D&D 5E Rewarding Overland Travel


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Hussar

Legend
I completely agree that you can carry pouches!

I said this upthread...
Carrying capacity is limited by the containers you carry on your person. Common sense and realism affords that you wear a backpack (which only holds 30 lb. of equipment), you strap a bedroll and a rope to it, you carry a waterskin (which only holds 1/2 a day's water), you maybe carry a pouch or component pouch (which only hold 1or 2 lb. of equipment), and you carry two or three weapons.

The goliath's powerful build is useful when you're pushing, dragging or lifting, but also when you have an unconscious ally that needs to be thrown over someone's shoulder, or a treasure chest to carry out of the dungeon. It's not for turning the guy into a pack mule.


And of course I'm not against you fashioning a larger backpack for a goliath if that suits your fiction. There's a variant rule for equipment sizes that shows you how to do that.
Why do you assume that the Goliath player is stupid?

1. Yes, a waterskin is half a day of water. Why can't I carry more than one waterskin? Is there a particular reason that I can't strap a couple to the outside of my backpack. Heck, maybe carry a half a dozen empty ones too just for when someone taps that Create Water spell and we can fill up?

2. You mentioned about carrying a pot that it takes up so much room in the backpack? Again, who carries a pot IN the backpack? You strap it to the outside like any normal person.

3. Why is it impossible to buy a bigger backpack? Your worlds have some sort of ideal backpack uniform code and no one is allowed to make a different one?

4. 2 or 3 weapons? Why? I carry a sheaf of javelins (there's 10 right there), a sword, a half a dozen daggers, and something else. Not a problem.

It is so annoying to have these conversations when one side is assuming that players are completely brain dead.
 



Faolyn

(she/her)
Why do you assume that the Goliath player is stupid?

1. Yes, a waterskin is half a day of water. Why can't I carry more than one waterskin? Is there a particular reason that I can't strap a couple to the outside of my backpack. Heck, maybe carry a half a dozen empty ones too just for when someone taps that Create Water spell and we can fill up?

[...]
How many players think to actually go forth and buy such things? Does everyone in your game load themselves down with stuff like that? Because even the most crazy-prepared people in my game rarely carry that many duplicates of any one item.
 

mrpopstar

Sparkly Dude
Wow, guys.
😳

And I disagreed. You seem to have either missed that or ignored it due to the fact I didn’t use the exact same wording as you, so I’ll clarify here. The party of socialites you describe won’t trivialize social challenges to anywhere close to the same degree or at all in the same way, and in fact won’t trivialize social challenges outside of very inexperienced DMs.

It’s an accurate word. Your proposal is presented as if it is referencing rules that are being ignored, which is not the case. Additionally, the proposal can’t be taken seriously by anyone who expects characters to not be limited way beyond how actual real life limits people, or expects the basic mundanities of the game to make some degree of sense at all.

It’s another accurate word. A variant rule isn’t required, nor is any additional cost. The backpack in the PHB is just an example of a basic backpack. That’s it.
There was a problem presented. I proposed a solution. Solved! If the solution doesn't work for you, carry on.

Btw, I did say “tend to be 8ft tall”, not “the average Goliath is 8ft tall, if we are being pedantic.
I stuck my tongue out because it was meant to be playful.


Why do you assume that the Goliath player is stupid?

1. Yes, a waterskin is half a day of water. Why can't I carry more than one waterskin? Is there a particular reason that I can't strap a couple to the outside of my backpack. Heck, maybe carry a half a dozen empty ones too just for when someone taps that Create Water spell and we can fill up?

2. You mentioned about carrying a pot that it takes up so much room in the backpack? Again, who carries a pot IN the backpack? You strap it to the outside like any normal person.

3. Why is it impossible to buy a bigger backpack? Your worlds have some sort of ideal backpack uniform code and no one is allowed to make a different one?

4. 2 or 3 weapons? Why? I carry a sheaf of javelins (there's 10 right there), a sword, a half a dozen daggers, and something else. Not a problem.

