Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wilderness Travel Mini-Games VII

For those of you just joining this series, I realized that the default for travel in the wilderness is usually-- nothing happens-- and that there was little to differentiate traveling through one type of terrain from another.  So I set out to try and create strategic games to both, give players something to do while travelling, and to make travelling through the desert feel different than travelling through the jungle.

Because I don't have any typical images in my head for travel through the luminous aether, I made this one a little more abstract.  Also, I don't have any experience DMing folks through planar journeys, but I imagine this could be modifiable to lots of different applications-- travelling through dreams or psionically, for example.  For that reason, though, I have no idea what unit to use here, whether it be time, space, or number of planes jumped.  I leave you to figure out the particulars.  Here we go:

The character that initiated the travel begins in the center.  The rest of the travellers are arranged around the initiator concentrically.

Every unit of travel each traveller must move one position as they are jostled about in the aether.  Before moving each player rolls a d6.  The position they can move to can only be their die roll or lower.  Only one player can occupy a spot at a time. 

If a player rolls lower than all adjacent spaces they must move to the lowest space next to them.  If a player on a 2 spot rolls a one or has adjacent spots blocked, they slip into the void.

Once a journey, players with exceptional intelligence can add their bonus to any persons die roll.

If the party is attacked while travelling, characters receive penalties to combat depending on which ring they have been jostled to: the three spots are -1, and the two spots are -2.  A player lucky enough to be on the six spot receives +1 to combat that round.

So, it isn't too likely for someone to get jostled off unless the party travelling is large and starts blocking each other.  But with the penalties to combat, players will still want to stay as close to the center as possible.

What does slipping into the void mean?  Seems like a pretty good adventure hook to me, probably they end up in a plane they least expected.  What happens if the initiator of travel slips off?  Ooh, seems like they'd take everyone with them, don't you think?


  1. Man, that sure means you want to travel with a small party.

    I think I'd add the 5s back in, so there's room for some henchmen, etc.

    I also think I'd give them more spots to camp on. Because they also have to be adjacent to a spot that also matches the number they've rolled or lower? The way I'm understanding what you've written is: you can't move inwards (to a higher number), unless you've rolled that number. Ie: you're on a 4, you roll a 1, you have to move to either one of the two open fours (diagonally), one of the two next-door 3s, or the 2 further out (depending on occupancy).

    I'd like a method to help out people who're on verge of falling off. Like maybe taking a penalty on your next roll in order to pull them in closer, or add to their current roll.

    I dunno, have you tested this one out? My feel for the spatial / dice says (to me at least) that this would be trouble in a group larger than 3. Especially if you can't go inwards a ring, if you don't have that on the dice. Also, perhaps there are too few 2s available. Ie: you get on a 2, and both 3s are blocked (say 5 other party members and bad placement), then there's a 50% chance you get lost.

    If there were more 2s around the edge, then you'd only get lost 17% of the time if you got badly placed/had bad rolls. And you'd still have less than 67% chance that you could improve your position/placement.

  2. Hmm, looking at it again... if you're on a 2, can you bounce all along the outside 2 ring, in either direction?

    And, if you're on a 2, and the adjacent 2s are also filled with people doing bad rolls, then you'd need to get a 3 or higher in order to not be forced off your spot?

  3. Hey, thanks for the comments. Yeah, I actually got a chance to playtest this one with my buddy. It was fun but it took ~30 turns for anyone in a party of four to fall off. That's why I introduced the combat modifiers, otherwise I think it would be so safe as to be pointless.

    And we were just assuming default stats. If anyone in the party had an exceptional Int it could have doubled the time to slip off.

    It does pressure the party to stay small, but I like that-- no taking 20 hirelings into hell, kiddies, just a handful of heroes.

    If you wanted to make it easier for slightly bigger parties you could allow bonus to rolls for every + in an Int bonus for systems, like Moldvay, that get up to +3. You could also allow a single mod per yogi, psionicist and if you want to be really generous, any wizard.

  4. Oh yeah, definitely down with combat modifiers (and maybe psionics modifiers too?) I mean, if you're barely holding on, maybe you get possessed.

    But, I've still got those functional questions from above. Maybe some lines connecting boxes would straighten that out.

  5. You can move anywhere as long as your die roll is high enough and the spot adjacent isn't occupied.

    Don't worry about the rings when moving, just when doling out combat modifiers.

    In your example, if you're on a four and roll a 1, you've got to slide to the lowest adjacent spot (because there are no ones) which is the two.

  6. I see I mis-read the rules for the 4 example now: 'they must move to the lowest space next to them.'

    Are the 2s adjacent to each other? Or, are they separated by the spacing?

    'if you're on a 2, can you bounce all along the outside 2 ring, in either direction?' since my prior example: 'you get on a 2, and (if) both 3s are blocked ... then there's a 50% chance you get lost.' implies that they're not adjacent - which is how I first read the placement of the dice-spaces.

  7. Yeah, the spacing is just cosmetic. The way I imagined it, the two spots are adjacent. I'll make pics illustrating legal moves and put them in the Travel Challenge compilation when I add this in.

  8. Really original way of visualizing "astral" travel. Looking at it and thinking back to your request (in receding rules) for psionic and grappling. I'm imagining a similar grid delineating position/maneuver in a mental or physical duel. If you feel duel is mostly about setting up or jostling for advantage and the actual blows are secondary.

  9. Hmm, that's a good idea-- an abstract mind combat arena. One thing I've been worrying about for psionics is that it takes too long in comparison to normal combat. I'm working on a way for it to be fast enough to fit right in but still feel different and interesting.