Much of the time, player characters will be troubled with the effort to go from one place to another, typically over distances that take many days. Travel creates problems that must be solved: gear must be taken along enabling sleep, prepared food and survival; mounts expedite travel but asks for skill in managing and feeding the animals; vehicles enable the transport of much material as well as opportunities for trade, but these too need care and maintenance. Water is sometimes an obstacle, so that ship travel must sometimes be tried. Weather is a constant hazard. This page makes some attempt to address many issues involved with journeying from place to place, but there are so many particulars to be discussed that for a time, the content below will need occasional updating — much of it during an actual campaign, when an unforseen issue requires an on-the-spot judgment.
Until such incarnations take place, then, this page should be treated as an outline, enabling details to be added in a constructive, organized manner.
- 1 Daybreak
- 2 On the Road
- 3 Mounted Travel
- 4 Vehicle Travel
- 5 Fords, Bridges & Ferries
- 6 Finding Lodging
- 7 Town Gates & Tollhouse
- 8 Sea Travel
- 9 Weather
- 10 Encounters
Before a day's journey can start, the party will have to prepare themselves, their gear and their means of transportation. This might mean starting from a camp; or from an inn or other public house; or even from their own home. Certain tasks will apply to all three, while the conditions for the party at daybreak will also have peculiar characteristics worthy of detail.
Making & Breaking Camp
- Main Article: Making & Breaking Camp
All preparation for awaking and getting started in the outdoors begins with making camp the night before. The first concern is cooking. This must be done over a fire, which takes time to build. Wood needs to be gathered before it can be burnt. Failing to build a fire or eat hot food could mean illness from cold weather as well as parasites that are found in uncooked food.
Water needs to be gathered and animals tended. The characters will be busy with airing out their sweaty clothes, banging the dents out of their armour, sharpening their weapons, attending to repairs in equipment that wear and tear demands. Someone will need to take a walk around the camp to ensure the safety of the sight, to ensure the party hasn't settled near some large beastie's nest. Spellcasters will need time to study. Additionally, since my sage abilities are presumed to increase when a level is gained due to practice and meditation, this is also a part of settling down for the night.
Additionally, the characters will be tired. They are not machines. They will want to rest and enjoy themselves, tell stories, discuss events of the day and make plans for the morrow.
Come the next morning, these things have to be reversed. Gear must be gathered up, the fire kicked out, the tent taken down, the animals readied for travel and hitched to any vehicles the party may be using. The players must wash themselves, put on their dirty clothes, arrange their packs and insundries and stretch themselves for the journey ahead. There's a lot to do before starting off towards the next place.
Waking in a Public House
- Main Article: Lodging
Most inns or roadhouses will offer some food in the morning, usually porridge, stewed greens and hot tea or coffee. This has a charge of course. The characters will be awakened by a knock on the door that will come half-an-hour after daybreak; this is automatic and it does not matter if the characters are leaving that day or staying over. Characters who don't want breakfast may roll over and return to sleep, but they won't be allowed to make their own hot food on the premises, so if they miss this first meal they will need to seek food somewhere outside the lodging (food won't be served again until evening).
After eating, the characters will return to their room to pack up. One or more persons must visit the stable to collect the party's animals, at a maximum of two animals per person. These animals will be watered, fed and brushed when collected. The stablemaster will sometimes point out any maladies in the animals that might have been noticed. If the party has a wagon, they will have stayed overnight in a roadhouse. Inns have no place to park a wagon.
The characters must settle up any costs with the premises, paying for any damage they've done; then they must drag their things out to the open street and load their animals there. Roadhouses that sit outside city or town walls have a yard, where the animals can be hitched up and things loaded. Inns have a stable but they do not have a yard, so this must be done publicly.
Once loaded, the players must spend a little time reaching the road for travel. This can be a few yards for a roadhouse, but can require a half-hour of tortured streets when getting out of a large city.
This simplifies some things; the players can sleep in, make their own breakfast and there's plenty of room for hitching the animals. However, it will be necessary to build a fire to make coffee and breakfast, and the animals will have to be watered and readied for the day's travel.
A solution, whatever the situation, is to engage servants to do some of the work. At home, a servant can have the animals ready to go before the player characters awake; their breakfast can be made ready for them, their clothes brushed and laid out, most of the necessary goods already loaded, the axle wheels greased and so on. Some of this work can be done around a camp, with servants to collect wood and water, tend the animals and get the fire started in the morning. At an inn or lodge, personal servants are less useful, as they won't be given access to the inn's kitchen, but they can still fetch the animals and harness them.
