up Playtest Document #17: Journeys

Welcome to the 17th Level Up playtest document. This playtest document contains an abbreviated expression of the game’s Journey rules, which form an important part of the exploration pillar of play.

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When you are ready, please give us feedback by taking the playtest survey!

 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Stalker0

Legend
My next campaign may do a lot of exploring so I've been eager to see these rules. My quick and dirty.

  • The regions are pretty solid overall. I like the feel, the bonuses and penalties generally make sense to me, I'll note a few exception below but in general, I like it.
  • Most of the region activities are fine, but I think the "only person per activity" is going to break down in real gaming. As soon as the party is out of supplies, of course everyone is going to "hunt and gather" and would be pretty peeved if the DM is like....only one of you can gather. That just doesn't make sense. At the very least, include the help rule here, allow for one person to do the thing, another to give them advantage on the check. I can definitely see a lot of players who don't know exactly what to do would want to help another person. Better yet, just allow everyone to do it, and pile on expertise die for each person. Its technically less efficient than if everyone did different stuff, but hey if that's what people want to do, why not let them.
  • The section on "experienced travelers" threw me a bit, because it occurs before you explain the various activities. Ultimately it took me a few reads to understand it. I would greatly prefer if you just added a "veteran traveler" note (though how veteran are we talking here?) to the Busk and the Gather components areas. Also that Gather Component note is a BIG jump, we are going from 7 gold on average to 100, all for disadvantage (and there are a million ways players will come up to get advantage to counteract).
  • Underland Realm: I feel the cave in should be on a 1 (normally 20s are good!)
  • Open Road: I see this as more of a "layer" on top of a region rather than a region all to itself. Even a frozen waste can have an open road.
 

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Faolyn

(she/her)
Most of the region activities are fine, but I think the "only person per activity" is going to break down in real gaming. As soon as the party is out of supplies, of course everyone is going to "hunt and gather" and would be pretty peeved if the DM is like....only one of you can gather. That just doesn't make sense. At the very least, include the help rule here, allow for one person to do the thing, another to give them advantage on the check. I can definitely see a lot of players who don't know exactly what to do would want to help another person. Better yet, just allow everyone to do it, and pile on expertise die for each person. Its technically less efficient than if everyone did different stuff, but hey if that's what people want to do, why not let them.
Agreed--especially when combined with the idea that you can only do one activity per Region, no matter how big a region is. Help actions make a lot of sense. Although I'd limit it to a single advantage (or bonus expertise die) as per 05e rather than let lots of people help at once.

I imagine some of the limitation is so you don't have people spamming Chronicle or Pray in order to give people bonuses on the other rolls. What might be useful is giving a minimum time frame for each action. You should be able to Hunt & Gather, Harvest, Track, etc. at least every few days (perhaps roll a d4), depending on the region. But something like Chronicle, Entertain, or Pray might require a week between uses (you're gathering info during that week, coming up with a new tale or song, or engaging in normal prayers without expectation of personal attention). And things like Busk or Rob could be daily but depending on the population of the area--and how willing you are to attract the attention of the guards, patrol, or more powerful group of adventurers.

I think it would also be nice to have some guidelines as to how big a region actually is. If LU is expecting a region to be only require a few days of travel each, then yeah, OK, I can see limiting it to a single roll. But it's likely that a region would actually be weeks of travel, in which case the multiple rolls would be useful.

OTOH, it also looks like LU is expecting that you're bringing along your hirelings to do some of the tasks, leaving the PCs to do the more interesting ones.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I'd note that of all the playtest surveys, this is the most important one so far to fill out because the new exploration pillar is so fundamental to our game. It's really important that we get a good birds-eye-view of the general response to this. When you add in all the exploration challenges and other stuff, the exploration pillar really is an extra full third of the game that wasn't there before. If you only fill out one playtest survey, make it this one.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I don't suppose you could consider my thoughts here on the thread as an addendum to the survey I filled out before?

