Friday, May 18, 2012

Wilderness Travel Mini-Games III

And now to the culprit that left me wanting something better, the sea.  I thought about it for a while and I decided a cool archetypal challenge for the sea would be your crew.  What, you think you can drift around in the doldrums for weeks without hearing some grumbling from those shady characters you hired at the last port?  Here's what I came up with:
On the second day at sea with no encounter start the game by placing a marker on the first square (Now that I think of it I should have designed it with the track around the edges so you could use a paper-clip).

Each following day move one square, encounters don't matter any more.

When you land on a square with a black spot your crew has become unhappy and is grumbling.  Roll 1d6 to see how they challenge you.

If one of the party members has an exceptional score in the ability challenged the crew is appeased and you halt their descent into darker moods. An exceptional ability can only be used once a journey. 

If you don't have the right ability bonus you can offer up the secondary item: a change of scenery, wine women and song, or cold hard cash.  As long as you meet their challenge you can hold the crew's discontent on that square.  But every day you'll have to roll for another challenge.

Fail the challenge and the marker moves to the next box.  Once you get to the fork, a challenge failed for 3 starts the crew spiralling into madness, depression, and possible suicide.  A failed 4 or 5 will head them toward angry revolt, and either assaulting or marooning the party.

Keep in mind, successfully meeting the challenges will only stall the inevitable.  Once the game is started the only thing that can reset the board is port, or at least having the majority of the crew go ashore somewhere.


  1. simply brilliant. And Blackbeard-friendly: were you thinking of his famous diary entry when you wrote this? (Rum all out - a damned confusion among the men...)

  2. My group doesn't do a ton of wilderness travel, but when we do I'm really considering just stealing all of this stuff.

    It's not something I think I ever would have come up with but I'm thoroughly impressed.

  3. Very good stuff, I think the key with all of these is the realization you are not trying to simulate the whole experience of travel, but gamify a subset of the experience in an exciting narrative way.

  4. Doesn't "wine, women and song" mean "shore leave"? Which would re-set?

  5. @phf good point! Maybe that should be "rum, bum and concertina."

  6. Thanks, all.

    @Richard: that means a lot coming from a scholar of the sea. I've been fascinated with pirates since I was a kid and with Blackbeard and his death, but I never read his diary. I think I was really influenced on this one by the Sega Genesis game Pirates Gold; the damn crew was never happy enough to let me build up a fleet of captured ships (well, a fleet the size I wanted ;) .

    @Syrus: That's great to hear, I'd love it if these turned out useful.

    @Roger: Thanks!

    @phf: I mainly wanted to indicate that I didn't want wine to mean *only* wine, that it could represent all vices, even drugs. But the main way to prepare for this challenge is to lay in stocks of booze in your cargo, no docking necessary. Though, I think you could acquire stuff in other ways, like taking a ship, natives rowing out to meet you, magic, etc.