TRAVEL & EXPLORATION
Equipment & Encumbrance
Anything you might need should be purchased and written down. Food, light sources, protective clothing/bedding, bags and backpacks, etc. will all be important. This includes fodder for mounts: a horse cannot live on grass alone.
Keep track of your resources, including how those resources are carried: do you have a backpack? A sack? Pouches?
A character that carries more than five times their strength in equipment (including equipment worn, except backpacks) is encumbered, dropping their speed by 10’.
A character that carries more than ten times their strength in equipment is heavily encumbered, dropping their speed by 20’ and imposing disadvantage to all ability checks, saves, and attack rolls that use strength, dexterity, or constitution.
Backpacks can store 50 pounds of gear and, unlike a sack, effectively reduces that weight by half for purposes of encumbrance. Also, the weight of a worn backpack can be ignored for purposes of encumbrance. Thus, a fully loaded backpack weighs 55 pounds but only contributes 25 pounds toward encumbrance.
Light & Vision
Torches burn for one hour and a flask of oil will keep a lantern burning for six hours.
Torches provide bright light for 20’ and dim light for 20’ beyond that. Lanterns provide bright light for 30’ and dim light for 30’ beyond that, but hooded lanterns can be made to provide dim light for 5’. All light sources greatly increase one’s visibility, though hooded lanterns diminish that greatly.
All rolls to see things in dim light are made with disadvantage, including ranged attacks.
Maximum vision on a clear, dry day is around 150 miles for large land forms.
Characters on foot can travel 24 miles per day (eight hours) and those mounted on a riding horse can travel 48 miles per day.
Characters who travel by foot or mount (but not cart or similar) for eight hours gain a level of exhaustion.
Traveling encumbered for eight hours adds an additional level of exhaustion. Traveling heavily encumbered for eight hours adds two levels of exhaustion. Mounts that travel for eight hours also gain a level of exhaustion. Traveling encumbered while mounted does gain the character an additional level of exhaustion.
Those traveling in medium armor must make a constitution save (DC 15 on foot/DC 10 mounted) or gain a level of exhaustion at the end of eight hours of travel. Traveling in heavy armor requires the same, but rolled with disadvantage.
Characters can make a forced-march, increasing their distance covered by 50%, but must make a constitution save (DC 15) or gain a level of exhaustion. Attempting a forced-march mounted requires a constitution save (DC 15) for both rider and mount.
|Normal||Roads in any terrain save mountains. Trails in fields, plains, and deserts.||x1|
|Hard||Roads in mountains. Trails in forests and hills.||x.75|
|Difficult||Trails in mountains and swamps. Trackless plains and deserts.||x.5|
|Very Difficult||Trackless hills, forests, and mountains.||x.25|
|Impassible||Trackless swamps. Rivers without fords or bridges.||x0|
Storm conditions increase the difficulty of any terrain by one step. Night increases the difficulty of any terrain by one step. Travel in the winter, once snow has fallen, increases the difficulty of all terrain by one step.
Small (1–2 person) 40 gp, Medium (3–4 people) 60 gp, Large (5–6 people) 80 gp, War (7–10 people) 100 gp
Canoes are ideal for wilderness travel as they have a very shallow draft, allowing travel up relatively small streams, they are reasonably light, allowing easy portaging overland, and they allow two or more people to paddle at the same time, easing the burden on each individual.
Use of canoes requires a strength check every four hours to determine travel modifier, but those with proficiency (waterborne craft) can add their proficiency modifier. One person in the boat makes the check, but if two or more people are paddling, the check is made with advantage. If desired, the paddler can take 10+modifiers.
|5||No headway. x0 (0 mi. in 4 hours)|
|5–9||Slow progress. x.5 (6 mi. in 4 hours)|
|10–14||Normal progress. x1 (12 mi. in 4 hours)|
|15–19||Good time. x1.5 (18 mi. in 4 hours)|
|20–24||Excellent time. x2 (24 mi. in 4 hours)|
|25–29||Dangerous speeds. x2.5 (30 mi. in 4 hours)|
|>29||Reckless speeds. x3 (36 mi. in 4 hours)|
The base speed of a canoe is 12 miles per four hour period. Travel upstream increases the DC of each category by 5, e.g., normal travel is now 15–19. Travel upstream through hills requires a roll (no taking 10) and imposes disadvantage. Travel upstream through mountains is typically impossible.
Travel downstream decreases the DC of each category by 5. Travel downstream through hills decreases the DC of each category by 10 but requires a proficiency (waterborne vehicle) check DC 10 x travel modifier to avoid capsizing (taking 10 is permitted). Travel downstream through mountains is possible, but decreases the DC by 15 and requires a proficiency (waterborne vehicle) check DC 10 x travel modifier at disadvantage (no taking 10).
Eight hours of travel by canoe imposes exhaustion on all those who paddle, but exhaustion due to encumbrance is avoided.
During overland travel, random encounter rolls are made every four hours. Thus, six random encounter rolls are made each 24 hour period.
In ordinary areas, the chance of encounter is 1:6. In heavily populated or dangerous areas, it can increase to 1:3 or even 1:2.
