View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Simpler Wilderness Travel for Pointcrawl Maps

2019-02-19, 11:32 AM
A pointcrawl map is an alternative method to hex-maps to quickly calculate distances and travel times for wilderness journeys. On the map, all the sites that the players might want to visit are marked as "points", which are connected by lines that represent that possible paths that connect them. Basically like every public transport map.


A great convenience provided by such maps is that you can add notes that indicate the length of any path between two points. While this spares you the effort to get out a ruler and calculate the distance every time the party moves through the wilderness, you still have to calculate how long the journey will take for the many possible different speeds at which the pary might travel, based on their movement rates and the difficulty of the terrain.
But I have come up with a solution that can deal with this as well.

Path Segments
In the Player's Handbook, the speed for overland travel for regular terrain is given as either 30, 24, or 18 miles per day. This can easily be transformed into segments of 6 miles, and the party traveling either 5, 4, or 3 segments in a day. So on your map that shows the sites of interest and the paths between them, you can add a dot or a bar every 6 miles. And when the party is traveling along that path, it moves by either 5, 4, or 3 dots per day.

When moving through difficult terrain, movement speeds are halved. One solution would be to have the party move by only 2.5, 2, or 1,5 dots when the path leads through difficult terrain, but that's actually needlessly complicated. Instead you can simply put a differently colored dot (for examply red) halfway between two regular dots (let's say black) if that path segment goes through difficult terrain. If the party is affected by the difficult terrain, then they have to spend one segment of travel at every black and red dot. If the group has a ranger in the party who can ignore this type of difficult terraun, the party simply spends one segment of travel only for every black dot as usual.
Whether the party moves through regular or difficult terrain, you always get 5 segments in a day when you travel fast, 4 segments when you travel normal, and 3 segments when you travel slow.

Now I really like encumbrance. Deciding whether you want to haul everything around that you might need, or making the choice to abandon equipment and replace it later when you are in a hurry adds a great new aspect to adventuring in the wilderness. The PHB rules for travel don't really take this into account. But this is pretty easy to implement by splitting the Pace of the party into Encumbrance and Caution.

Encumbrance sets the base movement rate for the party. If everyone in the party is unencumbered, the base movement rate is 5 segments per day. If anyone is encumbered, the base movement rate is 4 segments per day, and if anyone is heavily encumbered it's 3 segments per day.

Caution is the choice whether the group wants to travel at a hurried or a cautious pace. If the group moves at a hurried pace, it gets one additional segment of travel for that day but suffers a -5 penalty to passive Perception and it's also not possible to forrage for food. If the group moves at a cautious pace, it loses one segment of travel for that day but can move using Stealth.

Sea Travel
You can use the same system for sea routes using 12 mile sections. To get the number of sections your ship can travel in a day, multiply the miles per hour by 2. (Because two of the ships have half-mile speeds.) There isn't really difficult terrain at sea, but you might want to slow ships down when the weather is unfavorable. For that purpose, put red dots halfway between every black dot and use these when the wind is not in your favor, reducing your speed by half.


I originally tried to make this work with hex maps as well, and using three degrees of terrain difficulty instead of two, but that always gets you weird fractions unless, which would totally defeat the purpose of all this.
The biggest work is measuring all the distances and drawing the paths on your GM map before the game starts, but that's still much faster done than making a full hexmap.

Thoughts, suggestions, questions?

2019-02-21, 11:04 AM
Not a bad approach, only thing that comes to mind, and not sure if you account for this in your calculations, but point to point travel (aka distance as the crow flies) is not equivalent to the path taken by a group on foot. Travel by foot is likely a longer and thus slower trip versus a point to point.

2019-02-21, 05:18 PM
I consider that part of what makes "difficult terrain". Which is why I treat everything that isn't road on flat terrain as "difficult". But if you want to make mountain paths particularly winding, you can just put the distance markers closer together.
My prefered approach is not to have accurately scaled maps anyway. Who knows what the actual straight lines between points in the game world are?