How to Start Adventuring (as a Player Character)
Before your adventure begins, you should be given a bit of back-story from your GM describing the sorts of things you (as your character) would already know about the world. This is like a prologue in a novel, or the opening video of many video games. Things such as the type of government, population, culture, and local history may be explained. You may be told that you and your fellow party members already know one another, or perhaps you are all meeting one another for the first time. This back-story is often used to introduce your first mission. Perhaps you have been summoned by the king to track down a missing knight, or your town has formed a hunting party to eliminate a mysterious predator lurking in the forests around your village.
Each scene in your adventure is set by your GM. You may begin sitting in a tavern, locked in a dungeon, or suddenly awoken by the clatter of raiding goblins. As the scene is described, you can ask questions to get a better feel for the situation and your surroundings. You may ask “How many people are in the tavern? What’s the weather like? Is there any other way out of this room?” Once you’ve got your bearings, you can start interacting with the other characters and the world around you; the adventure has begun!
As a player character, your actions make the story progress. In each scene, think about what you (as your character) need to know or want to do, then do it! In a Role-Playing Game, you have to state the physical actions you wish to take. For example, “I walk across the bridge” or “I take the map off the table.” Many players will make gestures as their characters act, such as pantomiming the drawing of a sword, or bowing as they make an introduction. You don’t need to say every tiny detail, but try to keep your GM and your party members aware of any notable activity. (Try to think of the writing in a novel or movie script; the important actions are mentioned, while minor activities are generally glossed over.)
If your actions provoke a response, or direct you towards something important, the GM will give you more information. They may have you make a roll to determine what exactly you notice. As you gather information from people and your surroundings, you decide which course of action to take.
Ex: If you tell the GM that you wish to cross the old bridge, the GM may say to you, “You begin to walk over the old bridge, but the wooden slats creak and crack as you step. How do you react?”
If you want to talk to an NPC, tell the GM who you wish to address, then start talking! (Remember to speak from the perspective of your character!) Don’t forget to talk to the other player characters; you can speak with them directly. Toss ideas off one another to figure out how to handle your situation. The interaction between members of the adventuring party is often one of the most entertaining aspects of RPGs!
Now that you’ve got an adventuring party and a quest to complete, the rest is up to you! The limits of what you can do are dictated by your imagination, the story developed by the GM, and the rules described throughout this book.
New Gamer Hint: If you don’t have a definite quest or goal, there's probably one available nearby. Talk to people around town or search the area for clues. Be sure to speak with your party members, too, since they may have information that you do not. Remember, this is a team game! Working with your party members from the start will help you succeed!
-If you want to know how NPC characters may react to you, see the Diplomacy Skill in Ch4.5.
New GM Hint: Make sure your players can figure out what they have to do! If they don’t start out with a clear goal, provide them with clues to figure something out quickly! Nobody wants to sit around for hours with no idea what to do!
A Day of Adventure
Assuming a day is 24 hours, what can a character manage to do in a full day of adventuring?
Traveling: A day of traveling on foot or on horseback involves about 8 hours of actual travel and an hour of rest in between. Therefore, a day of travel is 9 hours in total. An average adventuring party can generally travel on foot about 15-25 miles per day and still have enough energy to handle a few battles or exciting encounters.
-Details on Traveling are provided in Ch8.5.
Eating & Setting up/Taking Down Camp: Most tents require about 20 minutes to set up, and half that time to take down. If you combine that with the time needed to eat a few rations, get some water, go to the bathroom, and have some casual banter, this usually takes up at least 1-2 hours of your day.
Sleep & Rest: Most characters need 8 hours of rest per day, 6 hours of which must be spent sleeping.
-Details on Sleep & Rest are provided in Ch8.8.
Adventure Stuff: In a large-scale campaign, most adventuring parties are left with about 4-6 hours each day to do their actual “adventuring.” It is during this time that you may be fighting trolls, saving villages, evading deadly trapped ruins, hunting wild monsters, or competing in epic poetry tournaments. You may also use this time to craft items, do research, mingle with the locals, or other less death-defying activities. Obviously, if you are not actively traveling, your characters will have much more free time on their hands. What you and your friends decide to do with this time is up to you and your GM, but I hope it’s fun for everyone!
