Sunday, August 8, 2021

Using Landmarks in Wilderness Travel

 I've been continuing work on my Jorune: Evolutions ruleset. Recently I've been working on wilderness exploration rules. One thing I've been thinking about, spurred on by some of Gus L's recent dungeon theory, is how different the role of "the map" is in wilderness exploration and dungeon or adventure site exploration. The size of the hexes means that the kind of navigation of a concrete space involved in dungeon crawling doesn't apply. There are some approaches to wilderness exploration that chase that level of concreteness by using "zoomed in" sub hexes that allow one to establish a more concrete topography, or that abandon hexes altogether, using a ruler to map movement across a fairly detailed map. Personally, this doesn't work for me for two reasons. 

The first is that it makes the construction of the map a daunting task. I now need to not only assign a type to the hex, and stock it with features, but construct sub-hexes with detailed topography and geography that allow me to locate those features in the hex. This basically ensures that I will never be able to prep a sizable map. 

But this is connected with a second issue about the point of navigating space. Why is the navigation of space interesting in a dungeon crawl? Having read Gus' reflections and run many years of location-based adventures in the retro-game style, I can think of three reasons. These don't apply to every location-based adventure in the mode of dungeon crawl, but I think the best feature all of them.

  1. Players engage in meaningful choice vis-a-vis navigation of the space as part of an economy of risk and rewards. They decide whether to push further at risk of random encounters, or whether to turn to the left towards the ominous clanking sounds, or whatever it might be. It sustains meaningful choices.
  2. Another way the navigation of space matters to dungeons is the way factions inhabit the space. We might think of this is the social dimension of space in the dungeon. Factions operate in different areas, which they often "hold", and they have interests in other areas, some of which opposing factions might hold, or which are otherwise inhospitable. This means the players enter into a current unstable equilibrium or conflict space that is intimately connected to the spatial layout of the location. People in one part of the space want things from other parts of the space, and the players can interact socially with this nexus of often opposed desires.  
  3. Another thing is that in a good dungeon, space is part of a puzzle to be solved. One figures out how to get from A to B optimally, for example, finding a quick way to lower levels, or learning how to directly access some place that could previously only be reached laboriously, or finding the way into some sub-level or hidden area. This is a satisfying achievement.
It's hard for me to imagine how trying to zoom in on a map of an appropriate size for extensive wilderness travel is a good way of capturing this. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying it would require some set of systems that it's hard for me to imagine. Even with "zoomed in" topography, you still probably never going to get to a place where players are making tactical choices about what route to take on each day of travel. 

But I think you can capture a decent amount of it if you lean in to the abstraction and "zoomed out" scale of wilderness travel. To get 1. you need to some regular way to represent risk and rewards trade-offs in wilderness exploration. In the dungeon this is provided in part by wandering monster checks, which happen at the level of the turn (or every 3 turns). It's important that it happens per unit of movement so that there's a tradeoff with exploring the map and hazarding encounters. In the wilderness you want something similar. 

So it's better if you don't have 1 check per day, but rather a mechanic that says: want to explore another hex? OK, roll the encounter die then. Similarly, it would be good to build in other choices that the parallel the dungeon like the choice whether to "search" for "hidden" features, i.e. explore the interior a hex in exchange for hazarding encounters. It's also good if you have mechanics for forced marching that require you tradeoff extra movement for acquiring exhaustion. 

Similarly, it's good if you have an encumbrance system that forces choices about what to carry, with rations and acquired loot being the obvious things about which you must make tradeoffs with adventuring gear. So you'll need rules for starvation and foraging too. It would be good to build in some choices about when you start looking to make camp, and probably about how good a camp you can get set up. 

Number (2), the social dimension, is easy. What we want is a hexmap as a social space of factions in opposition that want things from other places on the map. This is less a matter of rules and more about hex stocking. But we'll certainly want to use reaction rolls for wilderness encounters and have explicit rules about parlaying to make that option salient to players.

