Travel is one of the most common occurrences in any adventure. To reach the destination of a quest, you necessarily have to travel, and for this you need some information. In this section we will be discussing a number of influences on travel, the rates of speed, and the like.
There are several methods to cross a given distance. For one thing, there are the traditional ways of walking or riding a horse (or some other beast of burden). In the world of Gushémal, though, you can also ride a horsedragon or travel on an airship (only when available, of course) or use other means of travel.
Please note that this chapter will definitely be expanded in later editions, for instance when we will include magical transports.
There are several influences that affect travel, both rate of speed and the expenditure of energy required by the characters. The major influences are:
· Layout of the land
Ideally the weather is dry and not too warm, while the land is plain and even. Then the characters can proceed at their normal rates of speed, while they only have to put their normal strength into the feat.
On the other hand, rain turns the landscape dry and mushy. Unless the characters are travelling on a paved road, that means the ground will turn soggy and be more difficult to traverse. Wet clothes also add additional weight the characters have to carry.
But even if the weather is dry, temperatures can become uncomfortably hot or cold. In both cases, the traveller expends more energy to cover a certain distance and will require more breaks during the day.
The lay of the land has also its natural influences. Crossing a hilly or mountainous area is obviously more difficult than walking across an even meadow. Swamps require particular attention, since missteps can easily trap a character in the bog. (A good GM should have a set of dice ready for random rolls in that regard. Unless a precise path has been marked previously, or the characters have previous knowledge of the area, they could get stuck in the mud – or fall into a crevice in the mountains -, so that they (a) sustain damage and/or (b) require rescue by their companions.)
A classic obstacle to travel is a river: In order to cross it, you need to find a suitable place, be it a bridge or a ford. (Alternatively, there could be a ferry service, or the characters might get hold of a boat.)
The rates of speed are dependent not only on the above hindrances, but also on the weight which is carried by the characters. This also applies to travel when riding, since the beast of burden can – despite its name – not carry an infinite amount.
Most humanoids can walk a distance of 15 + (½ * CON bonus) miles per day, when burdened down with ordinary luggage and leather (or no) armor. Heavier armor is not suitable for walking any longer distance; especially plate mail is too much of an encumbrance, and the character would probably keel over from exhaustion in short order.
If the humanoid is not burdened down by any luggage or armor, he can reach 18 + (½ * CON bonus) miles.
Riding is a much faster way of travel than walking – and certainly more pleasant to the rider. But it is important to remember that horses are no machines; they require breaks as much as humans do. These breaks become longer the more distance a horse has to cover in a given time.
A horse can cover 45 miles per day without being overly exhausted.
(If the horse is loaded down with very heavy burden, such as plate mail armor or similarly heavy items, the horse won’t be able to run as fast nor will it be able to cover as much of a distance.)
Characters can choose to run tour-de-force marches (or rides) which enhance the rate of speed by 30%. But the party buys this increased speed at the cost of requiring an entire day of rest after two days of the tour de force. They will be so exhausted that they will practically fall asleep where they stand.
If the tour de force is chosen to increase the speed by 50%, the party will need a full day’s rest after every day of the march.
There are obviously good reasons for driving oneself to this kind of excess. Some adventures have a time limit, and the characters have to force themselves to match a deadline, or something dreadful will happen (e.g. the realm falls prey to an evil general, or one of their number dies from poisoning). But the payment needs to be regarded.
As a GM you should also keep close watch over tours de force when the characters drive their horses to exhaustion. If the players choose (needlessly) to ignore the plight of their horses, you ought to consider punishing the players for their superciliousness. Have the poor beasts die from exhaustion, so that the players are stuck with walking. That ought to teach them a lesson about how to deal with animals.
(The following table will be enhanced in future editions.)