How much action can a character handle in a day?
-Every character is expected to be able to travel at a comfortable pace for up to 8 hours and still handle at least 1 action-packed encounter per day.
Beyond the first encounter, some characters may get tired. You can handle 1+CONMod (Min 1) encounters per day before you risk fatigue. After this many encounters, you must make a DC10 Perseverance check (or FORT Save) or suffer +1 Weakened Stage. The DC increases by +5 for each additional encounter. A Short Rest between encounters reduces the DC for this check by 5. This check must be made again if additional encounters occur.
See the Perseverance Skill (Ch4.16) for more details.
Exploring Your World: Character Awareness
When your character is out experiencing the world, sometimes you are just casually strolling through the park, or walking along a well-protected trade route. Other times, you are cautiously moving through a trap infested crypt, or warily heading into a ravine in known bandit country. These situations provide examples of the two types of awareness in this gaming system: Passive Awareness and Active Awareness.
In the first two situations, you are using Passive Awareness; you have no real cause for alarm, and no reason to be searching for anything dangerous. In the second pair of situations, you are using Active Awareness; you are moving carefully and taking time to look for traps, hidden enemies, or any other signs of danger.
These levels of awareness are represented using your Listen and Spot Skills.
Passive Awareness: (being Passively Aware)
Passive awareness represents a casual observation of your surroundings as you move normally through the world. You are not looking for anything in particular, but you may still notice something out of the ordinary.
-Passive Awareness is the default level of awareness. If you do not state any intention to move carefully or cautiously, you are automatically assumed to be moving with Passive Awareness.
While Passively Aware, Listen & Spot checks are made at +5DC.
Characters traveling with Passive Awareness are assumed to have their weapons sheathed.
Unless you are using a weapon that is so large it cannot be sheathed, characters are assumed to travel with their weapons stowed away in sheaths, bags, carriages, or tied onto their backpacks or saddles.
-Note: While there is no direct penalty for walking everywhere with a battleaxe or scimitar in your hands, many societies would consider it threatening or inappropriate. Some weapons can make decent walking sticks, such as pole weapons or the Dane axe, but things like swords and flails are simply bothersome to carry when not in combat.
-Passive Awareness in Story Gameplay: The GM should call for Player Characters to make Passive Listen and Spot checks at the beginning of each scene. These passive checks represent their general awareness for the duration of the scene. Player characters may request to make Listen and Spot checks as they travel casually, but should be aware that they will be made at +5DC for Passive Awareness. If they want to be more careful, they will have to slow down and switch to Active Awareness.
If the adventuring party is moving at their full Move Speed or casually moving through an area, all Listen & Spot checks are made at +5DC for being only Passively Aware.
Ex: If a party is traveling towards an ambush and their passive checks are too low to spot the hidden attackers, they walk into the ambush and combat begins!
Note: If you are working on turn-by-turn basis, you are Passively Aware unless you use the Survey Action.
-Passive Awareness in Combat Gameplay: Passive Awareness is normally used just before combat begins to determine who is or is not aware of an ambush. If combat is already underway, those engaged in combat are considered distracted from everything outside of combat, but actively aware of everything directly involved in their combat. (Ex: In the middle of a brawl, you may not notice the pickpocket stealing from the merchant across the street because you’re too busy keeping an eye on that shifty swordsman trying to flank you.)
You must use the Survey Action (Big Action, No AOO) to make Listen and Spot checks during combat without penalty to notice things outside of combat.
(It is up to GM discretion to determine what is and is not “engaged in combat.”)
What happens if you notice something while Passively Aware? If your Passive Listen/Spot check is high enough, you will get a piece of information from your GM; it is up to you to decide what to do with this information.
-See the Listen and Spot Skills (Ch4.13 & 4.21) for more details on the information gained with a successful check.
Ex: Your GM says, “You follow the path through the forest on your way to the next town. Make a passive listen check.” Each member of the party rolls a Listen check and tells the GM their results. The GM adds +5DC for being passively aware. For the players that fail, the GM says “The forest sounds calm and peaceful. The wind rustles in the leaves and the birds sing as you continue your journey.”