Number (3), about space as a puzzle to be solved is harder in a "zoomed out" wilderness map. What could it mean? Do we introduce a system of easy travel from some hexes to other hexes? Shortcuts built into the flow of the hexmap? That might work. But in this post I try something different instead, leveraging something unique to wilderness travel, namely mechanics about getting lost, to create an economy of known landmarks to navigate by. By creating archipelagos of landmarks to uncover in a sea of wilderness, the party can learn through exploration how to create routes from one destination to another and make tactical choices about movement. 

Instead of aesthetically pleasing maps that mix a medley of different terrain types, the system in this post works best for the exploration of discrete wilderness regions that is a single base type of terrain. Mirkwood Forest; The West Trinnu Jungle Lands; The Mermist Swamp. Hexes are differentiated not primarily by terrain type, but rather by landmarks that are treated as icons on the map. Furthermore, this is not a system for traveling across friendly lands or for one-shot journeys from point A to point B. It's written for play that begins and ends in a safe home base, from which multiple sallies into the perilous wilderness can be made, so that learning the terrain over time has major advantages for the group. It also will work best with a shared electronic map resources like Hexographer or Hex Kit that allows for easy placement and deletion of hexes, although you could certainly make it work with a few sheets of blank hexpaper too. 

A lot of the rules here are widely used. The innovation, I think, comes mainly in terms of the use of landmarks. But someone has probably already thought of something similar, so feel free to link below. Note that these rules presuppose 2d6 stat and skill checks, with a max positive modifier of +2 and max negative modifier of -1. 


The gear you carry on a mission is a resource. Jorune: Evolutions uses a slot based encumbrance system that tracks how many significant items you are carrying. It is important that you list items on your character sheet in the order of accessibility, with lower numbers being more accessible than higher numbers.

Clothing, jewelry or knick-knacks, and your pack do not fill slots. Armor, on the other hand, does occupy slots: (Light 2 , medium 4, heavy 6). Small items of the same kind can be bundled in 4s. Each brace of ammunition counts as one slot. Large or bulky items occupy two (or more) slots.

  • 10 + Str Mod + Size Mod items or fewer: unencumbered
  • 11-15 + Str Mod + Siz Mod items: encumbered
  • 15-20 + Str Mod + Siz Mod items: heavily encumbered
Animal Encumbrance:

  • Thombo/Horse: 20 Slots Unencumbered/21-25 Slots Encumbered/26-30 Slots Heavily Encumbered. Carrying a Rider=10 Slots. 
  • Bochugon: 40 Slots Unencumbered/41-50 Slots Encumbered/51-60 Slots Heavily Encumbered. Carrying a rider=10 slots.

Encumbered: Reduce travel movement by 1 hex. -1 to physical stat checks, physical skills, and combat rolls. Make a stamina check after a day of travel. On a 6- acquire one level of exhaustion (§2.7)

Heavily Encumbered: Reduce travel movement by 2 hexes. -1 to physical stat checks, physical skills, and combat rolls. Test stamina at -1 after a day of travel and at the end of each combat in which the character participates. On a 6- acquire one level of exhaustion.

Travel Speeds

All travel is represented by movement across a hexmap representing a wilderness region to be explored. Travel speeds are measured in hexes. There is base travel speed depending on your method of travel. Note that everyone must employ a certain mode of transport to benefit from the higher travel speed. Travel speed is not variable by terrain type, since we assume a single base type of terrain. In regions where movement is easy, hex sizes are assumed to be larger (3 miles). In regions that are harder to move through, hex sizes are assumed to be smaller (1 or 2 miles depending on how hard the terrain is). 

Base Land Travel Speeds:

  • On Foot: 5 Hexes
  • Bochugon: 5 Hexes
  • Thombo:  6 Hexes
  • Horse: 7 Hexes
  • Encumbered: -1 Hex
  • Heavily Encumbered: -2 Hexes

When the party has exhausted its movement on foot, the party may choose to continue pushing further. For each hex the party moves into, each character must test stamina or acquire one level of exhaustion. When mounted, the mounts make the check instead of the humans. For each exhaustion check after the first, roll a wound check for the mount to see if it dies.


It is possible to face exhaustion when encumbered, starving, engaging in forced marching, or hard labor. In such circumstances, test stamina. On a 6- you acquire a level of exhaustion. Each level of exhaustion fills 5 equipment slots. When the character surpasses extremely encumbered, their character can go no further without rest.