It is so annoying to have these conversations when one side is assuming that players are completely brain dead.
Nobody called anybody brain dead, and there's no assumption that anybody else is stupid. At least not on my part.

✌️ ✌️
 


tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
How many players think to actually go forth and buy such things? Does everyone in your game load themselves down with stuff like that? Because even the most crazy-prepared people in my game rarely carry that many duplicates of any one item.
As soon as a houserule tries to fix the problem... quite a lot in my experience. Don't forget this tangent is all because someone suggested simply enforcing container size of backpacks to solve a bunch of problems
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
In another thread on the Exploration Pillar, I came up with the idea of using rewards instead of consequences for Overland Travel. I had a little free time, so I worked up a system!

Reward Instead of Cost

The idea of this system is to replace the consequences of a Random Encounter during the Overland Travel portion of the Exploration Pillar. When exploring a dungeon, the characters are naturally curious, wanting to know what's behind locked doors, inside trapped treasure chests, or beyond the monsters because there are rewards: treasure, quest goals, etc. On the other hand, I've found that many Overland Travel systems rely on a series of costs: rations, water, encumbrance, exhaustion, HP, HD, and so on.

The problem is that characters are really good at mitigating costs. In my own group, we wanted to play really crunchy 5e so we studied up on the rules of encumbrance, rations, resting, and so on... Then the Druid cast Goodberry, two characters had the Outlander background, the Goliath Barbarian could carry everyone's stuff (and everyone), and my own wizard quickly got Rope Trick. We quickly mitigated the costs of survival in the wilderness.

I propose flipping this on its head. Instead of a chance for a cost, Random Encounters should always have a chance for a reward.

These rewards can be trivial: fresh food or water, a bit of lore, some healing potions... but the encounters will now reward player curiosity and drive characters to explore more!

The Simple Solution: Roll for Rewards, not Dangers

My usual Random Encounter table is made up of a big list of monsters and environmental risks, with a smaller list of friendly or neutral NPC's or natural wonders.

I think this should be flipped! DM's should be rolling on a table of Rewards first! Then, the obstacles and risks can be decided.

Now just a note: I don't think this is appropriate for Dungeon Exploration. Dungeons already have a balance of rewards and risks planned out in advance. This system is meant for Overland Travel.

How It Would Work

Theoretically, a DM would add this system to whatever they are already using for Overland Travel. If you keep track of rations and water, great! If you have characters take on levels of Exhaustion, great!

The DM would also decide how often Random Encounters occur. Maybe they roll three times a day (that's what I do, Morning, Afternoon, Night). Maybe once a day. Maybe there's one encounter per journey.

When a DM decides there will be a Random Encounter, they roll on the following tables, or just use them for inspiration. Please note that these tables don't provide rules, just flavor. A DM is invited to deviate from these ideas, or just use them to generate other ideas. In other words, a cliff doesn't have to be a cliff. A Glyph of Warding doesn't have to be a Glyph of Warding.

The first table a DM uses is the Rewards Table. This creates a reward for whatever Exploration will follow. These rewards should be adjusted to the environment; while low-level characters will be glad to find a source of Fresh Water, for a 14th-level character that source of Fresh Water in the 82nd Level of Hell might have healing properties or allow them to cure Exhaustion levels.

Once the Reward is rolled, the DM then rolls on the Obstacles and Signs tables. The Obstacles Table generates an idea for what is preventing the characters from immediately accessing the reward. The Signs Table generates ideas for what catches the characters' notice in the first place. Keep in mind more clues and signs can be found, such as finding out what enemies are near, or what risks lie in wait.

