Exploring the wilderness is also an iconic part of old school roleplaying games. The guidelines in this section will help the referee run adventures in the great outdoors, whether exploring new lands or simply go from one place to another along well-travelled routes.
Time and Wilderness Movement: The wilderness is not cramped like in a dungeon, and characters can usually see further ahead and not be as wary of obstacles. For this reason, movement is measured in yards rather than feet in the wilderness.
A character that could move 120’ per turn in a dungeon can move 120 yards (360’) per turn in the wilderness. Further, characters can move, per day, their movement rate divided by 5 in miles per day. So a character that moves at 120 (feet or yards, depending on environment) can move 24 miles in the wilderness per day. It is likely that not all characters will have the same movement, so if they wish to stay together they must only move as fast as the slowest character. Also, note that the number of miles characters can move in 1 day presented here assumes a clear trail and easy travel. Other conditions will reduce the distance traveled in a day by fractions, as detailed in the table below.
|Desert, hills, wooded areas||-1/3|
|Thick jungle, swamps, mountains||-1/2|
|Road travel, clear wide trails||+1/2|
For example, if characters can travel 24 miles normally, but are following roads, they can travel 36 miles a day (24 + 12). If they are traveling through swampy land, they travel 12 miles (24 – 12) per day. Furthermore, certain kinds of terrain can slow travel at the referee’s discretion, such as if the characters have to cross canyons, large rivers, or other formations. In addition to the above conditions that can influence travel rates, characters may engage in a forced march. A forced march is a day of hard, tiring travel, but increases travel speed by +1/2. However, the characters must rest for 24 hours after a forced march. Otherwise, during wilderness travel the characters have to rest one day per six days of travel. Weather can also affect travel rates or even prevent safe travel altogether.
Missile weapon and spell ranges are measured in yards in the wilderness also, but note that areas of effect remain the same (i.e. in feet) for spells and other effects.
Unless there is an encounter, the referee will direct players through time in increments of days while traveling in the wilderness. When an encounter occurs, time is measured in rounds. Unlike in dungeons, wilderness adventures do not often measure time in turns.
Seeing Monsters: Unless surprised, characters will see monsters when they are 4d6 x 10 yards apart. Surprise distance is 1d3 x 10 yards.
Wandering Monsters: The referee should roll 1d6 every day of travel for wandering monsters. If the party is camping, an additional roll should be made at night. If a wandering monster is indicated (roll varies by terrain, see terrain table below), wandering monsters stumble across the party from a random direction and distance. At night, the referee should randomly determine which watch is on duty when the attack is made.
Avoiding Monsters: Unintelligent monsters normally automatically attack. Intelligent monsters may follow orders, make a reaction check, automatically attack, etc. depending on circumstances. Unless surprised a party may try to flee to avoid a battle. Monsters will generally pursue so long as the party can be detected, there is a 4+ on a d6 chance monsters faster than the party will catch it (5+ on a d6 chance for monsters about as fast as the party) in each hex traveled through. Woods or swamp reduce the chance of being caught (-1 on the die roll). Monsters will pursue into another hex on the map on a roll of 4+ on a d6. The chase continues until combat occurs or the monsters break off. The party must rest for one-half day for each hex travelled during a pursuit. All chances may be adjusted by the referee depending on circumstances. These same rules determine how monsters will pursue if the characters disengage and retreat (or rout) from a battle.
Becoming Lost: A group travelling off a well-marked trail or road without an accurate map or a knowledgeable guide may become lost. The chance of becoming lost is rolled on a d6 and depends on the type of terrain the party is in (see table below). If lost, the party actually moves in a random direction but believes they have moved in the direction intended.
|Terrain Type||Chance Lost||Chance of Encounter|
Strongholds: Characters may encounter a stronghold during their wilderness travels. If the referee decides the characters pass near a castle or other kind of stronghold, he can roll on the following table to randomly determine how any patrol that spots them might react. These rolls may be modified one way or another if the characters are acting suspicious, or if they are approaching peacefully and potentially with offerings. “Normal Man” refers to a non-classed ruler (who need not be a human).
|Normal Man||N/A||Lt mounted, 2d6||1-2||3-4||5-6|
|Cleric||6+1d8||Lt mounted, 2d6||1-2||3-4||5-6|
|Fighter||8+1d6||Hvy mounted, 2d6||1-2||3-5||6|
|MU||10+1d4||Hvy infantry, 2d6||1-4||5||6|
Rations and Foraging: When adventuring in a dungeon, there may be very little available to eat. Characters must take rations with them to cover the extent of time they expect to be away from town. However, they may occasionally kill an edible monster.
When in the wilderness, characters can hunt or scavenge for food. Scavenging for food is an activity that can be accomplished without hindering travel by gathering fruit, nuts, or small animals. For each day of travel while scavenging, roll 1d6. A result of 6+ indicates that sufficient food for 1d6 human sized beings has been acquired. Hunting follows the same roll, but succeeds on 5+, and must be engaged as the sole activity for a day. No traveling is possible. In addition, there will be one Wandering Monster check, from the table appropriate for the terrain, while the group is hunting.
Characters that go without food and/or water will soon begin to suffer from the effects of starvation and/or dehydration:
Starvation: Characters generally need 2 pounds of food per day. After 2 days without food, a character takes 1d6 damage per additional day without food and no longer heals lost HP.
Dehydration: Characters generally need 1 gallon of water per day. Each day after the first without water, a character loses 25% of his full HP in damage (and can no longer heal).