Tag Archives: travel

Dungeon World – Taking Watch and Fast Travel

Dungeon World

I’ve previously written some hand-wringing blog posts about whether and how to incorporate travel rules into Lost Worlds. Dungeon World handles these things by making them standard “moves” of the game.  For example, here’s the rule for taking watch:

Take Watch

When you’re on watch and something approaches the camp roll + WIS. *On a 10+, you’re able to wake the camp and prepare a response, everyone in the camp takes +1 forward. *On a 7-9, you react just a moment too late; your companions in camp are awake but haven’t had time to prepare. They have weapons and armor but little else. *On a miss, whatever lurks outside the campfire’s light has the drop on you.

I like how this move just streamlines the whole process of worrying about light, ambient noise, stealth, perception, etc. It just takes the three possible outcomes we are interested in and delivers the answer right away so the game can keep on. Of course, like some of the other rules, some of the verisimilitude is lost here.  The difficulty is not baked into the roll, so it doesn’t seem to matter how stealthy the approaching enemy is. How stealthy the monster ends up being is baked into the player’s roll (on a 6-, that monster was stealthy after all).

Of course, the fiction should not be contradicted by the move. If a giant stone elemental is crashing through the trees, everyone is awake – no roll.

Dungeon World also gives us an interesting move for fast travel.  Traveling along a safe road generally requires no roll, everyone marks off rations and you arrive at the destination, so fast travel is baked into the game through civilization.  However, DW also gives us fast travel through dangerous areas of the world.

Take a Perilous Journey

When you travel through hostile territory, choose one member of the party to act as trailblazer, one to scout ahead, and one to be quartermaster. Each character with a job to do rolls + WIS. *On a 10+:

  • The quartermaster reduces the number of rations required by one
  • The trailblazer reduces the amount of time it takes to reach your destination (The GM will say by how much)
  • The scout will spot any trouble quick enough to let you get the drop on it

On a 7-9, each role performs their job as expected: the normal number of rations are consumed, the journey takes about as long as expected, no one gets the drop on you, but you don’t get the drop on them either.

I like how this rule allows multiple players to participate in the travel mechanic, and again directly delivers what really matters. The rules are clear that this is move is only for traveling to a specific place – if you’re wandering around in the wilderness looking for adventure, you’d make camp and take watches as normal.  Also, the rule makes traveling alone more dangerous – if you have less than 3 people the party automatically gets a “miss” (6-) on the jobs left vacant.

Like many other moves, this move does not define what happens on a miss. Moves that don’t define what happens on a miss are up to the GM to make one of the GM moves that advance the fiction of the game, and there’s a wide variety of options available to the GM to make in these circumstances to make the game more interesting, and dangerous, for the players.


Other Exploration Rules


I wanted to piggy back on my last post about travel.  If we did decide to keep travel, what travel-related rules/subsystems should Lost Worlds support?  I think I’d certainly need some overland travel speeds and rules for forced marching.  I’d probably want some rules for light and the impact of additional or insufficient light for travel.  But there’s a whole host of rules that seem like they’d go along with travel that I’m wary of.

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It’s not the Destination, but the Journey that Matters Most

WasserfŠlle von Iguacu

One of the things I’ve always struggled with a bit is how to run travel and exploration.  In some ways, the game of D&D, and other similar RPGs is about exploration – both of the world and of the character.  I’ve always liked the idea that a fantasy world could hold anything, and in playing the role of a person exploring that world, your character could truly feel the wonder that I have felt when I traveled to places like Iguazu or Machu Picchu.  Those places felt magical, and they exist today as places you could visit.  Try to imagine a world where magic exists within nature as well.  It takes a more accomplished GM than me to impart that sense of wonder to exploration at the tabletop.

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