How to Handle Wilderness, Water, Rations, and Survival

A forum for DCC RPG judges. This forum covers adventure design, monsters, judges' advice, campaign building, and all other such things.

Moderators: DJ LaBoss, finarvyn, michaelcurtis, Harley Stroh

Post Reply
User avatar
Blutimate
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:46 am
Location: Houston, Texas
Contact:

How to Handle Wilderness, Water, Rations, and Survival

Post by Blutimate »

Hey all,

In every game I have ever run, I stray away from long-term engagements through hostile environments that are dangerous because they deal with surviving and I don't have a complete idea of how I would run them. In my games, many times we do not keep track of ammunition spent, rations, water, torches, and the like in the interest of streamlining the game. While this can be okay in certain adventures and campaigns, I'm trying to stretch myself as a judge and game master. I want to incorporate environmental hazards that are not a single obstacle but last the entire campaign.

When I read Pellucidar, the protagonist easily handles violent encounters but has the greatest difficulty with natural hazards- physically overcoming mountains, wastelands, stretches of ocean, and dangerous valleys while managing minimal equipment (I think he had 60 bullets, jerky, and a few canteens relying on traditional weapons, wildlife, and animals for the rest). These bring a conflict that is sorely missing in my games.

About 10 years ago, I read a copy of my friend's book, Sandstorm by Wizards of the Coast. It contained a lot of mechanics and ideas for this type of thing in desert regions. It seemed very rules-heavy, and while I am not fully opposed to that, I don't want to lose the tension and interest of a player group.

If you've run games that are in these environments, how do you handle these? Do you map out the area, rely on survival, focus on how well the characters prepare, or roll randomly to divine the difficulty? How do you take the focus from the mechanics and onto the conflict to draw the characters into it?

Any advice, experience, or thoughts are welcome,

David Rose
User avatar
Max_The_Judge
Deft-Handed Cutpurse
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 3:47 am
FLGS: Game Kastle

Re: How to Handle Wilderness, Water, Rations, and Survival

Post by Max_The_Judge »

My players get really testy whenever I try to introduce these elements to a game. They hate the idea of keeping track of rations, gear, and supplies. But I love the idea of an "Oregon Trail" type system for long distance overland travel. Maybe it can be reduced to some random tables? Maybe buying supplies before hand can give large bonuses to the roll?
User avatar
Blutimate
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:46 am
Location: Houston, Texas
Contact:

Re: How to Handle Wilderness, Water, Rations, and Survival

Post by Blutimate »

That's an interesting idea. Like having them "hunt" creatures for clothes and food, like in Pellucidar and Oregon Trail.

Having a table to roll on seems to take away from the conflict and drama I am trying to convey. I want an entire session or group of sessions to be about traversing a difficult environment, putting aside the overarching conflict. I guess another example of this could be Tolkien's books, a Horse and His Boy, or a book like The Hatchet (or the sequel, I think it was The River) where much of the book covers great but hazardous distances.

I just don't know how to draw them into the mindset.

David
User avatar
GnomeBoy
Tyrant Master (Administrator)
Posts: 3818
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 1:46 pm
FLGS: Bizarro World
Location: Left Coast, USA
Contact:

Re: How to Handle Wilderness, Water, Rations, and Survival

Post by GnomeBoy »

Use Luck to abstract supplies...

Some DCC GMs have used Luck to 'track' ammunition, as in "You've been firing a lot of arrows that were unrecoverable... Make a Luck check to see what you have left," the Luck check then saying "don't worry about it right now" or if the check is failed maybe roll a d6 and that's how many arrows you have left. It's quick and used mechanics that are already on the character sheets. Some players may take to this approach better than tracking each and every arrow.