On the Road
To get out of a town or city, the party can rely on signs attached to houses or posts that will point the right way, so they may find themselves on the right road. The type of road that's found depends on the local population density and infrastructure, with intrinsic details on these matters being covered on the links given. Routes will be made of paving stone, cobbles, pounded dirt-clay or no better than grass and natural surfaces. Progressively less accessible roads will be recognized by ruts for cart wheels, heavy vegetation and the narrowness of passage.
Any intersection that includes at least one dirt road or better will have a road sign pointing the way to distant villages, towns and cities. There is little chance that these signs will go missing or lay broken at the side of the road, as there are locals who will check on their presence once per day. Every five or ten miles along cobbled and stone roads, depending on the region, there will typically be a marker telling the distance to the next down or from the last, posted on the left hand-side of the road.
Understanding that player characters have a choice about how fast they can walk, or stride, we expect players to notice more if they're ambling more slowly towards their destination. There is a difference between "passing through" a wilderness and actively searching it for a lair or a dungeon. In any case, a full day's movement is considered to be 10 hours. Travelling longer than this in a day is considered a forced march, which can have detrimental effects to the character's health. In all cases, a single hour's movement can be calculated easily by dividing the full day's movement by 10.
Player characters may opt for short bursts of faster or slower movement for an hour at a time. Lesser periods are difficult to track, and so should be discouraged; all long-term movement should be calculated in hours and not minutes.
|Route||Movement per 10 hrs (miles per action point)|
Ambling describes a stride-2 movement, or 10 feet per action point (AP) per round. In travel terms, with necessary rests and reliefs, calculates to 2.6 miles per hour on high roads. The ambling pace allows many stops, opportunities to speak with other travellers and locals, while giving a good sense of the region. Characters who choose to amble will remember the location of roadhouses and water sources; the names of villages; places of interest and even the names of residents. Returning to areas ambled through gives a +2 bonus to wisdom checks in locating these places and a +2 to charisma checks when speaking with residents.
When searching wide areas for unknown sites, such as a dungeon, an ambling pace is mandatory. Each individual or group can effectively search up to 42.7 acres per AP, per day; a single unencumbered person can search 213 acres in a day, while three separate parties can search a square mile of land per day. A 2-mile hex could be searched completely in a little more than 4 days.
Walking is a stride-3 movement, or 15 feet per AP per round. This is a normal travelling pace, enabling efficient progress without exhaustion. Most ordinary travellers walk at this point. It still allows friendly banter with others moving in the same direction and at the same pace, though it assumes the characters prioritize travel over gazing at the surroundings. The speed is 3.9 miles per hour on high roads. Three rests of 15-20 minutes are taken into account for the distances given. A party moving at this pace will feel moderately footsore at the day's end. Features seen along the way can be found again if the character returns to an area passed through, but without a +2 bonus to wisdom; no bonus to charisma is gained because the character didn't stop to speak to locals.
Hurrying is a stride-4 movement, or 20 feet per AP per round. When hurrying, the players are walking very fast or slowly jogging; they are too focused on the road surface to see much that's going on around them. Others on the road are dodged or passed. Characters moving at this speed, 5.2 miles per hour on a high road, will sweat and feel their equipment rubbing their shoulders and hips raw. A ten minute stop is needed every hour, during which time the characters will be panting and concerned with rehydrating their bodies. Stops will usually occur whenever open water is sighted. Nothing about the country passed through will be remembered if the character passes through this way again. At the end of ten hours, the character will have to sit for half an hour before they can begin to make camp.
Rushing is a stride-5 movement, describing the character pushing his or her self to their limits. Distance is 25 feet per AP per round. While the character can run faster, up to stride-8, this is the best speed that can be maintained for hours at a time. Every hour will require 15-20 minutes of rest, or slow movement, to resist becoming stiff. Water must be drunk in copious amounts. Nothing will be remembered from the journey. Because the forward movement it offers is only slightly better than hurrying, this is a stride usually employed in times of desperation, when every minute counts to stave off disaster. At the end of ten hours, the character will be too tired to make camp until an hour of laying prone. If the character fails a constitution check, they will fall asleep for 2-3 hours, so that it may be dark before the character awakes.
