D&D 5E Uncharted Journeys Create Adventures Between Adventures

Sometimes the journey is the adventure.

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Wandering monster encounters are a staple of many Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. They also can be very polarizing. Some tables love the unexpected emergent play that occurs from a random encounter that feels more organic and immersive. Other tables don’t like how a campaign storyline runs the risk of being destroyed by an encounter with a powerful monster that wrecks the party for no reason. Uncharted Journeys from Cubicle 7, looks to thread the needle by providing meaningful scenes and encounters for the players to have as they travel through a fantasy world which can be threaded into a 5e D&D campaign. The company sent along this book full of rules,charts and random encounters from designers Emmet Byrne, Alex Cahill, Dominic McDowall, Josh Cocoran and Cody Faulk for my review. Did it make the journey as exciting as the destination? Let’s play to find out.

The first chapter sets up the journey rules. There are four roles within the Journey at least one character must take on as part of the responsibility of traveling through a dangerous world. The Leader is there to keep the travellers going when the night is dark and the road is long. The Outrider scouts ahead for potential dangers and risks. The Quartermaster is responsible for the supplies needed to survive. Finally, the Sentry is there to make sure the party isn’t ambushed by enemies or monsters. There are some obvious class choices for these rolls and the book makes those suggestions clear but the roles can be held by anyone. There are ways different classes play to a role’s needs. The leader could be a bard who plays soothing music at night to help the party sleep or they could be a cleric whose insight into his friends knows the best way to keep them on their feet. Everyone makes a Group Travel check based on these roles and the outcome determines how many encounters they have along the way.

The encounters are divided up by type and environment. Each encounter type also has its own group check to see how it affects the part mechanically. They tend to follow the same structure. If everyone succeeds the party gets a bonus. If some but not all succeed they usually avoid bad consequences, while less than half or no successes means something bad happens. Even the combat encounters have an element like this allowing players to prep for a battle on a success or deal with a surprise round on a failure.

Uncharted Journeys also offers up a solution to Dungeon Masters who don’t like the cadence of short rests and long rests. Journeys are long and arduous and getting a long rest on the road is not as easy as one might think. The players can choose to take a short rest by adding an encounter to the stack and only get a long rest if they luck out and get an encounter that says they can. The journey rules use hit dice as an additional resource to be managed. They can regain spell slots and class abilities.

If all this sounds familiar there’s a reason; these rules first made their appearance in Cubicle 7’s 5e adaptation of The One Ring called Adventures In Middle Earth. This book adapts those rules for a broader application here as well as supplying thousands of encounters across all sorts of environments. I’ve seen journey rules in other games inspired by those games and this book refines those ideas further. I tend to be a DM that cuts to a red line on a map in between dungeons and towns but Uncharted Journeys makes me consider devoting a night or two of table time getting from one place to another. These encounters offer a chance to show, not tell, the story of a campaign world and get all those notes out of the Dungeon Master’s spiral notebook and into play.

Uncharted Journeys offers a detailed way for players to find adventure on the road and Dungeon Masters a chance to show off their world in detailed ways.
 

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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland

dave2008

Legend
Well someting that is not just a hack-and-tack-on like the level-up stuff, this seems like a better-quality book with some great ideas.
That seems a bit harsh to Level Up. I have not used them myself, but they seem interesting. There is a thread on the LevelUp forum where a regular here is posting about their experience with the LevelUp Journey system and how they are using it create a real resource management focused travel campaign to good effect.
 
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There is a thread on the LevelUp forum where a regular here is posting about their experience with the LevelUp Journey system and how they are using it create a real resource management focused travel campaign to good effect. They have made some some changes to increase that effect as well.
Do you have a link or the name of the thread? I might be blind but I couldn’t find which thread it was, and your suggestion tantalized me.
 




Vincent55

Adventurer
That seems a bit harsh to Level Up. I have not used them myself, but they seem interesting. There is a thread on the LevelUp forum where a regular here is posting about their experience with the LevelUp Journey system and how they are using it create a real resource management focused travel campaign to good effect.
Well everyone kind of does this nowadays taking parts from one system and adding bits to another, i do it myself in my own games, adding stuff from not just D&D but other systems that have parts i like and interconnecting them together. I did this with the old d20 modern game, stripped it and streamlines the system patching some of the problems with power creep and stacking of bonuses. Heck i had a rudimentary system that resembled the arch types they use now but still was different enough, i had the books printed out for my group to play test but we broke up soon after so never really got to perfect it.

I also reworked the current sorcerer, to give it a different feel from the wizard and such, for a modern role-play setting of my own based upon my favourite TV shows like Buffy and Supernatural and such. Anyway, that setting has been a work in progress since i first played d20 modern and has been added to over the years and reworked many times. Anyway from what i read about this it does have some use for many of us DM's and would be nice to have on my shelf for reference and ideas. I tend to like to make my own adventures and stuff from the ground up and love to make custom encounter tables to use in case of players stray from the path into areas. But i have been DMing since the late 80's and pushing mid 50's now and have really seen every type of player, I can be a bit intimidating at times. I have read the level-up stuff and it was not for me but if others like it then more power to them to enjoy, there is plenty of room for all kinds of play in this arena.
 

Larnievc

Hero
Well someting that is not just a hack-and-tack-on like the level-up stuff, this seems like a better-quality book with some great ideas.
Dunno about that. I use the journey rules and apart from some of the journey roles that seem a bit weird it works really well.

I’d go as far to say it makes the travel bits in TOD more engaging (once you strip out the encounters in the module). That’s got to be a good sign.
 



HomegrownHydra

Adventurer
Is there any benefit to picking this up if you already have the AiME version and/or Level Up's Trials & Treasures?
UJ is far, FAR more fleshed out than what is in AiME. There is much more mechanical heft that provides greater structure and makes the PC roles far more impactful. There is also vastly more support for the DM when it comes to generating encounters. To give perspective, the book is almost 300 pages and that is entirely dedicated to journeying! It's a dramatic increase in content and robustness. It's also geared toward standard D&D campaigns and classes rather than a LotR setting. It's definitely worthwhile if you like AiME's travel system.

Level Up's offering is very different, featuring a basic resource management framework and a bunch of encounter tables that produce about 70% monsters. It uses the default resting rules rather than the very limited access to short and long rests that is the case with UJ. If you are looking for a simple way to add some color to your group's travels, Level Up's approach is good. If you are looking for a full on system to engage with and want encounters that are mostly non-monster centric while still testing the party then UJ is great.
 
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