For part four of my four part series going over my Overland Travel house rules, I’m going to discuss the equipment used for traveling through the wilderness. I’ll go over different items, how they work in this system, and what kind of choices players might wish to make in different situations. The two issues characters largely have to contend with during travel are food/water and weather.
So, first up is food and water. Rations are the main mechanism for the trade off between time away from civilizations vs inventory space. It’s worth noting that Fresh Rations are the only item on the Equipment list that I don’t apply the Availability of Goods and Services rules to (see previous post). Food is the one good that should be relatively plentiful even in a restricted economy. As I’ve mentioned before, waterskins are intended to be more of a safety net in case PC’s fail to successfully forage in a given day. The safe bet is usually to carry 3 waterskins per person, ensuring your character can go for a day without finding any water and not risk weakness.
In order to be able to make longer journeys into the wilderness without having to carry as many rations, the party can gear up characters for hunting. Coming in at 5 gp for a bow, this is the cheapest and easiest way to outfit characters for hunting. More importantly, using the Availability of Goods and Services rules bows will be available even in the most humble of villages.
On average, a hunter can secure 2⅓ rations every day spent hunting. That means that if enough of the group has ranged weapons (about ⅜ if the hunters also forage each evening), the party will be able to live off the land indefinitely or possibly even restore their stock of food. Parties that intend to hunt will also want to bring along at least one axe in order to secure the firewood they need to cook meat. These items along with the requirement to spend the entire day hunting ensures that parties that want to rely on hunting need to dedicate a significant amount of both resources and time to do so.
When traveling, characters also need to deal with the threats and challenges posed by weather. Depending on the climate and time of year, characters will need to bring a range of supplies to help them deal with the weather. Fur cloaks, bedrolls, tents and firewood can help ameliorate the effects of cold, but when either more extreme temperatures or storms crop up, characters will be forced to make a choice between dealing with penalties or giving up time and consuming additional food and water.
Pack animals and/or mounts are the ultimate tool for wilderness travel. They allow characters to carry much more of all the other gear they need, which is absolutely necessary if they plan to make prolonged trips into the wilderness or travel with larger parties. The cheapest pack animal (a mule) comes in at 20 gp, which means that using the Availability of Goods and Services rules, the PC’s will need to visit a few towns, a large town or city, or have found mounts or pack animals as treasure at some point before they can comfortably own enough for prolonged wilderness travel.
Finally, I’d like to go over some of the aspects that I’ve personally found to be important in my own game. After reading Arnold K’s post about attacking all parts of the character sheet, I kind of had a paradigm shift. I’ve found including encounters and challenges that attack PC’s equipment to be invaluable when designing wilderness adventures and different wilderness zones. Whether it be encounters with monsters that are likely to attack mounts (wyverns and griffons were rightly feared in my previous campaign for this), terrain that forces players to make choices (like a swamp you could cut through, but will cause all food carried to spoil), or even a simple straightforward resource tax (it’s raining, unless you rub oil on your armor it will rust), I’ve found that challenges which attack PC’s equipment are especially well suited to overland travel.Overland-Travel-Camping