In general, I really like these rules. They just need a few tweaks. And a couple of additional Regions.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
In general, I really like these rules. They just need a few tweaks. And a couple of additional Regions.
Regions are a design space. Expect hundreds of regions from us in future products and from third parties. It's so easy to make a region, and we have rules to do so. We'll provide 15 or so in the core book.
 


Faolyn

(she/her)
Regions are a design space. Expect hundreds of regions from us in future products and from third parties. It's so easy to make a region, and we have rules to do so. We'll provide 15 or so in the core book.
I'm seriously glad you're including rules for making new ones. One of my issues with o5e is that I had to reverse engineer a lot of stuff in order to figure out how to make new ones, which was just an unnecessary step.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I'd note that of all the playtest surveys, this is the most important one so far to fill out because the new exploration pillar is so fundamental to our game. It's really important that we get a good birds-eye-view of the general response to this. When you add in all the exploration challenges and other stuff, the exploration pillar really is an extra full third of the game that wasn't there before. If you only fill out one playtest survey, make it this one.
this is why I liked the idea of "Open Road" as a layer more than an actual region. That opens up an entire new design space if you have core regions, and then you have "features" that modify the regions. Open Road is the perfect example of such a feature.
 


Horwath

Hero
magic item idea:

Adventurers satchel, common magic item
weight 1lb.

this leather satchel can hold 10 supply in extradimensional space without adding any extra weight.
supplies within do not spoil and are protected from any elements. Unless those outside elements do not destroy the container first.
Any food/drink within can be cooled/warmed and seasoned as using prestidigitation spell.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I would say it was an Intelligence check, with Deception added if proficient, to disguise the wagon.
It could be, but who would you pick to make a wagon look like a farmer's cart going off to market...the hardened killer people call an adventurer, a ranger who used to be a guard at the market gate, fighter who grew up on a farm, or well... a farmer?

why this extra capacity?

PCs that have their STR at a dump stat should feel it.
Just set the weight of one unit of supply. I.E. 10lb
You can't trivially substitute it as number=strength & it doesn't require the player to track the weight of every single thing. Take the modern soldier as a good example. This article

Marine Capt. Courtney Thompson said computer simulations she ran showed that just adding 15 pounds to the “bare essential” fighting load carried by Marines resulted in an additional casualty on the battlefield when Marines were pitted against competent shooters.

The Corps’ fighting load varies between 43 to 62 pounds depending on the level of body armor a Marine wears. Military body armor protection ranges from level II to IV. Thompson’s simulations were run with level II body armor — protection capable of stopping a 9 mm round. The weight range includes a carried weapon.
The military invests quite a bit in armor & pack design that better distribute weight across the wearer to reduce fatigue & avoid hindering them. Even though a cinder block is 35 pounds you can't just replace 10-30 pounds of body armor with 30 pounds worth of cinderblock & be the same while converting supply to pounds does just that.

That load distribution & such is more than a bit deep into simulationist territory but that's not the reason why it's important to note. It's important because d&d starts to break down if you too harshly restrict how many pounds a character can lift/wear/carry so marking off some of what your combat capable carrying capacity to be devoted towards explicitly handling your supply simulates that without complicated multipliers & such for how well or poor something distributes weight.

On that note, you could even model things like darksun's crude bone/stone equipment by having it eat into slot capacities like your supply to shift emphasis onto the scarcity of goods even if the gm doesn't make it hard to actually buy them in towns/cities or from things like merchant caravans & such. That way players don't need to spend all their time hunting & saving for food but still feel the need to consider stretching he food & water in those supply every bit as much as their character would
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
why this extra capacity?

PCs that have their STR at a dump stat should feel it.
Just set the weight of one unit of supply. I.E. 10lb
Possibly because Supply is so abstracted now. Instead of "But these are super-duper reduced-weight rations, so these Supply only weigh 5 pounds each," or "Whoops, you bought halfling Supply, so they weigh 15 pounds each," you get a generic bit of weightlessness.

