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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Jun 2015

    Default Tweaking the rest rules for more interesting wilderness travel

    Wilderness travel is something that has always felt a bit lacklustre to me and I've tried to come up with ways to make it more interesting in the past. This time I propose a very small, simple but significant tweak to the resting rules: to gain the benefits of a long rest, you need shelter. This means an inn, a little cabin, or at the absolute minimum a nice monster-free cave and a bedroll. A roof over your head and some sort of bed.

    You still sleep for 6+ hours each night, but if you're camping out in the wilderness then it only counts as a short rest. What this means is that the DM can treat a nine or ten day wilderness journey as an adventuring day, just like a small dungeon, because the PCs aren't getting a long rest after every random encounter. You can throw in bandits, a roaming owlbear, environmental hazards that can cause hit point damage or exhaustion if handled badly, a ruined tower with a bit of treasure but it's trapped or something, whatever you like.

    I would run it by my player first obviously, as I can imagine some wouldn't like the idea that their rugged adventurers can't rest properly in the wilderness, but consider the alternatives. Unless I'm missing something the alternative are:

    - Hand wave travel: so travel doesn't even really exist in the game. Fine for some game but maybe you want it to be a part of the game (I do).

    - Use the encumbrance rules and make travel into a mini game of navigation, foraging, ration management and so on: in my (admittedly limited) experience of this it's not an especially fun mini game, just extra dice rolling and book keeping, and easy to circumvent (pack animals, bags of holding, ranger and outlander features) and then you're straight back to handwaving again.

    - Harder random encounters: ie every wilderness encounter has the potential to TPK a completely fresh party, which I suspect is going to feel contrived and annoying.

    - Multiple encounters in one day of travel: either you've got the suspension-of-disbelief-straining situation of six uneventful days followed by one day of several unrelated encounters followed by five more uneventful days; or you make the encounters related to each other, on which case you haven't turned the journey into an adventure in itself so much as inserted a mini adventure in the middle of the journey, so you now have not one but two meaningless handwaved journeys.

    So I am gonna try this little change and see if I can't get some excitement out of crossing the wilderness this way.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Feb 2017

    Default Re: Tweaking the rest rules for more interesting wilderness travel

    I've always favoured having a tough encounter every few days, usually I find it a good chance to throw a few big nasty monsters to shake things up.
    I remember the look of panic on my players faces as a group of ankheg burst out the ground surrounding them on one particular long slog through a forest.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Orc in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Jun 2015

    Default Re: Tweaking the rest rules for more interesting wilderness travel

    Sounds good. Personally I don't want to have to rely on tough encounters though. Also it's hard to conceive of many environmental hazards or obstacles or other nob-combat events that are tough enough to potentially destroy the party, so it kind of has to be combats.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    mephnick's Avatar

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    Dec 2012

    Default Re: Tweaking the rest rules for more interesting wilderness travel

    To make travel worthwhile to run you almost have to use the Gritty Realism variant, which is almost close to what you're moving towards anyway. I go further and use Gritty Realism and harshly restrict the short rests they can take (2 per long rest) but make long rests only a couple days in a safe location. Otherwise you're stuck with 4x Deadly nova encounters once per trip (the popular "fix" I've seen) or short rest classes being fully powered for every fight.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Tweaking the rest rules for more interesting wilderness travel

    Two thoughts:

    Back in the "dark ages" of D&D wilderness travel was always a chance for both roleplay and what we now call TPK. Balancing things requires insightful planning and realizing not every event has to be "to the hilt" combat.

    Also, travelling part of the way with an NPC party (Caravan) as an employee usually means food (tents,) rest, more opportunity for roleplay.
    Preferences: Role play over optimization; Dwarf over Human over Elf over Gnome; War games over FRPG over SFRPG; Zorro over Batman over Robin Hood.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Tweaking the rest rules for more interesting wilderness travel

    Did week long treks in the Sierra Nevada mountains as a Boy Scout. The mid-week break for resupply and repairing the inevitable mishap coulld be seen as a day in the travel devoted intentionally to such situations.

    Some settlers of the American West actually built in breaks (often but not always Sundays) that could be bypassed if the party had fallen deeply behind schedule.

    Sleeping on the ground with a well selected site and improvised shelter from wind and rain gives you a full nights rest in reality. Roleplay or skill check that "useless" Ranger to allow that IC.

    The 8 hour rest should include 2 hour watches without defeating the purpose.

    Real Life, once we had an "encounter" when a male deer walked over the plastic tube tent sheltering a boyhood friend. No combat was involved. Laundry was...

    Another "encounter" was waking up after a light rain during the night to find large (mud caused the foot prints to look larger) feline tracks all around our camp in the mud. Again, no combat but a reminder that we were not in East Los Angeles anymore. Guess since we were not deer it was just curious.

