I keep thinking about travel moves for #Stonetop.

I keep thinking about travel moves for #Stonetop.

I keep thinking about travel moves for #Stonetop.

We were originally were using Jason Lutes’s moves from Perilous Wilds, but they were too explorey-hexcrawl for Stonetop.

Then, I tried two “primary” travel moves: a Venture Forth that you used when you were heading somewhere known but through dangerous terrain, and a Wander move (similar to Jason Cordova’s and David LaFreniere’s labyrinth move). I’ll link to those moves below in the comments.

We tried those moves a couple times, and they felt too artificial. Wander, in particular, actually took us too far out of the fiction. That got me thinking about a comment Timothy Stanbrough had, about navigating megadungeons, that “Perhaps a purely GM facing structure is better, something that helps you create the fiction rather than dictate the outcome.”

And that got me thinking about Savvyhead workshop moves, and the Wizard’s Ritual.

So, maybe something like this?


30 thoughts on “I keep thinking about travel moves for #Stonetop.”

  1. Much better i think. In your previous post, i mentioned all the rolls leading into more rolls. Im glad this one excludes that with the “ritual” style. Elegant. Ritual is one of my favorite move formats 🙂

  2. I like these a lot. They would totally work in vanilla DW as well. Maybe the advice for Chart a course could include a suggestion to turn the steps into questions to tap into the players brains? (Or is against the philosophy of Stonetop?)

    Teamwork is a great way to involve players (and have them roll dice), build fiction quickly, and maybe kickstart an encounter. I’d definitely use it in a DW game, or even in an old school one.

    /me starts thinking…

  3. Yeah, I like it. I like how you could still use this move with the Perilous Wilds generators by use of the option “The way is perilous…” Was that intentional?

  4. This is fantastic. With some slightly different prompts you could fit it to work for the mega-dungeon. Or for any risky travel!

    You can search the megadungeon for the archmage’s tomb without a map, but, it will take 3 months to do so. And you risk being ambushed by the goblins that live on the first level.

  5. Robert Doe shoot, I meant to give you a shoutout in the OP, too. Your challenge of Make Camp >> Scout Ahead chain was definitely a part of this, too!

    Eric Nieudan re: asking questions, that’s definitely something I had in mind, and totally within the Stonetop philosophy. “Ranger, what’s the surest sign of crinwin having been around recently? Discarded rusty tools you say? Well, an hour out of town, you spot a shovel laying atop the snow, it’s shaft broken and the head bright red with rust. What do you do?”

    Joe Banner very much intentional, yes.

    Timothy Stanbrough I think it could work for that, too, with very little tweaking. Though I think this works best for something where the GM has a solid sense of a place’s physical layout and where things are relative to each other.

  6. I’m a big fan of this! I like moves with lists for one reason: whether I’m referencing it in play, or out of play it takes off my mental load tremendously. I’m a decent improvisor, but if I have to do it in many aspects of a game, unaided, it can be exhausting, and I can’t sit back and enjoy the conversation as much.

  7. I like it. My own thoughts on custom travel moves have also tended towards being more GM than player oriented. Especially since I dislike the bookeeping aspect of ration=travel and prefer to abstract rations like ammo. This makes the variations on the quartermaster even less interesting. Using the Augury/Ritual template and having a group roll mechanic is an elegant solution that keeps all the players involved.

    I will say I think there’s still room for some kind of Make Camp and Take Watch move or moves. However, this is definitely my favorite take on custom travel moves yet.

  8. Nick Nunes I definitely think that there’s still move for a Make Camp check that effectively acts as a “random encounter” check.

    The trouble is merging it elegantly with this sort of approach. When, exactly, do you make the Make Camp move? If we’re glossing over a 4-day trek, you certainly don’t want to making that check every night.

    As for Take Watch/Stay Sharp… I keep thinking about it as: why should it be handled differently than any other encounter? If I decide that something approaches the camp, then I’m making a GM move, beginning and ending with the fiction and exploiting my prep and being a fan. “Avon, while you’re whittling away at that stick, staring into that fire, you hear a ‘yip’ come from the brush. Real short and quick.You almost think you were imagining it, when you hear another ‘yip,’ this one from the other side of camp. What do you do?” And that leads to Discerning Realities, or waking the party, or or or.

  9. The two big things I find missing with this kind of setup are mechanical/procedural prompts for:

    1) Making Discoveries that the GM hadn’t anticipated (either randomly generated or picked from an almanac)

    2) Character development stuff, the kind I found often get triggered by Manage Provisions (or the Quartermaster roll in UPJ).

    If anyone sees a way to incorporate those into this Ritual-style framework, I’m all ears!

  10. I think you can still do perilous wilds moves for that, and just use this as an addendum, or if the journey isn’t particularly long. It makes sense an npc might be like “Watch out for the _____” But as a GM, a different _____ could come up from one of the other variations of the Perilous Journey Moves.

  11. I think in each of the choices from the list, a move can be called that requires a roll. Infact it can even be pieces from multiple moves! I think that is cool.


    “You risk getting lost, make the Undertake A Perilous Journey move as a scout.”

    “You need to watchout for [blank], make the Take Watch move”

    “You need a knowledgeable guide..etc, make the move to Recruite in town”

  12. I like this more than Wander, which in my opinion had too much rolling in it. I think what you have here is a higher stakes Perilous Journey, one that almost blurs the line between journal and dungeon delve. You can use the same UPJ rules you’ve been using before, and zoom in when necessary to add in more details when and where they are needed.

  13. 1) Again with the questions: before or after a challenge, at least once during the journey, the GM has to ask about a discovery. It could be related to the current situation, randomly generated, or even simply “What do you find on the road leaving the pass, and how is this immediately a concern to the party?”

