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Wilderness Exploration

Table of contents

Watches

  • A day is divided into three watches, called morning, afternoon, and night.
  • Each character can choose one Wilderness Action per watch.
  • If the characters split up, each group is treated as an independent entity.

Weather

Each day, the Warden rolls on the Weather table for the appropriate season.

Points

  • Potential destinations on a map are called points.
  • One or more watches may be required to journey between two points on a map, depending on the travel Difficulty.
  • The party has a rough idea of the challenges involved to get to their destination, but rarely any specifics.

Hexes

When using a hex map, assume that the Travel action moves the party to an adjacent tile in one watch at Normal travel speed, and that if they get lost the party ends up in an adjacent hex.

Wilderness Exploration Cycle

  1. The Warden describes the current point or region on the map.
  2. The Warden explains how the current Difficulty affects the party’s travel speed.
  3. The party plots or adjusts a given course towards their destination, each character choosing a single Wilderness Action.
  4. The Warden narrates the results, and then rolls on the Wilderness Events table. The party responds to the results.
  5. The players and the Warden record any loss of resources and new conditions (i.e. torch use, deprivation, etc).
  6. The process is repeated, starting from step 1.

Night

  • The party can choose to travel during the night and rest during the day, but night travel is far slower and more treacherous!
  • Travelling at night always increases the difficulty by one step (i.e. Easy terrain becomes Tough), and the Warden rolls twice on the Wilderness Events table.
  • Some terrain and weather may be easier to traverse at night (desert, for example). The Warden should balance these challenges along with any other.

Sleep

  • The last watch of the day is typically reserved for the Make Camp action.
  • Characters typically need to sleep each day. Anything beyond a minor interruption can negate or cancel the benefits of sleep.
  • If the party skips the Make Camp action, they each add one Fatigue to their inventory, and are deprived. Additionally, a sleep-deprived party raises the difficulty of a terrain by one step (i.e. Easy becomes Tough).

Light

  • Torches and other radial sources of light illuminate 40ft ahead of the party, but beyond that only provides a dim outline of objects.
  • Characters without a light source may suffer from panic until their situation is remedied.
  • Environmental conditions (sudden gusts of wind, dust, water, etc.) can easily blow out a torch.

Light Sources

A torch can be lit 3 times before degrading. A lantern can be relit 6 times per oil can, but requires more inventory slots.

Panic

  • A character that is surrounded by enemies, enveloped by darkness, or facing their greatest fears may experience panic. A WIL save is required to avoid losing control and becoming panicked.
  • As an action, a panicked character can make a WIL save to overcome the panic condition.
  • A panicked character has 0 HP, is always surprised, and all of their attacks are impaired.

Difficulty

  • An area’s weather, terrain, obstacles, night travel, and slow or injured party members can reduce travel speed or make travel impossible. Characters that are deprived always slow down the entire party.
  • The party may need to spend Fatigue, resources, tools or other resource in order to maintain their travel speed.
  • Mounts, guides, and maps can increase the party’s travel speed or even overcome a terrain’s difficulty.
Maintained roads and trails should be considered Easy unless the terrain says otherwise.

Terrain Difficulty

         
Terrain Travel Difficulty Travel Duration Odds of Getting Lost Examples
Roads, grasslands, plains Easy Normal None Smooth roads, safe areas for rest, fellow travellers
Forests, mountains, hills Tough Doubled 2-in-6 Wild animals, flooding, broken equipment, falling rocks, unsafe shelters, hunter’s traps
Deserts, jungle, swamp Perilous Tripled 3-in-6 Quicksand, sucking mud, choking vines, unclean water, poisonous plants and animals, poor navigation

Weather Difficulty

     
Weather Effect Examples
Nice Favorable conditions for travel. Bedroll or shelter required. Clear skies, sunny
Fair Favorable conditions for travel. Bedroll or shelter required. Overcast, breezy
Unpleasant Gain one Fatigue or add one watch to the journey. Gusting winds, rain showers, sweltering heat, chill air
Inclement Gain one Fatigue or add one watch to the journey. Difficulty increases one step. Thunderstorms & lightning, rain, muddy ground
Extreme Gain one Fatigue and add one watch to the journey. Difficulty chance of getting lost increases by one step. Blizzards, freezing winds, flooding
Catastrophic Most parties cannot travel under these conditions. Tornados, tidal waves, hurricane, etc.

Wilderness Actions

Travel

  • Travel begins. Obvious locations, features, and terrain of nearby areas are revealed according to their distance.
  • If necessary, the party rolls 1d6 to see if they’ve become lost.
  • Provided they don’t get lost, the party reaches the next point along their route.

Getting Lost

  • If lost, the party may need to spend a Wilderness Action to recover their way.
  • Maps and relevant backgrounds may negate the need for a roll, or decrease the chances of getting lost.

Explore

  • The party covers a large area, searching for hidden features, scouting ahead, or treading carefully.
  • One Location or Feature is discovered.
  • The Travel action is still required to leave the current area, even if it has been completely explored.