Overland Travel Tables

Encounter Reward (1d6)

  1. Treasure (1d4)
    1. Coins, Gems, and Art Objects
    2. Magic Item (common)
    3. Magic Item (uncommon)
    4. Useful Tools, Supplies, Weapons, or Armor
  2. Resources (1d4)
    1. Food: hunting grounds, wild fruits and vegetables, or stored rations.
    2. Fresh Water: natural spring, ancient fountain, or stored bottles
    3. Magic Materials: adamantine, mithril, or material components
    4. Potions: healing potions, holy water, or alchemist's fire
  3. Knowledge
    1. Information (1d6)
      1. about a local enemy (resistances, vulnerabilities, motivations, etc.)
      2. about a local settlement (secrets, alliances, thieve's guilds, etc.)
      3. about the current quest (secret doors, traps, treasures, etc.)
      4. about a treasure (reroll a random encounter with a Treasure Reward)
      5. about a shelter (reroll a random encounter with a Shelter Reward)
      6. about a shortcut (reroll a random encounter with a Shortcut Reward)
    2. Source (1d4)
      1. a hunter, turncoat, spy, adventurer, traveler, or hermit
      2. a tome, map, journal, scroll, or sign
      3. a mosaic, carving, statue, song, or legend
      4. a ghost, devil, talking animal, or awakened plant
  4. Alliance (1d6)
    1. Helpful expert
    2. Enemy with information
    3. Merchant with goods for sale
    4. Local politician or nobility
    5. Important guild representative
    6. Traveler with knowledge (reroll on the Knowledge Reward table)
  5. Shelter
    1. Lookout tower
    2. Deserted village
    3. Fortified outpost
    4. Secure cave
    5. Abandoned temple
    6. Crumbling castle
  6. Shortcut (1d4)
    1. safe (no encounters)
    2. dangerous (characters will encounter enemies; roll on the Enemies Obstacles Table)
    3. difficult (characters will encounter natural obstacles; roll on the Natural Obstacles Table)
    4. magical (teleportation circle, flying rug, etc.)
Obstacles (1d4)
  1. Natural Obstacle (1d6)
    1. cliff or gorge
    2. avalanche or fallen trees
    3. storm or exposure to the elements
    4. thorns or thick vegetation
    5. biting insets or poisonous pests
    6. thick fog or toxic miasma
  2. Dangerous Enemies (1d4)
    1. easy encounter
    2. medium encounter
    3. hard encounter
    4. deadly encounter
  3. Difficult to Locate (1d4)
    1. far away
    2. in a labyrinthine location
    3. purposefully hidden
    4. known only in legend or song
  4. Magical Barrier (1d4)
    1. magical traps
    2. illusionary terrain
    3. glyphs of warding
    4. desecrated territory
Signs (1d6)
  1. Gossiping Travelers (1d20)
    1. thieves
    2. merchants
    3. brigands
    4. hunters
    5. herbalists
    6. smithies
    7. sages
    8. bards
    9. captured enemies
    10. couriers
    11. soldiers
    12. knights
    13. exiled nobles
    14. caravanners
    15. mercenaries
    16. priests
    17. weary travelers
    18. cartographers
    19. toll takers
    20. bridge builders
  2. Traces or Tracks
    1. old coins printed with the symbols of a long dead kingdom
    2. monstrous footprints
    3. footprints of hungry or thirsty beasts
    4. traces of fresh water or food
    5. signs of a recent battle
    6. signs of a battle from long ago
    7. torn pages from a book
    8. footprints from the indigenous population
    9. footprints of enemy scouts
    10. wagon wheel tracks
    11. torn bit of a banner
    12. footprints of a unique mount
    13. caravan tracks
    14. footprints of a roosting beast
    15. an ancient, overgrown road
    16. footprints of travelers
    17. broken branches and twigs leading in one direction
    18. footprints of outlanders, purposefully covered up
    19. an abandoned campsite
    20. lots of blood
  3. Corpses (1d12)
    1. thieves
    2. monstrous guards
    3. travelers with fresh food or water
    4. beasts with fresh food in their claws, mouths, or bellies
    5. slain enemies
    6. slain adventurers
    7. a sage with blood-spattered notes
    8. couriers
    9. guards wearing the sigil of a noble house
    10. roosting beast
    11. caravanners
    12. a local hermit
  4. Documents
    1. a treasure map
    2. a journal entry
    3. a song
    4. a lost letter home
    5. a hand-drawn map
    6. a merchant's itemized list of supplies
    7. a tome of lore
    8. a lost painting
    9. a letter of scholarly inquiry
    10. a scroll sealed with a signet ring
    11. an order signed by a knight
    12. an intercepted letter of political import
    13. written directions on a scrap of parchment
    14. a letter from a guest
    15. a charcoal sketch
    16. a coded letter
    17. an ancient traveler's tale
    18. a star map
    19. a will
    20. a wanted poster
  5. Signs and Carvings (1d12)
    1. a hand-carved sign
    2. codes carved into trees and rocks
    3. an old, cracked wooden sign
    4. the carved sigil of an old merchant house
    5. statues of legendary heroes
    6. signs carved in an enemy language
    7. sigils of important factions carved into trees or stones
    8. the word HELP, BEWARE, or DANGER quickly slashed into an old stump
    9. statues of an ancient ruler forgotten to time
    10. an overgrown archway that once stood over a common road
    11. signs naming a village that no longer exists
    12. carvings into overgrown cobblestones of horses or other common animals
  6. Magical Signs
    1. ghost
    2. programmed illusion
    3. consecrated ground
    4. trickling stream of holy water
    5. magic mouth
    6. animal messenger
    7. alarm spell
    8. glyphs of warding
    9. spirits of the former inhabitants of a lost village
    10. wandering animated objects
    11. druid signs
    12. unnatural changes to the environment

