D&D 5E Rewarding Overland Travel

pemerton

Legend
The goliath barbarian pack mule mentioned earlier is likely a combination of things. First you have the default incredibly generous item weight capacity ratios, next goliath doubles that, finally barbarian may be doubling it again on a character likely maxing strength for combat effectiveness giving them a total carry capacity that is probably easily close to if not more than all other characters in the party combined.
I mentioned before that I always lean into container capacity on this one. All well and good that dude can offer a piggy-back ride to a frost giant, but a backpack can only hold 30 lb. worth of gear, so choose your equipment wisely.
I'll admit that I have a lot of trouble getting very excited about encumbrance. For a while in one of my RM games we had an Ogre PC, who could carry a lot of stuff. It didn't hurt the game.

As far as containers are concerned, I think the goliath could just pay a tailor/leatheworker to make a bigger one. I'm not a goliath, and I own a backpack that can pretty trivially carry 20 kg worth of stuff (I take it supermarket shopping). It's made of synthetic materials, but I don't think its construction is significantly more robust that what could be done with D&D-ish fabrics.
 

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mrpopstar

Sparkly Dude
The common denominator seems to be moving from aspects of the game covered by combat and magic rules, to aspects of the game covered by a mixture of common sense, very simple procedures, and the skill rules.
❤️

A party of ranger-types seems like it should be playable - Faramir, Mablung and friends should be a feasible D&D group, it seems to me.
Agreed.

Are there ways of presenting social or travel situations that aren't just GM-led narration and plot-downloads?

The answer for FRPGing in general is obviously yes. I assume that the same answer is possible within the context of D&D.
I think the rules for social interaction are strong. It's an experience specific to D&D (I'm told), but they're solid. I'm a fan.

I'll admit that I have a lot of trouble getting very excited about encumbrance. For a while in one of my RM games we had an Ogre PC, who could carry a lot of stuff. It didn't hurt the game.

As far as containers are concerned, I think the goliath could just pay a tailor/leatheworker to make a bigger one. I'm not a goliath, and I own a backpack that can pretty trivially carry 20 kg worth of stuff (I take it supermarket shopping). It's made of synthetic materials, but I don't think its construction is significantly more robust that what could be done with D&D-ish fabrics.
The common denominator applies here as well. Just go by what's available in the book, keep it simple, everything works out.
 


TheSword

Legend
On this topic, I would ask a parallel question: if all the players build (say) warlocks, wizards, sorcerers and bards does the magic part of the game become relegated to unfun? If all the players build (say) clerics, paladins and divine-type sorcerers does the religion part of the game become relegated to unfun?

Or what about a part of fighter, assassin, barbarian and war cleric: would this relegate the fighting part of the game to unfun?

To me it seems like an issue of design if a party of ranger, outlander and druid types makes the wilderness travel part of the game unfun.
No I don’t think that’s the case at all. Those characters can enjoy a wilderness game of course they can it’s their specialization. Though this was a case of hyper specialization, goodberry, goliaths, rope trick (not exactly common in the wilderness) at the same time as wanting a gritty campaign!

Let’s be honest most players don’t want to be searching for food like a night playing DayZ. That would be a very specialist type of game. Even playing in an extreme environment like Athas or the Underdark that would get tired fast. That’s why decanters of endless water, alchemists jugs, myrlund’s spoons, good berries etc exist… to allow that stuff be handwaved in an explainable way.

The challenge was that the group wanted to play a gritty wilderness campaign. So looked through the books for a load of gritty wilderness rules … and then designer character that could hand wave those… blaming the rules for not being very satisfying. That is a very illogical way to act.
 

pemerton

Legend
No I don’t think that’s the case at all. Those characters can enjoy a wilderness game of course they can it’s their specialization. Though this was a case of hyper specialization, goodberry, goliaths, rope trick (not exactly common in the wilderness) at the same time as wanting a gritty campaign!

<snip>

The challenge was that the group wanted to play a gritty wilderness campaign. So looked through the books for a load of gritty wilderness rules … and then designer character that could hand wave those… blaming the rules for not being very satisfying. That is a very illogical way to act.
I don't agree. If I look through the rules to play the most magic-y character I can (probably some sort of warlock or wizard in 5e D&D; maybe some sorts of bard too), that won't make the magic part of the game uninteresting or disappear. It will make it even more intricate and involving!

