A System for Running Fantasy Journeys

These are my rules for running fantasy journeys in GURPS.  You can use them as a GM aid, if you like – but they’re really intended for Collaborative Play.  Each Journey is rated by Peril, just as Adventures and Dungeons are. To begin with, simply assume that the Journey is as Perilous as the Adventure as a whole. This may change!

Preparing for Your Journey

The characters should possess appropriate equipment – climbing gear for mountaineering, canteens for the desert, whatever they use to navigate, and so on.  If this is not the case, apply an extra penalty equal to Peril to Navigation and Survival rolls!

There’s no need to track consumable supplies such as food and water: the normal Cost of Living for adventures includes these. But if the characters cannot afford to pay for their cost of living, or if they are so far from civilization that they have been unable to do so, then apply a penalty to Survival rolls.

Researching the Dangers of the Journey

If you get a chance, you can also do some preliminary research to see what sorts of hazards you’re likely to be facing during the course of the Journey. This requires a roll against either Research (if you’re somewhere with access to books, etc) or a relevant Area Knowledge specialty (anywhere).  The roll is made at a penalty equal to Peril.   Each attempt takes one PC one Unit of Time.  For every two points by which a research roll succeeds, the characters gain a re-roll that can be used either on many of the following tables, or to re-roll Navigation and Survival checks during the trip.

PCs can perform research as many times as they like, but each attempt takes a Unit of Time, and each attempt after the first suffers a cumulative -1 penalty, if it’s done by the same PC, using the same skill.  (i.e. the second research attempt by the same PC , using the same skill, is performed at an extra -1, the third at an extra -2, and so on).

Booking Passage on a Ship, Coach, or Similar

If the group needs to book passage on a ship or similar, they’ll need to pay $2dxNxPeril, doubled for Journeys longer than a week. To bargain, roll a quick contest between one of the PCs’ relevant social skills (Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Merchant etc) and the ship captain’s skill of 9+Peril+1d6. The winner gets to adjust the $2d roll by one for every point by which they won the quick contest.

Setting Out

Once the characters embark on their Journey, its actual difficulty may surprise them…. Roll on the table below.

How Perilous Is This Journey Really?
Roll 3d6.  (Need a die roller?)  Research re-rolls may be used.

3-5 The Journey is much less perilous than you were led to believe! -2 Peril
6-8 The Journey is less perilous than you were led to believe.       -1 Peril
9-12 The Journey is about as perilous as you expected.
13-15 The Journey is more perilous than you were led to believe!       +1 Peril
16-18 The Journey is much more perilous than you were led to believe! +2 Peril

Moving Faster

During the Journey, if everyone in the group manages to succeed at a roll against a travel skill suitable to the party’s mode of travel – i.e. Hiking, Riding, Boating, Skiing and so on, as appropriate – then the party can shave one unit of time off the trip.  All these rolls take a penalty equal to Peril.  PCs with high skills can cover for others here, because that’s fun: each additional -2 penalty that a character accepts allows that character to cover for one of the other member of the group, saving them from having to roll.

Any critical success succeeds for the whole group; if more than one PC critically succeeds, then shave two units of time off the trip.  Any failure means that no time is saved – but costs nothing.  If anyone critically fails, the group loses two units of time.  (Note that many skills of this kind are listed in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures pp. 21-22.  It’s highly recommended!)

To Reach Journey’s End…

To complete your Journey successfully, you will need to make three kinds of rolls: Navigation rolls to stay on track, Survival rolls to avoid mishaps, and Event rolls to see if anything interesting happens on the way. Make them in triplets, in the order just listed: first a Navigation roll, then a Survival roll, then an Event.

Journeys, Summarized.
If the Adventure “Distance” is… Then a unit of time is… And the number of Navigation, Survival, and Event rolls required is…
Here 4 hours Zero
Nearby 12 hours Peril/2
Far 1 day Peril
Very Far 1 week 2xPeril

Remember that all Navigation and Survival rolls are made at a penalty equal to Peril.

Finding Your Way: Navigation Rolls

To reach journey’s end, you make a number of Navigation rolls equal to Peril. Make each roll at a penalty equal to Peril. Research re-rolls can be used here.

Success means you’re still traveling in the right direction.

Failures cost the group an extra unit of time.

Critical successes allow a roll on the table below:

 Brilliant Navigation

Roll 1d6. (Need a die roller?)  Research re-rolls may be used. All these results also shave a unit of time off the Journey.

1 +4 to your next Navigation roll.
2 +2 to your next Survival roll.
3 This Journey, your Navigation rolls are no longer penalized by Peril.
4 Subtract one from the Journey’s Peril.
5 You may re-roll any one Event roll this Journey.
6 Make an extra Event roll with a -4 bonus.

Critical failures on call for a roll on the following table:

Getting Lost

Roll 1d6.  (Need a die roller?   Research re-rolls may be used.

