The Boring Part of Adventuring: Travel

The Boring Part of an Adventure

In other chapters, we've talked about fighting enemies; taking damage (both physical and mental) and healing it; earning money, buying things, and having a lifestyle; and making things. There's (at least) one more mundane aspect of the world that the people of the Emerald Plane — particularly those who have adventures—have to deal with: travelling.

People on the Emerald and Ruby Plane have plenty of options when it comes to travelling: among others, they can walk, ride mounted, travel with a Caravan, charter a river boat, sail along the coast or through the ocean, hire a mage to convey them magically, or make use of one of the Commonwealth's Cairne Stones.


One of the simplest and cheapest methods of travel — at least in terms of up-front cost — is walking (or crawling, swimming, hopping, flying, or otherwise travelling under your own power).

We usually track long journeys by the day; characters decide on the pace they'd like to keep, their marching order, and any other details at the start of a day, and mark off resources consumed (like rations) at the end of a day. Of course, GMs and players can adapt this scheme as required; characters might choose to travel at night, for example, or characters undertaking journeys of months might track their journey by the week instead of by the day.


Most characters can cover about 5 demarc a day (about 13 miles, or 21 kilometers) without exerting themselves; we'll call this the base pace. We assume that movement rates don't really affect this much, since travelling over long distances is more about endurance than stride — although characters with a particularly fast or particularly efficient movement mode (like a fly speed) might be able to do much better.

This also assumes good weather and terrain; difficult terrain could slow a traveller down significantly — or even stop them completely, without requiring special attention. For example, characters might be able to walk three or four days through a forest without any difficulty, but they might not be able to pass a mountain range without requiring either an Athletics (Climbing) check or scouting to find an alternate route (with a Survival check). Difficult weather, in turn, could slow a character down, cause them to consume additional rations, require them to make a check to avoid getting lost, or even require an Endure Physical Hardship test to make it through unscathed. (Details for these checks are up to the GM; we provide examples in Common Hazards.)

Characters can attempt to keep up a better pace, but doing so becomes increasingly challenging. Most healthy characters can manage 7 dc a day (18mi, 29km), but characters in poor shape (possibly represented by a negative trait) or a particularly short stride (a base rate of 3 or slower) might not be able to keep the pace up — we call this a quick pace. 9 dc a day (a little more than 23mi, about 38km) requires a fairly athletic character — it's a difficult pace.

In the simplest case, you can divide long-distance travel up by days; characters who want to maintain a quick or difficult pace for a day might require an Athletics check (no proficiency required). A character who fails the check suffers no particular negative consequence — they just fail to maintain the pace, and fall back to their base pace for the day. A character that is forced to march beyond their abilities or endurance is at risk of injury, and would be required to make an Endure Physical Hardship check; a GM might require this test of a character who fails their Athletics check but attempt to maintain a quick pace anyway. More information is given in Common Hazards.

Food and Water

Of course, characters need to have food and water for the trip. Durable food — like dried fruit, cured meat or grains — can be purchased in most towns (see Items); we usually track rations by the day.

Water is heavy, and carrying a large supply of it is difficult; characters often only carry a short-term supply, and then find (and purify) water as they travel. (Most residents of the modern world know to boil water before drinking it.) Under normal circumstances, as long a character has a Survival skill kit (or another similar kit), we won't track their water consumption; we assume that they find a water source every few hours, and refill their water-supply then (we assume that the Survival skill kit has jugs, flasks, skins, or some other means to carry a water supply). Difficult terrain may not contain water sources; characters travelling through a desert, for example, would need to carry an adequate water supply for the whole trip.

Skilled survivalists can be very useful here. Characters that have at least basic proficiency in survival can hunt and forage as they travel; a success allows them to support themselves, while an Exceptional Success allows them to provide food and water for additional characters (one character per 10 points of MOS over 30 — so, for example, a 60 allows a character to feed themselves and three other people). GMs can apply penalties or bonuses as appropriate for the situation; also, it might not be possible to feed a character with special dietary requirements — it will be very difficult to feed a character that is allergic to most small animals on the Emerald Plane, for example.

