Any tips for overland travel gameplay?

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gorrrak
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Any tips for overland travel gameplay?

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:51 am

I'm just looking for tips on pacing and storytelling during overland travel. Sometimes I feel that I rush this part of the game, and the players do too. Overland travel really intrigues me, and I want it to be a meaningful part of the game.
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Metroknight
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Re: Any tips for overland travel gameplay?

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:37 am

You and your group have to decide on what you want to get out of the overland travel part of the game.

Do they want more interaction?
Do you want to do more descriptions?

There are many aspects to consider then implement. You could slow down the pacing and add more detail for their travel such as more non-combat encounters that are just flavor interaction. Maybe they encounter pilgrims on a journey to a temple, maybe a caravan of merchants, or maybe a random patrol of the local kingdoms military personal.

You could start describing the environment with more detail. Maybe they are traveling through flood plains and you can describe the land, maybe they are slogging through a swampy area and you add in the sounds of insects, the smell of rotting plant matter, the sudden flight of birds (caused by the party but they don't need to know that), and other things.

It all boils down to what do you want to add to the game that will make it more fun for your group and you.
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Any tips for overland travel gameplay?

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:57 am

if you can get hold of TSR's B10 Nights Dark Terror and read it it will give you a great idea how to run wilderness campaigns. It is a wilderness scenario in which the player characters travel by river and over mountains designed specifically for campaigns transitioning from the D&D Basic Set (levels 1-3)to the D&D Expert Set (lvls 4 and up and introducing wilderness rules).
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Dimirag
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Re: Any tips for overland travel gameplay?

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 1:14 pm

It's up to the table, do you want it to be dangerous? Do the players want to use traveling time to prepare for the adventure? Go hunting? Collecting herbs?
In these downtime situations I prefer to break time into parts (if I know ow much time will pass between point A and B) and ask the players if they want to do something while traveling, it does not need to be something mechanically important, they can chat (a good moment to improve character background), read books (maybe learning something), play instruments (improve the quality of the travel), and many other ideas.
Sorry for any misspelling or writing error, I am not a native English speaker
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chiisu81
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Re: Any tips for overland travel gameplay?

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:25 pm

What events and encounters, if any, have you used so far? Don't forget the weather. To kickstart an interesting sidepath/journey, sprinkle some locales, whether occupied or "abandoned" ( :twisted: ).
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Clever_Munkey
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Re: Any tips for overland travel gameplay?

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:03 pm

I'll start off by agreeing with Metroknight and Dimirag, that you have to know more about what you and your players want to get out of overland travel. Adding more description may be good to a point. For me, and I think most other players, the most important aspect to wilderness travel (and what makes any game a game) is having choice.

So I guess my first tip is to look at what choices you are giving the players.

Remember that a default action like "we keep walking," is not a choice. Picking between two or more options where the consequences are the same regardless, is also not a choice. Picking between two or more options where one is objectively better (i.e. the players can figure it out with the information they already have) is not a choice. Similarly picking between two or more options that seem to have no difference (i.e. the players can't tell the difference without making the choice first) is a random choice, which is also not a choice. Whether or not the last two are actually choices depends on the information that the players have.

And for the record, I'm not saying any of the things above are necessarily bad, just that they are not choices.

Metroknight and Chiisu give some good examples of things that provide choices. I disagree with Dimirag only so far as to say that I'm not a fan downtime activities during travel, but if you are then I suggest you might use that too.

I would also second Hywaywolf's recommendation, and also recommend reading the article by the Angry GM on wilderness travel (below). I don't always agree with everything he says, or how he says it, but I often find most of it useful. If nothing else I find that he makes me think about how I'm running my games.

http://theangrygm.com/getting-there-is-half-the-fun/
Call me Joe. Mr. Munkey is my father.
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orobouros
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Re: Any tips for overland travel gameplay?

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:25 pm

The only thing I'd avoid is saying, "you travel and arrive at your destination." That's really boring. Unless overland travel is from one door in a city to the next door over, something was along the way. What time of day was it? What was the weather like? What kind of terrain? Even the simplest description adds a lot of favor to the travel. "You set off at dawn, had an easy time on the dirt road, enjoyed the shade of some trees around midday, and arrived tired but relaxed from the day's walk to the next town." Or: "Traveling at night might not have been the best idea. You thought some kobolds were tracking you while some clouds covered the sliver moon, but if they were they never got close enough to detect. You've arrived as the sun is rising, tired, but safe."

They're both ways of just saying, "you got to point B" but they make it feel like part of the story instead of a jump.
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Any tips for overland travel gameplay?

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:25 pm

Just an FYI, Nights Dark Terror isn't "what to do between destinations when travelling". Its an actual campaign that happens mostly in the wilderness with some dungeon clearing and ancient/abandoned city exploring and mass combat. It has weather tables and each day is rolled for weather. Travelling is a key component of the adventure.

I was keying in on "overland travel really intrigues me" part of the post and didn't really register the part about just making overland travel less boring. So NDT probably isn't really useful to this post other than maybe the weather tables.
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Longman
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Re: Any tips for overland travel gameplay?

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 10:51 pm

I've had some success in various games using an exploration point system. For BF, the slowest party move rate was 30, meaning a possible maximum of 18 miles a day on normal terrain. Each hex was 3x3 miles. The party got 6 exploration points a day, each representing about 2 hours of activity, meaning 12 hours of total activity (but only 8 hours of it actually hiking), plus 12 hours of eating and rest.

1 point - just pass through an area at normal pace, see only obvious things, a chance to get lost.
2 points - more thorough exploration of the hex with a chance to find hidden things, less chance to get lost.
3 points - terrain is well known, extra chances to find anything hidden, no chance to get lost.

If the route your party is traversing is already known and you just want to go from A to B, there's no point to a system like this. But I have found that this type of system gives players who are exploring a bit more control over what they are doing, in 2 hour phases.

Do we camp here, or spend our remaining 2 hours heading down into that valley? Do we spend an extra 2 hours exploring this forest hex, or press on? This marsh looks like a bad place to spend the night - do we press on and hope the next hex is better, or go back, or stay here and risk it?

The longer they spend in any one hex the greater likelihood of encountering anything I have already decided was in that hex. That's in addition to random encounter rolls.

For some terrain (marsh, mountains etc) I just add extra exploration points onto the basic cost to move through it.

My advice would be to design some simple system like this to suit your game, to keep track of party time and energy as a resource. It decreases that sense of "just keep going until something happens" which you can get if party time isn't tracked.
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