1 Lose 2 units of time before finding your way again.
2 The party must either make its way past an Obstacle, or lose a unit of time. See Chapter Nine!
3 The party must either make its way past an Obstacle, or lose 2 units of time. See Chapter Nine!
4 The group becomes lost in a Wilderness Dungeon, at a Peril one higher than the current Journey Peril. Reach the Goal to find your way back on track!
5 Add 1 to the Journey’s Peril.
6 Add 2 to the Journey’s Peril.

Avoiding Danger: Survival Rolls

To reach journey’s end safely, you must make a number of Survival rolls equal to Peril. Make each roll at a penalty equal to Peril. Research re-rolls can be used here.

Success means you’re still traveling safely.

Failures give you a +2 penalty to your next Event roll.

Critical successes allow a roll on the table below:

Astounding Survival

Roll 1d6. (Need a die roller?)  Research re-rolls may be used. All these results also provide a -2 bonus to your Event roll.

1 +4 to your next Survival roll.
2 +2 to your next Navigation roll.
3 This Journey, your Survival rolls are no longer penalized by Peril.
4 Subtract one from the Journey’s Peril.
5 You may re-roll any one Event roll this Journey.
6 Make an extra Event roll with a -4 bonus.

Critical failures call for a roll on the following table:

 Falling Prey to Danger

Roll 1d6.  (Need a die roller?   Research re-rolls may be used.

1 You encounter a Hazard – see the rules for Traps and Hazards, coming soon!
2 You encounter a Hazard – see the rules for Traps and Hazards, coming soon!
3 You’re ambushed by the Standard Encounter!
4 Your next Event roll suffers a +5 penalty.
5 Add 1 to the Journey’s Peril.
6 Add 2 to the Journey’s Peril.

Events, Surprising and Deadly!

Event Rolls
Roll 3d6.  (Need a die roller?)  Research re-rolls may be used.

5- A Golden Opportunity – Roll for an Opportunity.
6-8 A Risky Opportunity – Roll for a Mishap and an Opportunity. If you choose, you can encounter the former to gain the latter.
9 An Opening to Adventure – Feel like another adventure on the side? Roll up another adventure, with its distance “Here.” You can embark on it or not, as you see fit.
10-12 Uneventful – You Journey on.
13+ A Choice of Mishaps – Roll for two Mishaps. You can choose which of the two to encounter.
 Opportunities
Roll 1d, 1d.  (Need a die roller?)  Research Re-rolls may be used.

You’re presented with an opportunity to…

1-3 1 …gain a Standard Hoard of Treasure!
1-3 2 …gain a Standard Hoard of Treasure!
1-3 3 …gain a Small Hoard of Treasure!
1-3 4 …shave off two units of time.
1-3 5 …gain an Ally for the rest of the adventure. Build them using one of the 62pt templates in Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen.
1-3 6 …gain an Ally for the rest of the adventure. Build them using one of the 125pt templates in Dungeon Fantasy 15: Henchmen.
4-6 1 …gain information about the Region or Dungeon: allows two rolls in advance.
4-6 2 …gain information about the Region or Dungeon: allows three rolls in advance.
4-6 3 …lower the Journey’s peril by two.
4-6 4 …gain a Plot point for a personal plot.
4-6 5 …gain 2 pts in social advantages such as Ally, Contact, Reputation, or similar.
4-6 6 … do good, be virtuous, or help someone, with no obvious reward.
Mishaps
Roll 1d, 1d.  (Need a die roller?)  Research Re-rolls may be used.

You must…

1-3 1 …negotiate an (1-2) Obstacle; (3-4) Hazard; (5) Ward; (6) Trap.  (Need a die roller?)
1-3 2 …negotiate an Obstacle.
1-3 3 …negotiate an Obstacle.
1-3 4 …brave a Hazard!
1-3 5 …suffer delays: add two units of time.
1-3 6 …raise the Journey’s Peril by two.
4-6 1 …lose or expend supplies, of total value $10x1d6xNxPeril.
4-6 2 …convince, sneak past, or fight a Standard Encounter!
4-6 3 …convince, sneak past, or fight a Standard Encounter!
4-6 4 …convince, sneak past, or fight a Deadly Encounter!
4-6 5 …do something that will earn you -5 points in social disadvantages such as an Enemy, a negative Reputation, or similar.
4-6 6 …be a bastard by hurting someone or allowing someone to be hurt.

 

Entering a New Region: Surprises!

Second-hand information can be unreliable, and wise travelers learn to expect the unexpected. Whenever you actually enter an entirely new Region, so far unvisited, roll on the table below.

What Is this Region Really Like?
Roll 3d6.  (Need a die roller?)  Add 4 if you critically failed a research roll into either the Region or the Journey.  Add 8 if you critically failed both!

3-4 Your information was so good that it allows you to draw further inferences now that you’ve seen the Region in person. Roll to determine all the characteristics of the Region.
5-13 Your information was good – the Region is pretty much exactly what you’d been led to believe.
14-17 Your information was roughly accurate, but the details were off: if you’ve already determined Towns, Population Type, and any of the Monsters, re-roll them now.
18+ Your information was totally false – either you bungled your research horribly, or you were deliberately misled. Either way, roll again for Level of Civilization, re-rolling anything that gives you the same result.       Then roll again for everything else.

 

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