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Making travel an adventure


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#1 amigoNUMBER1

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 07:09 PM

I've only notably GM'ed with edge of the empire and wanted some input from more experienced GM's. How exactly do you make travel more involving and intresting? Working with beyond the rim for example, how would you handle the party moving through the jungle with more depth.

 

Is it better to break travel down into survival/athletics checks by the in game hour? If they do not know exactly where they are going how do you choose to run exploration?



#2 User

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 07:23 PM

Try supplementing the checks with detailed narrative. For example, illustrate the dangerous hunt for a krayt dragon in the tatoinne mountains with a survival check; you could also have the characters find something interesting on the way, like a fellow survivalist or an imperial garrison. But just do all you can to paint a convincing picture and encourage player interaction.
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#3 Dharus

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 04:14 PM

Best way in my opinion for interesting travel is have the party chased by something or them chasing something.  I had my party being chased by a large swamp worm while they were on a cargo sled.  It worked well for excitement level since failing the chase they knew it might of put them into a world of hurt.  Swoop gang, pirates, tuskan raiders, etc all could make travelling around more interesting.  Just remember, you're adding an encounter and not just describing travel.  Usually, I skip it unless it could effect the session or I want to add some plot element.

 

For exploration, you probably need a few landmark descriptions, terrain features, etc setup for your adventure.  On something open ended I'd have several of these things written out and maybe a rough idea of the planet/area they are in.  If time is a factor to your adventure, then checks would be a good idea but don't get too crazy with rolling as that too will become boring.  A party could roll a travel check, success brings them to the location (adv and disadv adjusts the time it took), failure could result in an encounter or going off course into another setup area.



#4 daysanew

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Posted 25 November 2013 - 04:55 PM

Most travel my group does will be abstract, even if they fail the roll narrate what happened to them and the results then go on unless their failure leads to an encounter (like being chased by something mean and hungry). That means you don't want to spend a lot of time on the characters traveling from location A to B unless you plan on something to happen (or decide on the fly something should happen).

For example tonight my players will be arriving on planet in BTR. Once they find landing sites after making appropriate checks (fear survival) I'll narrate the results and then have them arrive unless I decide to have a few of Chlogona's beast pay them a visit. 

Even if they fail a survival check horribly I narrate the results and let the players decide their next action (keep going on, turn back etc). 

Of course that is just my style. 



#5 GMRicc

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 07:42 PM

I do not usually hand-wave travel time / Distant. I think travel time can give a certain feel to a campaign. What I do is create 2 random encounter tables (1 for safe travel and 1 for fast travel, which is less safe). Then I have the characters roll reliant skills (e.g: survival for traveling across tatooine or Pilot (space) for space travel). Each encounter table will detail what encounters they come across based on the success/failure and advantage / threat results. If interested I might post a couple examples.


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#6 kinnison

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 09:17 PM

Depends on the situation.   If they are on the clock, and need to get somewhere in a timely matter, you need to ramp it up with some roadblocks to overcome.

 

If it is a long journey, i had the players start going space happy, and hallucinate.  Great chance for some role-playing.

 

Otherwise treat it like a car trip, and try to describe some interesting things along the way.  Maybe some foreshadowing.

 

As for slogging through the jungle, depending on where they land trying to figure out some Skill checks along the way.  maybe one or two per player.  A failure slows them down in some sort of trap, or get attacked by something.  A success speeds them along, or maybe gives a boost to next check.


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#7 Salcor

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 11:15 PM

For things like travelling through the wilderness I would use a skillbchallenge. It was from SAGA ed. I would tell the players that they need to accomplish a certain number of successes and let them choose the skill and narrate how it will help with the challenge.

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#8 khaldun106

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 08:45 AM

I do not usually hand-wave travel time / Distant. I think travel time can give a certain feel to a campaign. What I do is create 2 random encounter tables (1 for safe travel and 1 for fast travel, which is less safe). Then I have the characters roll reliant skills (e.g: survival for traveling across tatooine or Pilot (space) for space travel). Each encounter table will detail what encounters they come across based on the success/failure and advantage / threat results. If interested I might post a couple examples.

I'd be interested in seeing what you've created GMRicc! Also, looking forward to reading more of your  blog articles. Balancing rewards in a virtual economy is always difficult.


