Monday, May 21, 2012

Wilderness Travel Mini-Games IV

First, I never mentioned that I would consider any kind of road or known track to be civilization and by using them players can avoid these mini-games.  I intend these for going off-road or trailblazing.  I suppose that could lead to boring trips along roads in the wilderness, but I'm thinking we should probably all have charts for terrain-specific road encounters and travel on a road should feel quicker anyway. I imagine hand-waving road trips would be less of an issue than whole expeditions through difficult terrain.

Second, obviously these don't have to be used for the terrain they are named for.  If you have a different terrain that you want to keep interesting as players travel across it, choose the mini-game that fits it best.  So far we have terrains that:
  • wear parties down with a single, relentless element (swamp)
  • drive hirelings mad through isolation and discomfort (ocean)
  • are technically difficult and require gear and planning (mountain)

and today I'll give you:
  • consume hirelings with hidden dangers (jungle)

Now, the jungle.  I had a hard time with this one.  While I knew that I wanted something like I remember from watching old Sinbad and Tarzan movies-- porters and bearers dying every step of an expedition into the dark jungle-- I didn't want to interfere with the game's system of playing out dangerous encounters and combat.  I'm hoping this might balance both well enough:

The idea is the jungle devours men and women-- quicksand, silent constrictors, piranha filled streams.  Every other day one hireling will disappear.  Having any of the special folks at the bottom of the chart in the party can save one hireling per journey.

Once per journey, a character with an exceptional strength, dexterity, or constitution can prevent a disappearance.

Otherwise the party must leave the hirelings to the jungle or challenge this cruel fate by rolling a d6.  A result of 5-6 means crisis averted-- you grabbed the hireling's hand just as they were about to slip off the cliff trail. A result of 3-4 means the scene becomes a full-blown encounter-- determine what the hazard is, whether environmental or wandering monster, and play it out.  A result of 1-2 means the scene becomes a traditional encounter as well, but you've escalated the danger of the situation-- 1d4 additional hirelings are knocked into the quicksand, are encoiled by the giant anaconda, etc.

I'm hoping that players that really don't want to lose hirelings can avoid it, but that in tense situations, chases or parties lost in the jungle, they may just let hirelings go to avoid losing even more hands to the wilderness.


  1. I like the conceptual divisions expressed amongst these four types of terrain.

  2. Thanks. When I was making that list I actually thought it might be cool to try and generate interesting fantasy terrains by coming at it from that angle.

    The last major one I'm thinking of is: terrain difficult to keep your bearings in and not get lost (desert). Of course I'm having a heck of a time coming up with a mini-game that gives players choices based on stuff they aren't supposed to know (whether they are lost or not).

    1. What about something like this. However many days it is to cross the trackless wasteland (or get to a specific place in it), the players have that many boxes on their sheet. They also have a number of tickboxes representing how many days water they are bringing. In each "day" box, they write down a number between 1 and 6. Then, for each day, you roll d6. If you guess right, you made progress and move to the next day box. If you guess wrong, you stay put because you were wandering in circles. Regardless, you subtract 1 from your water supply. (Or maybe like, 1/2 if you have camels?). You have until your water meter runs out to roll out of your "day" meter. However, if your guess is ever the number on the opposite side of the number rolled, you have an encounter. Sandstorm, monster, busted waterskin, mirage, oasis, etc. Oasis can re-start your water meter. Sandstorm moves you back one space. Things like that. Keep a tally of how many times you got lost on the trip, that's how many hexes away you end up from where you intended to be.

    2. Oh, and a correct guess not only moves you forward, you get a +1/-1 margin to apply to your next roll. That means you were right about this being the right way to go the day before.

      What I like about it is that you base the number of turns to "beat" based on the real map, but it makes it so you WILL get lost, and there's NOT a real way to map the wasteland. Is that the SAME oasis as before? Who knows? That's why you stay the hell out of the wasteland.

    3. Hey, thanks for this. I think what you're talking about is like a GUI for the player resource management: boxes for how much water, boxes for how many days consuming water. I think that's great, I'm all for players being able to see more clearly what's going on in order to make decisions.

