18

Making a Journey

The wilds are a dangerous place and travel is rarely straightforward outside city walls. Many adventurers have lost their way in dark forests. Many more have died from lack of food, or water, or protection from bandits and monsters—the world is not forgiving to the unprepared traveler.

This chapter introduces the journey phase to make travel a more integral part of the adventure.

The Journey Phase

If you wish to make a long journey, there are three basic steps to follow: plan your route and gather supplies, travel the distance, and arrive at your destination.

Step 1: Plan

The first step in making a long journey is planning—you need to decide where you're going, how you're getting there, and who you're travelling with.

  1. Pick the destination: First, pick your destination. This could be a dungeon, city, or other landmark.
  2. Choose your route: Next, you need to decide which route you'll take. The length of your route is measured not in miles but in days (assuming an average walking speed of 15 miles per day).
  3. Gather supplies: Finally, gather any supplies, vehicles, and equipment needed for the journey.

Valiant, Chansi, and Clanda are trying to reach Westwall Tower. It's about 45 miles away, so the journey should take 3 days at a normal walking pace—assuming fair weather and no surprises.

Step 2: Travel

Now it's time to gather everyone and head out on your journey. The average day is broken up into six parts—dawn, morning, noon, afternoon, dusk, and night—so run through these in sequence for each day of travel.

Dawn

Sunlight crests the horizon. It's time to wake up, eat some breakfast, and pack up camp.

  • Check the weather: The weather can have a drastic impact on your travel plans, especially if you're not prepared. You may want to avoid travel completely during heavy rains, storms, and snows.
  • Assign roles: Decide who is going to be today's guide, forager, scout, and lookout. A character can only assume one role at a time, so pick wisely.
  • Set pace: Decide what pace you'll be travelling at today—slow, medium, or fast. A slower pace makes it easier to succeed at your roles, but also means that the journey takes longer to complete.
  • Eat breakfast: Eat some food and drink some water to build up your energy for the travel ahead.
  • Pack up camp: Put out any cooking fires, strap on your gear, and pack up your camp.

Morning

The sun rises and the day becomes warmer. Begin the first half of today's travelling.

Noon

The sun is at its peak. Take a short break, sit in the shade, and rest your feet.

Afternoon

The sun descends and the temperature cools. Press on to finish the second half of today's travel while you still have some natural light.

Dusk

The sun sinks beneath the horizon and the sky darkens. It's time to set up camp for the night, eat, and reflect on today's travel.

  • Make camp: Take off your gear and set up camp.
  • Lookout duty: The lookout takes charge of camp defense and security for the night. While on lookout, a character can only eat and sleep—they don't have time to do or join in with anything else.
  • Guide: The guide makes a guidance check to see if you managed to stay on the right path.
  • Forage: The forager makes a foraging check to see if they gathered any food or water supplies throughout the day's travel.
  • Eat dinner: Eat some food and drink some water.

Night

The night is dark and full of terrors—an unwelcoming time for travelers out in the wilds. Travel is very difficult and it's very easy to get lost in the dark, so best get some sleep and recover your energy for tomorrow.

Waking on the second day of their journey, Valiant, Chansi, and Clanda assign roles as they eat: Valiant to guide, Chansi to scout, and Clanda to keep lookout at night. They don't appoint a forager, but that's fine—there's enough rations for a couple of days yet.

The morning is uneventful, and at noon they stop for a short rest and a small drink—it's becoming very warm now thanks to a cloudless sky.

During the afternoon, they find an old peddler sitting on the side of the road—he's suffering from some mild heatstroke. Chansi offers him some water—the peddler gratefully gives them a freshly caught rabbit in exchange—and they continue on.

As dusk settles, they set up camp for the night. Clanda prepares a few Alarm spells around the perimeter, Chansi cooks the rabbit meat for everyone to eat, and Valiant checks their progress on his map. Everything seems on track.

Tomorrow they might have to think about foraging for fresh water to top up their supplies—especially if it's as warm as today was.

Step 3: Arrive

After enough days of travel have passed—if you didn't lose your way—you'll arrive at your destination.