Putting Rope Trick to one side, which was only one of many elements mentioned, it seems to me a clear design issue that building rangers, outlanders, druids etc - all wilderness-focused characters - makes wilderness play less rather than more satisfying.

There is a recurring feature here, that some parts of the D&D rules serve the function of overcoming or superseding subsystems (eg teleport does this for much travel; apparently 5e rangers and outlanders do this for wilderness exploration) while other parts are all about engaging certain fictional elements and associated subsystems - and it doesn't call them out. You have to find them through trial and error!
 

TheSword

Legend
I don't agree. If I look through the rules to play the most magic-y character I can (probably some sort of warlock or wizard in 5e D&D; maybe some sorts of bard too), that won't make the magic part of the game uninteresting or disappear. It will make it even more intricate and involving!

Putting Rope Trick to one side, which was only one of many elements mentioned, it seems to me a clear design issue that building rangers, outlanders, druids etc - all wilderness-focused characters - makes wilderness play less rather than more satisfying.

There is a recurring feature here, that some parts of the D&D rules serve the function of overcoming or superseding subsystems (eg teleport does this for much travel; apparently 5e rangers and outlanders do this for wilderness exploration) while other parts are all about engaging certain fictional elements and associated subsystems - and it doesn't call them out. You have to find them through trial and error!
You keep mentioning rangers, outlanders, druids as if those were the problem? Not sure why.
 

mrpopstar

Sparkly Dude
If you want to "keep it simple", I can't help but note that there is no rules in the book limiting the number of bags/sacks you can carry. So container size is not a good limiter.
The Player's Handbook offers that "in most campaigns, you can use or wear any equipment that you find on your adventures, within the bounds of common sense."

There doesn't need to be a rule that limits how many backpacks you can wear on your back. Common sense is the limiter.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
No I don’t think that’s the case at all. Those characters can enjoy a wilderness game of course they can it’s their specialization. Though this was a case of hyper specialization, goodberry, goliaths, rope trick (not exactly common in the wilderness) at the same time as wanting a gritty campaign!

Let’s be honest most players don’t want to be searching for food like a night playing DayZ. That would be a very specialist type of game. Even playing in an extreme environment like Athas or the Underdark that would get tired fast. That’s why decanters of endless water, alchemists jugs, myrlund’s spoons, good berries etc exist… to allow that stuff be handwaved in an explainable way.

The challenge was that the group wanted to play a gritty wilderness campaign. So looked through the books for a load of gritty wilderness rules … and then designer character that could hand wave those… blaming the rules for not being very satisfying. That is a very illogical way to act.
Since this was a story about my group, I want to correct you on something: we wanted a crunchy game, not a gritty game.

When we first started playing we wanted to follow all the rules on food, water, encumbrance, and so on. It just so happens that the characters we created, by the rules, make it so we don't have to worry about those things.

Rather than changing the rules to be more punishing, I'm suggesting adding a system that builds a reward into Exploration through random encounters.
 

TheSword

Legend
Since this was a story about my group, I want to correct you on something: we wanted a crunchy game, not a gritty game.

When we first started playing we wanted to follow all the rules on food, water, encumbrance, and so on. It just so happens that the characters we created, by the rules, make it so we don't have to worry about those things.

Rather than changing the rules to be more punishing, I'm suggesting adding a system that builds a reward into Exploration through random encounters.
Fair enough, crunchy, gritty. Potayto potahto. You wanted a game with crunch then made characters that ignored that crunch 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Fair enough, crunchy, gritty. Potayto potahto. You wanted a game with crunch then made characters that ignored that crunch 🤷🏻‍♂️
Maybe we are having a difference of definition here. To me, "crunchy" means following all the nitty gritty rules. So saying "you need to eat one ration a day while traveling" is crunchy. It's honestly something I ignore in most of the games I run.

In my other group, though, we decided to follow it. The Outlander's background ability to feed five people while traveling is also crunchy because it's... a nitty gritty rule!

The Outlander doesn't ignore crunch, the Outlander has powers that solve the crunchy problem.

And... I think that's great! It's why I think the challenges of Overland Travel won't work if you try to make it punitive. There are just too many character abilities that get around problems of food, water, encumbrance, and rest. And that's okay! The characters should feel capable, and 5e gives them a lot of ways to do it.

Instead, one way to reward Overland Travel is to bring in incentives for further exploration.
 

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