I’ve been working on a replacement for the wilderness exploration rules in WWN. As mentioned previously, they’re a bit incomplete. The B/X rules also aren’t particularly good themselves. These rules draw inspiration from a few sources.
One of the requirements I have for this system is that hexes not be a player-facing structure. You shouldn’t know I am using a hex map behind the screen. While my procedure does describe things in terms of hexes, it’s used as a shortcut. The system should work without actually mentioning hexes at the table. After running Kingmaker
, I’m a big fan of player-unknown
Most of the systems I looked at broke the day down into segments. The only one that didn’t also measure progress by hexes was the Alexandrian’s. I can understand why. Trying to track miles traveled using the Alexandrian’s system is a major pain in the ass. It’s tedious, and you end up fiddling with fractional progress or losing progress. Another issue I take with segments is non-exploration activities fit with them badly. If the PCs stop or do something while traveling, they either waste the segment, it throws everything off, or you ignore the time cost.
I want choices to be meaningful while exploring. One of the things I liked in my perusal of the Forbidden Lands Quickstart
is checks are usually made by the PCs. That is one of the things I included in my system. I also want diegetic mechanics. If the players are deciding what to do, I want them to talk about it like they would with their characters would. Segments pretty badly violate that, especially with the issue noted above. I’m not sure what prompted it, but I realized there was an obvious solution.
Measure all activities using the same units.
Game handle travel using traditional units for distance: you can travel X miles per day, and that converts into so many hexes (at six miles per hex). However, they use the wrong units. How do we usually measure the length of a trip? We judge them by how long it takes. For example, it took us an hour and a half to drive to Dayton, Ohio, on Monday. A flight to China takes about 14 hours, but it can take 30 hours depending on layovers.
What I did was normalize all exploration activity costs on time. Each hex has a different time cost to cross. This lets us just use hours, and the PCs can decide what they want to do using intuitive reasoning. If we’ve traveled for three hours, there’s still time to forage for a bit even though we also spent an hour goofing off in the roadside tavern. This also lets me use hexes to track progress while simultaneously hiding them. How far away is the next town? Well, it’s through the forest and over the mountain, so it’s about a day’s travel.
For the activities themselves, I looked at various sources and tried to get a good collection. I replaced percentile or x-in-6 checks with PC skill checks. When you go searching for a previously found location, I don’t roll to see if you found it — the player rolls. I also distinguished between making camp and sleeping. That was something that feels weird about the segmented approaches. You end up wasting downtime at camp (because of the length of segments), or PCs don’t actually have time for the things they need to do (like preparing spells).
The random events section is based pretty heavily on Gavin’s procedure. I decoupled the checks from his phases, but I kept the tables. I accidentally ran my procedure wrongly in PF2, generating tons more events than normal. It created a very interesting and fun session, so I think he’s right on track. The note on weather is there because I’m currently leaning towards using the generator from the Wilderness Survival Guide
to do weather, but I didn’t want to strip it out completely. The weather tables aren’t present though. You’ll need to get them from Gavin’s PDF.
I’ve attached a copy of my WIP draft. We’re not playing again until September 25, so we won’t have an opportunity to test them before then (and that assumes we actually do some hex exploration). These rules assume some of the WWN procedure is still in place (such as privation). It may be that this approach totally doesn’t work, but it feels like it should. I’m sharing it here before we’ve had chance to test it to get feedback. Note that the layout is designed to create half-letter booklets, but I’ve exported the spreads to make it easy to read just these pages.