Moving as a Group
Though players may wish to travel tightly together, to be ready should an encounter happen, this isn't realistic where individuals are concerned. Different persons travel at different speeds, while stopping to take a rock out of their shoe, visit the bushes, fix their gear, take a drink, follow up a thought by looking at some odd object or a book, and a hundred other distractions. Arguments that arise will also break up a party for a mile or so. We may reasonably expect a party to be in sight of one another, or at least within earshot ... and at the same time be strung out over a distance of 15 to 90 yards. If an exact calculation is needed, roll 3d6 and multiply the result by 5: this will give the present distance between the frontrunner of the party and the last in line. If the DM wishes, a modifier of -1 can be applied to the roll for the first hour in the day.
Each character can then roll a d20, with the highest numbers at the front and the lowest at the rear. Comparing the numbers against the total distance will show how relatively close each player character is to the next. For example, Liam, Garner and Rena are stretched over a distance of 50 yards. On a d20, Liam rolls a 2, Garner rolls a 15 and Rena rolls a 7. Rena is closer to Liam, at the rear, than she is to Garner at the front. Exact distances can be determined by dividing 50 by the largest roll minus the smallest: 50/(15-2) = 3.85. Therefore, Rena is 19 yards ahead of Liam and 31 yards behind Garner.
These distances are not as great as imagined. An encumbered character with 3 AP, running full out at stride-8, can cover 40 yards in a single round. Therefore, even in the worst case scenario, it would take Garner only two rounds to reach Liam or vice-versa, while Rena can reach either in less than a round. Of course, much depends on if the party is surprised, and perhaps isolated from one another by a sizable party of bandits. A possible solution to this danger is to ride on mounts, enabling greater flexibility of movement, or travel in a single vehicle where the party will always be together.
Travelling by mount allow many possibilities, including travel by horse, camel, donkey, mule, flying mount, elephant and underwater mount. Further details on these choices can be found through the links given; speed of movement in all cases is calculated in AP. With flying and underwater mounts, because of the surface being ridden upon, base movement rates must be specially calculated.
Riding any animal requires knowledge; those who do not know how must either be assisted or be allowed to ride behind those with ability. There may not be enough people in a party to enable everyone to ride; however, as players increase in level, more sage abilities are accumulated, as well as additional party members. Riding is also a skill that can be taught by characters with instruction, players and non-players alike. Taking the right steps, a group of player characters can eventually get everyone mounted, enabling greater distances covered in a day, while carrying more gear and enjoying greater comfort.
Most animals cannot be ridden continuously for ten hours, however. Excepting camels, most must be watered two or three times a day; depending on the mount, between 1 and 4 hours of the day must be spent leading the animal, resting it's back and slowing travel to a walk. Details can be found by researching the mount used. Horses are the most common mount; they need to be walked four hours out of every ten.
Many unusual animals that can be ridden, such as kailla, giant striders, axe beak or the titanothere pictured, require skills that cannot be found in the usual collection of player character sage abilities. To learn how to ride these creatures, the players must seek out cultural humanoids for whom those sage abilities are native. Druids as they achieve greater knowledge in animals do learn how to ride unusual beasts, including lions, bears, tigers, zebras and more — but this ability involves a symbiotic relationship between the druid class and the animal; such animals cannot be ridden by those of other character classes.
Like with travel on foot and mount, vehicles are also limited by encumbrance to determine their total action points, but their movement is likewise taken into account with the movement table above. Carts need at minimum a cart path or better form of route — though in some landscapes, such as steppe, savanna, veldt and tundra, carts can be navigated through the wild. Wagons need a dirt road or better; sometimes, to enable the passage of these vehicles into hinterland mines and camps, log roads are built as an alternative; these are parallel logs laid side-by-side to make a passable trackway. Carriages can ride on dirt roads but will not stand up to the punishment of corduroy roads.
The best roads are easy on a vehicle's wheels. Break rolls are checks that must be made each day to see whether the vehicle's progress has caused an event such as an axle break, cracked hub or failed wheel brake. These are made once per day. High roads are so easy on wagons that when travelling on them for any part of the day, for game purposes no break roll needs to be made. The break roll on a low road is 1 in 100; on a cobbled road, 1 in 80; on a dirt road, 1 in 60; and on a cart track, 1 in 36 (snake eyes). Cart paths are very hard on carts, with a break roll of 1 in 16 per day (two 1s on 2d4).
Passengers aboard vehicles contribute to their encumbrance, so in some cases speed can be improved by having some of the travelling party walk, or ride animals if they're able, to reduce the load carried.