However, one of the party members succeeded, so the GM says, “Greghen, you notice a strange, metallic clang from somewhere in the trees.” Greghen says to the group “Wait a second, did you hear that?” He then tells the GM, “I nock an arrow to my bow, then I start looking for whatever made that noise!”
Active Awareness: (being Actively Aware)
Active awareness represents a purposeful observation of your surroundings as you move carefully through the world. You are directly searching for possible hazards, threats, or anything that seems out of place.
-Active Awareness is the level of awareness when you specifically intend to move carefully or cautiously.
You must tell your GM that you and your party are being Actively Aware. (Moving with caution, On Guard, On the lookout, Ready for Action, etc)
While Actively Aware, Listen & Spot checks are made frequently and without penalty.
You move more slowly while being Actively Aware.
-Active Awareness in Story Gameplay: If the party has announced their intentions to travel carefully, the GM should call for Player Characters to make active Listen and Spot checks whenever there is a chance to notice something potentially hazardous or interesting. As they travel, player characters may request Listen and Spot checks whenever they wish to check their surroundings.
You move at half your normal Move Speed while Actively Aware.
Characters traveling while Actively Aware are assumed to have their weapons drawn (if desired).
If something attempts to ambush actively aware characters, the characters should all be granted a free check to see if they notice signs of the ambush or hidden creatures before combat begins.
If there is a trap that the characters will activate by moving into a location, allow them a free check to notice the trap before they hit the trigger. Any character within 20 feet of the trap (30 feet for a Rogue) should be granted this check. Reminder: Lighting and vision types affect the range at which you can see!
It is a good idea to individually search doors, chests, and similar items for traps, just to be sure!
If the adventuring party comes to a closed door, the GM should tell the party “You come to a closed door. What do you do?” The adventurers will tell you if they wish to open the door, check the lock, listen for what’s behind, or search the door for traps before they proceed!
GM Note: Never assume a Player Character opens a door unless they specifically tell you they do so!
Ex: If a party of adventurers with 30-foot move speed travels casually for the full day, they could walk about 24 miles with Passive Awareness (+5DC to notice danger). If this same group travels with Active Awareness, they would travel only 12 miles in the day, but with a much better chance of noticing an ambush or traps on their journey.
Active Awareness in Combat Gameplay: You must use the Survey Action on your turn to be Actively Aware:
Survey Action (also called “Look and Listen”): You take a moment to purposefully survey your surroundings, looking and listening for anything out of the ordinary.
The Survey Action is a Big Action that does not provoke AOO.
Make 1 Listen Check and 1 Spot Check. You may not move while taking this action.
A character “On Guard” or “On Watch” is assumed to be taking 1 Survey Action every turn.
While using the Survey Action, you are also considered to be “Searching for Traps” (or secret doors, hidden chambers, etc) in every hex that you can see clearly within 20 feet of you.
If you wish to search for traps on a particular door, chest, lever, or other object, you must use a Survey Action to investigate that specific item while within natural reach of the object.
If you use the Survey Action on your turn, your Listen and Spot checks continue working for 1 round, until the start of your next turn.
Exploring your World - Vision & Senses
Types of Vision & Other Senses:
The different races and monsters in a fantasy setting have many different ways of seeing and sensing the world around them. Each of the types of vision and other senses are described in detail below.
Creatures with multiple types of senses use the best option whenever possible. If one type of sense would suffer a penalty, but another ignores a penalty, the “good” sense takes over for that particular situation.
Ex: An Aesir has Diurnal and Nocturnal Vision; they suffer no penalties while in Dim Light or Bright Light.
Primary Senses: When using a primary sense in proper conditions, a creature is able to accurately identify terrain, objects, and other creatures in their environment; they can maneuver and fight at maximum efficiency.
Lack of your Primary Senses makes life very difficult! Changing light levels are responsible for the most common conditions caused due to issues with a Primary Sense; Partially Blinded and Blinded:
Partially Blinded: Your vision is impaired, but you can still navigate and defend yourself with minor difficulties.
