WFRP4e - Estimating Travel Distances, Time, and Cost

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
TL;DR: how do you determine distances in the Empire? How do you track time, especially for longer journeys between main adventure locations?

I really like the Travel rules presented in the companion to the Enemies in Shadows adventure book. It works similar to downtime rules. It abstracts the journey in a fun but easy to run and way. You determine the number of "stages" and for each stage you (1) determine the weather and the party makes an appropriate test for each type of weather, (2) take Travel endeavor, (3) Determine encounters, repeat steps 1-3 for each stage, and then (4) resolve your arrival at your destination.

While it seems designed to allow you to handwave (i.e. heavily abstract) distance and time, in practice that really isn't the case. In practice, I find that I still need to estimate the distance travelled and time taken. From that I determine an appropriate number of stages. Longer journeys typically have more stages but the number of stages I set is also heavily determined by how eventful I want the journey to be (and how much in-game play time I want to spend on resolving a journey). Of course there are times I might just skip over the travel and simply say, you spend X days on the river and arrive at PLACE.

But there is not getting away from estimating/guessing at the number of days travelled, which usually means estimating the distance.

Have a reasonable estimate of miles travelled is mostly need to determine coach or river barge fares. So that's easy to fudge. Just give a price, let the party haggle. Providers of transportation services in the Old World are just coming up with prices that are worth their effort (and based on what they think they can squeeze out of passengers). It's not like they have taxi meters. I treat the cost per mile prices in the Core Book as guides to give you a place to start. I don't worry to much about calculating exact prices based on prices listed in the book, especially since it can be difficult to come up with more than very rough guesses on distances.

Time, however, is another matter entirely. Moreso than some games, like D&D, tracking time in Warhammer is important. So many of the mechanics depend on it, the three examples that come immediately to mind are:
  • Tracking when injuries heal.
  • Tracking the incubation period and duration of diseases.
  • Tracking the age in seasons of a potion for determining spoilage.
Of course many GMs don't use diseases and may not use the potion rules from Winds of Magic. But injury healing is solidly core. I'm sure many GM just have injuries heal when it feels the time has based, rather than tracking actual days.

Running the game in Foundry makes tracking time-based mechanics pretty easy, especially when using the Simple Calendar mod. Even on paper, I don't find it that hard. I have some time tracking sheets that I used for D&D that I could use in WFRP where I just tick of the days. So I not only don't mind, but prefer to track time in my campaign.

The main thing that I struggle with is determining distance. I find it annoying that the map of the Empire doesn't have a scale. Some other books have maps that include scales, such as Ubereik surrounds and you can use that to extrapolate distances in other parts of the empire. The Foundry system for WFRP4e lets you look up distances between some major cities, though it only does this for a limited number of locations.

For those who don't use Foundry, the Foundry chat travel lookup is based on Travel Distances in the Empire (and Beyond) by Jackdays. You can get the PDF for free from Gitzman's Gallery: Gitzman's Gallery (direct link to the document: http://www.gitzmansgallery.com/docs/Travel Distances in the Empire.pdf)

I like using the PDF because I can scan over all the cities without having to type in two places making it easier to extrapolate to locations not covered.

Does anyone know of more complete resources like this? I know that in-world distances and maps are not exact for even the well travelled. But as a GM, it would be helpful to have more tools.
 

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MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Hey, I'm an idiot. As I was typing the above, I though, hmmm, is the map of the Empire in Foundry scaled so that I can use the ruler to get exact distances. And, yes, yes it is. It is hard to get granular enough to exactly follow a winding river or road by dropping waypoints as you measure, but close enough.

That doesn't really help those running pen & paper though.
 

TheSword

Legend
I really need to check out the simple calendar mod.

Warhammer adventures are generally very good at providing lots of rumours and clue for you to talk to random encounters on the road about. There are lots of tables for inspiration too.

All good stuff.
 

Tutara

Adventurer
I tend to treat the various maps as fallible documents from within the setting rather than definitive and correct. That way, I have some wiggle room for working out time. This is backed up in game as well - Delberz having notably moved nearly every edition and the cartographer responsible getting punished for his ineptitude.

That said, I’ve found when travel time matters - in Death on the Reik, for example - it’s laid out pretty clearly in the module how long travel takes between the various plot points for both players and their quarries.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I tend to treat the various maps as fallible documents from within the setting rather than definitive and correct. That way, I have some wiggle room for working out time. This is backed up in game as well - Delberz having notably moved nearly every edition and the cartographer responsible getting punished for his ineptitude.

That said, I’ve found when travel time matters - in Death on the Reik, for example - it’s laid out pretty clearly in the module how long travel takes between the various plot points for both players and their quarries.
I do like how Warhammer gets cheeky with their incongruities. One of the writers of the Starter Set in an interview on a podcast I listen to said that they wrote the The Red Moon Burning adventure to have an in-world explanation for it being place in the wrong location. :)
 

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