Edit: It's also slightly unfair to make a PC have to choose between their hard-won treasure and food.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Speaking of Supply as number and not a specific weight... Would a creature that has the ability to carry more than its Strength suggests, such as an orc (which counts as Large for carrying stuff) or an ox (which counts as Huge) have the ability to carry more Supply? I mean, you really should be able to load an ox up with your goods.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Speaking of Supply as number and not a specific weight... Would a creature that has the ability to carry more than its Strength suggests, such as an orc (which counts as Large for carrying stuff) or an ox (which counts as Huge) have the ability to carry more Supply? I mean, you really should be able to load an ox up with your goods.
Animals and vehicles all have their own Supply limits.
 


Stalker0

Legend
I'm glad to see a very simple method for holding supply. Whether its based on strength score, strength mod...I like that its a simple X = Y supply. I mean lets be honest none of the weights and encumbrance for anything make sense, but this actually gives some mechanical advantage to strength which is nice, and makes it dirt simple for players to understand.

That said, the supply numbers so far seem pretty generous to me. If I assume the average of 13 strength (a few 8 strength people but you have 18-20 strength fighters), so that's 13 days of travel just on what the party can carry, let alone a horse or a wagon or something. Now you do have the occasional challenge to maybe knock down some of that supply, but that's still like a week and a half of travel on just what you carry, not even accounting for hunting and the like.

I guess that's to all the big hikers and campers out there. Do people often carry that much food on them for long journeys?

Oh, I also have to question this line in the document:

"When an adventurer gains access to food and water, they can add Supply to their inventory."

So lets take a river for example, which is standard fare on most long journeys (unless this is the wasteland). How much supply can I regain when I get to a river and refill all of my waterskins?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
So lets take a river for example, which is standard fare on most long journeys (unless this is the wasteland). How much supply can I regain when I get to a river and refill all of my waterskins?
That's the foraging action.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
I guess that's to all the big hikers and campers out there. Do people often carry that much food on them for long journeys?
Not a hiker, but an internet search leads me to believe that 1.5-2 pounds of food per day seems standard, because hiking demands more calories--but also most hikers and campers aren't planning on living mostly off the land, and of course, we're talking modern foods that can be much more calorie-rich than your standard medieval fantasy fare. A D&Dland Supply might weigh much more than a modern-world one.

So I would assume that a PC party could get away with carrying enough Supply for half the trip (assuming they're going through a relatively fertile place) and reasonably assume to, well, hunt and gather (or magic up) the rest of the food.

Edit: we also don't know how much a Supply will cost.
 

Stalker0

Legend
That's the foraging action.
Fair enough. hehe its sometimes comical how the mechanics and flavor interact, ultimately when you go for a simple model that is inevitable, you can't account for everything, but it does lead to some real oddities.

DM: "You all see a flowing river along the way"

Player1: "Oh, I will go refill our waterskins". Rolls survival and....fails.
Player1: "Oh cruel world! Why is pushing a sack of leather into a pool of water so difficult!"

Player2: "Ok I guess I'll fill the water skins then"
DM: "Oh...um....well only 1 person can forage....sorry"


Now as the DM in this case, I probably wouldn't call for a check, and just give them the benefit of a standard hunt and forage. But then your in the situation where I would expect most regions that aren't barren wastelands to have rivers and lakes....because, that's how nature works. So that leads to the scenario where the players are basically getting a forage in for free, and supply is meant to be more scarce than that.

If I'm overthinking this...I'm really not, I can already see the gears turning in my players heads as they try to milk the system for everything its worth.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Out of curiosity, I was wondering how common rivers are in the world, at least in the "nice parts of the world fertility wise". The answer, pretty darn common. Here's just one example, you can barely go half a day in most places and not hit some flowing body of water. The US was even more. So probably in my headcannon I will assume supply is really just food, and water is covered by the land. Only in the barren wastes will water truly be a factor, which is already covered in the region descriptions.

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