Undertake a Perilous Journey in D&D

rainforest-768My next D&D campaign will definitely port over more Dungeon World moves (rules) and other concepts, and I plan to write more about them as that happens. One that has been on my mind for a bit is the move for travelling through hostile territory to a known place, called Undertake 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.

You can’t assign more than one job to a character. If you don’t have enough party members, or choose not to assign a job, treat that job as if it had been assigned and the responsible player had rolled a 6.

Distances in Dungeon World are measured in rations. A ration is the amount of supplies used up in a day. Journeys take more rations when they are long or when travel is slow.

A perilous journey is the whole way between two locations. You don’t roll for one day’s journey and then make camp only to roll for the next day’s journey, too. Make one roll for the entire trip.

This move only applies when you know where you’re going. Setting off to explore is not a perilous journey. It’s wandering around looking for cool things to discover. Use up rations as you camp and the GM will give you details about the world as you discover them.

Similar moves exist to Make Camp and Take Watch, all following the core mechanic in most  of “roll 2d6 and add a modifier: on 10+ you succeed, and on 7-9 you succeed at a cost”.

This is of course a very different approach than the “simulation” that D&D tries to provide. In Fifth Edition, we have a prescribed travel speed for the day depending on the chosen pace, plus various skill checks for navigation and foraging. This works well for the exploration aspect (in conjunction with a few other skill checks), but for the situation covered by Undertake a Perilous Journey, I think you could more or less bring it over.

However, DW moves are about consequences while D&D checks are about difficulty. So you’d need to set appropriate DCs, perhaps taking those from Tomb of Annihilation as a guide: perhaps DC 10 in clear, open terrain, or DC 15 when the terrain is more difficult. Also, it’s already totally legit to use one check to represent the entire journey, and incorporate the result accordingly. (Note that the hex crawl procedure explicitly does not apply in this situation, as it involves exploration through unknown terrain.)

So I’d do something like this:

To navigate through hostile territory, choose one member of the party to act as trailblazer, one to scout ahead, and one to be quartermaster.

The trailblazer must make a DC 10 Wisdom (Survival) check. If the check succeeds, the group avoids getting lost. If the check fails by less than 5, the group spends a few extra days reaching their destination. If the check fails by 5 or more, the group gets seriously lost.

The scout must make a DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check. If the check succeeds, the group sees any significant danger before reaching it. (If the danger is actively hiding, compare to the Dexterity (Stealth) check of the danger or its DC as appropriate.) If the check fails by 5 or more, make an extra check on the appropriate random encounter table.

The quartermaster must make a DC 10 Wisdom (Survival) check. If the check succeeds, the group is able to forage enough supplies to cover half of their needs. If the check fails by 5 or more, the group suffers a loss of their existing supplies and therefore increases their consumption by half.

Rangers in their favored terrain already double their proficiency bonuses; consider giving them advantage on these checks. Similarly, any characters with the Wanderer feature (from the Outlander background) should receive advantage when fulfilling the quartermaster role. Characters who specialize in this sort of thing should be rewarded appropriately!

I’d love to hear what other groups have done in this direction.

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