Fords, Bridges & Ferries
Fords, bridges and ferries represent places where a route crosses over a river, although occasionally a ferry will cross a narrow part of a lake. The appearance of each depends on the type of road being travelled and the size of the river being crossed. River dimensions are expressed as a number of points, with streams having 1-6 points and rivers having seven or more. Very large rivers may have thousands of point. Each point represents a discharge of 1 cubic yard per second; this may represent a stream-bed that 3 yards wide and 1 foot deep, or 1½ yards wide and 2 feet deep. Discharge is used as the measure because streams and rivers will have differently formed beds in different regions.
|# of river points per crossing service|
|toll bridge||ford||ferry||boat dock
Fords are shallow places with good footing where a river or stream may be crossed by wading, in water potentially as shallow as several inches. They may be impassable during high water. Fords tend to be found in low-infrastructure areas, because where infrastructure is high, the one-time ford was used as the best place to build a bridge. Places with the suffix -ford, -furt, -voorde or -brod, as well as other examples, are usually named after a ford that existed there at one time, or still exists. Tolls are not charged on fords.
Some high, low or cobbled roads will be laid below the water level of a stream (up to 6 pts), making these easy places for wagons to cross. Called a Watersplash, they may be exposed or nearly so during the dry season, and are deeper than 18 inches perhaps once a century. Some tidal crossings are also called by this name. Watersplashes are found only in England, Italy and Finland.
Bridges are wooden or stone structures built to span a physical obstacle, most commonly a river or gorge. They provide passage for roads where it is otherwise difficult or impossible to cross. Wooden bridges outside of towns are usually private; inside towns, wooden bridges are preferred because of the number needed. Bridges across rivers with 7 or more points on travel routes are built of stone 19 times out of 20, because they need to be reliable in times of war and once built allow for long periods between maintenance. Bridges over streams (1-6 pts.) will be wooden 19 times out of 20.
Where infrastructure is high there will be many free bridges where no toll is charged; these are maintained by the kingdom or republic and are free access because it promotes the movement of trade. Bridges over larger river courses are more expensive and therefore charge tolls. Tolls are also charged on in less infrastructured areas because less resources leave only this option to provide coin for maintenance. A bridge toll is calculated as 1 copper piece (c.p.) per point of river or stream crossed, per person or animal.
Though occasionally bridges are obstructed by traffic, or closed for damage, or experience a broken vehicle which causes delays that may last hours, these things are rare enough they don't need checking. Perhaps 1 in 100 if the DM feels compelled.
These are typically barges able to support weights up to ten tons, including wagons, carriages, animals and so forth. They operate by a line that's stretched across the river or stream, which may be a heavy cable as thick as three inches; this rests at water level, enabling river traffic to cross over it. On small streams, where the rope is light, the ferry can be pulled across the river by hand, usually by the ferryman taking hold of the rope at one end and walking the length of the boat. Heavier cables on larger rivers must be pulled by a capstan, which lifts the rope onto the ferry drawing it through a groove in the deck and laying it back into the river. The ferry will usually have a fin rudder that's set to edge the front of the boat towards the current, but usually ferries are set at river locations where the surface current is slow-moving. It is not uncommon to have two ferry barges operating at the same time to speed movement. Typically, a party will wait 2 minutes per river or stream pt. when crossing by this method.
The cost for a ferry is set at 1½ c.p. per stream point per person or animal, regardless of how much is carried (fractions are rounded up).
Docks for Transshipment
When a river is too wide to be crossed any other way, on the most important roads there will be docks where boats or barges can be loaded. The method is inconvenient and costs time, particularly when hauling goods or driving animals. Because use of the watercraft is at a premium, they are competed for — and usually merchants who are part of a guild, and have crossed the river many times before, receive attention before strangers crossing for the first time. Riverboats will work from first light until dusk.
Presume that it takes 1-3 hours to hire a boat, usually because all the boats this side of the river are engaged, and the party must wait for a boat to arrive. It will require 2 man-hours per ton of goods and animals to load a boat; some boats will have harnesses and netting that will allow animals to swim alongside a boat while supported so they do not drown. Players may engage as many boats as they wish, and up to 6 persons may be engaged in loading a boat (so that six persons can load a ton of goods in about 20 minutes). It is not only a matter of getting the goods onto the boat; these must be arranged, balanced and secured carefully for the journey. For game purposes, it also requires 2 man-hours per ton to unload a boat and ready all goods to be road-ready for leaving the river.
Crossings without Services
Some roads leading down to large rivers will offer no services whatsoever for crossing. Merchants who know the journey will plan for this by bringing along materials for building rafts, or carrying actual boats with them to cross this obstacle. A party must make whatever provisions they can, or travel up river until they can find a suitable place to cross.