To recover a level of exhaustion, you must camp and have access to whatever can address your condition (sleep, food, etc.). Upon wakening test stamina. On a 7+ remove a level of exhaustion. Some forms of exhaustion, including exhaustion from wounds, cannot be recovered through camping.

Travel Roll

Upon entering a hex, one player makes a travel roll (1d6). The travel roll is a version of Necropraxis' Hazard System. It is heavily influenced by Ava Islam's reworking of the overloaded encounter die for Errant

  1. Encounter
  2. Sign
  3. Mishap
  4. Flora or Fauna
  5. Local
  6. Discovery
More on the travel roll in another post. For now, it's enough to know that each of these results will have their own table. We all know about encounters. Signs are traces that foreshadow an encounter. If an encounter or sign is rolled in the next hex, then there is an encounter with whatever left the signs discovered in the previous hex. Mishaps are little travel difficulties that accumulate if multiple mishaps are rolled. Flora and fauna are animal encounters or the discovery of limilates or other interesting plants. Local is some region specific event or phenomenon. Discovery means stumbling across some notable feature of the hex. 

Hex Features and Landmarks

Most hexes will have 2-3 features that are like the layers of an onion, representing the more and the less obvious notable features in a hex. (I'm influenced here by Hot Springs Island.) These features can be landmarks, resources, anomalies in UVG's sense, adventuring locations, and so on. Landmarks are the anchors of exploration. They generally represent easily identifiable terrain features that allow one to locate oneself clearly on the map. In easily navigable terrain, all hexes will have a landmark in them. In more difficult terrain, like trackless wastes or dense jungle, perhaps every third or fourth hex will have a landmark in it. 

Features are always discovered in a fixed order from most to least obvious. This means that in traveling across already encountered hexes, one will sometimes stumble upon something previously undiscovered. If there is no feature left to discover in a hex, then when a discovery is made, the Sholari announces that the hex is fully explored and this is noted on the map.

Note that not all keyed features of a hex are landmarks. This might be because the feature is more difficult to find in the hex or because the feature is found in multiple hexes. If they're not landmarks, they're things in the hex that are not good resources for navigating by. 

Exploring a Hex

The party may opt to use one movement to explore a hex. Doing this gives them a very good chance of discovering a feature of the hex. If there is a landmark in a hex, then the landmark is always the first discovery. In fact, the first search will automatically reveal any undiscovered landmark in the hex (no roll necessary). 

If there isn’t an undiscovered landmark remaining in the hex, the party rolls an exploration die to see if they turn up anything through their search. In doing so, they hazard an encounter. If they roll a discovery, then the party uncovers the next feature of the hex in order. Once again, if they roll a discovery when no features remain, the Sholari will inform the party the hex is fully explored. 

  1. Encounter
  2. Sign
  3. Flora or Fauna
  4. Discovery
  5. Discovery
  6. Discovery
There are some instances where a landmark is so obvious that it can be identified by anyone passing through the hex,  and so does not require a discovery roll to uncover.

Getting Lost

Each day the Sholari makes a secret survival skill check for the relevant wilderness type to see if they get lost using the wilderness survival skill of the mission member with the highest score. This is a 2d6 check modified by skill level in the relevant type of wilderness (untrained -1/trained +0/skilled +1/master +2). On a 6- they become lost. Since no one starts higher than skilled, and since becoming a master in a skill is not easy, this means that people will often get lost. (This is an intentional design choice that emphasizes the importance of uncovering landmarks, more on which shortly.)

If lost, the Sholari will dice to see in which hex of the day's travel the party goes off course. The Sholari will then roll 1d6 to see which way the party moves out of that hex. (Note there is a 1 in 6 chance that becoming lost has no ill effect if they end up moving in the intended direction.) All further moves after that point reorient the hexfaces so that the erroneous direction is treated as the intended direction. 

Suppose the party goes awry in a particular hex, intending to move north. This in the normal key:

Suppose the Sholari rolls 6. Instead of Moving N the party goes NW. For the remainder of the day's moves, the Sholari moves the party using this reoriented hex key for movement. 