Encounters can consist of:
- Visual contact, near — Passive Perception DC 5
- Visual contact, far — Passive Perception DC 15
- Auditory contact, near — Passive Perception DC 5
- Auditory contact, far — Passive Perception DC 15
- Tracks or signs — Passive Perception DC 5–20, dependent
Any contact allows the encountered creature a chance of noticing the party. These DCs can be changed based on circumstances, e.g., a lion roaring five miles away does not have a chance of noticing the PCs nor do the PCs have any chance of not noticing the roar.
Food & Water
Characters who go eight hours without food or water gain a level of exhaustion.
Hunting or foraging for food/water in ordinary settings requires a survival skill check, providing daily food/water for a number of people equal to the result divided by five. Thus, a result of 13 would provide food/water for two people (or two days worth for one person). In more difficult or unfamiliar settings, e.g., a desert, the skill check must be made with disadvantage. Reducing the travel time by half allows the result to be divided by two. Multiple people (with positive Survival modifiers) foraging grants advantage on the roll. Foraging without travelling for eight hours also provides advantage.
Characters who face adverse conditions, e.g., extreme heat or cold, rain, etc., for eight hours without proper protection must make a constitution save (DC 10 or greater, depending on the conditions) or gain a level of exhaustion. Note the importance of fire in staving off cold.
When following well-travelled paths, there is little danger of getting lost. But rarely traveled paths pose a risk, requiring a (hidden) survival skill check (DC 5) every four hours from whomever in the party has the highest modifier.
Traveling in adverse conditions, e.g., in the wilderness with no trails or in reduced visibility, increase the DC by 5. Possessing a map decreases the DC by 5 (if it’s accurate). If the party becomes lost, it is the Judge’s discretion what becomes of them.
As should be clear by now, adventurers travelling overland constantly face the possibility of exhaustion. The effects of exhaustion are as follows:
- Disadvantage on ability checks
- Speed halved
- Disadvantage on attack rolls
- Hit point maximum halved
- Speed reduced to 0
Note that once one reaches level 3 of exhaustion, they had better rest because they will rapidly gain exhaustion if making saving throws with disadvantage. During a rest (short or long), one level of exhaustion can be removed per HD expended. One level of exhaustion is automatically removed during a long rest. Going without a long rest during a given 24 hour period results in an additional level of exhaustion.
An Example of Exhaustion: Loom spends his day travelling for eight hours along a road. He is not particularly strong, so his heavy pack results in encumbrance. By the end of the day, should not else happen, he’d gain two levels of exhaustion. Loom is also wearing a chain shirt, so he must make a DC 15 Constitution save or gain another level of exhaustion. Luckily, he passes that save. That evening, Loom cooks himself dinner (using a ration to prevent another level of exhaustion) and writes in his journal. Loom only has one HD, but since he didn’t need to use it to stave off injury that day, he expends it at the end of the day to remove one level of exhaustion, leaving him with only one level of exhaustion. He also manages to get five hours of sleep or so and doesn’t get on the road until after the sun rises. This constitutes a long rest (eight hours), so Loom loses one level of exhaustion and regains his spent HD, allowing him to hit the road completely refreshed.
During the next day of travel, Loom is waylaid by two goblins at a bridge, demanding he “pay the toll.” When he refuses indignantly, they attack. During the fight, Loom is pushed to his limit (reaches 0 hit points), but soldiers on. While he is triumphant, putting the goblins to flight, he gains one level of exhaustion. He uses his HD to regain some of his lost hit points, leaving him unable to remove any exhaustion at the end of the day. Thus, he ends the day with three levels of exhaustion: one for travel, one for encumbrance, and one for soldiering on. He also has to make a DC 15 Con save or gain another level due to his chain shirt and, since he’s rolling with disadvantage due to having three levels of exhaustion, he fails, gaining yet another level of exhaustion for a total of four levels of exhaustion. Knowing that it will mean his life if the goblins return while he is asleep, Loom maintains vigil all night, denying him a long rest and earning him yet another level of exhaustion.
Loom spends the next day resting, losing two levels of exhaustion (one of rest and one from his spent HD) and regaining all his lost hit points. This puts him at three levels of exhaustion. Since he doesn’t travel that day, he gains no exhaustion. That night, he invites another traveller to share his fire and, by taking watches, both are able to sleep. Unfortunately, Loom cannot have two long rests in one 24 hour period, so he awakes still with three levels of exhaustion. Knowing that there is a town not too far away and wanting to share the road with his new companion, Loom decides to risk pushing on. However, being no fool, Loom does not wear his chain shirt since he knows he will gain two levels of exhaustion just from travelling encumbered, putting him at five levels of encumbrance. That pushes him to the brink of total collapse; if he gained another level from wearing the shirt and failing his save (which he likely would, since he would roll with disadvantage), he would be incapacitated. Thankfully, the day’s travel is uneventful and, upon reaching the town, Loom rents a room at the inn and collapses, spending the next three nights recovering from his harrowing journey (he will be able to take three long rests in that period, allowing him to loses two levels of exhaustion per night and, after the third night, regain his HD, to boot). Loom has now completely recovered from his travels.
Notice that even for a 1st level character, traveling encumbered is not a problem in and of itself, since a short rest followed by a long rest will remove that exhaustion and replace the lost HD. However, if that HD is needed for something else, like recovering hit points, things can get a bit hairy.