Shelters that allow clients to rent space or rooms will be found along roads (high, low, cobbled or dirt), in towns or cities. Anywhere else, player characters must either camp or parley with private home owners for a room or a barn loft — which is highly unlikely unless the characters are well-known in the district or have performed some special service for the owners. Inns are complicated enclosed buildings only found inside town or city walls. Roadhouses are found at road intersections and outside the walls of towns and cities. Way stations are found along dirt or cobbled roads, usually at places where those routes begin. Way stations are spaced along desert routes where oases with desert villages occur.
- Main Article: Inn
A typical inn consists of two connecting houses, separated between lodging the guests and providing a tavern and food. Tavern access is available for those who do not stay overnight. The lodge is about a third larger than the tavern and includes a common room, private rooms, rented storage, access to a separate privy from the tavern's patrons and an inner yard for eating or resting outdoors in warm weather. A stable is adjoined to the lodge which is not available to the tavern patrons. Large, prestigious inns are found on avenues (wide, main roads), will take up a city block and will have private chambers as well as rooms. Common inns will be found on streets adjoining an avenue and may not have an inner yard or an attached tavern. Flophouses are decrepit former homes, offering a bedstead and no other services. These latter places are populated by the desperate and indigent. Costs for these places vary with different regions.
The number of private rooms in a common inn will be 5-8, with an additional 2-12 shared accommodations available. The latter depends on how many permanent residents lodging at present. This is the number that will be available at noon on any given day. For every hour after noon and before 6 p.m., subtract 0-2 from each total; starting with 6 p.m., subtract 1-2 from each total. The common room can bed 30 persons; it rarely fills on a given night. During the day and evening the common room is used for rest, gaming, storytelling and music, as well as warming by the fire; petitioners for the common room are not accepted until 8 p.m., with 6-36 persons applying at that time.
- Main Article: Roadhouse
Player characters may save the fee of entering into a town by lodging at a roadhouse. These are large buildings that take advantage of the land available outside the city walls. They're typically surrounded by a yard for horses and wagons with trees and shrubbery about. They are constructed as long houses, with a tavern at one end and entrance to the lodge at the other, with rooms between; in some parts, the tavern is a separate building across the yard. Adjoining the yard is a stable, animal pen, a shed and sometimes a tool house. Two or three privies will be available. The yard is often surrounded by a low wall that's 3 or 4 ft. high. Roadhouses may be constructed of half-timbered stone or built with wood and plaster. Unlike inns, they are usually built with a main floor and attic, with cellars as needed.
The number of private rooms and shared accommodations equals that of inns, but reduce the number of takers to 0-1 per hour after noon, without increase after 5 p.m. There is no common room, but roadhouses will allow camping in the yard for a nominal fee of 2 c.p. per person and animal. Room prices and stabling are equal in price to inns.
A way station functions as a roadhouse without rooms or tavern; they consist of a large outer yard that is surrounded by vegetation and brambles, which serve as a windbreak in poor weather. Camping in the yard is expected for a nominal 2 c.p. fee. There is usually enough room for a hundred campers. Some way stations will have a barn (1 in 4) where animals can be stabled. A kitchen with a bare minimum of seating will provide evening and breakfast meals for patrons who wish a hot meal. This kitchen is attached to a small house where the proprietors sleep.
- Main Article: Caravansary
Again, these are huge roadhouses that possess a large, circular outer wall that protects an inner court from windstorms. The outer shell will have small private cells built into them, with 6-18 of these being available if there is no caravan already present; each has room enough for just one person. If a caravan is present, the entire court will be filled with 8-32 wagons and 40-160 persons. All the cells will be hired. Caravans are present about 1 day in 12; they will usually stay for 2-3 days, mending their equipment, restoring their animals and in some cases healing and restoring their members. When the player characters arrive, roll to see if there is a caravan, then roll to see how long it has been here and when it will be leaving. If there is no caravan, the players will have free run of the place. There are typically two families, with 5-12 members each (men, women, children and elders), that oversee the caravansary and attend guests.