You suffer -1 AC, a -4 penalty on Spot checks, and a -2 penalty on other Skill Checks relying on sight.
All other creatures and objects have Partial Concealment (20% Miss Chance) relative to you.
Running requires DC15 Acrobatics or you fall Prone.
Blinded: You cannot see, or your Primary Sense has been disabled. You automatically fail Spot checks.
You suffer Half Move Speed. Running requires DC25 Acrobatics or you fall Prone.
You are Flat-Footed, even if you possess Uncanny Dodge.
You do not Threaten the area around you and you cannot take Reactions based on sight.
All other creatures and objects have Total Concealment (50% Miss Chance) relative to you.
If attempting any other Skill checks that normally rely on sight, such as Crafting an item or Jumping over an obstacle, being blind imposes at least a -5 penalty to these checks.
This condition is only applied to creatures whose Primary Sense has been removed or greatly impaired. Creatures that do not rely on sight cannot be Blinded unless they lose their Primary Sense.
Companion Senses: These senses gather additional information about the environment, but are not acute enough to properly navigate or fight effectively if used independently. (Blindsense, Heat Sense, Scent, Tremorsense)
Primary Senses: Diurnal Vision, Nocturnal Vision, Deepsight, Thermal Vision, Blindsight
Vision & Senses – Detailed Descriptions
Diurnal Vision: Creatures with diurnal vision generally have excellent color differentiation in areas with good lighting. They see the world in a full, vivid display of hues from the full spectrum of visible light. They can make differentiations between nearly identical colors, such as pink and magenta, with ease.
Diurnal Vision in-game:
-Sees well in Bright Light (5) and Normal Light (4).
-Suffers penalties in Torchlight (3): -1 on all d20 rolls based on sight
-Suffers penalties in Low Light (2): Partially Blinded
-Suffers penalties in Dim Light (1) and Total Darkness (0): Blinded
*Crepuscular: This modifier indicates the creature does not suffer vision penalties in Torchlight [Light Level 3])
Nocturnal Vision: Creatures with nocturnal vision have moderate color differentiation, but see a duller selection of colors. Similar colors, such as yellow and orange, are difficult to distinguish. Their eyes collect much more light than diurnal eyes, making them more effective in low-light conditions, but over-stimulated in very bright areas.
Nocturnal Vision in-game:
-Sees well in Torchlight (3) and Low Light (2).
-Suffers penalties in Normal Light (4): -1 on all d20 rolls based on sight
-Suffers penalties in Bright Light (5) & Dim Light (1): Partially Blinded
-Suffers penalties in total Darkness (0): Blinded
Deepsight (Cave Vision): You can see visible light and a portion of near infrared on the electromagnetic spectrum. When in complete darkness, this allows you to discern figures and shapes in grayscale, but fine details are lost.
-Sees well in Torchlight(3), Low Light(2) and Dim Light(1). You can read and discern colors.
-Suffers penalties in Bright Light(5), Normal Light(4), and Total Darkness(0): Partially Blinded
-You cannot read or discern colors when using Deepsight in Total Darkness.
Thermal Vision X: You see infrared light emitted by creatures and objects within X feet in a grayscale. Very hot objects appear white, while very cold objects are seen as black. This allows you to fight effectively even in total darkness. Minute temperature differences allow you to distinguish between terrain, creatures, and objects.
Thermal Vision X in-game:
-Sees well in all Light Levels including Darkness, but only out to X feet.
-You gain a +2 Innate Bonus on Spot checks used to locate warm-blooded creatures within range.
-You are Fortunate on all miss chance rolls for attacks against creatures with Concealment within range.
-Undead creatures, Constructs, and other “cold” things are visible with thermal vision.
Thermal Vision X – Limitations and Drawbacks:
-You cannot differentiate between colors, and as such you cannot read written text with Thermal Vision.
-You see only generic shapes and silhouettes of creatures and objects; identifying exact facial features, skin color, designs, symbols, textures, and other specific details is impossible.
-Thermal Vision cannot be used to search for traps/secret doors, craft objects, or do things requiring fine detail.
