"You Got Skill Challenges in my Exploration Rules!" and Other Exploration Thoughts

I love exploration - piecing thru a wizard's abandoned study and its dubious appliances, winding thru dark valleys and haunted crags - so I want to kick up conversation on the ways people would like Next to approach this "pillar of play".

My plight: exploring a dungeon by using maps, descriptions, and choosing doors is fun; making a die roll to have it done for you is not. So why do the April exploration rules abbreviate the exploration process to a game of choosing what ability check to make?

We already have: (from the Isle of Dread) generating weather, ship travel, rules on getting lost and unlost. I like these.

Exploration help I'd like: travel and handling for mounts and airships/balloons, rations and survival without, simple yet tactile ways to depict exposure from temperature/weather and dehydration, how to utilize depth in underwater or sky adventures, how to have the PCs map and navigate according to DM descriptions of landmarks and constellations. (This may mean you don't use lost mechanics because the players will get lost and unlost in the course of responding to descriptions.)

As you can see, I want methods of play, but the ones in the April play pack are too abstracted and filled with numbers for my taste. Examples of "methods of play" not "abstracts and numbers" would be Ars Ludi's West Marches blog and Ray Winninger's "Dungeoncraft" essays. These don't focus on exploration, mind you; they're examples of how I'd like exploration rules be approached: with more role guidance, less roll rules.

It's fine if you disagree and loved the April rules; I don't think our ways would have to be mutually exclusive; if combat has both battle mat and TotM combat, exploration can have different methods, too.
I feel like the system needs to be better spelled out. The examples in the text actually don't follow the system's own rules. I started a thread with all the mechanical problems I have with the system, but it comes down to this: too many rolls.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the whole system should be scrapped. I love the idea that each player chooses a "role" and the exploration proceeds like that. But it is a problem when the rules say to roll every turn, and dozens of stealth rolls should "occur as necessary." Also way too many roles involved if someone wants to do two things at once. And why Constitution? Characters like rangers and rogues, who are expected to both scout and search for traps or be stealthy, get shafted when they're the very ones who would most benefit from performing multiple roles.

Mounts/vehicle rules need to be in place. (Especially since they introduced the paladin who is EXPECTED to have a mount.)

I hope they borrow Survival Days from 4E's Dark Sun. Simplest and most useful way of simulating rations.

Weather needs to be pushed to the front of D&D Next. Not just in exploration mode, but also in combat. Raining, night-time, and heavy-packed snow need to be simple rules that can modify the entire battle and not stuff hidden in the DMG on a forgotten page.
How is fun urban exploration run differently, where the game is likely to focus on finding resources and information, less about fighting the inhabitants?

Also, advice on various ways to use random encounter tables might be helpful.

For example, anyone can list several specific, repeatable scenarios they want to happen and arrange the roll numbers for probability, but you can also have each entry be something more basic and vague, like "1d4 oni", and add a fair likelihood of "roll twice" or "roll thrice". When you get results like "4 oni and 1 crocodile", you improvise: the croc is about to be eaten by the oni, the oni keep it as a pet, the oni are being attacked by a croc, or the oni pop out of nowhere when somone disturbs a concealed crocodile "alarm". This results in more variation and slight DM control.

Encounters needn't be NPCs and monsters, either: worn wayposts and ruined gazebos could bear game-world info, shelter, or be an opportunity for microdungeoneering (provided the DM has some loose ruin maps). Entries could also change depending on day/night, or the weather (a monster that appears only when it rains), etc.
I agreed with your points. I think those skill checks felt a little wonky too, but they could be ignored when its simply not important. I tend to take a more cinematic approach to the exploration aspect myself, but found those exploration rules might be helpful to make exploration more dramatic when I want it to be.
Locke: [after mugging a merchant for his clothes] It's a little tight, but the price was right.
I love exploration - piecing thru a wizard's abandoned study and its dubious appliances, winding thru dark valleys and haunted crags - so I want to kick up conversation on the ways people would like Next to approach this "pillar of play".

My plight: exploring a dungeon by using maps, descriptions, and choosing doors is fun; making a die roll to have it done for you is not. So why do the April exploration rules abbreviate the exploration process to a game of choosing what ability check to make?

We already have: (from the Isle of Dread) generating weather, ship travel, rules on getting lost and unlost. I like these.

Exploration help I'd like: travel and handling for mounts and airships/balloons, rations and survival without, simple yet tactile ways to depict exposure from temperature/weather and dehydration, how to utilize depth in underwater or sky adventures, how to have the PCs map and navigate according to DM descriptions of landmarks and constellations. (This may mean you don't use lost mechanics because the players will get lost and unlost in the course of responding to descriptions.)

As you can see, I want methods of play, but the ones in the April play pack are too abstracted and filled with numbers for my taste. Examples of "methods of play" not "abstracts and numbers" would be Ars Ludi's West Marches blog and Ray Winninger's "Dungeoncraft" essays. These don't focus on exploration, mind you; they're examples of how I'd like exploration rules be approached: with more role guidance, less roll rules.

It's fine if you disagree and loved the April rules; I don't think our ways would have to be mutually exclusive; if combat has both battle mat and TotM combat, exploration can have different methods, too.



Because while you might like detailed exploration through free-form RP not everyone does.

Personally I prefer to play that way too, but I've met enough people who do not to appreciate that there IS a need for mechanical exploration systems.

As long as both get support that's good for everyone.

It's not like we need much in the way of rules, we mostly just need good DM instructions in any case!

I have, like, 3 brand new players that have never played a TTRPG before so getting them to engage in free-form RP with little to go on besides character/player intuition can often be difficult. Some direction on how to handle this and pull the characters in is helpful.