Variant: Stress

If you're using the Stress rules, check the Journey Arrival table to see how much Stress you heal upon reaching your destination.

Journey Arrival

Travel Time Stress
Up to 1 day -1
Up to 1 week -2 (1d4)
Up to 1 month -4 (1d6)
Up to 1 year -8 (1d6 + 4)

After 5 days of travel—a sudden and fierce thunderstorm forcing them to lose 2 days progress—Valiant, Chansi, and Clanda finally make it to Westwall Tower. Relieved, they each restore 2 points of Stress.

Roles

There are four core responsibilities when travelling: guide, forager, scout, and lookout. A person can only lead or assist one role per day if they wish, and any role not taken will automatically fail any related rolls.

A role can have only one leader, but any number of helpers. The leader makes the roll, the first helper grants advantage, and subsequent helpers grant a +1 bonus.

The Guide

The guide makes sure everyone is heading in the right direction. If the guide fails, you'll get lost and the journey will take longer.

If you're the guide, roll Intelligence on the Guidance table at the end of the day to see if you were able to stay on track. Cartography tools, maps, and the Survival skill will help you be a better guide.

Success: The party is on track. Subtract today's progress from the remaining travel time.

Failure: You veered off course and lost your way. Add 0.5 day to the remaining travel time.

Guidance

DC Terrain
5 Wide open plains; Clear landmarks; Obvious pathway.
10 Tall landmarks; Small hills.
15 Light rain or mist; Woods and hills.
20 Moonlight night; Heavy rain or mist; Forest with no clear pathway or markings.
25 Fog; Thick and obscure forest; Mountains.
30 Clouded night; Impossibly thick fog; A shifting maze; Magically treacherous terrain.

The Forager

The forager finds food and water for the travelling party. If the forager fails, you'll run out of essential supplies long before the journey reaches its destination—so make sure to pack plentiful supplies before you embark if you don't have a skilled forager.

If you're the forager, roll Wisdom on the Foraging table at the end of the day to see how much food and water you were able to hunt throughout the day. Hunting equipment and the Survival skill will help you forage.

Success: You recover 2d4 rations-worth of food and water—you can divide this however you like.

Failure: You were unable to find anything.

Foraging

DC Terrain
5 Lush and verdant forest; Food and water are everywhere.
10 Forest; Coast; Abundant food and clean water.
15 Thin woodland and greenwood. Food must be actively hunted and water is harder to find.
20 Dry, open plains; Very little food or clean water.
25 Desert and barren or polluted land; Food is extremely rare and water may need treatment.
30 Toxic or corrupted deadlands; Food is inedible and water sources are poisoned.
  • GM:Chansi, roll a Foraging check to see if you found anything. You're in thin woodland, so it's DC 15.
  • Chansi:Ok... (rolls 18) ...perfect. Today I found... (rolls 4) ...4 supplies. We're a bit low on water right now, so let's say I found 3 water rations and 1 food ration.

The Scout

The scout ranges ahead during the day's travel and keeps an eye out for dangers. If the scout fails, you may be ambushed by enemies and other hazards.

If you're the scout, you're responsible for making any perception checks during the day to spot incoming risks and dangers—the GM will notify you of anything worth rolling for. A spyglass will help you scout better.

Success: You noticed the threat and were able to warn the party in time. You have a chance to avoid the threat entirely, or encounter it at your own pace.

Failure: You failed to spot the danger in time and the party are surprised.

The Lookout

The lookout protects the camp at night. If the lookout fails, you risk being attacked while you sleep.

If you're the lookout, you're responsible for making perception checks during the night to spot incoming threats—the GM will notify you of anything worth rolling for. The lookout cannot join in any camp activities beyond eating and sleeping, so make sure that whoever takes the lookout shift won't be needed for anything else.

You can set traps and alarms around the camp—dry twigs, tripwires, the Alarm ritual—to help you detect intruders a little better.

Success: You were able to rouse the party in time to prevent being ambushed.

Failure: You failed to spot the danger in time and the party are surprised.

