Thursday, April 13, 2017

Wanderlust: Hexploration on a d6 (Part 1 of 6)

How to Explore the Wilderness
What follows is a d6 skill-based way to further divide up responsibilities for adventurers while they are wandering the wild world, moving from hex to hex, and enduring the elements. They need to roll equal to or under a number on a d6 to avert an event from cropping up, and the number they need to roll is determined by Modifiers to two of their statistics. I find this to be appropriate as in most cases it will see a character with at max a 4-out-6 to succeed, as reaching the vaunted +3 modifier bonus is something far beyond the means of most adventurers in their early days.

Adventurers need to take up one of four roles to successfully manage most issues while travelling, these roles are: scout, guide, look-out, and quartermaster.

Scouts blaze the trail, go out in front of the group, and raise the call if something needs to be noticed. Scouts are successful on a roll of their DEX+CON modifier out of 6.
Guides follow the stars, notice the weather, and keep the party from getting lost. Guides are successful on a roll of their WIS+CON modifier out of 6.
Look-outs take the role of night watch, keep an eye out for traps and ambushes, and acknowledge the spoors and signs of future problems to come. Look-outs avert a mishap on a roll of their DEX+WIS modifier or lower out of 6.
Quartermasters are in charge of the supplies and making sure everything is properly rationed, nothing spoils, and accounting for items they have gone missing. Quartermasters avert a mishap on a roll of their INT+WIS modifier or lower out of 6.

If your system does not make use of Attribute Modifiers, consider using the following table to determine a character’s skills for wilderness exploration.

Attribute Modifier

So let us take an example character:
Moximillian is a Level 1 Thief. His stats are as follows:
STR - 9 (0)
DEX - 13 (+1)
CON - 8 (-1)
INT - 11 (0)
WIS - 13 (+1)
CHA - 12 (+1)

Moximillian would have Adventuring Skills as follows:
Scout: 0-in-6
Guide: 0-in-6
Look-Out: 2-in-6
Quartermaster: 1-in-6

For a fresh off the streets berk, Moximillian makes a decent look-out (he’s gonna notice something 33% of the time) and he can keep track of the supplies (but he’s a thief, so bare that in mind). But he is not a man made for scouting or guiding people through the wilderness.

Now that seems like a pretty rate, all things considered. But that is before we factor in supplies and the environment. If Moximillian is the look-out and he’s say, found spoors of a beast they might encounter down the line, he can enjoy a +1 to that roll of look-out because he’s already enjoyed some success and knows to be on the look-out for something. If he sets up bell traps (some string, empty cans, et cetera) give another +1 to that roll of look-out.

So Mox, as look-out, knowing there’s something out in the woods at night because he found signs of it earlier opts to set up some alarms to make sure he knows if it gets too close to camp. He has a 4-in-6 chance to avoid an event, which is not to say that this will scare away the beast but rather it will prevent the beast from getting the drop on him and the party. There is still a 2-in-6 chance that the beast will sneak into camp and wreck havoc.

Plotting Adventure
A Scout who has gathered rumors gains a +1 to get where he needs to, but a Scout who has consulted with rangers, wilderness guides, local cartographers or someone important who truly knows the area will roll with a 4-in-6 (instead of their Skill, unless that is higher). They operate this way until they suffer their first event or go somewhere they’ve been warned not to go and realize this.

If you have a set destination and the means to get there without getting lost in the wilderness (following a road, even an old one, is better for you than wandering through the woods, because a road is meant to lead somewhere civilized), a Guide rolls at a 4-in-6 (instead of their Skill, unless that is higher) until they operate away from the plan by going off the beaten path.

If the Look-Out has traps, alarms, coffee, knows the wilderness, or consults with the same individuals the Scout has, they may operate under the same 4-in-6 roll (instead of their Skill, unless that is higher) until the end of their first night.

Before you leave town, if you properly requisition enough equipment (a number of days/weeks of rations per person, sleeping gear, camping equipment, et cetera) a Quartermaster rolls at a 4-in-6 (instead of their Skill, unless that is higher) until they suffer an event on the adventure. Things always tend to run smoothly until they begin to fall apart.

If the entire party or at least those in these four roles, have done their above mentioned due diligence, the party gains Advantage (roll a d6 twice, take the better result) until there is a failed roll. At that point, these bonuses are lost and the party is left to their own skills to make their way through the wilderness and to their destination.