Town Gates & Tollhouse
- Main Article: Taxation
|fees paid for entering|
walled village, town or city
|100||1 c.p.||27,500||6 s.p.|
|500||2 c.p.||44,500||7 s.p.|
|1,000||4 c.p.||72,000||8 s.p.|
|1,500||8 c.p.||116,500||9 s.p.|
|2,500||1 s.p.||118,500||10 s.p.|
|4,000||2 s.p.||305,000||11 s.p.|
|6,500||3 s.p.||493,500||12 s.p.|
|10,500||4 s.p.||798,500||13 s.p.|
|17,000||5 s.p.||1,292,000+||14 s.p.|
As settlements grow larger, the cost of supporting and maintaining the center also grows, trying the capacity of the locals to cover their costs. An easy tax to assess is the "fee," a charge imposed on outsiders to enter and enjoy the environment behind the town gates. This shifts to costs to people the locals don't care about: foreigners and strangers. Of course, if the fees are too high, then outsiders will stop coming; so a delicate balance emerges, in which the center decides how much it can afford to charge. Very large cities bring much more trade, and thus an impetus to pay higher fees; while many more people showing up at the gates helps to drive the fees down. The table shown gives a base minimum cost for fees charged for towns of a certain size. Players characters should expect to pay these fees any time they enter a walled centre on their journeys ... though they can forego this cost by choosing not to visit the town's market, paying for a room at a roadhouse instead of an inn.
Players should be aware that every time they exit such a place, expecting to return, the fee will be charged: again and again, with local glee. If the character had just paid the fee and entered, then lost control of their puppy and had to chase it five yards that happened to be through the town gates, the guards are the sort of folk who would charge the character again. It must be understood that guards have a quota; they don't want to keep people out, they want people to pay. Fees are paid per person and per animal, even if the animal is a cute little puppy.
Parties should expect to wait at a town gate for 3 minutes per silver piece (s.p.) paid; this calculates the line-up waiting outside, with occasional searches to make sure persons aren't being smuggled in, as well as other contraband, plus tariffs that have to be paid (not covered here). In former times, fees were paid per foot and per wheel, but in recent years these rules have been suspended (in most places). Player characters may attempt to smuggle, but should realize that getting caught doing so is typically a heavy fine and up to six months in a city gaol.
City gates are used to display notifications for the public, including tax increases, auction sales, requested supply needs from the local lord and coming festivals. Commonly, the walls around the gate are ornamented with heraldic shields, sculpture or inscriptions, used as warnings or for intimidation. Likewise, the heads of beheaded criminals can be found on spikes, where visitors can see, with written notices describing the crimes they committed.
- Main Article: Tollhouse
While placed by toll bridges, tollhouses are also found on trade routes, where they pass over hostile borders (between kingdoms threatening to go to war) and upon mountain passes where they are difficult to circumvent. It's not unusual to find two tollhouses, a mile apart, upon opposite frontiers, and half to pay the toll for both of them. Tollhouses are made of stone, usually with two floors and a below-ground gaol; the main floor is typically between 300 and 600 square feet. The interior has accommodations for for 7-12 sentries and a toll collector. Tollhouses keep a store of one month's stores and supplies for a company of 100 soldiers. Sentries are posted here for six months to a year; in difficult and unpleasant environments they become surly, even threatening of ordinary travellers.
The sentry's role is to accept a flat 1 s.p. fee from persons — not animals or vehicles — passing along the road. They're also charged with preventing suspicious persons from passing through, physically if necessary. Sentries aren't permitted to arrest persons they deem objectionable; they may, however, provoke such persons, taunting them. If the player characters take the bait, they could find themselves seized and held in the tollhouse until collected by a sufficient number of soldiers, whereupon they would be taken to a town to stand before a judge. The ordinary appearance of an adventurer party would not be "suspicious"; the players would have to be doing something truly unusual — and clearly being a threat to the sentry's kingdom.
Tollhouses are not placed randomly; efforts are taken to place them where circumventing the road — particularly with vehicles — will be impeded by rock outcroppings, bogs, encampments able to observe would-be smugglers or in open country with a visibility of four to six miles.
Getting passage onboard a ship is more difficult than imagined. Space is at a premium with regards to cargo, as captains do their best to pack every inch of their vessels with profit-making cargo. A single passenger requires the equivalent of 2 tons of space for eating, sleeping, moving between decks, stepping out for fresh air and so on. Additionally, passengers do not know where to step and how to stay out from underfoot, making them a hazard for the crew and often despised. A captain can make 1 gold piece (g.p.) from a ton of simple grain, and fifty times that from transporting a ton of wine. It is natural that a strong desire exists for a captain to compensate his or herself for the trouble caused by a passenger by charging rates that grossly increases the ship's profits.