Travelling Pace

The speed at which you travel can have an significant impact on your role. There are three main paces: slow, normal, and fast. Check the Travelling Pace table to see exactly how you're affected by the pace you choose.

Walking

The average character has a walking speed of about 3 miles per hour, and can travel—comfortably—around 15 miles per day. This takes into account the many rest breaks, pauses, and distractions a character will need during the day—especially those that carry heavy gear and armor. Walking long-distance is surprisingly hard work, and a long march in full plate armor is a sure way to strain muscles and hurt yourself.

Horseback

The average horse walks at much the same pace as a character: 3 miles per hour. While they can gallop much faster, they can only do so on flat ground for very short periods—horses overheat very quickly.

On horseback, a character can comfortably travel 20 miles per day without injuring the horse or becoming too saddle-sore. Anything more arduous requires knowledge and experience of Animal Handling.

The main benefit of travelling on horseback is the carrying capacity—a horse can carry much more than a character for much longer without complaint. Horses need plenty to eat and drink, however—2 food and water rations a day—so make sure you bring enough supplies to keep your animals in good shape.

Travelling Pace

Travel Pace Speed Distance Guide Forage Scout Hide Tracks
Slow 0.6 days 10 miles Advantage Normal Advantage Advantage
Medium 1 day 15 miles Normal Disadvantage Normal Normal
Fast 1.4 days 20 miles Disadvantage None Disadvantage Disadvantage

Encounters

During a journey, the GM is responsible for generating any potential encounters and discoveries the party may face on the way. For each day of travel, do the following:

  1. Decide the danger level: Choose how dangerous today's journey will be. This determines how many encounters the party are likely to face during travel.
  2. Set the encounter times: Decide when each encounter will happen during the day.
  3. Generate the encounters: Build the encounters using your own encounter generators.
  4. Roll for any discoveries: See if the party will spot anything unexpected on their travel, like a hidden cave or a secret chest.

Step 1: Danger Level

First, check the Terrain Danger table to determine the danger level of the surrounding terrain. This indicates how many encounters a party is likely to face today—the greater the danger, the more encounters.

Terrain Danger Level

Danger Encounters
Safe and civilised; A village, a barren desert, a well-defended plain. 1
Dangerous frontier; A wild forest, a treacherous swamp, a disturbed graveyard. 2
Enemy territory; A monster's lair, an enemy camp, a haunted wood. 3
Heavily populated hostile territory; An enemy settlement, a mind-flayer city, a kobold nest. 4
Lethal and actively hunted; A plane of madness, a god's domain, a layer of hell. 5

Characters can learn about the danger level of a region through research to help inform their journey plans—gathering rumors, reading histories, collecting maps.

Step 2: Encounter Times

Second, you need to see when exactly the party might have an encounter today. Roll 1d6 for each of the six phases of the day: dawn, morning, noon, afternoon, dusk, and night. If the number is equal to or lower than the danger level, there is a chance of an encounter.

The party are passing through a shrouded wood with a danger level of 2. The GM secretly rolls 6d6 and generates a result of [2, 6, 2, 3, 6, 1]—the party will encounter something at dawn, noon, and night.

Alternatively, if you do not have access to dice, take the average number of encounters listed in the Danger Level table and decide for yourself when the encounters occur.

Step 3: Generate Encounters

Now it's time to generate specific encounters. There are four broad categories of encounter: character, social, skill, and combat. Pick a variety, or roll on the Encounter Type table to choose one at random.

Character: One of the party members gets a moment to shine. Ask a question about their character—if the answer is interesting or adds something to the world (or the player is at least trying), they gain Inspiration.

  • GM:While you're all travelling in the afternoon, conversation turns to family. Clanda, tell us a good memory you have of your parents.

Social: The party meets one or more people that they can talk or engage with—a wandering merchant, a troupe of entertainers, a hostile soldier.

Skill: An obstacle hinders the party that must be overcome through use of their skills—a wheel breaks on their wagon, a wounded person lies unconscious beside the path, they anger a nest of wasps.

Combat: Enemies attack the party, forcing them to flee or defend themselves—a group of bandits, a wild pack of wolves, a hungry dragon.

