Hey guys, how do you handle long travels?

Hey guys, how do you handle long travels?

Hey guys, how do you handle long travels? I’m asking that because in my games I’ve mostly dealt with small areas (like a campaign taking place in a small, isolated barony).

The longest “perilous journey” on my games took just some days on horseback, but what if the players want to cross the entire country or the entire continent? How would you handle that? A single “Undertake a Perilous Journey” roll seems very underwhelming to me. How would you handle rations and how would you handle this long journey narratively?

15 thoughts on “Hey guys, how do you handle long travels?”

  1. I would break it up into milestones, may be thirds. Each one is a perilous journey.

    If you’re not already using it, Perilous Wilds adds some nice meat to the perilous journey skeleton.

  2. I know that in DW and other PbtA games, if a move is triggered you should resolve it. So if the PCs are crossing the entire continent, an Undertake A Perilous Journey move should trigger.

    But if the PCs are traveling to some far off point to continue the adventure, pick up the next, clue, or otherwise do something, why not just say “Great. After weeks/months of travel, you’re there.”

  3. It comes down to where the story is for you and your group. If you and your players are uninterested in what’s in between where they are now and where they’re going, just skip to the end and move on to the good stuff.

  4. One way to spice up the fictional narrative for the travel is to still make a GM move or two along the way. Offer an opportunity, with or without cost gives them a chance to opt-in to a ‘side’ adventure if it interests them. You can also show signs of an approaching threat in a more broad sense, by giving details related to a grim portent that’s coming to pass as a result of the heroes being occupied by the long journey. You might also hint that this could be a consequence of their journey: “as you leave the area around the town, you notice the farmers are carrying weapons with them into the fields; the nearby gnoll tribe has everybody on edge.”

  5. If you want to break up the fiction you can talk about their travels. If they are joined by NPCs maybe they strike up a conversation with one of the PCs. Another way is to ask the party about points along their travel.

    “You have been walking along the kings road for a week and you came across a small hamlet around a fortified shrine to a local god. Cleric, tell us what you learned about the local pantheon during your nights stay there?”

    “Ranger, you were chatting with some local hunters at the tavern, and they told you about a set of trails that could cut travel time to the next town, but they also warned about large bears with glowing red eyes moving into the area. Which route do you decide to take for the next leg of your journey?”

  6. Yeah, either you break it down into discrete, interesting pieces – and make adventures out of them – or you just handwave the whole thing – honestly, the idea of expecting a move to somehow handle a huge journey seems weird. You wouldn’t want a roll for “when you go on an adventure…” would you?

  7. Mike Pureka​ I guess that depends whether this huge journey is central to the story in itself (a campaign in which the characters are on a caravan for example) or if it will barely affect the story at all (kinda like the first Elder Scrolls Game, where you could basically fast travel to almost any plance on Tamriel).

  8. I would roll once for the whole jourbey but use that roll for the individual scenes.

    So for example you roll perilous journey for all the swamps, mountains and forest. You would still describe the things in those places, the dangers they face. It would almost be like several scenes but we had already done the roll so you just let thst ride and just handle the rest of the fiction.

  9. Pedro Bastos

    That’s true; I guess I think of “long travel as a thing that is interesting” being the default in fantasy games, since it’s part of the appeal to me.  I honestly think that taking a video gamey approach like “You can fast travel to wherever, it doesn’t really matter” cheapens the world.

  10. I’ll echo a lot of what’s already been said.

    First and foremost, decide what’s important to you and your players. Where is the adventure that you all (collectively) are interested in?

    If the adventure is at the end of the journey, then gloss over the journey and get them there. Techniques include any and all of the following:

    a) Ask the PCs questions about their travels. Especially good if you haven’t done much to establish the world in play or in prep. Ask retroactively about the path they’ve taken (“Thief, what’s the biggest city you had to pass through?”) or proactively about what lies ahead (“Ranger, your journey will lead through the Scarytooth Mountains and Ominous Pass… what beasts are said to hunt the mountains? what do you know about the fortress that holds the pass? do you believe that they’re all crazy like the stories say?”)

    Take notes! Add things to your world’s map based on the PCs answers. Ask follow-up questions about the answers they give you! (“Oh, really, Thievesburg was the largest city? What’s you’re connection to Theivesburg? Who’s attention were you hoping to avoid?”)

    b) Drop into normal play and resolve a situation stemming from the questions and answers Frame the scene, make a GM move, and go! Just be willing to wrap it up quickly, and try to do something other than just a fight. Something that can have ramifications later. Like, maybe they find a juvenile monster caught in a snare. It’s angry and in pain, but you see an unexpected intelligence in its eyes. What do you do?

    c) Use a travel move (like Undertake a Perilous Journey or the Scout Ahead & Navigate moves from Perilous Wilds or maybe these if you think they’ll work for you https://goo.gl/UzDekI ) to resolve crossing some dangerous terrain. Like, maybe you ask the Druid “you can save about a week’s worth of travel if you cut through some dangerous terrain… what’s the terrain and why is it so dangerous?” and the PCs decide to brave the shortcut, then zoom in a little and UPJ to see how that goes.

    d) Write Love Letters between sessions: “Dear Fighter… that was some scrape you all got into back in Clicheville. What did you say to that arrogant duke’s kid to get them so riled up at you anyhow? After you fill us in, roll+WIS. On a 10+, pick 2; on a 7-9, pick 1. O

    * You managed to snag some valuable but recognizable trinket off the duke’s kid; describe it

    * You managed to avoid killing anyone in the resulting trouble, so really, it’s just the duke’s kid who has it in for you

    * You’ve sort of become a local hero to the commoners of Clicheville, who never liked that pompous brat anyhow.

    On a 6-, tell us who which PC had to break you out of the dungeon and ask them how they did it.

    e) Probably more that I’m just not thinking of.

    Now, if the adventure is the journey, and you’re players are interested in a cross-country hex crawl or the Dungeon World equivalent of an old Road movie, then crack out the Perilous Wilds and go to town. (http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/156979/) There’s some great stuff in there about building the world, adding color to long journeys, and (of course) exploring the unknown and discovering all sorts of random stuff as you go.

    Alternately, if you want something less procedural that Perilous Wilds, and you’ve got a good sense of the world they’re travelling through, you could try these moves: https://goo.gl/DV5akZ

    (In case it’s not obvious, I’ve thought about travel moves and procedures a lot.)

  11. Mike Pureka​​ Straight up a single roll indeed might end cheapening the world, that’s why I asked for opinions here haha.

    From all the ideas above (all excellent by the way, thank you guys, you’re awesome) the one I liked most is asking the players what they saw during their travels.

    It’s also worth of note that I believe that this solution works best If the journey itself isn’t very important to the story. If the whole adventure is focused on traveling, then maybe the “step by step” aproach as suggested before would be better.

    In the end of the day, the best solution might be using both ideas at the same time, or changing between them when the story would better fit one way over the other

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