I would consider putting a hard cap on event avoidance of 5-in-6, unless there is some conceivable reason that nothing could possibly go wrong. Things should always be able to go wrong. Adversity is the mother of innovation. And these static bonuses from having properly prepared for adventure do not account for the penalties of bad weather, visibility or other environmental concerns.

When do I roll?
Scouts roll once a day, they're going ahead and blazing the trail after all. A Scout may choose to roll with advantage (roll a d6 twice, take the better result) but they will suffer a Constitution disadvantage for the rest of the day due to them meticulously trying to find the  best route.

Guides roll once at the start of a journey, enter a new biome/region, or when they get lost. Guides are more of a supervisory position and provided they can keep the party on the right path, they won't encounter many things they couldn't plan for.

Look-outs roll once a day or night, they’re the ones taking the first watch. A Look-out may choose to roll with advantage or to also serve as look-out during the day, but they will suffer a Constitution disadvantage due to their long hours spent in cautious perception. It is often wise to have an additional look-out.

Quartermasters roll anytime the party gains new resources or treasure, because with such items comes the threat of rot, theft, and strange circumstance. A Quartermaster automatically passes any Skill test if they are given a full day to go over their supplies and make sure everything is up to par.

Travel Modifiers
The following three tables show typical modifiers to Skills for travel purposes. A storm itself is an event, and should be treated as its own event within the adventure. It is listed here, alongside things such as war and visibility to give penalties that will help trigger these things being the present and dangerous issue they ought to be--and of course, there must be room for the players to succeed in marching through a storm without getting lost or waylaid by opportunists.

Penalties stack with one another. If ever there is a 0-in-6 on a check, there is a triggered event that cannot be avoided.

Weather Effects, Normal Intensity.
-1 to all checks. Morale Check saves.
-1 to all checks, 1d4 damage if you do not make camp or find shelter.
-1 to Scout & Guide checks. -2 to Quartermaster checks.
-2 to Scout & Guide. -3 to Look-Out & Quartermaster checks.
Visibility Issues
Low Issue (Mist, Wind + Weather, Low-Light)
-1 to all checks.
Moderate Issue (Fog, Rainstorm, Snowstorm)
-2 to all checks.
Heavy Issues (Hurricane, Blizzard, Monsoon)
-3 to all checks.
Darkness of Night
-2 to all checks.
Special Circumstance
Special Penalties
-2 to Scout, Guide, and Look-Out checks.
-2 to Quartermaster checks.
-2 to Quartermaster checks.
Disadvantage for Quartermaster checks.
Civilized or Peaceful Region
+1 to all checks.

This system should incentivize various materials for exploration and proper map-keeping. Below are some example items and what sort of bonuses they should provide.

Regional Map - Gives a +1 to Scouts or Guides, to prevent them from getting lost by way of wandering into a new region. It can provide insight on the region one is already in, as well as information on notable landmarks, but it grants no bonus for finding your way around the region unless you are within 6 miles of the nearest notable landmark or a road or town which you can use to re-orient yourself.

Astrolabe - Allows you a +1 to Guide rolls made at night, for the purpose of following the next day. You do not suffer penalties usually associated with rolling an exploration roll at night when you use an Astrolabe.

Compass - Gives a +1 to Guide or Scout rolls made to reorient the party or recover from being lost. A magnetic compass is reliable and circumvents the issue of needing to rely on the north star and the sunrise, which can be an issue in certain latitudes or times of the year.

Chests, Barrels, and Crates - Keeping your supplies and rations in securable containers rather than in backpacks or sacks. This gives a Advantage to Quartermaster rolls made to prevent theft, rot, or damage to one’s equipment. This also grants Advantage to Look-Outs by providing an extra barrier for things to be stolen away by predators or opportunists. Advantage is lost as soon as one of these rolls fails, but can be regained after spending time in town or thoroughly cleaning out the containers or buying new locks.

Dogs - All guard dogs or familiars who have better hearing than the adventurers have a 4-in-6 chance to hear anything as a Look-Out. Dogs cannot provide greater information, but should they suspect something they grant Advantage to Look-outs trying to find the object of their attention.

Final Notes This should ensure that there are plenty of potential little events going on the journey from Point A to Point B, and events are not necessarily bad but rather they prevent you from getting to Point B on time and they all have a risk to them for a potential reward.

Next time: Some lists of events for each role, both on the road, off the road, and at camp. Just for sake of variety.

After Note: As with 5th Edition D&D, you either have Disadvantage, Advantage or Neither. Disadvantage cancels out Advantage, Advantage cancels out Disadvantage. It doesn’t matter how many are stacked against you or stacked in your favor.

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