Encounter Type

d6 Type
1 Character: Ask a player an interesting or fun question about their character.
2 Social (Friendly): A pleasant encounter with some friendly NPCs.
3 Social (Hostile): Some NPCs are hostile to the party and could lead to harm.
4 Skill Challenge: Something happens that requires multiple skill checks to overcome.
5 Combat (Non-committal): The party is attacked, but the enemies will flee easily.
6 Combat (Aggressive): The party is attacked and the enemies will fight to near death.

Once you know the type of the encounter, generate the exact details using your preferred encounter tables.

Step 4: Generate a Discovery

Finally, roll a d6 to see if the party spot something interesting that might be worth investigating further.

Discoveries

d6 Result
1-4 Nothing
5 Spot a discovery in the morning.
6 Spot a discovery in the afternoon.

Encounter Seeds

If you're unsure what to do for an encounter, try using these encounter seeds to kickstart some ideas.

Character Encounters

d100Encounter
01-02A bad memory of your family
03-04A good memory of your family
05-06A faction you strongly agree with
07-08A faction you strongly disagree with
09-10A game you like to play
11-12A happy moment from your childhood
13-14A monster you don't believe is real
15-16A person you're afraid of
17-18A person you couldn't save
19-20A person you hate
21-22A person you love
23-24A person you respect
25-26A person you want to meet
27-28A place you would love to visit
29-30A sad moment from your childhood
31-32A time you embarrassed yourself
33-34A time you got away with something
35-36A time you got a sibling into trouble
37-38A time you got really drunk
39-40A time you hurt someone
41-42A time you made something
43-44A time you were afraid
45-46A time you were heroic
47-48A time you were powerless
49-50A time you were proud of someone
51-52A time you were smarter than everyone else
53-54Are you a dog person or a cat person?
55-56Are you closer to your mother or your father?
57-58Food that you think is disgusting
59-60Something that happened on your last birthday
61-62Something you're ashamed of
63-64Something you're proud of doing
65-66Something you would love to do
67-68The best dinner you've ever had
69-70The best gift you ever received
71-72The funniest thing you've ever seen
73-74What are you looking forward to?
75-76What would you do if you were king?
77-78What would you do with a million gold pieces?
79-80Where are your family now?
81-82Who or what would you die for?

Character Encounters (cont)

d100Encounter
83-84Who was your first kiss?
85-86Why are you with the party?
87-88Why would the party fall apart without you?
89-90Your favorite story
91-92Your favorite thing about your hometown
93-94Your favorite way to relax
95-96Your greatest achievement
97-98Your greatest fear
99-00Your last nightmare

Friendly Social Encounters

d100Encounter
01-05A wandering peddler offers you a look at his wares
06-10An old cleric is repairing a small shrine recently damaged by someone or something
11-15A wandering bard shares stories about the locals
16-20A drunken giant is trying to mend a bridge he has broken, but is having trouble with the work
21-25An old woman needs your help to get an unusual pet down from a tree
26-30A naked bard asks you for some spare clothes
31-35You find someone passed out and wounded
36-40Two drunk goliaths are wrestling any challengers
41-45A wizard asks if you can help him test a new spell
46-50Two groups of people need your help to settle a bet
51-55You find a small child, lost and alone
56-60Three dwarves challenge the biggest party member to a drinking competition
61-65Two clerics are arguing about who is the best god
66-70A hungry beggar offers you a secret for some food
71-75A guard is training some new recruits and asks you to help demonstrate a few moves
76-80A dying man asks you to help end his pain
81-85A silent monk offers you some food for a story
86-90A bard is trying to write a song but is having trouble with the words and asks you for advice
91-95A wagon has overturned and the owner needs help
96-00A kobold challenges you to a game of riddles

Hostile Social Encounters

d100Encounter
01-05A group of racist thugs has an issue with one of your party members because of their appearance
06-10Three guards call you to halt, holding a wanted poster that looks a lot like one of your party
11-15Some highwaymen demand your money or your life
16-20Two groups of people are brawling near an overturned cart, each blaming the other