    Role play, real life flavor, and yet should not prevent a night's rest. I suspect adventurers have as much resilence as teen aged boys.
    Last edited by ZorroGames; 2017-08-12 at 09:22 AM.
    Preferences: Role play over optimization; Dwarf over Human over Elf over Gnome; War games over FRPG over SFRPG; Zorro over Batman over Robin Hood.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Orc in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Jun 2015

    Default Re: Tweaking the rest rules for more interesting wilderness travel

    Quote Originally Posted by mephnick View Post
    To make travel worthwhile to run you almost have to use the Gritty Realism variant, which is almost close to what you're moving towards anyway. I go further and use Gritty Realism and harshly restrict the short rests they can take (2 per long rest) but make long rests only a couple days in a safe location. Otherwise you're stuck with 4x Deadly nova encounters once per trip (the popular "fix" I've seen) or short rest classes being fully powered for every fight.
    My issue with gritty realism as written is that it takes away the possibility of a short rest halfway through a dungeon, since short rests become a night's sleep. It seems good for games that are not about dungeon-crawling, but mine tend to mix dungeon crawling with other elements, so I feel like I need more flexibility.

    I'm not too worried about fighters and monks having full short rest resources for each random encounter, since that is kind of their thing anyway. It's more about hit points and spell slots. Remember hit dice are used up, not regained, on a short rest, so even with a short rest every night you may be getting action surge and Ki points back each day but your HP are dwindling all the time - until you spot the blessed light of an inn further down the road.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZorroGames View Post
    Did week long treks in the Sierra Nevada mountains as a Boy Scout. The mid-week break for resupply and repairing the inevitable mishap coulld be seen as a day in the travel devoted intentionally to such situations.

    Some settlers of the American West actually built in breaks (often but not always Sundays) that could be bypassed if the party had fallen deeply behind schedule.

    Sleeping on the ground with a well selected site and improvised shelter from wind and rain gives you a full nights rest in reality. Roleplay or skill check that "useless" Ranger to allow that IC.

    The 8 hour rest should include 2 hour watches without defeating the purpose.

    Real Life, once we had an "encounter" when a male deer walked over the plastic tube tent sheltering a boyhood friend. No combat was involved. Laundry was...

    Another "encounter" was waking up after a light rain during the night to find large (mud caused the foot prints to look larger) feline tracks all around our camp in the mud. Again, no combat but a reminder that we were not in East Los Angeles anymore. Guess since we were not deer it was just curious.

    Role play, real life flavor, and yet should not prevent a night's rest. I suspect adventurers have as much resilence as teen aged boys.
    One thing to be clear on with this rules tweak is that simulationism simply doesn't come into it. It's meant to fix what I see as a glaring issue with gameplay mechanics. I'm sure it's possible to get a good night's sleep in a tent, but that doesn't solve the problem of wilderness journeys getting handwaved. Other DMs may feel differently and they're by no means wrong; we all have our own preferences when it come to balancing gameplay and verisimilitude.

    As for the RPing opportunities of travel sequences, I agree it's a great time for it - but do you have a structure for this? I think with my players - even the ones who know each other well IRL and/or are really into the RP side of the game - it would feel rather forced and awkward if I just sort of said "you're on the road together for a few days, talk to each other!" Maybe some players would relish this, but not that many in my experience. Of course I've never tried it so I might be wrong.

    Again, though, I'm not only talking about combat encounters here. Throwing in some random travel complications like the pack mule getting sick or whatever, things with no obvious mechanical solution, might encourage RP as the PCs try to work together to solve it.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    mephnick's Avatar

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    Default Re: Tweaking the rest rules for more interesting wilderness travel

    Quote Originally Posted by HidesHisEyes View Post
    . .My issue with gritty realism as written is that it takes away the possibility of a short rest halfway through a dungeon, since short rests become a night's sleep
    I keep short rests as 1 hour long. I just restrict how many they can take. It perfectly balances all classes and allows both types of games or a mix. Sure it's gamey, but D&D is a game first and needs game solutions.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Orc in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Jun 2015

    Default Re: Tweaking the rest rules for more interesting wilderness travel

    Quote Originally Posted by mephnick View Post
    I keep short rests as 1 hour long. I just restrict how many they can take. It perfectly balances all classes and allows both types of games or a mix. Sure it's gamey, but D&D is a game first and needs game solutions.
    I will try it if I don't get on with my rule.

    Yep, nothing wrong with a bit of gaminess!

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Tweaking the rest rules for more interesting wilderness travel

    My preferred rest variant for wilderness travel has each night's rest being a short rest as well, but if you take a 24 hour break that can be a long rest, even if you do more active stuff than travelling during it. Long rests are limited to once a week. That way you can go on lewis-and-clark expeditions without having to stop for an entire week to rest.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Tweaking the rest rules for more interesting wilderness travel

    I did something similar for the underdark. I made camping require a group Con check for a long rest.
    I set the (secret) DC based on the location, what was going on, and a bit by the needs of the plot.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Orc in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Jun 2015

    Default Re: Tweaking the rest rules for more interesting wilderness travel

    Quote Originally Posted by coredump View Post
    I did something similar for the underdark. I made camping require a group Con check for a long rest.
    I set the (secret) DC based on the location, what was going on, and a bit by the needs of the plot.
    I considered a Con check or Survival check for getting a long rest in the wilderness, I really like the idea, but I'm worried it wouldn't solve my problem. The chance that they succeed is the chance that they throw the adventuring day structure out of whack. Not a game-breaking thing but my goal is to make a journey across the wilderness into an adventure, just like a dungeon crawl is an adventure. I feel like that requires some certainty about when they'll be able to have a long rest.

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