Therefore, the price of accommodations, based on a six-day journey, is 10 s.p. per passenger; freight is exhorbitant, being 9 g.p. per ton. Passengers must provide their own food, though it will be prepared by the ship's cook. Bedding is typically a hammock, but one in good repair and hung in a part of the ship where it doesn't bump other hammocks or a wall in rough weather. Passengers eat after the crew, between ten and eleven in the morning, then again after seven in the evening. They are allowed on deck for half an hour after the morning watch, between 12:30 and 1:00 p.m. Journeys will be dreary, and may involve several stops at small ports before the players reach their destination — though for the most part the captain will wish to get rid of them.
To succeed in getting passage, the player characters must find a market town; it will take between 2-5 days to secure passage. A chosen character can attempt to make a charisma check; if successful, this will reduce the time to secure passage by 1-2 days. The ship will always leave the day after passage is secured.
Travelling requires moving through conditions that are occasionally unpleasant, depressing or downright dangerous. As weather is unpredictable, parties cannot count on a fine day remaining, once they've set off alone across the countryside. Sometimes, two or three days from anywhere, a violent storm or a cold front can overtake them, leaving them stranded without shelter, proper clothes or even enough wood. Historically, groups caught in situations like this have been driven to cannibalism to survive. Weather is no little thing.
If the DM undertakes to include weather in the campaign, as I do, then parties must ensure they're well-equipped to face all the environment can give. Likewise, players should treat harsh weather with respect, not pretending they can romp around in a harsh storm without the consequences being severe. Nature being far-reaching and complex, it's best that here we provide an overview, allowing other pages to investigate less likely weather events in depth. There are three types of conditions players should take seriously: wind, temperature and precipitation.
The complications caused by weather are legion; weather is a labrinthine problem, one without exactness in the real world, with many features that challenge the most imaginative of DMs. For this reason, most believe that rules cannot be created, or shouldn't be created to handle the subject material. I disagree. However, as the amount of subject material is enormous, with so many ins and outs, I wouldn't dare to say I've succeeded in taming this piece of business. Until I do — and this is an adventure quest that I've taken on as a DM — the material here must serve as a guideline and a source for ideas, until something better is put in its place.
- Main Article: Wind Conditions
The image on the right depicts the "Beaufort scale," which long post-dates the period my game world in which my game takes place, but it's too useful in portraying conditions for players pushed to imagine what wind looks like. Take careful note of the smoke arising from the shack, reflections on the water, the height of waves and wind damage to both the tree and the shack.
For travel purposes, wind up to force 5, a "fresh breeze," can be treated without concern. Force 6 is a concern if it blowing against the direction of travel, but Force 7 and stronger should encourage a party to settle down and wait for the weather to pass, even if this takes several days. Tromping about in such weather is sure to result in a malady, which may be as minor as slipping on a rock and being slightly hurt to catching pneumonia, slipping and falling overboard in a storm or being killed by a falling tree. The more dangerous the environment becomes, the greater the chance of some terrible thing happening — parties should take that into account when deciding to set out regardless.
Incidentally, so long as a ship is at sea and has a trained crew, any weather up to force 10 is very probably safe. Dangers in weather like this occur from unseen rocks along the coast or as shown on carefully kept maps — captains know well to steer far from such hazards when a storm arises (unless foolishly deciding to attempt entry into port out of desperation or greed). Force 11 is greatly treacherous, however, though most ships will get through a storm like this with all hands, though considerable damage. A hurricane, force 12 was a ship killer for any vessel prior to the 20th century; and large ships will go down in such weather even today.
Wind chill occurs when the temperature is below freezing. Rules for wind chill are best addressed elsewhere, but must be taken into account when travelling in cold weather.
|polar||-40 or less||-40 or less|
|arctic||-35 to -39||-30 to -39|
|bitterly cold||-29 to -34||-20 to -29|
|very cold||-24 to -28||-10 to -19|
|cold||-18 to -23||0 to -9|
|wintry||-12 to -17||1 to 9|
|icy||-7 to -11||10 to 19|
|frosty||-2 to -6||20 to 29|
|chilly||-1 to 4||30 to 39|
|brisk||5 to 9||40 to 49|
|cool||10 to 15||50 to 59|
|pleasant||16 to 21||60 to 69|
|warm||22 to 26||70 to 79|
|balmy||27 to 32||80 to 89|
|sweaty||33 to 37||90 to 99|
|sweltering||38 to 43||100 to 109|
|feverish||44 to 48||110 to 119|
|baking||49 to 54||120 to 129|
|scorching||55 or more||130 or more|
- Main Article: Temperature Grades
Would I a similar graphic for comparative temperatures that I had for wind: with the kind of clothing being worn, the amount of snow or humidity, the intensity of cold and heat, etcetera. Eventually, I hope to build a list of effects for each grade of temperature shown here on the left, but at present this is work still undone. Grades are divided into 10-degree Fahrenheit increments; I chose Fahrenheit because 10 degrees on the celsius scale is too wide an increment. Note, however, that I have provided the celsius equivalents. Persons in a medieval setting would have neither; there was no common measurement of temperature at all until the 18th century.
