To you, the road my be a gateway to opportunity, adventure, and riches but to the road, you’re like a squishy food truck delivering tasty organs to its denizens. To survive the perils that lurk between every city, you’re going to have to fully embrace the food truck role and tear out the guts of anything that tries to eat you. Being well equipped is also kind of important.
When you pick a destination for your journey, the GM will inform you of generally how big of a trip you should be preparing for. There are two categories of travel that any trip can fall under.
A domestic journey is one between cities within the same national borders. They’re typically safer and cover less ground. The dangers you face in domestic journeys are typical road hazards and malicious people. There are merchants, bridges, rail roads, ferries, and settlements along the way so it’s not necessary to pack every conceivable need for this type of journey.
An international journey is one that requires you to traverse national borders and miles of perilous frontier between. The extended travel requires you to get more total food and to buy extra gear to help transport all the extra supplies. If there is infrastructure along the way, you can be assured it’s poorly maintained and probably used as an ambush point by someone or something nefarious.
Before you begin a journey, the first order of business is to buy supplies. All the things you’ll need (like water, food, rope, blankets, medical supplies, torches, pack animals to carry them all, and the like) are represented abstractly by tokens; each token being enough supplies to sustain you for a leg of the journey.
|Kind of Journey||Price per Supply Token|
|Domestic Journeys||1 Coin|
|International Journeys||10 Coins|
In order to remain in good health, each traveler will need a minimum one Supply Token for each Leg of the journey (see Legs of the Journey) and it’s wise to buy extra in case supplies get lost or stolen or you encounter unexpected delays.
Ammunition for your ranged weapons is included in your supply tokens. While you have at least one Supply Token, you are considered to be fully stocked with enough ammo. If you don’t have any supply tokens, you are now rationing your ammunition by avoiding suppressive fire and making shots more carefully. To reflect this, your ranged weapons have a Second Intention damage of +0 (see Second Intention Damage) while you don’t have any Supply Tokens.
If you happen to be a filthy money-grubber, you might want to turn journeys into business ventures; serving as a transport service for folks needing goods or people moved to your destination or some place along the way.
To secure a contract, roll your Commerce with Cunning. The dice stacked toward the roll become Opportunity Dice which determine the kinds of contract available.
Contracts require a minimum up-front investment as you make any accommodations necessary to complete the deal. The minimum expense is 50 coins for every Opportunity Die in the roll. If you spend more money than is required, the client may reward you for the extra effort with patience.
Your client understands that the road is paved with risk but business still demands some kind of reliable time-line. Each contract specifies the number of setbacks (see Setbacks) that can be tolerated before you’re considered delinquent in your obligations.
If you complete the contract on time (with a number of setbacks inside the Contract Time-line), you will earn back all the money spent on the Minimum Expense plus profit as follows:
If you are late in fulfilling the contract (if you suffer more setbacks than the contract allowed for), you will be compensated for your time but you won’t earn a profit.
While traveling, the GM may be called upon to introduce some “GM-Instigated Madness,” that is, introduce a creative challenge that is appropriate to the circumstance. The kinds of challenges you may expect could depend on the sorts of cargo you’re hauling or people you’re escorting in your trade contract. The sorts of goods/people you’re transporting is based on the value of your Commerce roll. This chart lists the kinds of things you’re typically asked to haul and the sorts of dangers that could attract.
In every nation, there’s some weird ban on commodities: In the Vineyard Sultanate, there’s a strict prohibition on narcotics. In Barkenholdt, pesticides are illegal because they endanger the domesticated insects used to maintain the city. Criminals may want to sneak out of a city’s jurisdiction and there are some artifacts brought from Hell by the demons that simply should never be touched.
People seeking illegal goods or services aren’t going to be posting it on the bulletin board at the local train station so it’s a tad harder to find somebody willing to engage in this kind of contract (thus why it costs extra).
If you take on an illicit contract, the scrutiny of the local constabulary becomes a problem for you. If you’re caught, you may be fined, imprisoned or even executed for your crimes. Avoiding the law may impose Setbacks on your trip and risks making you late.
No matter where in the world you are, there’s always something along the road that wants to ruin your day. As international trade has gradually increased, so too has highway robbery. Every day, natural predators are being pushed out of the wilderness by the Fouled and into places where they’ll encounter hapless travelers. Of course, the Fouled themselves are an increasing threat, too.
People have found that it’s best to keep moving. The more quickly you pass through any area, the less likely the threats of that area are to waylay you.
When you travel, your trip is accompanied by an abstract number called a “Danger Level.” This number represents how near the local threats are and how interested they are in slurping up your innards like a bowl of noodles.
As you begin traveling, the GM will provide a starting Danger Level that you and your fellow travelers are facing. As you journey, this Danger Level can fluctuate based on your actions as well as factors that are beyond your control.
Journeys are divided into “legs.” Legs do not represent a specific amount of distance or time but are more like major transitional states in your travels. When you reach a major landmark, resting place, or change your modes of travel (like from canoe to wagon train), a new leg begins.
Each time you travel a leg, place a tally mark on an index card or some other piece of paper. This helps you track the length of the journey.
