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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Faolyn

(she/her)
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!"
I was thinking about that, and decided that if the players are actually going through the effort of roleplaying out hunting and gathering, or busking, or writing up a chronicle, or whatever, then they get the reward for doing so--a Supply, some extra gold, the bonus on rolls. But this doesn't count as performing the Journey Action because those are background events.

Meaning, the players can spend a half-hour or however long in real-time RPing an action, or they can relegate it to the background.
 

Reynard

Legend
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.
A failed roll could mean something else, though. Sure, you fill your waterskins but you picked a bad spot and the water (you find out a couple miles on) is undrinkable.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
I think a failed roll is more likely to result in problems like finding tainted water, toxic berries, or even getting bit by a baaaad insect that perhaps causes you to burn a supply between the vomiting & diarrhea. A fantasy world includes options for magical parasites & all manner of stuff riffing off things we have like that tick, flesh etaing bacteria, brain eating amoebas, manchineel trees, poison fire coral, box jellyfish blue ringed octopus, , bullet ants, Dendrocnide Moroides/suicide plant, & so many others.Oregon trail style death is unlikely

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.


This got me curious so I did some digging. For comparison here is one of semitropical florida alongside a population density heightmap of the US
1619727695688.png


population density.jpg
[
1619727695688.png
Most of the state would probably be grassland marsh urban & open roads, I couldn't find a map of our manmade drainage canals but most of the populated areas are in places you'd probably have trouble walking more than an hour or two without hitting one or the ocean
 

Reynard

Legend
If you have ever watched shows like Alone or Naked and Afraid you know that potable water is rarer than you think and bad water is potentially deadly. Calling a failed roll a "can't find safe water; want to chance it anyway?" is better than "you failed to fill your canteen."

That said I don't think D&D works particularly well as a survival game and if Level Up isn't dramatically changing that aspect it probably isn't worth worrying too much about.
 



Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
If you have ever watched shows like Alone or Naked and Afraid you know that potable water is rarer than you think and bad water is potentially deadly. Calling a failed roll a "can't find safe water; want to chance it anyway?" is better than "you failed to fill your canteen."

That said I don't think D&D works particularly well as a survival game and if Level Up isn't dramatically changing that aspect it probably isn't worth worrying too much about.
You're definitely right that D&D doesn't work as a survival game... but I don't think that's really the -point- of the Journey System.

Think of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. You've got the One Ring at the start of the game and you have to get it to Mount Doom. 5e D&D has travel times, some weather effects, vehicles, and random encounters. You could kind of develop a campaign that hits the same beats as the Fellowship of the Ring and such.

But with the Journey System, you've got a much -deeper- ability to do that campaign. Different conceptual regions with Social and Exploration encounters added to the encounter table, a simple method of tracking food and water, like Frodo and Sam in their last days of near-starvation as they struggled, exhausted/fatigued/striferidden, up the slope of Mount Doom itself.

It makes for a deeper, richer, story. And a deeper, richer, world.

And it doesn't -just- work for the Journeyquest style of adventure. Imagine a West Marches game where each Hex you explore gets to be a different tier and land type based on the ones around it. Where the party's Ranger spends the travel time "Scouting" to tell you what the 3 forest hexes to the Northwest, West, and Southwest are in Journey Terms (Deep Feywood, Gentle Feywood, and Deep Feywood) so you can make an appropriate decision about which path to take.

Also I definitely like the "Can't find Safe Water" risk thing. Especially with D&D's various diseases as options. Then again, the spell "Purify Food and Drink" probably still exists, so "Can't find Safe Water" becomes "Found Water!" which means there's no chance to fail...

Might be best to let the DM drop the "Safe" water thing in specific regions/storypoints.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
You're definitely right that D&D doesn't work as a survival game... but I don't think that's really the -point- of the Journey System.

Think of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. You've got the One Ring at the start of the game and you have to get it to Mount Doom. 5e D&D has travel times, some weather effects, vehicles, and random encounters. You could kind of develop a campaign that hits the same beats as the Fellowship of the Ring and such.

But with the Journey System, you've got a much -deeper- ability to do that campaign. Different conceptual regions with Social and Exploration encounters added to the encounter table, a simple method of tracking food and water, like Frodo and Sam in their last days of near-starvation as they struggled, exhausted/fatigued/striferidden, up the slope of Mount Doom itself.

It makes for a deeper, richer, story. And a deeper, richer, world.

And it doesn't -just- work for the Journeyquest style of adventure. Imagine a West Marches game where each Hex you explore gets to be a different tier and land type based on the ones around it. Where the party's Ranger spends the travel time "Scouting" to tell you what the 3 forest hexes to the Northwest, West, and Southwest are in Journey Terms (Deep Feywood, Gentle Feywood, and Deep Feywood) so you can make an appropriate decision about which path to take.

Also I definitely like the "Can't find Safe Water" risk thing. Especially with D&D's various diseases as options. Then again, the spell "Purify Food and Drink" probably still exists, so "Can't find Safe Water" becomes "Found Water!" which means there's no chance to fail...

Might be best to let the DM drop the "Safe" water thing in specific regions/storypoints.
Yeah, in LotR the journey is the adventure. We want to support that, and also support folks who just want to quickly give some flavour to the travel between two places.
 

Reynard

Legend
You're definitely right that D&D doesn't work as a survival game... but I don't think that's really the -point- of the Journey System.

Think of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. You've got the One Ring at the start of the game and you have to get it to Mount Doom. 5e D&D has travel times, some weather effects, vehicles, and random encounters. You could kind of develop a campaign that hits the same beats as the Fellowship of the Ring and such.

But with the Journey System, you've got a much -deeper- ability to do that campaign. Different conceptual regions with Social and Exploration encounters added to the encounter table, a simple method of tracking food and water, like Frodo and Sam in their last days of near-starvation as they struggled, exhausted/fatigued/striferidden, up the slope of Mount Doom itself.

It makes for a deeper, richer, story. And a deeper, richer, world.

And it doesn't -just- work for the Journeyquest style of adventure. Imagine a West Marches game where each Hex you explore gets to be a different tier and land type based on the ones around it. Where the party's Ranger spends the travel time "Scouting" to tell you what the 3 forest hexes to the Northwest, West, and Southwest are in Journey Terms (Deep Feywood, Gentle Feywood, and Deep Feywood) so you can make an appropriate decision about which path to take.

Also I definitely like the "Can't find Safe Water" risk thing. Especially with D&D's various diseases as options. Then again, the spell "Purify Food and Drink" probably still exists, so "Can't find Safe Water" becomes "Found Water!" which means there's no chance to fail...

Might be best to let the DM drop the "Safe" water thing in specific regions/storypoints.
That's all true, and the journey rules from The One Ring and Adventures in Middle Earth that obviously inspired the Level Up ones are a great addition to the tool box. But that wasn't the discussion you responded to. The question was "how do interpret a failed roll when the GM calls for a check to fill the canteen." Now, that's a dumb time to ask for a check in the first place, but let's assume that was what the module required. You have to be able to interpret a sensible result, of which "you couldn't open your canteen" is not a member of that set.

The real question with journeys is "does this group want that to BE the adventure." The Lord of the Rings movies, as an example, don't focus on the journey. My wife jokes that those films are all walking, but most times the walking is all aerial shots and epic score. We zoom back down when something interesting happens -- orcs attack or we encounter some bit of exposition on the road." That's closer to the traditional D&D encounter check system (with the caveat of a skillful GM that can make the die rolls disappear into their narrative). I think the goal of a journey system is to make having to cross the river interesting in an of itself as an activity the players engage in, rather than just a thing the GM narrates.
 

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