So here’s the game-flow I’m imagining for the wilderness campaign I’m working on. I’ve been wanting to define this for a while, so I’m going to get it down and out of my head so I can focus on other things!
The players and I all use a hex-map of a sub-section of the world, with terrain symbols and major cities marked. All other annotations are unavailable to the players. When they encounter a major locale or event, they can mark it on the map (updated and reprinted occasionally with paths traveled and encounters marked).
They will start out with a few possible “quest” style mini-adventures that are relatively short (within 1 session) and provide a window into some aspect(s) of the campaign setting. They’ll always have the choice of moving to a new locale.
The world map is not going to be encounter level adjusted, meaning even at level 1 they players will run a risk of encountering major baddies, but will probably be able to avoid doing so by taking heed of NPC warnings, sign posts, etc. Those will give them clues of where they can return later for an appropriate challenge.
Most hexes will have terrain/climate/time-of-day/region based encounters, but some will have hex-specific ones as well. Encounters may or may not be combat oriented, they will depend on the players developed reputation, reaction, and relationships with different creatures. Some encounters will always be antagonistic (mindless undead, extraplanar abominations, and some fairies). Others might be pseudo-encounters, like a dragon passing overhead (still inducing dragonfear), or a rustling in the brush that turns out to be nothing but a rabbit.
Daily Exploration Flowchart:
1. Check weather -> 2. Choose next target hex -> 3. Determine chance of getting lost based on terrain and survival skill, and then make check -> 4. Choose speed and manner of travel (stealthy or not) -> 5. Check how many encounters happen during the day (2d6) -> 6. Roll and resolve encounters -> 7. Mark off consumed supplies -> 8. Determine camp or lodging -> 9. If necessary decide on night watch order -> 10. Mark off day on calendar.
1. Check weather
Use: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/weather.htm in accordance with terrain climate.
2. Choose next target hex
The players point to their target destination hex. Note that they may or may not actually make it there.
3. Getting lost
4. Manner of travel
Use: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/movement.htm#overlandMovement making note of terrain, mounts, vehicles and stealth.
5. Number of encounters
Roll 2d6 and refer to the following table.
2) 3 dangerous
3) 2 dangerous
4) 2 harmless5) 1 harmless; 1 dangerous
6) 1 harmless encounter
7) No encounters
8) 1 harmless encounter
9) 1 harmless; 1 dangerous
10) 2 harmless
11) 1 harmless; 2 dangerous
12) 2 harmless; 2 dangerous
Regardless of whether the encounters are harmless or dangerous, they’re still rolled on the next encounter table. A harmless encounter is one where negative consequences can’t directly result, a dangerous encounter is one where negative consequences could possibly, but won’t necessarily result.
6. Roll and resolve encounters
Roll 1d100. C is short for common, U for uncommon, R for rare. Rare encounters are only possible when the encounter roll is modified, such as by the following: Hunting for rare +5, AND Have directions or guidance +5, AND have encountered before +5.
04-08) Neighbor Zone C
09-11) Neighbor Zone U
12-65) Zone Proprietor C
66-73) Zone Proprietor U
74-75) Extraplanar Abomination
76-78) Zone Outsider C
79-82) Zone Outsider U
83-95) Hex Specific C
96-00) Hex Specific U
101-105) Zone Proprietor R
106+) Hex Specific R
7. Supplies consumed
Make sure daily rations are marked off, or meals/lodgings are paid for, also ensure any ammunition is spent and light sources burnt up. Also remind spell-casters to consider their spell lists.
8. Camp or lodging
Decide where to stay for the night.
9. Night watch
Decide on a watch order. If camping, roll for encounters on the table above, using the “nocturnal” encounters.
Mark day off calendar and make sure seasonal changes are noted for the next day’s weather check.