Hostile Social Encounters (cont)

d100Encounter
21-25A giant blocks your path with a makeshift toll gate, demanding an unusual payment
26-30A group of drunk soldiers approach and demand you offer some tribute to the king's men
31-35A person is tied to a stake and surrounded by a silent mob holding torches, led by a fierce cleric
36-40A loud zealot preaching to a mob accuses you of dark heresy against their god
41-45A barbarian, delirious with a berserker rage, thinks you're a foul monster to kill
46-50A petty nobleman accuses you of not showing the proper due respect and demands satisfaction
51-55You stumble across a dead body and a person holding a bloody knife, who says "It wasn't me!"
56-60Someone fleeing from a dozen pursuers begs you for protection against harm
61-65An old woman with a knife and foul breath asks you to pay tribute to her god
66-70Three men eating around a campfire offer you some food, but it's not animal meat they're cooking...
71-75A ghost stands in the middle of the road, wailing
76-80A group of hooded cultists emerge, loudly proclaiming that you're the chosen one
81-85A bard is playing beautiful music to a crowd, but all who listen are quickly under her thrall
86-90A wild sorcerer seeks to test a spell on you
91-95A paladin accuses you of performing evil acts and demands you pay for your sins with blood
96-00A furious druid has someone trapped in vines and intends to kill them for desecrating the grove

Skill Challenges

d100Skill Challenge
01-10A broken wagon blocks the way and must be repaired, overturned, or bypassed
11-20A rowdy mob that must be calmed or evaded before they turn on you or some other victim
21-30An overwhelmingly large pack of hungry, wild animals that must be outrun
31-40There is an unfamiliar split in the path and the correct direction must be determined
41-50A glade of flesh-eating plants that must be escaped before they can paralyze you
51-60A broken bridge across a ravine that must be fixed or overcome to progress
61-70A sudden, terrible storm that requires shelter to be found and constructed fast
71-80A band of highwaymen that must be intimidated or out-smarted before things turn ugly
81-90A magical illusion blocks the way and must be disabled or bypassed to progress
91-00Recent weather has destroyed some notable landmarks and the path must be rediscovered

Discoveries

d100Discovery
01-02An old and ruined tower
03-04A burned out home
05-06A howling cavern
07-08A small, tightly locked chest
09-10A statue of a good deity
11-12A statue of an evil deity
13-14A circle of stone pillars
15-16A giant tree with far-reaching roots
17-18A ruined temple to an unknown god
19-20A cracked, stone fountain filled with a green ooze
21-22A strange pillar carved with bloody runes
23-24A strange, twisted tree
25-26An abandoned wagon and the signs of battle
27-28A small, unlocked hut with a warm hearth
29-30A locked door in the side of a hill
31-32A chilling cemetery
33-34A locked door in the side of a hill
35-36An abandoned ruin of a castle
37-38A wrecked, half-buried pirate ship
39-40A set of steps leading down into a crypt
41-42A strange plant with an alluring scent
43-44A rusted cauldron still warm to the touch
45-46A tiny door in the foot of a tree
47-48A beautiful glade with delicious-looking fruit
49-50A sealed, metal coffin
51-52A twisted pillar with an evil, carved face
53-54A book on a bloody altar
55-56A sword impaled in a monstrous stone statue
57-58A map pinned to a tree with a black knife
59-60A blood-red stone embedded in a twisted tree
61-62A skeleton holding a small, red book
63-64A hole in the ground where singing can be heard
65-66A monument to an ancient battle
67-68A giant skeleton of a long-dead gargantuan creature
69-70A boarded-up house with ghostly wails
71-72A stone archway covered in eldritch runes
73-74A pool of sweet, red water
75-76A glade of trees that ooze black sap
77-78A collection of life-like humanoid stone statues
79-80A secret wishing pool
81-82A sleeping dragon
83-84A half-buried chest surrounded by skeletons
85-867 rotating pillars of segmented red stone
87-88A tree that burns with unnatural green fire
89-90The ruins of a magical experiment gone wrong
91-00Reroll

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