Note that if the party stops traveling for the day before that hex comes up, then they do not become lost. 

While lost, the Sholari will refer to the hexes on the shared player-facing map as though the party were moving along the intended route, while tracking the real location of the party on the private Sholari map. If the party is lost on a second day, the Sholari will repeat the process, starting from the party's erroneous orientation and then swiveling the departing hex face once again by rolling 1d6.

The party can definitively realize it is lost in two ways. The first is by succeeding at a survival skill check for a new day after camping, representing the fact that they realize they were not quite traveling in the right direction the previous day. The second is when the party fails to reach a known landmark they expect to reach along their intended route. At this point the party may move using the regular hex key with any moves they have left from their current location and try to find their way back to terra cognita.

When the party enters a hex with a landmark they have previously discovered they stop being lost. As long as they have not been lost for multiple consecutive days, the party will be able to reconstruct their movements, and the Sholari may now tell the party the hexes the party moved through while lost on the normal map, and will place any landmarks they discovered along the way on the map.

While lost, if the party believes themselves to be in hexes they have previously explored that do not contain a landmark, they may try to locate themselves by exploring the hex to try to discover features with which they are familiar. In such circumstances, rather than revealing the next new feature of the hex, the Sholari should first give them features from the hex key they have previously discovered. If it's a unique enough feature found solely in that hex, then the Sholari may declare them no longer lost.  

If this sounds complicated, I provide an illustrative example at the end of the post. I promise that it's not as complicated as it sounds in play. Also, if it's not already apparent, discovering landmarks to tether your wilderness travel is utterly crucial in this system.


If the party wishes to camp in the wilderness, the mission member with the highest wilderness survival skill rolls a check for the group in their effort to find a suitable camp site. In inclement weather, this check receives a -1 penalty. For the result, consult the following table:

  • 6-: Uncomfortable camp: Party takes disadvantage on their grit roll and receives -1 on stamina checks to recover from exhaustion.
  • 7-9: Suitable camp: Party rolls for grit in the morning as usual.
  • 10+: Choose 1
    • Comfortable camp: Party rolls for grit (hp) with advantage in the morning and receives +1 on stamina checks to recover from exhaustion.
    • Hidden camp: As a suitable camp, but the party does not check for an encounter during the night.
Note that one may make a camp at any point in the day. If the group sets up camp and still has moves remaining, they may explore the hex or hunt and gather. They may also try to find a better campsite, expending a move to have a different player roll a second wilderness survival check in the hopes of finding a better campsite. The party may repeat this process as many times as they have moves.

Hunting and Gathering

At the cost of one hex move, and a roll of the travel die, the party member with the highest survival skill may test survival to hunt and gather. If the terrain is lush they may add +1. If the terrain is barren -1.

  • 6-: the party comes up empty handed
  • 7-9: one half the party (rounding up) need not consume rations for the day
  • 10+ no one in the party need consume rations for the day

Starvation & Dehydration

If when the party camps, they do not have sufficient rations for everyone then someone must go hungry, or the party must ration their food spreading the effects more evenly. If someone goes hungry they make a stamina check. On a 6- they acquire one level of exhaustion. On subsequent days they test stamina at a cumulative -1: on a 6- they acquire another level of exhaustion. Levels of exhaustion acquired in this way go away when the exhausted individual eats a full meal and camps for the night. Each meal eaten removes one level of exhaustion, at a maximum of one per day.

Rationing spreads the check to more people but gives a bonus to the check corresponding to the number of people with rations.

  • Two people splitting 1 ration: each checks stamina at +1
  • Three people splitting 2 rations: each checks stamina at +2
  • Four people splitting 3 rations: each checks stamina at +3


We're sorely in need of an example of travel using landmarks, and the procedures for getting lost. Suppose the Sholari's map of a certain region of the West Trinnu Jungle Lands looks like this (I used Hex Kit as the program):

Let's suppose that off the bottom of the map that white is grasslands, and so a change of terrain where the map ends. Keep in mind that the "blank" hexes each have their own keys with 2-3 features to be discovered, some of them significant. All that is represented on the map visually are the landmarks. Let us suppose through exploration, the players have uncovered this many of the landmarks on the map:

The players are now planning an expedition. They are marching on foot beginning in hex 0610. They are not encumbered and so have a base move of 5. They would like leisurely to travel on to the NE to hex 0710 with its unmistakable brown fens. Then they will continue NE into hex 0809 and 0909, before turning north to end up at the Great Gate in hex 0909, where they can take the extra time to make a nice camp or further explore the hex. The next day they're hoping to cautiously strike out  into terra incognita in the unexplored hexes around 0908, because they have heard that skull dungeon is somewhere to the east of the Great Gate. In short, the players are being cautious, using two known landmarks to navigate, and giving themselves time to make a nice camp and do a bit of exploration. Let us assume they also have one PC with them who is skilled (+1) in jungle survival. The following narrative focuses solely on movement and so I pass over the adventures they have along the way as a result of their travel rolls, encounters, and so on.

At the start of the day, the Sholari rolls a jungle survival roll 2d6+1=5, which means the party will become lost somewhere along the way. Since the party is only traveling 4 hexes today,  the Sholari rolls 1d4 to see what move they go off track. The Sholari rolls a 2. So the party moves into hex 0710 with the brown fens successfully, seeing the landmark they expect there. But with the next move, they go off track. The Sholari rolls 1d6 to see which they move with 1=North. So instead of moving into hex 0809 they move into hex 0709. They then continue straight into hex 0708. (They do not discover the muadra encampment in the hex, because they didn't roll a discovery on their travel roll and did not choose to explore the hex.) They then in their last move turn what they believe is N, but is in fact NW, ending in hex 0607. Arriving in the hex, they do not see the landmark they are expecting to find there (the Great Gate) and so realize they are lost. 

The Sholari no longer pretends they know what hex they are in. They tell the players they are lost and do not know what hex they are in. They deliberate about what to do. They know they are within 3 hexes of the brown fens 0710, and quite possibly within 2 hexes, depending on where they went awry. They have one move left for the day. They reason that they have enough rations for two days, and a very good chance of making their survival roll the next day (72%). Their plan is to explore the hex they're in to see if they can uncover a landmark or some feature that might be familar, and then make camp for the night. Their search discovers a feature rather than a landmark and some adventure is had before they make camp.

The following day, they make their survival roll and head due south from their current position, exploring each hex as they move through it. They move to hex 0610 and explore it, turning up a previously unknown features. They then move south to hex 0609 and explore again, this time finding something that sure seems familiar from their previous explorations--a small copse of a rare limite (a psycedelic herb), lit by the unearthly light of glowferns. The Sholari then reveals to them where they are in the map. The party breaths a sigh of relief and uses their last move to return to the brown fens in 0710 to deliberate about what to do next.


  1. In addition to landmarks bother terrain feature that might be discoverable are natural routes that enable faster travel - a cave or pass through a mountain ridge, a sunken road or fast moving stretch of river in jungle. These routes may extend for multiple hexes, enabling fast movement over multiple days, or greater range in the one day. They might only have an entry/exit (e.g. caves or passes), or might be enterable at any point. Some might be fast in only one direction, some passable in only one direction. And not all fast routes are useful — some might dump you into a region of difficult terrain requiring extra effort to navigate out.

    Welcome to snakes & ladders, wilderness edition.

    1. I agree that "snakes and ladders wilderness edition" is a great possibility to explore. One problem with combining this the system I describe above is that, aside from the cave entrance or some other "secret route", a lot of the faster travel possibilities have to do with terrain that stretches across multiple hexes, and generally differentiates one area of hexes from another in terms of geography. Whereas the system using landmarks sorta depends on having "flat" terrain where one hex is, at least as a baseline, indistinguishable from other hexes. So I'd think you'd need some caution in mixing these two techniques. But there's definitely a lot of possibilities there to explore.

  2. Ian Borchardt on social media writes, "For exploration map crawl games I tend to replace the "getting lost" die with a die representing whether you were actually able to enter the new hex (after paying the movement cost for it).

    You can attempt to backtrack, which has the same roll to enter a new hex, but with a bonus. A failure to do so means that you are fully lost. Even then you might move back into the same hex you originally came from, but you won't recognise it.

