Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A Set of Unified Wilderness Travel Procedures

Wilderness Travel Process:

1. Players are given current weather, date, and information about current hex 1 and daylight left 2
2. Players declare travel intent (We head northwards through the forests)
3. Hex Weight 3 is calculated from conditions, terrain of current hex, and party actions
4. Hex Weight is subtracted from party's Travel Pool 4
5. Player with highest Journey skill is checked against (in secret) if failed see 5a
5a. Roll for Wilderness Complication 5
6. Wilderness Anecdote 6 is rolled for if an encounter see 6a
6a. Wilderness Encounter 7 is rolled for
7. Players are moved into destination hex and are given information about the current hex and daylight left
8. Players make take other actions within a hex 8


Rather than having a unique mechanic for weather, I simply substitute weather as an encounterable monster, which generally fits in with the folklore of many cultures viewing the weather as an entity itself. The reaction table below determines if the weather is gonna be pleasant or hostile.

So the distribution is 2-5 as poor, 6-8 as neutral, and 9-12 as fair. It's pretty simple to assign different effects on the weather. I've also added the categories of bad and terrible for the effects of rolling multiple poor reactions in a row, rolling poor weather while in poor weather resulting in bad weather and rolling poor weather while in bad weather resulting in terrible weather. For bad and terrible weather treat further reaction rolls of neutral and fair reactions as a reset into neutral weather. Every time you roll for the weather also roll a 1d6, the value of that die determines how long the current weather situation lasts.

SummerCloudyHotDroughtFlash Fires
Spring/AutumnCoolRain StormsFlash Floods

Weather Mechanical Effects Table
for those traveling outside or in wilderness without shelter
Fair+1 to Wilderness Traveling Skill
Poor-1 to Wilderness Traveling SkillIncrease hex weight by 0.5
Bad-2 to Wilderness Traveling SkillIncrease hex weight by 1.0
Terrible-3 to Wilderness Traveling SkillIncrease hex weight by 1.5
HotUnless you have water supplies
Save or take 1d4 damage from the Heat* 
DroughtAs Hot, but 2 water rations needed per day
Flash FireAs Drought and a 1 in 6 chance of  Flash Fire
Flash Fire: all must save or 3d10 damage
RainUnless you have cold weather clothing 
Save or take 1d4 damage from the Cold* 
StormsAs rain and 1 in 10 chance of Lightning: 
Lightningrandom member must Save or 3d10 damage
Flash Floods
As Storms and 1 in 6 chance of Flash Flooding. 
Flash FloodingSave or swept away and begin drowning
SnowUnless you have cold weather clothing
Save or take 1d6 damage from the Cold* 
HailAs Snow and Save or take 1d6 damage from Cold
BlizzardAs Hail and 1 in 6 chance of Blizzard.
Blizzardthose outside take 4d10 damage save for half
*This damage cannot reduce a character below 1 HP


So the effects of weather changes based on the season and we have a way to track the days so why not simply combine the two into a calendar. Each season is composed of three months and each month is composed of 30 days. This gives us a year with 360 days, and is honestly good enough for me to use in game as a referee. Many cultures used lunar calendars and it is a useful heuristic for making a gameable calendar. So in real life the moon changes from New Moon to Full Moon over 14 days. I'll use 13 days between the New Moon to Full Moon, 1 day of New Moon, and 3 days of Full Moon. You can start every month on the New Moon which causes days 15-17 to be the Full Moon. This gives us a 30 day cycle and three usable states of the moon the effects of which are detailed on the table below.

Moon StateEffect
FullMonsters get +2 HD and Undead treat each HD as having rolled an 8
NewComplete Darkness at Night 100% chance to be surprised
ChangingNo Effects

Information about current Hex

The following information is given to players while in a hex:
1. The terrain of the current hex
2. What terrain they can see in the cardinal directions
3. What hex contents they can see

You are all in the New Rind Timberlands: The trees here menace from numerous wild angles, each one primordial by its girth, and their limbs a tumult of bifurcated extensions. To the north are mountains, to the east and south is a large lake, and to the west are more of the New Rind Timberlands. You can see the town of New Rind from here as well as the Harpy's Road heading northwards.


There is enough daylight for an average man to cross 3 hexes across plains in daylight. As there is extra light in summer which grants an additional hex to cross, there is more night in winter which grants one less hex to cross.