-Thermal Vision does not allow you to bypass visual illusions, but it does assist you against concealment.
-Physical objects that grant Concealment/Cover disrupt Thermal Vision as normal (Bushes, walls, etc).
-Beyond the range of your Thermal Vision, you are effectively blind, unless you have another Primary Sense.
-For simplicity, ambient temperature and quick bursts of heat or cold do not negatively affect Thermal Vision.
Blindsight X: This advanced form of echolocation allows nearly perfect detail of your surroundings within X feet. Blingsight uses sound, not vision, to clearly “see” everything within X feet, regardless of light levels.
Blindsight X in-game:
-Sees well in all Light Levels including Darkness, but only out to X feet.
-Blindsight ignores all forms of visual Concealment and bypasses all visual illusions.
-You gain a +5 Innate Bonus to Listen, and may use Listen checks in place of Spot checks out to X feet.
-Blindsight can distinguish fine structural details, and can be used to disable traps and craft items.
Blindsight X – Limitations and Drawbacks:
-You cannot differentiate between colors, and as such you cannot read written text with Echolocation.
-Blindsight does not function when deafened or in areas of Silence. (Effectively “blinded” in these situations)
-Cover is effective against Blindsight, and Total Cover still blocks “line of sight.”
-Beyond the range of your Blindsight, you are effectively blind, unless you have another Primary Sense.
Note: At GM Discretion, ongoing loud and calamitous events, such as a riot in a busy city bazaar or a powerful storm, may cause a character with Blindsight to suffer the penalties associated with Partial Blindness.
Vision while Underwater: Non-aquatic characters that are submerged in water have a maximum sight range of 100 feet and suffer a -5 penalty on Spot checks. Naturally aquatic creatures do not suffer these penalties. Water that is cloudy or muddy causes Terrain & Weather Effects as normal, even to aquatic creatures. (See Ch8.6a)
Companion Senses: Blindsense, Heat Sense, Scent, Tremorsense
Any issues due to lack of a Primary Sense remain in place unless the Companion Sense specifically indicates bypassing or addressing these issues. (i.e. Concealment, Spot check penalties, Flat-Footed, etc.)
Blindsense X (Lesser Echolocation X): Blindsense is a primitive form of echolocation, using sound to determine the approximate location of creatures and objects within range. Blindsense could also represent sensory systems capable of detecting magnetic fields or electrical disturbances. (Ex: Ampullae of Lorenzini in sharks)
Blindsense X in-game:
-On your turn, you are automatically made aware of the approximate location of & distance to creatures or objects within X feet, even if invisible or visually enhanced.
-If within 5 feet (or your natural reach) on your turn, you pinpoint the target’s location to a specific hex.
-Blindsense cannot be used to identify specific creature or object types. This sense differentiates between creatures and objects based on movement and sounds created
-Blindsense is unaffected by light levels and bypasses all visual illusions (such as invisibility).
-Creatures with blindsense still suffer all normal penalties against targets they cannot see with a primary sense.
-Blindsense can locate 3-dimensional shapes, but it cannot be used to read or view text & 2-D imagery.
*Note: Blindsense does not automatically locate creatures using the Hide Skill from behind objects or foliage, but it does grant you a free Listen & Spot check to try to notice the creature, even if you are not actively searching.
Heat Sense X: You are able to sense the heat signature of living organisms and other hot objects, allowing you to determine a general direction to the object.
Heat Sense X in-game:
-On your turn, you are automatically made aware of the presence of a living creature or hot object within X feet.
-You know the linear direction to the creature, but not the exact distance or location.
-If within 5 feet (or your natural reach) on your turn, you pinpoint the target’s location to a specific hex.
-Inanimate objects must be much hotter than their surroundings to be detected (GM discretion).
-For simplicity, ambient temperature and quick bursts of heat or cold do not negatively affect Heat Sense.
-Undead creatures and Constructs cannot be detected by Heat Sense.
-This ability partially functions even while asleep, granting a sleeping character a +5 Innate Bonus on Listen checks to be awakened by targets within X feet.