    There are reasons travel by road, river, or with a native guide is often preferred."

    1. Interesting, Ian. If you can’t enter the hex, are you allowed to try again by burning another move?

    2. Ian says in reply, "
      No. You have to look for another hex to go through. The basic idea comes from reading the diaries and journals of old timey explorers, particularly trying to penetrate rugged terrain."

  3. I have a hex crawl project in the wings, and think we have a lot of similar influences for the procedures I'm thinking of using. One thing I'm not convinced provides any meaningful fun is getting lost. How have your players handled the system above?

    1. I haven't play tested this system yet, because it's for my upcoming campaign, which is still a ways in the future. (I'm wrapping up my 5 year+ dreamlands campaign now.) That said, I have used different, more traditional, "getting lost" rules for my current campaign when players explored the White Jungle of the Dreamlands. It led to a few fun sessions, where one group of players ended up exploring some jungle areas they wouldn't otherwise have stumbled on by getting lost. It also felt kind of tense, which seems good. In other words, basically, I like it, although I find the tradition getting lost rules hard to implement consistently. (That's part of the impetus for this post.) Anyway, what doesn't seem fun about getting lost?

  4. These seem like robust rules and I very much enjoy both the camping mini-game and idea of overlaying the concerns of dungeon exploration on the map.

    I've always though wilderness exploration was oddly designed in D&D (and hence RPGs more generally), feeling more like lost hikers stumbling about in a National park (inexplicably filled with large numbers of dangerous beasts) rather then a planned journey from place to place.

    The thing I wonder a bit more on with these rules are rivers and roads. Functional tracks and river travel dramatically reduce risk in the wilderness (presumably not from highwaymen)and the majority of landmarks/sites should be near them. Likewise they would be likely to have better used campsites and even waystations such as those along the pilgrim trails across the Pyrenees . I wonder how all that might be modeled

    1. Good points all. I've wondered about some of these questions too, and I have a couple of thoughts.

      I did think that one thing hexes might contain, as a feature in the key that a party could discover, might be a comfortable campsite or waystation.

      Similarly, there may be trails that could be discovered as another feature of a hex. Maybe they negate any "getting lost roll" as long as you're heading in their direction. They might lead just one hex. But perhaps there are very long trails that follow a definite path. Then things will get a little more complicated. Perhaps they're not so easy to follow until you know your way about. Then I would make them discoverable in each hex they pass through with an exploration roll. Once you had discovered all of them, you would have unlocked a safe route. That's a fun idea that gives us some of the shoots and ladders energy that Garumoo was suggesting above. I think it would work with this system.

      If the paths are more like obvious roads, then you probably don't need much of this system, since you just travel down the road.

      I've thought a bit about how to handle features like rivers. Part of what makes them complicated for this system is that they tell you something geographically, but since the rivers pass through a lot of hexes, they don't really tell you where you are. Probably I would have special rules for a river. Like, if you follow the river bank then you can't get lost, unless the river has many tributaries, marshes, and wetlands, where navigation will get tricky, since what it means to "follow the river" will be unclear.

  5. The thing that has changed the outdoor campaign for me has honestly been roads.

    Roads, rivers, gorges, etc. they tend to strongly channel the party's movement much in the same way corridors in a dungeon do. You are then back into your comfort-zone as a DM of placing interesting features near or along an expected route. Is this point-crawl? Even if they can go in any direction but frequently choose not to? Usually they are trying to "get somewhere" and events happen on that journey that distract and deflect.

    The player decisions happen at the crossroads and/or do we press on or turn back. Again, very analogous in underground exploration.

    At the points-of-interest, you can then zoom in. But because you are outdoors, the topology of the site (3D) really comes into play. It's also *very* esay for the party to simply choose to walk past or avoid a feature entirely. Instead of feeling bad about this, there's something wonderful about having created content that's just "sitting there", established. Once the party has touched it, in some small way it becomes real.

    It actually adds depth to your world---those undiscovered countries. It is also wonderful when the games loops back and returns, sometimes years later, and you realize something you mentioned piqued your player's interest even though they ellicted no outwards signs.

    I apology if I am stating the obvious.