Traveling at a comfortable pace leaves a skilled survivalist plenty of time to hunt and forage, but a character maintaining a quicker pace may find foraging difficult or even impossible. A character travelling at the base pace can hunt and forage while they travel without difficulty; a character maintaining a quick pace suffers a -20 penalty; and a character travelling at a difficult pace cannot hunt and forage while doing so.

Guarding, Navigating and Scouting

A character might be able to travel a well-patrolled road between major cities with little more than time and rations, but characters travelling through narrow, forgotten roads, trackless jungles, or hostile nations need to worry about getting lost, encountering natural hazards or falling into ambushes, for example. Managing these risks requires characters to guard the group, navigate, and scout.

Ordinarily, this is as simple as having an appropriate skill and telling your GM that you're keeping a lookout, navigating or scouting (or whatever else you'd like to do while travelling).

If you announce that you're keeping a lookout, it's assumed that you're standing somewhere on the outside of you "formation," keeping an eye out; the GM will then allow you an active Perception Check to oppose anyone who tries to sneak up on you (as opposed to using your passive perception). Keeping a lookout is distracting; your character can't keep a lookout while doing something else — like making a map, reading a book, or singing a song.

If you're navigating, it's assumed that you're consulting (or making) maps, monitoring landmarks, and keeping track of where you're heading. You'll be the one presumed to make any Survival checks to avoid getting lost; if your character has ranks in Survival but someone else is navigating, you can also declare that you're assisting them. (If you don't already have a map, you can make one while navigating, as long as you have the appropriate tools.)

If you're scouting, you'll be assumed to be patrolling ahead of the group, searching for hazards, predators, friends, enemies, and other points of interest. One the one hand, this gives you to give the group advanced warning of any hazards; on the other hand, the scouting character assumes additional risk. They're out ahead of the group; if they fall into a hazard or ambush, the group will have to catch up to help. Ordinarily, a scouting character needs to have both Stealth and Perception skills (to spy enemies without being found out themselves) as well as Survival skills (to identify important natural features and hazards).

Marching Order

Even characters that aren't foraging, guarding, navigating, or scouting might need to consider what they're doing while the group is travelling. Characters may want to specify a marching order to the GM — essentially telling the GM who is going to be where while the group travels. You don't need to do this, but it helps to avoid a physically weak character being caught out at the rear in an ambush, for example.


While walking overland, characters will frequently find themselves camping. Ordinarily, this requires little more than a Survival skill kit (or similar), and basic proficiency in the Survival skill; under normal circumstances, checks aren't required to set up a camp and cook a meal.

If a character doesn't have a Survival skill kit or basic proficiency in Survival, a more experienced character can help them (negating any need for a check, for example). This ordinarily doesn't require a check; a character skilled in Survival can assist one inexperienced character for every 20 ranks in Survival they have past 10 (that is, 1 at 30, 2 at 50, and 3 at 70).

This number is slightly arbitrary. We like to keep to a minimum the number of "special numbers" that people have to remember, so we re-used the same math for when characters get proficiencies for proficiency skills during character creation.

Difficult Environs

Difficult environments (deserts, monsoons, blizzards and so on) can affect camping characters, of course. At the simplest, they might interfere with a character's ability to sleep, which means that they would suffer from sleep deprivation; at the most extreme (like a blizzard), characters might be at risk for dying from exposure. In some weather (like a hurricane), it might just be impossible to set up a camp; characters will need to get to find shelter or drown.

Much like walking, the exact effects of weather are at the GM's discretion, but we will provide guidance in the Common Hazards chapter.

Keeping Watch

Much like guarding or scouting while walking, characters in an unfamiliar, hazardous or hostile area may want to keep watch.

Most races need to sleep for 8 hours; travellers often divide a night into three three-hour watches; that way, characters that take a watch only one watch will get at least 6 hours of sleep (which is not debilitating in the short term). A character keeping a watch should have good ranks in Perception; having a powerful sense is also an obvious benefit.

Of course, characters who don't need to sleep can be particularly useful here.

Travelling Mounted

Travelling in a Caravan




Hiring a Mage

A Kairn Stone

The Deep-Explorers