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CassusAevum

Advice on Overland Challenge

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Here's the set up:

The party has just crash landed on a habitable, but quite harsh moon.  There is a settlement their ship's sensors picked up just before crashing, but it's going to take a few days overland travel to get there.  The environment is dangerous and barren - the moon is composed of high density metallic ores and the surface is mostly broken, badlands-style scenery... but with lots of exposed metal.  The world is extremely cold as well, though not "will kill you immediately" cold.

I'd like to have the journey from the ship to the settlement be difficult and meaningful, with the players actually doing things, rather than just a pure narrative screen wipe.  But I'm coming up dry on exactly how to go about doing it.  I could do the DnD 4e skill challenge route (overcome this many obstacles before failing this many and for each failure there's some sort of consequence) and I might end up doing that, but was wondering if anyone had any better/more interesting ideas that they had tried and had some success with.

Thanks!

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Broken terrain with high density metal deposits? Sounds like a great place to hide things from sensors. Could be a place pirates "bury" their treasures. If the PCs get too close to a stash, the pirates might be alerted and come back. The settlement might have been given grave warnings to stay away.

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I mean, a good starting point is to think about what that situation would look like in the real world. First off, consider their resources. Do they have food & water? Do they have any sort of portable shelter? Do they have any protection from the environment while they travel? That information can help you figure out what things the party will need to accomplish through skill checks, and what things they won't need to worry about. The game usually leans toward minimizing/ignoring this sort of minutia, but in this case it's relevant to their situation.

From there, the most important factor is their ability to navigate. Even with the right gear, they should still make a check of some sort, since whether or not they're going the right way sets the stage for the rest of the journey. After that, determine what terrain features lie in the direction they're traveling, and which ones are no issue, which ones are difficult terrain that will take longer, and which are impassible terrain that they will have to overcome.

For the various legs of their journey, resilience checks are the default to represent how well they cope with the conditions. In this sort of scenario, strain economy for each day (since they recover their strain each night) should be an important factor, representing how much energy/stamina they have before they need to stop and rest.

The sorts of tests and encounters during the journey shouldn't be too difficult, but rather should serve to sap away additional strain and drive home the harsh conditions. 

Lastly, the party should make more navigation checks on each subsequent day, to stay on course. (Or if they botched the initial check, to realize they are lost and get on the right track.)

That's my two cents on it, hope it helps.

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I've got a "dangerous fauna" encounter planned.

It sounds like the best approach is to go for the "make these check to see how bad of a state you are when you get there" kind of thing.  I was leaning that way, anyway, but didn't know if there were any other takes on it.  I mean, apart from doing a whole scripted mini-adventure thing like with the pirates mentioned above.

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Drop an actual non-combat encounter or two in. It doesn't have to be complicated, or even really dense. Just there. Ideally you'll set something up that has later meaning.

So like:

You walk past some small ugly musk-ox looking critters called poodleplaps and come to a chasm. It's easily 20 meters deep with a fast moving stream at the bottom, but only a dozen or so meters across at most. Not that far, but there's no way to safely jump it. As a matter of fact there's an old landspeeder wreck on your side that seems to prove even with a vehicle jumping it isn't a wise idea. You can see the settlement off in the distance... if you make it over it should be smooth sailing form here.

The players just need to get across. Scavenging parts from the speeder would allow them to build a simple bridge, it's an easy mechanics check, average survival check, and some creative descriptions. If they don't have one, there's an emergency tool kit still in the speeder. It's not great, adding a Setback to the check and taking up 4 encumbrance if they try to take it with them, but it beats trying to do the job with bare hands. A successful check searching the wreck for other supplies will also find an emergency medkit that's still in decent order, and advantage or a triumph will also find a light survival blaster rifle that's seen better days (Damage 4, crit 4, range medium, value 200, enc 3, rarity 4, inaccurate 1, is considered to have suffered major damage [unusable, but can be repaired, see weapon maintenance in your core book])

Later: 

The alarm bell rings in the center of town. You go running out expecting pirates or something, but instead a herd of native poodleplaps has smashed in the green houses and is rapidly eating the colony's crops. In another hour or so the voracious herbivores will have eaten the town out of house and home. One of the colonists asks "How'd they get past the watchtowers? Last I heard they were still on the other side of the south chasm, it normally takes them days to walk around it, and the towers would have seen them."

Edited by Ghostofman

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Something to bear in mind is that if you're calling for skill checks then there have to be outcomes for successes/advantages/triumphs, not just the bad pips. 'How bad off are you when you get there' works in something like d20, but in this system there's the potential for them to end up better off by the time they get there.

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They encounter outcasts from the settlement. Why were they exiled? Are they baddies? Do they have religious or political differences from the settlement folks? What can they tell the PCs about the settlement? How do they survive out here? Maybe they want help to restore their place in society. Maybe there's something dreadfully and outlandishly wrong with the settlement, but their warnings sound like ravings. 

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As this is Star Wars, if you’re not just going to do a narrative wipe to cover the travel, then there should be *something* that happens. Some above examples (pirates, something wrong at the settlement) are good. Another choice could be that they stumble onto something long lost or hidden (an underground sith temple, the burial site of a jedi, a crashed starship). At the risk of derailing your plot too much, imagine that if this were a TV show, the crash would really have been a way for the writers to have the heroes encounter whatever it is. So the “whatever it is” should be important or entertaining enough to focus the episode on.

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I think Savage Spirits has a modular encounter for something like this. I love a good overland encounter and the stress that can come from it is really satisfying as a player or GM. 

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This would be one of those rare situations where I actually make them keep track of resources. I wouldn't just do the usual hand-wave of food, water, ammo, fuel, and encumbrance. Make them keep track of what they can gather and carry before they leave the crash site.

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