Two Examples: Low-Level and High-Level

I'm going to create some examples of Random Encounter using this system, using imagined adventures for a 2nd-Level Group and a 14th-Level Group.

Encounters in the Witchwoods (2nd Level)

The first example will be a 2nd-Level Group traveling through the Witchwoods to a big dungeon called Blind Bear Hollow, a series of caves beneath the roots of a gargantuan oak tree. As a DM, I've sketched out some ideas of what the Witchwoods are like: a big tangle of trees, branches, and briars. There are goblins and worgs who work for a nearby hag. It'll take three days for the characters to reach Blind Bear Hollow. There's a 10% chance for a Random Encounter, which I roll three times a day.

Encounter 1:

On the first afternoon I roll a Random Encounter! I roll a Reward, Obstacle, and Signs.

Reward: Shortcut (safe - no encounters)
Obstacle: Dangerous Enemies (hard encounter)
Signs: Signs and Carvings - statues of an ancient ruler forgotten to time

While traveling, the rogue scouting ahead sees the statue of some ancient queen, worn smooth by rain and time. It's standing above the entrance to an old tomb. The characters will find out that this tomb is a shortcut, a tunnel beneath a series of hills with a thick growth of trees. It'll cut a day off their travel. Using a Random Encounter Generator, I create a Hard Encounter: a Goblin Boss, two Goblins, and a Wolf. These goblins have set up a camp here, and don't like intruders!

Encounter 2:

The next evening I roll another Random Encounter. So once again I roll a Reward, Obstacle, and Signs. Here's what I get:

Reward: Resources (potions)
Obstacle: Magical Barrier (desecrated territory)
Signs: Corpses (caravanners)

The group notices corpses of caravanners near a big gnarled tree. When they approach, they all have to make Wisdom Saving Throws or become Frightened of the tree! The Wizard uses an Arcana check to recognize the area around this tree is Desecrated. The cleric makes a Medicine check and finds out these caravanners died of fright! The Barbarian gets buffed up with some Saving Throw bonuses and charges in. In the hollow of the tree they find a few Healing Potions, brewed by the local hag. Meanwhile, the Cleric starts rituals to cleanse the souls of the caravanners and bury them away from the evil tree. And the rogue searches around for where these people left their cart... maybe there's something valuable!

Encounter 3:

On the way back out of the dungeon, the characters again head towards that useful Shortcut! Luckily they drew it on their map. I roll a Random Encounter on the morning of their last day in the Witchwoods...

