or why the Survival skill matters

Travel, like encumbrance, is one of those things that gets either tedious or hand wavy in a lot of games. But there’s so much to see and do! If sandbox video games like the Elder Scrolls have taught us anything, it’s that there’s much to be found off the beaten path. Dungeons, treasure, monsters, ruins and even allies to your cause can be found in the nooks and crannies of the land, and exploration can have it’s benefits (and drawbacks…omg you were supposed to be there a week ago).

Thus Lucky’s Rules for Travel:

Travel happens on a Hex Grid map. Each Hex is 6 miles. Manhatten is about 13 miles across. The entirety of Skyrim fits in a single hex. So does Fort Smith. That’s how much land is in each hex. Approximate locations of known landmarks will be marked, along with general land types and roads. You pick the direction to move and we see what happens.

The Basics
The party has 24 movement points (8 hour travel day, PF rules state 24 miles per day).

Terrain Example Point Cost Lost?
Easy Road 4 No Check
Average Clear, city, grassland, trail* 6 DC: 10
Moderate Forest, Hills, Desert 8 DC: 15
Difficult Mountains, Jungle, Swamp 12 DC: 20
*no DC check for a well marked trail
  • Point cost is the number of movement points to make it through the hex.
  • The Lost check is Survival, and is made whenever entering a hex (see below).
  • Roads are awesome for getting from Point A to Point B quickly. A bit of math will show that you can actually move faster than the rules allow by traveling on roads (too bad they don’t take you to the cool spots).
  • What else can you do with movement points? Explore, of course! At half the movement cost of the hex, you can spend some time wandering around exploring. This gives you a roll on the Random Encounter Table for that hex. You can continue spending extra movement points exploring. Spending an entire 24 movement points guarantees you a juicy encounter (ie dungeon, ruins, treasure cache…not ‘you meet a group of goblins’).
  • Locations marked on a map or things you have clear directions to don’t require points to find. Same goes for places you’ve already found (we’ll assume someone’s keeping a map).
  • In discreet terms, each Movement Point is about 20 minutes. Some quick math will tell you about what time is it when you’re done traveling, and how much extra time you have.

Lost is a condition you gain when you don’t know where the fuck you are. This happens when whoever is making the Survival check flubs it upon entering the hex. The result is when leaving that hex, the DM rolls 1d6. A roll of 1 means you move to the hex you wanted (but you’re still lost and need to pass another Survival roll). A roll of 2 means you exit one hex Clockwise of where you meant to, and so on. Yes, that means you can come out the way you came in. Bad luck, Jethro. Obviously, getting lost somewhere like a desert or the arctic could go from bad to worse really quickly. There’s also a point where you’re experienced enough travelers (that have dumped points into Survival) that getting lost is no longer an issue, except in Extreme™ circumstances (another plane, underwater, in a massive cave system, etc). There’s some things that modify your Survival check:

Modifier Bonus
Accurate map of area +3
Compass +1
Hex already traveled through +2
Traveling at night -2
Shitty weather (fog, rain, fire, etc) -1 to -5

You stay lost until you make a successful Survival check, at which point you find that you did indeed take a wrong turn at Albuquerque. Alternately, you can burn half your movement points for the day (12) carefully making your way out of the hex and lose the lost condition.

Encounters and Time
When doing things that aren’t traveling while traveling, it takes time. A random fight with something costs 1 movement point (fighting, healing up, looting, etc – about 20 minutes). Exploring ruins or infiltrating and orc camp might take a whole day. This isn’t really important except to set you back a day. If you were supposed to be somewhere, you might be late. Otherwise we just skip to the next day, refresh your movement points and get on with it. Be aware that stopping to do other stuff might drop you below the necessary points to get to the next hex.

The Random Encounter Table I mentioned above isn’t like the ones you find in the DMs Guide. They’re tailored to the area, and tend to have ‘good stuff’ on them. Things like extra dungeons and caves, interesting encounters, side quests, extra plot points and stuff like that. The farther off the beaten path you are (ie higher movement point cost), the better (and sometimes harder) the encounters. That said, none of them are mandatory, and skipping the exploration stuff isn’t going to set you back. It’s just a way to flesh out the world and add the chance for more loot, gold, magic items and character advancement. You can make it through the whole plot without ever stopping to explore if you choose. There’ll usually be indicators as you’re traveling as to what you might find. You might see the top of a ruined temple poking through the trees in a forest, or find slaughtered orcs alongside the road. Whether you choose to investigate is up to you.

Food is only an issue when there isn’t any around. When you’re in the city or on the road, we all just assume you stop and trade when you need more. Not so in the wilderness. Due to getting lost and long travel times, we’ll be keeping track of rations with the ingenious system of throwing poker chips (provided my moi) into a bowl every ‘day’. At the beginning of the journey, you take out enough chips for the rations you carry, and every night you chunk one in the bowl.

This has a couple of effects. It means that if you end up rolling like shit, you could end up starving or having to forage for food (costing you more time). There’s also the tradeoff of rations vs encumbrance, meaning if you want to carry those sacks of stuff out of the awesomesauce dungeon you found in the wilderness, you might need to ditch something like rations to do so, making even more choices come to a head.

You leave from Songspire at dawn heading west to Holva. It’s maintained roads all the way and you do no exploring. The trip is about 60 miles, so 60 miles/6 mile hexes = 10 hexes (this would be obvious on the map). Each hex takes 4 movement points, so you need 40 total movement points to complete the trip. 40/24 = 1.6, so it takes about a day and a half to get there, provided you don’t stop and do anything along the way. Since it’s good roads all the way, you need no Survival checks.

After hanging in Holva for a bit, you get a lead on an abandoned dwarven fortress 20 miles south that could prove interesting (about 4 hexes away). You set out in the morning on the trail (movement cost 6, no DC). Your first hex is uneventful.
The trail dies out as you enter the hills, and you still have 18 movement points left. Upon entering hex 2 (hills), someone with 3 in survival and a compass rolls the check. They roll a 12, +3 Survival, +1 compass = 16, so they pass the DC 15 check to avoid being lost. You deduct another 8 movement points, giving you 10 left for the day. You decided to explore a bit, as there’s been some signs of goblin activity while hiking. You spend another 4 points (half of the 8 movement cost of the hex) to spend some time looking around, and come across a goblin warparty about to attack some travelers. But you’re evil, so you wait for the goblins to kill the travelers, then kill the goblins, cutting your workload in half (or doubling your payout, however you want to look at it).

After killing the goblins and making camp for the night, you wake in the morning knowing where you are (good), and having refreshed your movement points back to 24 (also good). Since you spent the points and passed the checks yesterday, there’s no cost for leaving the hex you’re in. You immediately move to the next hex, another hills. You deduct 8 movement points, for a total of 16 left. This time the budding ranger rolls a 4, +3 Survival, +1 compass = 8, vs DC 15. Yeah, you’re lost. You decide to go ‘that way’ to where you think the fortress might be. I roll a d6 and snicker a bit (it was a 5). We’ll assume you were trying to head due south, so I count 5 sides clockwise, which means you actually moved southeast. Deduct another 8 movement points for more hills, leaving you 8. This time the ranger pegs the DC with an 18, so you’re now one hex right of where you want to be, but you know where you are. In the interest of time, you head over to the hilltop fortress hex with your remaining 8 movement points, just as night fall. We’ll assume the ranger makes the survival check, so you’re not lost when you’re leaving the fortress hex.


The Evil That Men Do synk2