      But the dice roll. . . It's essentially the normal getting lost but more brutal, right? You aren't going in the wrong direction, you didn't move at all. And there isn't really anything players can do about it or strategize. That's something I'd like to achieve as well, to make it so the player have decisions. Maybe if they risk water they are less likely to lose their way? (very like the forest game I just posted) But that does seem to gibe with the archetypal desert.

      Maybe with deserts you just have a higher chance of getting lost, period. Hmm, more thinking.

    4. Yeah, re: not making progress and not having much decision making to do, that's the idea. It's a very inhospitable place. IF you survive, it's got a LOT to do with luck and having lots of water/camels/a bedouin guide/etc. It's a gamble, and the only way to counteract it is to be over-prepared. I feel like that IS the archetypal trackless wasteland. The strategic decision happens before you even get to play this mini-game, and it's "are we prepared enough to gamble on this?" "Should we try to cross the desert, or should we go around to play it safe?" I like your idea of trading water - maybe if you dump out a unit of water, you get to re-roll once a day. This represents lightening your load so you can move faster, but at a cost of maybe needing that water later or dying of thirst before escaping the desert.

    5. More detailed ideas for the "roll opposites" encounter table (some of these have some tactical decision-making involved):

      1. Oasis - refill your water meter and move one "guess" forward.
      2. Bedouin camp - roleplay to determine negotiating aid, or instigating combat, etc. Regardless of outcome, move 1 "guess" forward.
      3. Ruin/Dungeon - Determine specifics as normal for your game, but each day spent checking ruins uses up a water unit. 1 in 6 chance on initial encounter of finding a weak spring among the surface rubble that provides 1d6 days water before going dry.
      4. Remains of a party who died lost in the wastes. On a 1 on 1d6, they have 1d6 units of water you can take (in addition to whatever else you may determine as normal).
      5. Sandstorm - lose 1d6 water, or sacrifice that number of animals/henchmen (determined randomly) that are lost in the storm to lose only one unit of water. Move back one "guess" spot. On any subsequent sandstorm result after the first, flip a coin. Miss it, and it's a sandstorm as above. Call it, and instead of a storm, you find the previously "lost" members. Roll d6: 1 - they are dead and have no water but you can take their stuff. 2 - they are alive, but have no water and are extra thirsty, spend 2 units today instead of 1. 3 - they are dead, but have apparently found 1d6 units of water somewhere you can take with (plus a mysterious random treasure). 4 - As above, but they are alive - water and treasure came from a place on this list that could provide it, but they have no idea how to get there again. 5 - Same as 4, but they can lead you to where they found the water/treasure (it's 1d6 water units to get there, though). 6 - They are alive, but totally hostile and will attempt to kill you for your water. No matter what is rolled on this subtable, move one "guess" forward.
      6. Mirage? - ignore it for no penalty and move forward one space and spend your water unit as normal... OR decide to chase the mirage and flip a coin. Call it and you can flip again or roll on this table to see what you've found. If you make the second call, roll d4 on this table instead of d10. Miss either call and the mirage proves to be nothing. Miss on the first call and you move one "guess" back. Miss the second call and move 2 "guesses" back (but you only lose 1 water). Rolling a mirage again means you haven't reached the mirage after a day of travel. Lose a water and start the mirage procedure again.
      7. Busted waterskin - Move 1 "guess" forward, but lose twice as much water as your normal day cost.
      8. Monster - Any criticals the monster rolls will take away one unit of water in addition to whatever effect a critical normally has.
      9. Premature exit - you reach the edge of the desert. Flip a coin. Call it and you exit only 1/2 as far as you intended to go. Miss it and you exit where you entered.
      10. Quicksand/Sarlacc - lose one henchman/camel. You make no progress, but you don't lose a water unit for this day (one less person/animal needs to drink).

      Anyways, that's probably more complicated than you were going for, but I appreciate the idea spur. :D

  3. This one especially is great fun, and I'm enjoying the series overall.