    I guess I don't understand the allure of hexcrawl---don't really understand what folks are looking for, but the clues I've picked up make it feel very procedural (which is just not how I've ever played). Sure, random encounters = wandering monsters, but that's just to inject dynamism into an established framework. It would feel incongruous to me to roll for a random tomb or lost city. That's a different kind of game. Things are either "there" or not.

    1. The allure is not hard to explain. For example, in my dreamlands game there is a 3D inverted jungle that hangs from the flying island on which the city of Zyan sits. It's chock full of adventure to be had, with ruined temples and manses from the glory days of Zyan when people still traveled the jungle. There are many factions with their own agendas, and resources and wonder, and two tentpole dungeons. It's fun and dangerous to find out what lies in the next hex, just as fun as it is to see what lies behind the next door in the dungeon. We certainly zoom in, as you say, whenever an adventuring locale is reached. Discovery of important locations is an achievement, and travel to and from adventuring locales is its own adventure.

      I agree that undiscovered country is fun, and it's fun to return later to things that were unexplored. My system does that in spades. That's kinda the point of the travel roll. You could even pass over a hex many times before stumbling on something that's been there all along. And of course, there are the hexes left unexplored.

      About your last comment, to be clear, I don't roll random tombs or cities. Everything is on the map already. Did something I wrote suggest otherwise? The discovery roll is to discovery something that is already on the map, and so already planned out by me.

      About the cross-roads and natural channels of travel approach, I get that there are some pleasures to be had there, and I can see wanting to make that sort of thing central if you want to be more realistic. But it makes wilderness travel less its own mode of exploration and much more "marching from point A to point B", just as you say. I'm trying to avoid that.

    2. The part I'm not understanding is your last bit: "I'm trying to avoid that." Avoid what, heading some place and having adventures on the way? Or better yet what is is that you are trying to attain?

      What is the hex-crawl alternative---un-directed jungle exploration? Livingston and the like? Walking past things (concretely laid out as you say) but not noticing them? The desired end-state-of-play is what alludes me.

      With the example of your inverted jungles: if you map them with 3 miles hexes...isn't that close enough for discovery? My neighborhood fits in a 3-miles hex....if something is there I'd probably find it (or likely enough for a night's game of D&D).

    3. The idea is that exploration of a wilderness area would be a primary adventuring activity. You're in a homebase town, and adventuring happens "out there" in the unexplored wilderness. Of course there would be reasons to explore, hooks and the like that would steer in you in certain directions. "To the northwest of the monolith hill there is said to be a temple of serpent kings", or hunting some dangerous beast that stalks some area, or whatever. But you'd have to look for the adventure site, and there would be tons of other stuff you would uncover just by tromping around. So it's very much not: you go into the wilderness just to get from known point A to known point B. So it probably wouldn't be directionless exploration most of the time, although those sessions could be fun too if the party decided to explore a certain region to get the lay of the land and see what's out there without chasing down a particular hook.

      If you were playing D&D the end state would be all the normal goals of adventure: treasure, faction play, etc. As it happens, I'm building the system for my Jorune: Evolutions campaign where the party will be simultaneously trying to impress local patrons, and also locate natural resources to fund their expeditions to find ancient Earth-Tec, mind altering limilates (drugs), Shanthic artifacts, and other things that will enable them to undergo evolutions.

      About your last question, yes, the idea is if you are in dense jungle and you're passing through a hex, there will certainly be things you don't find the first time around, unless you really take the time to poke around and explore it thoroughly. That's quite plausible. A 3 mile hex is huge, and just by walking across it there would be an incredible amount I would miss.

  6. I will also add, when designing your campaign world with travel in mind with main channels of travel, I tend to look at everything is terms of "days of travel".

    As Gus said above, that spaces the hamlets, towns, and campsites appropriately. It also determines how close factions are likely to be.

    I lived in Illinois, not far from Lake Geneva. There was a road out there called "Half Day Road". It's name was derived from its distance.

    1. In Ultraviolet Grasslands they go even farther, and roads are measured in weeks! I have to say I like the day/week approach. It definitely leads to a point crawl rather than hexcrawl approach, which honestly is also fine by me.