If the players don't want to track rations and all that day by day, just let them know you'll play along for awhile, and then make Luck checks to see if they have run out of food, or whatever...
...
Gnome Boy • DCC playtester @ DDC 35 Feb '11. • Beta DL 2111, 7AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since '77 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

Link: Here Be 100+ DCC Monsters

bygrinstow.com - The Home of Inner Ham
User avatar
Max_The_Judge
Deft-Handed Cutpurse
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2015 3:47 am
FLGS: Game Kastle

Re: How to Handle Wilderness, Water, Rations, and Survival

Post by Max_The_Judge »

That's a really fascinating idea, GnomeBoy. I think I'll give that a shot in my games. Having players keep track of individual arrows really feels like pointless micromanagement. I think I'll just fleece them of a certain amount of gold before every adventure to account for buying supplies. Then they can use the supplies a few times before I make them do Luck checks. If they fail then they're rationing. If the succeed they can keep going.
User avatar
Blutimate
Far-Sighted Wanderer
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:46 am
Location: Houston, Texas
Contact:

Re: How to Handle Wilderness, Water, Rations, and Survival

Post by Blutimate »

Gnomeboy,

Yeah, that mechanic is awesome. I like it a lot. I am imagining the LoTR with the Lampas bread. So, they had plenty of rations, but due to overeating, accidental mishaps (falling into water, running away from orcs, etc.), and maybe even intentional tampering (Gollum) they ran out and began to starve. This could all be tied together with a luck roll. With good fortune and luck, the Lampas bread could last for almost 2 adventures without any resupplying necessary. With bad luck, they might not even get halfway to where they are going without needing to resupply, creating another adventure and opening the door for divine/patron intervention with strings attached. This might actually create a significant adventure, especially if the pcs are in an area where food is scarce: an alternate plane, the underdark, a frozen tundra (north of The Wall for instance), space, or a desert.

Great idea! I'll definitely use this. How many rolls should they roll? Should I roll for every day or after every encounter?

David Rose
User avatar
GnomeBoy
Tyrant Master (Administrator)
Posts: 3818
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 1:46 pm
FLGS: Bizarro World
Location: Left Coast, USA
Contact:

Re: How to Handle Wilderness, Water, Rations, and Survival

Post by GnomeBoy »

Blutimate wrote:How many rolls should they roll? Should I roll for every day or after every encounter?
My opinion? As often as you need, based on how important an element it is in your game.

For example, in adventure movies, you rarely see characters worrying about food, or even just sitting down to eat. It's not exciting or especially relevant most of the time, so if it's like that in your game, maybe one roll for the party every once in a while....

If it's someone that's shooting arrows right, left and center, they may need to make that roll after every encounter after the second or third incident.
...
Gnome Boy • DCC playtester @ DDC 35 Feb '11. • Beta DL 2111, 7AM PT, 8 June 11.
Playing RPGs since '77 • Quasi-occasional member of the Legion of 8th-Level Fighters.

Link: Here Be 100+ DCC Monsters

bygrinstow.com - The Home of Inner Ham
User avatar
catseye yellow
Cold-Blooded Diabolist
Posts: 446
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:23 am

Re: How to Handle Wilderness, Water, Rations, and Survival

Post by catseye yellow »

i think that harley stroh has mentioned that there will be cannibalism rules in forthcoming journey to the center of aereth! also purple planet has some handy dandy charts and ideas for fighting (and losing to) elements.

meanwhile i used this book for spicing up my hex crawls

http://www.nocturnal-media.com/store/sc ... -wasteland

also, one ring has a great way of handling wilderness travel as a sort of mini-game.
User avatar
catseye yellow
Cold-Blooded Diabolist
Posts: 446
Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:23 am

Re: How to Handle Wilderness, Water, Rations, and Survival

Post by catseye yellow »

GnomeBoy wrote:Use Luck to abstract supplies...

Some DCC GMs have used Luck to 'track' ammunition, as in "You've been firing a lot of arrows that were unrecoverable... Make a Luck check to see what you have left," the Luck check then saying "don't worry about it right now" or if the check is failed maybe roll a d6 and that's how many arrows you have left. It's quick and used mechanics that are already on the character sheets. Some players may take to this approach better than tracking each and every arrow.

If the players don't want to track rations and all that day by day, just let them know you'll play along for awhile, and then make Luck checks to see if they have run out of food, or whatever...
i love this idea. but somehow you should also reward players who actually take care of their stuff.
Post Reply

Return to “Judges' Forum”