Writing Series

Writing Atlas: Travel Pillar pt-2

So I’ll start with the Overland Travel because I think that’s what people expect when talking about Travel rules.

I’m not a huge fan of using maps. I like the “theater of the mind” approach when it comes to gameplay. I kind of follow through with this on my approach to Overland Travel as well. While you can map out your world, and it’s probably a good idea to do so just so everyone has a point of reference, you don’t really need that map to be intricate for the sake of game mechanics. You don’t need to use any software to design a hex map and know that each hex represents one day of travel of anything weird like that. You CAN do that, because it’s your game, but I’m not going to make it a mandatory part of the Travel Pillar or Atlas in general. What we will do is much simpler, and can be done in the theater of the mind approach that I personally lean towards as a preference.

Travel will consist of 4 parts. Planning, Navigation, Camping, and Encounters. For this article I’m just focusing on the Planning.

Planning is the part where the PCs make a decision. Do they take the safe route along the road which is longer as it winds around the mountains, but less dangerous due to regular patrols? Or do they brave the mountain path which is more harrowing but will get them to the location faster? If the PCs are not in any hurry they might take the safe option just so they can get to the dungeon or town or whatever without much risk. But if they’re on a time sensitive rescue mission they might need to consider taking the more dangerous path.

As a GM your whole job at this point is to provide the players with information and options. Give them a couple of routes, give them an idea of how dangerous each one is, and let them choose. As part of their planning they’ll need to know how many days the trip should take, and how many days of food they need to bring to make it there and back.

Their route should sound something like “We’ll follow the Orange Road until we hit the river. Then we follow the river south until we find the quarry. The mine we’re looking for will be on the east side.” Your route might be longer than this, but the point is by using landmarks you can easily narrate the trip rather than moving a marker along a dotted road on an overworld map. It’s much easier and less resource intensive.

Tomorrow I’ll go over the execution of the route in Navigation and how to get lost and how to get un-lost.

Merry Holidays! Let me know what you want me to get for you this year. Just head to the Patreon and become a supporter and I’ll “gift” you whatever your rewards tier says you get.

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