Reward: Resources (magical resources)
Obstacle: Natural Obstacles (thorns or thick vegetation)
Signs: Magical Signs (glyph of warding)

On the final day, the group is passing through some very thick briar patches, hacking and slashing, when they come upon a clearing that looks like it was hit by a tornado! On the far side of the clearing is a massive thicket of dry, thorny vines. At the front of this thicket, the vines have been curved and shaped into an odd glyph. This a Glyph of Warding, set by the local hag to protect some valuable magical materials inside the thicket. If a character approaches too close, the triggered Glyph casts the spell Dust Devil! Inside the thicket, the characters find three leather bags with 50 gp worth of Ruby Dust in each, perfect for the now 3rd-Level Cleric's Continual Flame spell!

Encounters in the Fractured Lands (Level 14)

A group of 14th-level characters is traveling in the Fractured Lands, an area torn apart by planar forces. They're heading to a kingdom of Genasi who live on a floating bit of earth above the arctic sea. I'm imagining the Fractured Lands as a series of volcanoes, but each erupts with a different element: fire, cold, acid, lighting... This is a long journey, two full weeks, and the characters are most likely flying around. Because of the elemental forces, the characters must make Constitution Saving Throws three times a day or take on a level of Exhaustion (max: 3). I don't want to interrupt the journey too often, so I roll for Random Encounters once a day.

Let's say during the journey they have three random encounters...

Encounter 1:

Reward:
Shelter (deserted village)
Obstacle: Dangerous Enemies (medium encounter)
Signs: Traces or Tracks (footprints of an enemy scout)

The group's ranger finds footprints of half-dragon scouts emerging from a cave in the nearby obsidian cliffs. This cave leads to an underground abandoned village, now home to a camp of four half-red-dragon veterans. The cave keeps the village protected from the exhausting heat of the volcano, allowing the group to rest without having to make Constitution Saving Throws!

Encounter 2:

Reward:
Knowledge (of a local enemy from a hunter, turncoat, spy, adventurer, traveler, or hermit)
Obstacle: Magical Barrier (magical traps)
Signs: Gossiping Travelers (bridge builders)

This is a high-level area, so those bridge builders are not ordinary! In fact, they're celestials, building a Planar Bridge that will eventually allow other celestials to use the Fractured Lands to journey to different planes. They tell the characters that there's a local Hermit, a Deva who prefers to live in the Fractured Lands, and who is an expert on the Fiendish Dragons who are the most powerful enemies in the territory. However, they should be careful, they hear he's surrounded his abode with magical traps! Using a Random Trap Generator (thank you, internet!) I develop a Lightning Coil Trap, and I like the idea of the Hermit living on a Lightning Volcano, trapping and using the lightning for strange planar experiments! If the characters get through the trap, the Hermit will tell them of the Resistances and Vulnerabilities of the various Fiendish Dragons who rule over the Fractured Lands.

Encounter 3:

Reward:
Alliance (enemy with information)
Obstacle: Difficult to Locate (purposefully hidden)
Signs: Signs and Carvings (signs naming a village that no longer exists)

While flying about, the characters start to notice odd floating cobblestones, and finally a sign floating in mid-air, held aloft by a propeller! It points to an old floating Modron City that long ago was destroyed by an eruption from an Acid Volcano below. However, in the direction the sign points, the characters notice a big, unnatural storm cloud, just floating there. It turns out one of the Air Genasi Pirates (enemies of the kingdom they're traveling to) was injured in a recent attack. They've hidden themselves inside a big summoned storm cloud. If the characters can locate the Pirate and give them healing, they'll give the characters a token of gratitude, which will be useful in any future encounters with Air Genasi Pirates!

Conclusion: Rewarding Exploration

My hope with this system is to create opportunities that reward players for exploring more, rather than focusing their efforts on mitigating costs.

So what do you think? Would this be useful?
This is excellent. I am absolutely going to use this.

All nitpicking of the OP example aside, this is just a better way to do travel encounters.
 

mrpopstar

Sparkly Dude
As soon as a houserule tries to fix the problem... quite a lot in my experience. Don't forget this tangent is all because someone suggested simply enforcing container size of backpacks to solve a bunch of problems
Not a bunch of problems, just the one: "...carrying capacity is so high that it might as well not even exist as a limitation in the rules so resources and such are pointless."
 

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