Supply

  • Characters can hunt, fish, or forage for food, each participant collecting 1d4 rations worth (maximum 3 qty per slot).
  • A character with relevant experience or equipment increases the supplies discovered by one or two steps (i.e. 1d4 becomes 1d6, etc.).
  • The party may encounter homes and small villages, spending a watch to fully resupply.

Make Camp

  • The party stops to set up camp in the wilds. Each party member (and their mounts) consume a ration.
  • A lookout rotation is set so that the party can sleep unmolested. At least 3 rotations are necessary to ensure that all party members can rest. A smaller party may need to risk sleeping unguarded, or switch off sleeping over multiple days (see Sleep).
  • Party members that were able to rest remove all of Fatigue from their inventory.

Tables

Weather

If the “Extreme” weather result is rolled twice in a row, the weather turns to “Catastrophic”. A summer squall becomes a hurricane, a fall storm floods the valleys, etc.

         
d6 Spring Summer Fall Winter
1 Nice Nice Fair Fair
2 Fair Nice Fair Unpleasant
3 Fair Fair Unpleasant Inclement
4 Unpleasant Unpleasant Inclement Inclement
5 Inclement Inclement Inclement Extreme
6 Extreme Extreme Extreme Extreme

Wilderness Events

     
1 Encounter Roll on an encounter table for that terrain type or location. Don’t forget to roll for NPC reactions if applicable.
2 Sign The party discover a clue, spoor, or indication of a nearby encounter, locality, hidden feature, or information about a nearby area.
3 Environment A shift in weather or terrain.
4 Loss The party is faced with a choice that costs them a resource (rations, tools, etc), time, or effort.
5 Exhaustion The party encounter a barrier, forcing effort, care or delays. This might mean spending extra time (and an additional Wilderness Action) or adding Fatigue to the PC’s inventory to represent their difficulties.
6 Discovery The party find food, treasure, or other useful resources. The Warden can instead choose to reveal the primary feature of the area.

Example

In this example we’ll be using a map made with Watabou’s terrific Perilous Shores generator.

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A party of 3 PCs (Leib, Konstin, and Gar) are plotting a journey to an ancient ruin deep in the forests of Ein Eyton. They plan to walk by foot. The forest (at 3) is separated from the party’s present location (the village of Rudbat, at 1) by the neighboring Range of Deshe (at 2), a short distance away.

The Warden explains that travelling on the forgiving roads from the village to the hills will require only a single watch, but that it will take three additional watches for the party to complete their journey to the forest, assuming they spend one watch sleeping.

The party accepts this route, plotting their route: one watch to reach the hills (morning), one watch partway through the hills (afternoonh), then another watch sleeping (the Making Camp action) at (night). The party would spend the following day’s morning watch travelling to their final destination. On the first day of travel, the Warden rolls a 3 on the Weather table (Fall: Cool and foggy).

For their first watch, the party chooses the Travel action, taking the road through the farmlands and to the hills. The terrain, weather, and current party status indicates that the Difficulty level is Easy. The party is able to travel with no forseeable problems, so the Warden rolls on the Events table. The result is an Encounter. The Warden explains that the party crosses paths with an NPC travelling South, who gives them a piece of advice: “Avoid the hills, there are bandits about!” The party notes this and moves on, arriving in the Range of Deshe after lunchtime. They rest near a streambed, stepping off the dusty road for the first time.

For the party’s second watch, the Warden explains that this area is peppered with small rocks and uneven hills, setting the terrain Difficulty to Tough. Worse yet, without a guide the party might easily lose their way! The players discuss whether it would be better to spend a watch exploring the area, perhaps even finding a faster (and safer) way through.

The party agrees that arriving at their destination sooner is worth the risk, and proceeds with the Travel action again. The players discuss how to avoid Getting Lost, checking to see if anyone in the party has knowledge of the area, relevant experience, or a map. They do not, so the Warden rolls 1d6. The result is not a 1 or a 2, and the party moves on as planned.

The Warden rolls on the Events table, and the result is Environment. The Warden explains that a short while after entering the hills, the ground became much more demanding to cross. Small rocks turned into large crags, the hills to pits and mini-craters. The party now has a choice: push forward, spending a Fatigue to keep their current speed, or slow down, adding an additional watch of travel to their journey. They agree to push forward, each character adding a Fatigue to their inventory. Had they chosen to walk slower it may have been safer, but they would have an additional half-day of walking to do tomorrow.

As night descends, the party finds a large, rocky, outcropping that would work as a suitable shelter. There is no water nearby, but this location should be sufficient for their current needs. They agree to Make Camp as their final watch, choosing a Watch Rotation that should allow all party members a decent rest, and a chance to shed any Fatigue they have. Each party member consumes a ration, and the Warden rolls on the Events table. The result is a Sign. The Warden describes the flickering ghost of a torchlight in the distance. Could it be another party, or perhaps bandits, or even a dangerous creature on the prowl?

The party rests, erasing their Fatigue. They mark their current location on the map, noting that should everything go well the following day, they should only have to spend one watch to arrive at the ruins of Ein Eyton by the afternoon.

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