When each leg of your journey begins, you must discard one of your Supply Tokens. If you refuse to do so or if you have no Supply Tokens to discard, you must suffer a handicap to represent the weakening effects of dehydration or starvation on your character.
After consuming your supplies, the GM or one of the players in your traveling party will roll a die to determine what horrible things happen to you along the way.
When you roll this die, you will use your Danger Level to generate stack numbers in the same way your stat level does when using skills (see Using Skills). There are no skills involved with this roll and all the stack numbers of your danger level will be “trapped.”
If you stack multiple dice toward the challenge roll, the combat you begin will include multiple challenges: One challenge that matches the sum of all the stacked dice and at least two more; one that matches each of the individual die values in the roll. In this way, the challenges may chain together in a long line of locations, littered with combatants that threaten you along the way.
The results of this roll will help you build a Challenge Situation which is a special kind of Combat where one or more locations are lined up in sequence. Each location is a Challenge Location and the order they are represented in has special significance. You may pass from a Challenge Location into its secondary locations without unusual limitation but Challenges often stipulate requirements for advancing to the next Challenge Location.
You will begin the Challenge Situation in no location. If you choose to leave combat from this position, you will suffer two Setbacks for every Challenge Location (see Setbacks). You may, on your turn, choose to enter the “first” location by using the usual Enter Location (see Enter Location) simple action.
Each Challenge Location will present specific obstacles to you either as you enter or as you attempt to leave. Once you leave a Challenge Location and enter the next, you have sufficiently overcome that location’s challenge. If you enter “No Location” at any time, you will have to return through the series of challenges and overcome them all over again.
If there are multiple Challenge Locations involved in this Challenge Situation, the “second” location is only accessible from the first (and the third if a third one exists), and so forth.
If you occupy the last Challenge Location in the sequence, you may then, as a Full Action, advance beyond the Challenge Situation. Doing so will remove you from combat and you will be unable to help others endure the challenge if any are left behind.
The Challenge Situation is resolved when everyone advances or is rendered unconscious. Unconscious travelers may be carried at the cost of one Setback per carried traveler per leg.
The GM is encouraged to reward you with XP for each Challenge Situation that you overcome.
Extra locations that are not directly related to challenges can be attached to a challenge location. These extra locations are placed to the side of the main challenge location they relate to and are only accessible from the Challenge Location they associate with or from each other.
You may enter a supplementary location without paying the costs of leaving specified in the related challenge location but you may never advance to a subsequent challenge location from a location other than the challenge location that precedes it.
Sometimes, circumstances will force you to stop or take detours. You may have to repair a broken wagon or travel around a large swarm of Fouled. You might have eaten from a food truck and it gave you food poisoning. Whatever the case, every time you suffer a setback, you’ll remove one Supply Token (or suffer a handicap) and increase your Danger Level by one.
Every time you suffer a Setback, add a tally mark to the same paper that you use to track the legs of the journey. The total length of your journey can be considered to be the total number of legs plus the total number of setbacks.
Instead of traveling a leg of your journey, your party can choose to take the time to rest and recover from injuries and the fatigue that comes with life on the road.
Resting does represent a setback (see Setbacks) and thus, you’ll have to consume supplies and increase your danger level. If you did pay a Supply Token (instead of taking a handicap from the setback), your rest will reward you with healing and you’ll recover a handicap as well as an Essence.
Receiving medical attention while resting can accelerate your rate of recovery. Once per rest, you may choose to provide care for a hurt traveling companion; rolling your Medicine with Cunning against a difficulty of 6 plus one for every handicap the patient is suffering. If you succeed in this roll, your patient recovers an extra handicap during the rest interval for every die stacked toward the roll. If you fail in this roll, the patient can’t recover any handicaps this rest interval.
You may only perform one surgery per rest interval.
You can also avoid starvation by foraging for food. Doing so does come with the risk but it’s sometimes necessary.
To forage, you must roll your appropriate survival skill (such as Totemism, Mountaineering, or Seamanship if you’re at sea) with your Awareness or Cunning against a difficulty determined by the season and climate.
If you succeed, gain one Supply token plus extra Supply Tokens equal to the number of dice stacked toward the roll. If you fail, suffer a Setback.
When you embark on a journey without a specific destination in mind (such as when you’re searching for a lost city or hunting a nomadic warlord), it’s an Expedition.
Unlike normal journeys, expeditions do not end after a set number of legs but when you reach specific events or when you give up and return to your point of origin.
The rules of travel can be modified to represent other situations where your characters will engage in long periods of repetition that are punctuated by moments of important decisions.
Populating the challenges with appropriate narrative and skill rolls and simply renaming “Danger Level” to “Research Level,” you can use travel rules to illustrate the invention of a new kind of vehicle. Change it to “Preparation Level” and a travel chart can depict training before a boxing match.
A political variation on travel could rename Supply Tokens to “Influence Tokens” to represent the way you’ll have to collect favors from your allies and will narrate the perils as being more bureaucratic or courtly — calling for you to use Diplomacy and Empathy more than survival skills to overcome challenges.