    The problem with a ritual-style procedure, is that there is no random element. So you have to include the discoveries as a step that’s always there.

  14. I can see this move not resolving for some time [in game]. Thats not a bad thing, but something that, as a GM, needs to be understood. Its like an “Over arking” move that gets resolved piece by piece.

  15. Eric Nieudan 1) could work, but I don’t like moves that “cross the line” that way (having players make up things that their characters couldn’t know). It’s particularly bad for Stonetop, where there is a lot already mapped out.

    I’m almost considering some sort of random encounter chance, like the See What They Find move in Perilous Wild’s dungeon-delving section.

    Regarding 2): Maybe? Hopefully?

    The type of things that Manage Provisions/Quartermaster consistently brought up, the stuff that I feel is missing, is the stuff where the artificer biffs the roll and reveals that he packed baguettes and liver pate and quail tongue for rations. Or when the amnesiac cleric discovers that he’s an gourmand cook. Or the fighter has to consume an extra ration because he’s big and strong and SO HUNGRY. Or just the ranger finding some mushrooms to flavor up the night’s gruel.

    I think some of that might come from Teamwork, but it’s not quite as laser-focused on throwing randomness into the simple domestic things, and the texture that adds.

  16. Peter J another goal with this is to significantly cut down on the “move bloat” that Stonetop has been suffering from. So ideally, most of this would be handled with Defy Danger or Teamwork rolls.

    Yet, you might be on to something…

  17. I’m of the “less is more” school myself, so I prefer fewer rolls. But that’s just me. I would agree that Stonetop does have a bit of bloat to it. Perhaps I can help you trim it down.

  18. Jeremy Strandberg I see what you mean about 1). Then maybe just have the GM include a discovery whenever it feels right, but at least once in every journey?

    2) That stuff will be hard to get without a move or procedure specifically about rations…

  19. I’ve been trying to figure out how to integrate make camp and rationing.

    For make camp I think it depends of whether or not you want to disclaim responsibility entirely to a move. If you do, stay sharp and keep watch moves make sense.

    But I liked your comments about how stay sharp and keep watch shouldn’t be handled any differently than the rest of the game.

    So, consider adding this to the Chart a Course options:

    You’ll have to sleep in _ country.

    And then, make a move, describe a section of landscape and ask them where they’ll be setting up camp. This lets you decide if they encounter anyone based on their preparations.

    For discoveries, perhaps hand it back over to the player?

    If you want to wander, explore and look for discoveries, tell the GM when you take the chance to wander.

    It also provides a good opportunity for characters to interact.

  20. Timothy Stanbrough adding some sort of requirement about how and where you’ll need to sleep/camp is an interesting idea. The question, though, is whether that’s different from the existing risk statements (“the way is perilous” or “you’ll have to watch out for __” etc). I’m not sure that it is, but I’d love to hear more about what you’re envisioning.

    I’m pretty solidly convinced that Take Watch/Stay Sharp are unnecessary with this structure. They resolve what happens when a threat looms, and soft move >> “what do you do?” does pretty much what you need for that.

    The Make Camp move from PW, though… it’s a situation generator. it says whether a threat occurs.

    Having run through a couple scenarios with this structure, I’m now pretty comfortable saying that it isn’t necessary. If you want some randomness in your decision making, introduce a die of fate and be done with it. Otherwise, relying on prep, questions, GM moves, and principles seems to do the trick.

  21. You’re right it’s not terribly different from the other risk statements. Apart from the prompt it gives the GM for the type of scene that’s going to occur.

    Part of what I find appealing about the ritual format is how it allows the characters to influence the fictional outcomes. They can prepare and investigate, the ranger can search out a suitable cave or the wizard can ward off the evil spirits.

    So I was envisioning the same with a make camp procedure. You ask the players to find a camping spot and find out if they light a fire, play music, bicker amongst themselves? It could be tied into the healing/levelling/rationing mechanics. “If you don’t keep warm over the night you might get sick. But you’ve also got to avoid those cannibals. What do you do?”.

    It could be mechanised even further with a list of threat factors, a countdown clock or something equivalent that influences the encounter roll. But that’s not very ‘dungeon world’.

    Really I see it acting as a slice of fiction that you use to make the best move that follows. And the added colour and characterisation could be nice too.

  22. Ah! I think I see where the disconnect is!

    What you’re saying makes total sense to me for a short journey, something with just 1 overnight. Totally.

    But in a longer journey, where we’re basically abstracting days or weeks of travel, saying that “you must sleep make camp in __” doesn’t make sense by itself. It’s not actually a problem unless you’re also trying to avoid notice or watching out for something or traveling through perilous terrain or the journey is grueling or what have you. “Making camp” just becomes one of the possible venues for those challenges.

    And in a journey with just 1 night en route, the campsite still works as a venue for one those challenges.

    I think I can get what I’m looking for with reminders for the GM to ask questions about both traveling and making camp. And/or to vary where you zoom in to resolve one of those challenges.

    Hmm hmm hmm.

  23. I happened to come across some info recently about the “montage travel” system that was introduced for 13th Age. Are you familiar with it? It’s a different approach, but it could be tweaked to offer a pretty straight-forward parallel for some of this – especially if you add some “skill checks” (you know what I mean 😉 back in.

  24. For those of you interested in this move, I wrote up some hypothetical play-throughs to see how it might work out.

    They’re LONG, but this seems to be doing what I wanted. Leaning heavily on a Die of Fate seems to be helping with the “unexpected prompts” thing… though I think I might be able to formalize that a little more in the almanacs.

    The thing I haven’t really gotten to in either of these run-throughs is dealing with “The way is perilous, plagued with dangers.” That’s the one I feel is least clear-cut on how you would “resolve” it.

    docs.google.com – Chart a Course – Hypothetical Run-Throughs

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