help with rules for long distance travel


I am trying to prep my first game, I have made a map of the large scale “world” and will have players making long trips around it.

I just wondered how do you rule something like this? Are lots of supplies needed? Or just make them stop when they run out and hunt? Make them camp every night?

im just worried about resource consumption over such distances

I hope this makes sense:)

Thank you all for your time and help

For now, just ask them how they plan to get from Place A to Place B. That could require a resources or circles test for conveyance or assistance, or it could prompt a pathfinder, health, rider, sailor test to make the journey without outside assistance.

I wouldn’t worry too much about resources at this point, though future rules might deal with overland/sea travel.

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Based on trying out a new travel subsystem every time the party traveled, I recommend a mix of:

  1. 90% handwave it with 1-2 tests like Jared said, and
  2. 10% make a series of small, concrete, interesting obstacles and do a travel session.

That second one was really useful for introducing some large background facts about the world relatively unobtrusively. It was definitely skirting the railroad line, though, and I wouldn’t do it more than 1-2 times in a campaign.

It depends how detailed you want to get it, if you feel it doesn’t matter then just narrate/montage it. If you feel the resources do matter, then do a Pathfinder test, failure obviously being Hungry/Thirsty Condition. If you want a little bit more excitement then that, then maybe hacking a similiar move to the Dungeon World one, Scout for Monsters, Pathfinder for Trailblazing, Cook maybe for Rations? Then you can use the similair system they do of Travel is in rations and yu can say the massive dungeon from the town is 2 rations.

Or if you want the wilderness to be THE ADVENTURE then you basically make them like a dunggeon, “rooms” with challanges that the players have to overcome with different paths going to different “rooms”(Rooms in this case being more general encounter nodes for example a Swamp “room” could be anythign from a bog you have to get past, to a lizardman cave.)

I was not able to make this work to my satisfaction. The most basic approach is pure railroad; giving some choices is like “choose your own railroad”; and backtracking to safety, choosing angles of attack, trying things multiple times, scouting, etc. just doesn’t make sense.

Has anyone run a Torchbearer Travel as a dungeon and been happy with it?

Do you mean railroad in the sense that the players have to get from A to B for the story to move on? I am not sure how travel is not a Railroad since you have a destination in mind.

If you really want travel to be an adventure then I would follow Greedy’s example and make it more elaborate. Offer multiple travel routes, either going to the same waypoint (more railroady but with a choice) OR offer multiple routes with multiple waypoints. If you want to make it very elaborate each route and waypoint could have a potential dungeon. Different paths could lead to new, unexplored areas, while others get the group to its goal. Like a normal dungeon there needs to be many paths, some going I the right direction, and others not.

For resources and supplies I would throw out Twists for failed tests that consume them. Failed pathfinder? The trip takes a few days longer than anticipated and you consume X rations/water, or just give out Hungry/Thirsty. If the party passes the tests then they made that leg while finding enough to keep their stores intact.

You could also use the example is Ryutaama, I which players make a Condition check (Health), a direction check ( Pathfinder), and one more. It is escaping me now. Like Jared said you could do a Resources check for conveyance.

Having players make three checks every time they travel would get you 3 turns, then they either camp or slog on and take Hungry/Thirsty.

Of course that doesn’t address the RR issue.

My inspiration for the whole wilderness as Dungeon has been this:

I didn’t think a hexcrawl would work in Torchbearer, but the game does tell you that a dungeon is made of challenging rooms connected to each other.

I don’t see how it would be a railroad especially if you make sure to follow the book and have multiple ways of going around, and have certain problems that are to much for the players.

That is exactly what I was thinking. Nice article.

I use to be totally on board with the “wilderness as dungeon” concept. But I’ve cooled somewhat on the idea. I think a good starting place at least for ideas would be:

  1. Most people travel roads when going from point a to b. Unless you are the very first people ever to go there usually there is already a path. Aka almost nobody “travels” through the wilderness. The modern activities of camping and wilderness hikes aren’t really helpful in modeling behavior.

  2. The historical stories of settling the west (donnar party et al) and explorers like Louis and Clark were about very specific goals. Is that what your players will be doing?

  3. Tolkien. How did the fellowship travel? Certainly they had difficulty over Caradhras due to sorcerous medling. An interesting twist is that to get from point A to B wasn’t, on its own, difficult, there were roads. But for various reasons they didn’t want a to be on the roads. you could boil down the trip from Bree to Rivendel as “in order to get from A to B without detection you must go through a dungeon.”