Daylight is dependent on the season
4 hexes Summer
3 hexes Spring/Fall
2 hexes Winter

Pressing on in darkness:

If a hex is traveled in under darkness it requires a Journey (wilderness travel skill) roll on a 1d12 instead of 1d6. Further encounters are rolled for twice and each character who doesn't burn a torch counts as surprised in an encounter.

This information would be given qualitatively instead to of quantitatively to the players.

The sun is setting in the sky, night will fall soon. If you don't make camp soon you will end up traveling under darkness.

Hex Weight

Hexes of different terrains have a different weight to cross them.

Terrain of Hexes Crossed:
Plains counts as 1.0 Hex
Hills/Forests/Lakes counts as 1.5 Hexes
Swamps counts as 2.0 hexes
Mountains counts as 2.5 hexes

Certain conditions may also alter the weight of a hex

Traveling conditions alter conditions:
Traveling on horseback: Decrease hex weight by 0.5 to a minimum of 0.5
Hex has a road: Decrease hex weight by 1.0 to a minimum of 0.5
Traveling during Poor Weather: Increase hex weight by 0.5
Traveling during Bad Weather: Increase hex weight by 1.0
Traveling during Terrible Weather:  Increase hex weight by 1.5
Hunting while traveling: Increase hex weight by 2
Searching a hex while traveling: Increase hex weight by 2

Travel Pool

As previously mentioned an average man can cross 3 hexes of plains a day. This number can be referred to as his Travel Pool and be subtracted from as he crosses hexes which are not plains.

It is summer so the man has a Travel Pool of 4. He chooses to travel along a road through hills while also hunting. 1.5 - 0.5 + 2.0 = 3.0. Upon doing so he would have a Travel Pool of 1 left, and if he choose to simply travel without hunting he would be able to cross another hills hex before night falls.

Wilderness Complications

Character Skill

The other part of wilderness travel is how well a character can navigate the wilds. As far as I know only LotFP has a dedicated skill (Bushcraft) for determining how well characters travel through the wilderness (if this an incorrect way of using this skill let me know). In my games characters have a 1 in 6 skill which they can improve for traveling through the wilderness. If characters are successful in their travel attempt, nothing happens. Otherwise consult the table below.

Wilderness Complication Table
1 Stalked - Wilderness Encounter strikes in 1d4 nights or at sign of advantage
2Dire Circumstance - Next Wilderness Encounter roll is at a +6
3 Misdirection 1 in 6 chance of being lost, 2 in 6 for Swamps
4Incelement Weather - Weather worsens by 1 category
5Menacing Landscape - Next encounter occurs in Compromising terrain
6Miasma - Save or Disease

Wilderness Anecdote

For each hex traveled through a wilderness anecdote occurs.

Wilderness Anecdote Table
1Find a Lair of something
2Find a Spoor of something
3Find Tracks from something
4Find Traces 1 of something
5Find Traces 2 of something
6Find Monster encounter

Further while traveling through the wilderness, characters may take actions on their journey (such as searching a hex or hunting) each such attempt or traveling through a hex with a lair within it incurs an additional roll of the Wilderness Anecdote Table. 

Wilderness Encounter

So in a dungeon, a wandering monster check is resolved rather elegantly in regards to location. However, in most wilderness expeditions there is a great deal of locational abstraction in regards to how far the players travel. In order to not adjudicate every monster from attacking them in their sleep, the following procedures generate a more varied and randomized placement of wilderness monster encounters. There are present rules for Surprise and Reaction rolls so there is not a further need to describe them here.

Wilderness Monster Encounter Location Table

1As you sleep in a camp
2As you rest in a camp
3As you rest for a moment on the trail
4While you're moving through the wilderness
5While you're moving through harsh terrain
6While you're moving through compromising terrain

This roll should be done in conjunction with the surprise, reaction, and distance roll. Each terrain gives a different effect and this should make the wilderness more memorable if not more horrible.

Distance of Harsh or Compromising Terrain:

Harsh: Safe terrain 1d6*10 feet away
Compromising: Safe terrain 2d6*10 feet away

Harsh Terrain Effects Table

PlainsTall foliage hides holes in the ground, 1 in 6 chance of falling prone if you move
Hills Loose dust is kicked up by the wind here, characters not using a hand to cover their faces must roll under their constitution or start hacking for 1d4 rounds with a -2 to hit and armor
ForestDense foliage 1 in 10 chance of taking an additional 1d4 damage from a damaging attack
Waters (Fresh)Your back is to waters 1d4*10 feet below you with nowhere to turn
Waters (Sea)As waves crash against the boat rocking it mercilessly 1 in 10 chance of save vs falling into the sea every time you move
SwampsMire up to your knees, Movement is at two thirds speed and your armor is at -2
Mountains Perniciously near a precipice with a 1d6+3*10' deep drop

