Any rules for overland travel, line of sight, etc.?

6 posts / 0 new
Last post
At the moment I am preparing to run a campaign that is very sandbox oriented, and as a result there will be a lot of overland travel involved. So far I've obviously seen the rules for overland speed (2.5 miles/hour at speed 5, for instance) since they're fairly prominent, but beyond that the official rulebooks don't seem to offer a whole lot for overland travel rules and guidelines. For instance, how far can the players see in different kinds of terrain (so I know what I can tell them they can find), or that sort of thing.

I seem to remember there was some sort of article in what I'm assuming was Dungeon (since it wouldn't make a lot of sense for Dragon) where one of the designers illuminated this topic a little bit further, involving things like endurance checks for hostile terrain and the like, but I'm not sure where that went.

As a result I was wondering if anyone here could help me out by giving me what they think is a good idea (or links to that good idea if it is already posted somewhere!) for things like how far players can see in a forest or when to reduce their rations (I wager that expertise from the Dark Sun setting may come in handy here, but sadly I've never DMed it!)

EDIT - One other specific that came to mind is what to do should the PCs run into, say, fairly slow monsters. We're talking like if they run into shambler zombies here. Can't they just run away? Well, that's ok, but what if they try to run from something else? Is there a good model for how to do running away? I think there was also a dungeon article on that (and I have it around here somewhere this time!) but if anybody has any alternate ideas I'd love to hear them!


I know this is a thread about "rules", and technically this forum isn't about "rules", but since much of this is likely to fall under "as a DM, what would YOU do?" I figured it might be appropriate. If it's not I'll move it.
I'd scrap the rules. They can see what you want to see, they have to roll in hazardous terrain when you want them to, and all that stuff.

In a chase you could let them make group endurance and athletics checks. 
Yay my account got banned. And then the account I replaced my old account with got banned too!
Keep things somewhat abstract, and you can justify nearly anything.

If you make rules about spotting enemies with perception at certain distances in certain terrains in order to make things more "realistic" what you'll find is that you make things more complicated, but not much more realistic - perhaps even less realistic.

I think in general it's okay for them to avoid encounters they don't want to fight. Say they do encounter some zombies or oozes, or something. Why should the party fight them if there's no threat to the party? It makes more sense to just to avoid them and continue on, which should happen automatically if the creatures have no way to pursue. If you want to give the PCs an incentive to engage, then you have to have the creatures threatening some third party, or blocking the shortest path, or there needs to be some time constraint such that a minute of combat is preferable to a 10 minute detour.

I would state that avoiding encounters is fairly easy on a road or plain. In forests or mountains or other obscured terrain, encounters would just occur as they do in a dungeon, with perhaps a little bit more distance between the groups at the outset.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Escape and avoidance can be dealt with as simple Skill Challenges. Give the party various things to overcome to escape, scrambling up a hill, crossing a creek, finding a cave to hide out in for a bit, erasing their tracks, etc. You can let the players make suggestions and go with it really. I don't see a problem with having the best Perception character make a check to spot an ambush either, which is one way to handle the 'slow monsters avoided' thing, have the monster lie in wait.

Loading the PCs down with goods and other people to defend can be helpful too.

I don't recall any rules for LoS in the outdoors particularly. You could just do the random thing and make the distance d100 squares, or do a d6, 1-2 = close, 3-4 = near, 5-6 = far, and then either decide what those mean based on the openness of the terrain or again roll some dice if it really matters what the exact distance is.

DS does have DESERT survival rules, which would adapt I suppose to other harsh terrain, roughly. For more ordinary situations SCs work reasonably well. I don't know of a lot in the way of specific rules. There was something somewhere in Dungeon it seems like, but I don't recall exactly. I don't really remember it being super special anyway. You can make a whole expedition a single SC. PCs can make checks to insure they got all the right supplies and didn't leave anything out, got a good quality map, etc. Then endurance and nature checks to find good routes and survive harsh conditions. Failures can result in encounters or smaller sub-challenges that they have to deal with.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Those are all some good suggestions, and making it up by the seat of my pants as I go would certainly be a totally workable (and potentially even the best) solution, as would incorporating skill checks to deal with challenges in a somewhat abstract way or to affect the party's ability to flee or chase fleeing enemies of similar movement speeds. Thanks everyone who's contributed so far
There are some overland movement/travel rules in the Rules Compendium.

They're pretty good, with the one caveat that while terrain type impact is clear (i.e. mountains vs. plains), weather/visibility impact isn't so explicit.

You can expand on what they suggest for things like fog and rain though, to sometimes impact overland travel.

Check out the Exploration Speed rules in the RC on p. 168-171, and on Weather (RC, p. 178-179).

Vision and Light (RC, p. 166-168) might be useful too, though the focus here is more on line of sight and identifying targets rather than impacting movement or overland travel.

LEONINE ROAR : Amp Up Your D&D Game : Visit my D&D blog :: FASTER COMBAT : Crush Your Combat Grind

Sign In to post comments