I have never managed to do travel very well as DM so I am always tinkering with options. I didn’t want to hand wave all the travel that occurs after Scrapwall but I didn’t want to do straight up random encounters. I totally skipped 4th edition, it didn’t grab me. But I was recently reading some old adventures and saw the skill challenge. I decided to use this for the “travel montage” at our last session and it worked well. Here are the basic rules I used and its also the first time I ran a skill challenge at all. On a failure I rolled on the random encounter chart.
- Scrapwall to Chesed is 70 miles.
- Chesed to Knock on Wood Winery is 75 miles
- Chesed to Torch is is 125 miles
- Chesed to Iadenveigh is 225 miles
- Torch to Iadenveigh is 100 miles
Random encounter occur when a skill challenge fails. It takes one skill challenge to move from any two points in the above list. On a success the party receives 300 XP and makes it to their destination. The complexity requires 4 successes before 3 failures.
The PCs must navigate the wasteland of Nimmeria using their expertise and cunning to avoid monsters and hazards lurking everywhere in Nimmeria.
Level: 3, 300 XP on success.
Complexity: 1 (requires 4 successes before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Survival, Nature, Perception, Driving and Constitution.
Special: To travel the same route again the characters gain a advantage to all checks each time they repeat this challenge.
Constitution (DC 15): A trek through the trackless wilderness is slow and arduous. At least two characters must make Endurance checks to preserve their stamina and avoid fatigue, injury, and exhaustion. Failed checks result in everyone in the party losing 1 healing surge in addition to counting as a failure. If traveling in the rhino APC they DC is only 10.
Survival (DC 20): The trackless wastes all look the same and its easy to get turned around. The navigators job is to get the characters to where they are going.
Perception (DC 20): The character take a short-cut, granting a +2 bonus to all Endurance, Nature, and Stealth checks for the remainder of the journey.
Driving (DC 15): Does the driver even listen to the navigator?
Success: The characters reach their destination without trouble.
Failure: On a failure they are lost, take 1d6 hours to get back on track and roll on the random encounter table.
Roll 1d4 to describe for an uneventful trip. Taken from the wonderful Into the Wild.
- A group of dots appear on the horizon to your right. They gradually get larger, moving steadily across the grassland toward you. When the distance is reduced enough, you can see there are five barbarians on horseback. Their passage leaves a line in the grass where it was disturbed. They ride to the top of a small hill where they stop and sit on their horses, watching you. It looks like a hunting or raiding party: five riders, dressed in painted leathers, armed with—as best you can determine— bows and spears. Their horses are compact, small and well muscled. The whole group rests on the windy hilltop, alert but at ease. They mark your passage from beyond arrow range for a while, then turn and ride back the way they came, presently vanishing over the horizon.
- There is a sudden rustling nearby and a creature darts out of a hole in the ground and away into the taller grass where it can no longer be seen. As it charged away, it looked to be about the size of a dog but more powerful, the brown fur seemingly covering its body seemed to be hiding powerful muscles. A strange whistling sound emerges from the distance and is answered further away by a whistle in a higher pitch. Are these creatures communicating with each other? [This is a marmot is also known as the groundhog.]
- Off in the distance you see the tall grass rippling and folding under as something large and heavy bullies its way through. The breeze carries the sound of the creature to your ears, snuffling and grunting as it searches for food. [If the adventurers attempt to pursue the creature they will only find the trail it has made. Read the following:] You come upon the trail left by some large beast. The grass is flattened and crushed in a meandering trail that is roughly six feet wide, peppered irregularly with clumps of fresh dung. The beast is long gone, its path stretching on as far as your eyes can see. [As the trail runs perpendicular to the direction the adventurers are traveling, any attempts to pursue the creature will only lead them off course.]
- A stream can be seen in the distance, making a snaky line of richer green through the grassland. No trees grow along its banks, but it is distinctive because the sedges and reeds are thicker, coarser and a deeper green than the surrounding grasses. It appears to converge with the trail ahead and soon you can see it is a step or two wide, with a small amount of water running in it. The trail takes you nearer and for a bit the stream parallels the trail and you can see eroding banks, not as high as your knees, but nearly bare and vertical. Finally it intersects with the trail, broadening to a shallow channel two steps wide. You [stop for a drink, then] splash through it, smelling the water and noting the brief moment of humidity.