In this case, rather than the wilderness being a dungeon, they literally had to go through a dungeon. so perhaps an answer is not “how do I make overland travel a dungeon all its own”. Rather perhaps going through actual dungeons are the “short cuts” normal travelers won’t take. The quickest way to rivendel is Moria, the only way to sneak into mordor is shelobs lair. The only path for Aragon and company to the valley of the kings is through dunharrow etc. that being said, Looming fronts and omens are more dungeon world and less torchbearer.

Now, in Tolkien, there were time constraints forcing the fellowship to take roads less traveled. But that itself raises an interesting question for the players. If there isn’t a time constraint and they aren’t purposefully exploring uncharted territory, why wouldn’t you take the safest path? In this case, skyrim handled it well (which itself is modeled from od&d) wandering encounters. You meet a thief on the road, or a merchant, or man leading a cow to be gifted to a giant, or you pass an actual dungeon. ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

I really like the Dungeon World treatment of taking a long, dangerous journey. Seems to me that it’d port over to Torchbearer pretty well.

Dungeon World - Undertake a Perilous Journey

Most people travel roads when going from point a to b. Unless you are the very first people ever to go there usually there is already a path. Aka almost nobody “travels” through the wilderness. The modern activities of camping and wilderness hikes aren’t really helpful in modeling behavior.

I guess in my wilderness game Im kind of pushing the idea it says in the book that the outside world is a dark and cruel place and what was once roads and civilization is overgrown and taken over by beasties and horrible things. So there are some paths, but it is fraught with danger.

The historical stories of settling the west (donnar party et al) and explorers like Louis and Clark were about very specific goals. Is that what your players will be doing?

I actually did think about this, because the underlying goal of a dungeon is to get treasure already there. Whats the underlying goal of a Wilderness dungeon. Then it hit me, most people that wanted to explore was trying to find something valueble like a mine or something. What if the players were more prospecters, looking for valuable resources in the wilderness to sell to the highest bidder.

That could work but remember TB characters are dirty losers because they can’t find employment — everything is controlled by the Guilds. So Beren goes off and mines some gold nuggets and has to sit on them until he can find a buyer who’ll risk the wrath of the Miner’s Guild for paying scabs.

I LOVE the perilous journey move from dungeon world and am constructing a way to implement it into Torchbearer.

This is my interpretation of how I could do long distance, or more importantly, dangerous travel in torchbearer.

Personally, I think roads exist for a reason, and if PCs know that a particular road leads to a particular waypoint then I would just let them go there, UNLESS there is knowledge of some sort of danger (bandits?). Then maybe some sort of scout test is needed?
If there is no road but the location is short, then I think that’s exactly what pathfinder is made for.
And if they dont know which road to take, a circles test could find someone for that information, or a cheap resources test could pay for a cart ride to there. It all depends how my players would want to get to the point.

But lets say I’ve got a huge map, and they basically want to travel half way across it. The distance is long, and the path dangerous. I would love to handle this in the same way Dungeon World does it.
In DW, you elect 3 people.
The trailblazer, in charge of finding the right path and getting you there on time
The Scout - self explanatory
The Quartermaster - in charge of ration distribution.

You can easily have 3 different people test 3 skills (even more if you are feeling devious) and each of these people are delegated with a task on getting you to your destination safely.
One person tests Pathfinder
Another tests Scout
And another… well here is where i’m stumped, what skill is would be considered best for managing resources? I’m inclined to say cook, which is what I would test. But you can probably easily substitute this with survivalist.

Passing each test means you get there. where you want. NO PROBLEM.
But if a person fails a test they bring consequences to the whole party.

Your cook messed up? everyones hungry thristy.
Pathfinder messed up? you get there but you went through a rough trail, everyones exhausted
Scout messed up? Well… to be honest im not sure what condition would be appropriate here.

BUT, if you think handing out conditions is too harsh, you can easily just substitute some or all of these with twists. The cook wasnt paying attention and rats/maggots got into your rations.
THe scout sucked at his job, and now you got ambushed by bandits, enter a conflict and if you succeed you make it to your destination.
Pathfinder messed up? yeah he lead you through some rough terrain, your clothing / bags are damaged.

The consequences should be severe because there are SAFER, SLOWER and EASIER ways of getting around. and this ‘long distance fast travel’ thing could be a last resort.
Though I think we are really getting into hack territory with something like this haha.

Oh and common sense should always apply. If you have an accurate map, theres no need to test pathfinder, in any situation. Maps are valuable that way.

I wonder if it really is beneficial to seek for systemization of travel. What if the party must find the hermit living at the top of the world (on the highest Himalayaian peak) another, the party is traveling through a desert to a famous port city? Off the cuff, I would want the planning and execution of both of those trips to be somewhat unique. But then again, maybe it’s the twists of failed rolls that would make them unique. ¯_(ツ)_/¯.