At present, player characters should treat any weather between chilly and warm as practical travelling weather. Doing "work" will improve the subjective feel of the weather by one grade; so that walking or riding in chilly weather will warm the traveller so as to make the weather feel brisk. The warmth of the animal between the rider's legs helps as well, mitigating the rider's comparative lack of movement over long days. Travelling inside a vehicle can likewise hold off the effects of weather.
However, this extra warmth also increases "pleasant" conditions into a less comfortable "warm" weather. Warm becomes balmy, increasing dehydration and potentials for heat stroke. When we remember that combat raises the ambient temperature another grade for the character, a pleasant day can become unpleasantly hot and taxing. Players should consider these matters, along with the dangers of hypothermia (brought on by sweating too much in a cold climate) when deciding whether or not this is a good day — or a good time of year — to adventure. Choosing otherwise would again invoke a malady check.
- Main Article: Precipitation
Rainfall is a complex phenomenon, producing wide-ranging results related to both wind and temperature. Here, we will provide only an overview, in lieu of multiple rules that are yet to be written. Obviously, players will travel in the rain, and get wet, and be fine. However, because rain can soak the body despite Medieval waterproofing like oiled leather and sealskin, a cold rain falling in near-freezing conditions is a very dangerous thing. There is rainy weather that characters should wisely not venture into — and players deserve to have a clear definition between "safe conditions" and "unsafe," when choosing to head out.
Just as work will raise the subjective temperature's grade by one, a sufficient rainfall (0.7 mm/hr) reducing the ambient temperature: a warm day feels pleasant, a pleasant day is made cool, a cool day is reduced to brisk and so on. This effect supercedes the effect of work, so that working, walking or riding during a rainy pleasant day doesn't increase and decrease the subjective temperature; it is only decreased.
Rainfall on a warm day will feel tepid; and though characters may be drenched, once the rain passes, the returning warmth ambient temperature will soon dry the characters' clothes, restoring their comfort. However, rain on a brisk or a chilly day will soak characters and they will remain soaked ... until removing their clothes and drying them by a fire, which may take a long, long time on a very chilly day. If the characters were to try remaining in their clothes, they'd be courting hypothermia — so it would be better if they stripped naked in the cold air rather than continue wearing wet clothing.
Precipitation in frosty conditions falls as wet snow or sleet. Usually, this can be brushed away, but if enough falls (more than 2 mm/hr), the traveller can be quickly caked in wet snow, the equivalent of icy conditions — and very dangerous, as 20-29°F is not desirable for standing around naked while keeping a fire going in a sleeting blizzard. If caught in those conditions, the player characters will need shelter, and right away.
Precipitation that falls in conditions that are icy or colder will also fall as snow. Snow at this temperature won't melt on clothing and can be easily shaken off or brushed away. Additionally, snow fall will not decrease the subjective temperature for those in it.
- Main Article: Encounters
Chance run-ins with other persons, vermin and monsters are more than situations calling for combat. While the interrupt the flow of an adventure, encounters also provide opportunities to provide players with knowledge of the game world. Individuals met on roads or in meeting places will speak of interesting places, tell stories, inform the players about current events and bring news from far away. Vermin tests the players' preparation and enables them to practice their tactics against foes that offer little threat; a well-equipped party should be able to dispatch a few vermin very easily. Monsters make good side quests, or could be part of the adventure coming to meet the players before the players meet them.
It is all a matter of how the DM shapes and manages the game world. If encounters seem too random, then we should make them less so. If encounters seem frivolous, give them a reason for being there. If an encounter on the road isn't a part of the adventure, then make it a part of the adventure. Only a narrow mind believes the only solution to an unsatisfactory encounter is to get rid of it.
Encounters are the natural consequence of travel: to visit new places and see new people. And yes, as the joke goes, to kill them, but also to discover them, to understand them and to learn from them. Encounters must be more than a die roll generating wandering monsters. They must be the reason to travel — the motivation that makes adventuring a worthwhile occupation.
See The Adventure