Compromising Terrain Effects Table

The horizon stretches far and wide here, if fleeing a monster. The monster rolls morale twice and takes the higher in continuing to pursue.
Crumbling stones menace below your feet, must roll under movement or slide 2d4*10' away from your companions
Forest Vicious Foliage 1 in 6 chance of taking an additional 1d6 damage from attack
Waters (Fresh)Your back is to waters and large stones 2d4*10 feet below you with nowhere to turn
Waters (Sea)Massive waves crash against the boat rocking it mercilessly 1 in 6 chance of save vs falling into the sea every time you move
SwampsMire up to your chest, Movement is at one third speed and your armor is at -4
MountainsUpon a minuscule ledge if you take damage you must roll under third dexterity or fall down 2d8*10 feet

Weather effects on Encountering Monsters in the Wilderness

DroughtAll participants takes 1 point of damage* at the end of every round of combat
Flash-Fire All participants takes 1d4 points of damage* at the end of every round of combat
Storms Missile fire occurs with a -2 penalty
Flash FloodsAs Storms and 1 in 20 chance of lightning strike at the end of  every round of combat
Hail Missile fire occurs with a -2 penalty
BlizzardAs hail and visibility limited to 30'
*This damage cannot reduce a character below 1 HP

Actions within the wilderness

A character may attempt to roll under half of their wisdom in order to Hunt, Forage, or find Herbs, this takes as much time as
Hunting costs 1d4 arrows and gives 1d4 rations if successful.
Foraging gives 1d3 rations if successful.
Herbalism gives a single beneficial herb which can act as medicine if successful.

A character may roll under half of their wisdom in order to search the hex for anything.

A character may roll under their wisdom in order to search the hex to find the location of something they are aware like a dungeon or another hidden hex feature.

Each of these actions incurs another wilderness anecdote roll and takes up as much time as traveling through a hex with a  Hex Weight of 2.0.


In real life, animals are hunted for their materials. Certain creatures are eaten while others are turned into usable materials. Below are simple abstractions for the usage of monsters once they are hunted.

Usable Corpses:

If a monster is brought down to 0 hp, then there is a 1 in 6 it took excess trauma and it's corpse is unusuable. Any attacks which deal over 10 points of damage or poisons, fires, magics, and similar awful effects increase the chance of a corpses being unusable by 1 in 6.

Eating Monsters:

Certain monsters with a magical or truly awful nature cannot be turned into consumable rations. If the monster has poison or inflicts disease, then it cannot be turned into field rations. Otherwise a monster slain can be turned into a number of field rations equal to it's HD. Thus a Giant Elk which has 4 HD can be turned into 4 field rations. Field rations last for only two days.

If one has access to salt, fire, and tools one can turn a monster corpse into regular rations. This process takes a number of hours equal to the HD of the monster and grants a number of rations equal to its HD squared. Thus the Giant Elk could be turned into 16 rations. Monsters that have poison have a 1 in 6 chance of each ration being safe to eat.

Valuable Parts:

A quick measure of how much one can fetch for the valueable parts of a monster can be determined by the table below. Any monster can be rolled on the Corpse Value Table to determine how much it's parts can be sold for.

Corpse Value Table 1d6

1-3Worth HD^2 * 3 Silver
4-5Worth HD^2 * 6 Silver
6Worth HD^2 * 9 Silver

Each time a is monster encountered the corpse value should be rolled for only once on the table, unless one such monster is encountered with more HP than 5 * the number of HD it possesses. This would represent an especially magnificent specimen of higher value, resulting in an increase of the multiplied silver value by 3. In the case of the Giant Elk previously described above for eating rations, assuming it was rolled to have a corpse value of (4)^2 * 6 = 96 silver, one having more than 20 HP would have a magnificent crown of horns which would be worth 144 silver.

Venoms Sacs/Special Organs:

Monsters which deal poison can have their venom sacs or other special organs harvested in order to make doses of that poison. Such an organ harvested contains a number of doses of poison equal to the HD of the monster. The value of selling such poison can be reflected as costing half of the corpse value.


  1. Thanks. This is relevant to my interests.

  2. Very good stuff. Always nice to see hex-based wilderness stuff!

  3. Looking at this it seems that the hexes are about 6 or 8 miles.