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#9 whafrog

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 10:15 AM

Is it better to break travel down into survival/athletics checks by the in game hour? If they do not know exactly where they are going how do you choose to run exploration?

 

I would suggest not doing that unless the plot's clock is ticking.  We have a GM who was doing that for a while, but for no real reason other than I think he wanted to document our every action.  Even if your players have a purpose, that kind of slow game can really overshadow the purpose if you're not careful, and make the game quite tedious.

 

If the clock is ticking, Salcor's suggestion would work well:  every hour add a Survival or some other relevant skill check, and add the successes to a pool.  When the predetermined target is hit, the players arrive at their destination.  Threats and Despairs could lead to nasty encounters, or send them in circles ("Hey, look, are these Wookiee tracks...haha, what are the odds?  Wait...we've been here before!") making them late.

 

For just slogging through the jungle exploring, that's up to the GM.  You'll definitely want some established encounters, or at least a well-structured random chart.  If you want to give them the sense of time and distance passage, steal a bit from the movie industry and provide a montage:  set the mood by showing pictures of their progress, jungle scenes, landscapes, etc.  You can show progressively wilder and more ominous pictures if you want to give them that feeling of "distance from civilization" or whatever mood you're after.



#10 cvtheoman

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 11:50 AM

Also, when traveling in a harsh environment, you could have the time taken add strain, so that the journey can have a mechanical effect on the rest of the adventure, once they reach their destination.

 

Or you could put your party in danger from heatstroke, hypothermia, or a rare jungle disease; then the PCs have to make Resilience checks to avoid nasty biological effects (strain, disorientation, etc.).


Math is such a tool.


#11 GMRicc

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 03:59 PM

 

I do not usually hand-wave travel time / Distant. I think travel time can give a certain feel to a campaign. What I do is create 2 random encounter tables (1 for safe travel and 1 for fast travel, which is less safe). Then I have the characters roll reliant skills (e.g: survival for traveling across tatooine or Pilot (space) for space travel). Each encounter table will detail what encounters they come across based on the success/failure and advantage / threat results. If interested I might post a couple examples.

I'd be interested in seeing what you've created GMRicc! Also, looking forward to reading more of your  blog articles. Balancing rewards in a virtual economy is always difficult.

 

Thank you sir!

 

I will work on posting a few example charts in my dropbox and post a link on this thread when I can. Keep checking on my blogs, new ones go up pretty regularly


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#12 Kager

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 01:30 AM

I set a goal of how many total successes the PCs need to roll (surivival skill) to arrive at their destination (only one player can roll for the whole party, other PCs can assist by adding boost dice or proficiency dice). If they roll 3 or more threats on any of the survival rolls, i have a few encounters ready for each time they are short the goal.

#13 washer

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 11:45 PM

personally, i can't stand random encounters. they just feel like the GM is trying to make the session interesting, without providing any significance to the storyline or the development of the characters.  if i want random encounters, i'd rather play descent:journeys in the dark or WoW. (don't misunderstand - i love these too, but i play RolePGs like EotE for story).  instead, when i GM i try to think of each character's individual story arc (with input from players), and how each of the characters relate to each other.  i typically try to set up encounters which will challenge the characters by placing them in some sort of moral dilemma, or in a situation which would spark a debate between them.  

 

the FATE system has a really interesting mechanic in which the GM (or another player) can challenge a character to try to convince them to act on aspects of their character in ways which actually result in complications or danger for the group.  this creates some really interesting RP, and most times very exciting moments.  the players don't fuss about it because they have a choice in whether they want to take the challenge or not.  thinking more in these terms really flipped how i GM upside down - and has made me a better player too (i no longer think of "oh no, i failed..." i now think "failure creates really interesting opportunities and story..."

 

i hate to say it, but look at some episodes from star trek: TNG (gasp! on a star wars forum. ..j/k) for examples of interesting encounters.  the entire series is a "journey."

 

i also look to media/books like 'the road,' or 'walking dead.' basically, both are travel stories.  both have lots of interesting, exciting encounters, but (for the most part) the encounters are not 'random.' there is a story/character/relationship purpose to them.


Edited by washer, 31 January 2014 - 11:48 PM.

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