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Long Road Journey - Choosing the Right System


(tipsta) #1

There's a very simple and actually somewhat mundane idea for a game that's been on my mind. Simply put, the party is traveling to a place far away (with the appropriate amount of hurdles and forks on the road there) but towns are spread really really far apart. Highlighting the struggles of simply traveling. A Human vs Nature conflict. Hitting on things like preparation, surviving rough conditions, carrying survival gear vs valuable loot, and learning from previous mismanagement.

Turning choices that would otherwise not be a big deal into a tough call. "Do we drop our surplus food for this valuable barrel of oil?" "Do we travel over the mountain bearing the elements or travel through the mountain in the dwarven ruins?" "Do we hire a local guy who knows the route because this next stretch of road is more dangerous than the least, or do we buy that second mule we've been talking about?"

I'm looking for the right system, one that will work with me instead of against me. I know Ryuutama has a focus on a travel-based campaign however it's tone seems a bit too light, just need a little more edge. Maybe D&D Basic/Expert would work (starting at level 3ish) or maybe some retoclone like Lamentations. Burning Wheel isn't reliant on combat to maintain interest, so that's an option but doesn't have very strict rules on carrying things so I'd have to find/make some. I don't know how well Torchbearer handles overland travel. It has an inventory system that's a bit too specific, a level of detail I'm not interested in. Torchbearer is also a bit too severe in tone.

(banned) #2

I was going to suggest Torchbearer actually. Eric Vulgaris has run it in a very light manner, it's still dangerous of course The Grind being what it is. And while the game is about dungeons, you can massage the definition of a dungeon easily enough.

But I don't think D&D or Lamentations, and certainly not Burning Wheel will give you what you want.

The issue with DnD or retroclones is that as players survive they will get more powerful and be able to handwave the dangers you want to put in front of them.

Burning Wheel is pretty explicitly about intrigue games.

It really depends on how mechanically involved you want to get with it.

(sythmaster) #3

Something that works closely off of the old Outdoor Survival Game? I'm not sure what other games picked up its design habits though.

(VyRe40) #4

The first thing that came to my mind was Swan Song. In effect, it sounds like you want a blended system (crunchy, precise combat with a risky skill system) with inventory management as a flowing background mechanism. Are you going for a high fantasy angle with this game (wizards and powerful monsters), or lower fantasy (minimum magic, focus on animals and humans)?

I have some ideas for how you could really easily hack D&D with a 2d6 partial-success skill system (again, like Swan Song) oriented toward specializations within D&D categories to add to that man vs. nature flavor (hunting+ instead of survival, etc.) and an accessible give-and-take inventory system. Let me know if that sounds interesting to you.

(banned) #5

If you're going there then go with Other Dust, it's Post Apocalyptic.

Similar faction system at least.

(VyRe40) #6

Depends on what kind of thematic flavor OP wants. If they're going fantasy, Other Dust wouldn't really fit (not "raw", at least). Scarlet Heroes is the fantasy sister-game to Sine Nomine's works, probably more directly applicable.

(banned) #7

Well then Stars wouldn't work very well either lol. I'd not heard about Scarlet Heroes though.

(tipsta) #8

Yeah, I'm definitely looking to play fantasy. I don't think the faction system from Sine Nomine would help catch the idea I'm chasing.
@Jabba_the_space_gangster I entirely disagree with the assertion that Burning Wheel is only about intrigue games. I think it works best as a slice of medieval-life system. burning Wheel has systems that would support intrigue and conspiracies, but I don't think that's it's limited to only that.
@VyRe40 Not so interested in that, thanks though.

This concept I'm chasing comes from a youtube review of Dungeon Siege actually. I wouldn't put nearly as much combat in it the campaign as in the game however. I don't expect any of you to watch it, it's pretty long but it really gets what I'm going for.

(VyRe40) #9

Yeah. My idea wasn't about using SWN, but doing a conversion of D&D inspired by the Sine Nomine skill system with modifications via Adam/John that were applied to Swan Song.

If I remember correctly, Scarlet Heroes was a predecessor to SWN (mechanically).

(VyRe40) #10

The themes and mechanisms of Dungeon Siege seem to revolve heavily around Diablo-esque ARPG meatgrinding on a long path.

If you just want a "journey campaign", you can build a hexcrawl with an intended story path, running off of D&D (like West Marches, but with a destination objective). Check out Hexographer, a really easy mapmaking tool for DMs. There's also a ton of resources around the web for Hexcrawl tips. Build random tables for specific environmental encounters to give that organic feel. Use default inventory rules as carrying capacity restrictions - a large wilderness will already force players to figure out inventory management if you load them up with heavy loot and don't give them a lot of economy hubs to sell, trade, and buy (hunt for food, break their tools, etc.). Or simplify the inventory system by using a video game grid (a la Diablo/Dungeon Siege). Use the official alternate rules from the DMG to make the "survival" aspect more challenging with managing health, etc.