Running Wilderness Adventures

  • Pitcrew

    I have been recently wondering how best to tackle wilderness adventures in a MU* setting. My background is in D&D, particularly old-school D&D, where your character is essentially a needle in an infinitely large board game. The focus is more on resource management, tactics, and exploration, rather than character development and their narrative. I have been trying to go bridge this divide and find a pre-existing system that can help.

    I have looked to Mouseguard, which is a Burning Wheel setting, but the mechanics are to tied to the traits system in the Burning Wheel character sheet to be able to lift them and use them in another system. Torchbearer is another BW setting and it has the added difficulty of being dungeon focused and /very/ resource management heavy which doesn't translate well to MUSHes.

    Anyone have some suggestions on how to marry the exploration and resource management of OSR D&D and the narrative focus of most MU*a?

  • @Ominous Might want to look into Twilight 2000. I don't know with 100% certainty what, if any, resource management systems are in there. It's been a long time. Be forewarned the game is old school, crunchy, and sometimes reads like a military field guide.

    But I do know that the game primarily deals with being a part of a military unit cut off from the main supply chain during WW3 (yes, three). So I remember there being stuff like making stills to produce alcohol that works in engines, medicine including antibiotics, and things like "hunting/foraging to avoid starvation because WW3 makes it hard to find a useful Taco Bell".

    If anything there might be some ideas/tables/systems in there that might help you. At the least? Character generation in that game is amazeballs. You basically gen a character through high school lifepathing (family, childhood, high school) and then pick a path (military, college, civilian work, law enforcement). Each round adds something like 4 years to your age and you roll at the end of each round to determine if WAR BREAKS OUT...which ends cgen.

    So you could end up with a 22 year old college hacker, a 30-something marine force recon who was in ROTC in high school, or even a 50+ year old doctor who had a family practice in Warsaw...and then Red Dawn Game Happens. Younger characters tend to have better physical stats and less skills. Older characters the opposite. Makes for interesting cgen for sure.

  • Approach it like a board game instead of a RPG. I'm sure there are some games like Puerto Rico or something that you could adapt easier than shoe horning in an RPG.

    A few years ago, I was looking at doing an Arkham Horror mush, which was just basically the board game with RP. Every week a player can explore a location with friends in a little PrP based on the random card that was drawn for there.

  • Pitcrew

    I should clarify. I am looking for how to run these types of adventures within a pre-existing MU* as a storyteller. If I was designing my own MU*, it would have these elements built in already and there is no issue. The problem is trying to tell overland adventure/travel stories inside of a pre-existing system that is more built to handle social RP and fighting. I worry that the players will get bored with just chatting to one another while riding their horses and the only other option is just to throw combat after combat at them.

  • Pitcrew

    @Ominous Maybe you could set it up as a series of encounters and roll for complications/puzzles x amount of times per day of travel. Finding shelter (putting it up in a sudden storm), running into bandits/suspicious townsfolk, coming across an injured, sick, or dead person that needs to be helped or investigated, ummm hunting, having a pack horse run off, ect. Or finding a cache of something, spotting a new plant, ect.

    The encounters you put in your roladex for that group can be customized to their interests/strengths.

  • Pitcrew

    If the system has a luck-type stat, have people roll Luck at the beginning of a travel scene - this scene can encompass a day of travel, a week, whatever. Low or high rolls trigger encounters at some point during the scene, and the intensity of that encounter will probably depend on the theme/setting of the game. It doesn't have to be combat or danger! I've had wonderful travel scenes that involved just seeing creatures that the PCs have never seen before, or stumbling into a traveling group of entertainers. Dangerous encounters also don't have to be combat - make use of weather and terrain offer exciting encounters. Mudslides, flooded rivers, snow or thunderstorms, or non-combat dangerous encounters like a stampede or a swarm of tiny insects that can't be beaten with swords.

    To me, the trick is to keep encounters balanced between travel disasters and travel opportunities, and that each character gets a chance to shine. 13th Age, which is admittedly more narrative, also suggests a 'travel montage' if there's a lot of travel involved but you just don't want to play it out fully, but you want to have things have happened that give PCs a chance to talk about and develop relationships from it. Basically, it starts out with the DM narrating the travel, and mentioning an obstacle, then picking a PC and saying that they solved it, and asking the player how. No rolls required. Then that PC narrates the next obstacle the party ran into, and calls out another PC as being the 'hero' that time, and so forth. Until everyone has a chance to have solved an obstacle, and the party has some fun noodle stories to bond over.

  • @Ominous said in Running Wilderness Adventures:

    Anyone have some suggestions on how to marry the exploration and resource management of OSR D&D and the narrative focus of most MU*a?

    Most Mu's are not ready to handle random exploration and resource management, travel oriented or not. If they are, they already have some +scavange/search/explore code that runs, lets PC's know what they turn up. Most do not have great loss/gain opportunities, of that which I'm aware at least. I'm might scavenge some bullets on an apocalyptic Mu' that doesn't track bullet consumption, but the chance of stumbling upon an operational nuclear power plant (or stumble on the adventure to recover one/take one over from outland bandits and roadwarriors) is usually zero because they don't allow the chance to just find that.

    Not to argue tight meta control vs. world reaction to what players are doing as what Staff should/shouldn't be doing. However, most places generally are set up with indicators how, why and to whom one should work with/on/for in creating a TP in the environment. Most seem open to small scale things that do not tip balance and only want more opportunity for wider player-base and thus why they ask for TP. To help promote it and/or direct inquiries related to said TP to the player runner/storyteller. Again, if a MU* doesn't have it or has it for other control reasons, I'm not making the argument either way as that's not the intent of the question from my perspective.

    All that said, I would measure the necessity to all players involved in the story of running an Oregon Trail overland haul to get to X location, and/or return. If pausing a day to fix the wagon wheel causes a food shortage and they need to hunt, is the resource management necessary or just a story driver. If its a story driver and there is no need to work with staff to assure any loot from the hunting adventure is allowed or whatever ... have at it, so long as the players are all on board.

    That's what I wanted to get at, introduce encounters as 'x happened, you are low on y resources' for them to consider their next step. You can set it up at the beginning, you have X supplies to make the trip to Y and back, you have enough space to house it all in your wagons/cars/caravan/space ship. They know up front that this could be important. Thus you can plant other encounters into your table - meet gypsies, meet space ghosts, find shipwreck, whatever. And they have their counter of supplies to think about. They can trade with gypsies, get location of actual stuff from ghosts they communicate with, or scavenge the shipwreck looking for what they need, etc.

    Going back to the bolded stuff above, is travel time required or necessary on said Mu? This goes into are players on board, will they think they're missing out on events back in the main locations by being on the Oregon Trail? Is handwaving the recommended form of distances between locations? Then just make sure players are on board.

    And as much as I enjoy random encounter tables, set up by environment/location/population density/whatever, do the players involved enjoy them? If it was me, and I was in some plot with another player to travel two weeks to remove location, do the thing, then come back and I knew we would off-grid for that time (required by the MU* or the storyteller), I think it might be just as beneficial/fun to handwave going/coming back and focus the time 'off-grid' on all adventure and story for whatever we're doing at the location too.

    Then again, random encounters could be fun, so long as its not 'your stuck in scene for four hours discussing how to fix the real axle' then waiting for players to realize 'we need to discuss ditching the wagon and loosing a week of supplies, hopefully recover that to get back home after we get to River Dale, or take a day out and have to hunt now for food to even reach River Dale, or sending scouts ahead'. The later could be fun yes, but if players don't realize that's the intent of the broken axle random encounter either due to culture on the MU' in question or unrealized expectations from storyteller, it could go south just the same.

    Spammy, but all that said, if everyone is on board, do what others are suggesting as they're all good stuff. Pick a system that already does this they way you like and adapt it to the MU' you are on, just let folks know what to expect so they don't feel rail-roaded into something they didn't realize they're signing up for.

    Edited to remove asterisks and fix italicized words.

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