Tremorsense X: If in contact with the ground, you can sense the vibrations made by moving creatures and objects in contact with the ground/walls/ceiling. You can determine the linear direction & distance to any creature touching the ground (or another solid surface you are both contacting) within the radius of Tremorsense.
Tremorsense X in-game:
-On your turn, you are automatically made aware of the approximate location of any moving creature or object within X feet. A creature is considered “moving” even if it stayed in its same hex, but performed any sort of action requiring a moderate amount of bodily movement (attack, dodge, rummage through equipment, etc).
-If within 5 feet (or your natural reach) on your turn, you pinpoint the creature’s location to a particular hex.
-Tremorsense has half effective range on loose terrain such as sand, thick snow, soggy marshlands, or mud.
-Tremorsense does not function through fluids (but does work along the seafloor or a riverbed).
-Tremorsense will not notice creatures or objects less than 1/100th your size. (GM Discretion)
-A Move Silently check of DC25 can bypass Tremorsense for 1 round.
-The range of Tremorsense follows the contours of the ground to the target, using the shortest route possible. You may put your hands on the wall or ceiling if that benefits the calculation of your effective range.
-This grants a sleeping character a +5 Innate Bonus on Listen checks to be awakened by targets within X feet.
Scent: You are able to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. You can identify familiar odors just as regular humans do familiar sounds.
-Scent grants a +2 Innate Bonus on Listen and Spot Checks made to locate other creatures within 30 feet. (This is a quantitative representation of the advantage the sense of smell grants to your chances of noticing hidden foes.)
-On your turn, you may detect creatures and some objects within 30 feet by sense of smell. If the source is upwind, the range increases to 60 feet; if downwind, it drops to 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above (or more, at GM discretion).
-When you detect a scent, you do not know the exact location, but you know something is within range. You may spend a Swift Action to determine the direction and distance to the source of the scent.
-If within 5 feet (or your natural reach) on your turn, you pinpoint the scent’s location to a specific hex.
-You are Fortunate on all miss chance rolls on melee attacks against creatures with Concealment.
-The Scent ability grants you a +5 Innate Bonus to any Survival checks attempting to track or follow a physical creature. If the scent trail is more than 3 days old or a heavy rain has occurred, this bonus is lost.
-Note: Scent is used to find prey or avoid predators! Most equipment does not have a notable smell. Swords and axes may smell if covered in blood, but you cannot use Scent to search for traps, gold coins, or find important documents.
-Generally, different creature types have different smells. Scent may not notice the addition of a single human to a large crowd of humans, but a single orc or goblin within a group of humans would be noticed.
Exploring your World - Light & Darkness
The following tables describe the levels of light that may be encountered during your adventures.
Light Levels and their Effects on Common Vision Types
The Light Level (LL) number is used as a quick indicator of different light levels.
Light Sources & Range of Light Levels Produced
Facing: What are you looking at? (GM Option)
Facing: Adventurers and combatants generally take quite a good deal of care to be aware and watch their full surroundings as best as possible. In a very dynamic combat situation, characters will be looking, moving, and swinging in many directions every turn. Because of this, specific facing rules have not been implemented.
However, since characters see in a natural manner, it would be reasonable to assume they would have trouble noticing things directly behind them. At the GM’s discretion, any character can have a general facing, which would leave a small area “behind them” that can be used to enhance creative roleplay. A guard could be said to be looking in a particular direction, or a messenger may be strolling down the street, so you can follow from behind with less concern of being noticed.
If a generic character facing would enhance a scenario, use the following information:
The front of your character should generally be noted by the front/face of your figurine. The character’s front is whatever way you happen to be facing.
The hex directly behind your character (opposite to your facing direction) and the cone emanating from that hex is considered to be your “back.” Anything in this small area may be considered “behind you.”
You are treated as distracted to any visuals in this area behind you. (Distracted incurs a -5 penalty to Spot Checks, as well as any other visual check. Enemy creatures may hide from you if you are distracted.)
Anything not in the small cone of hexes “behind you” is considered to be “in front of you.”
The GM may decide to grant small combat bonuses or penalties based on positioning behind an enemy if they desire, but it is generally suggested to keep the facing as a more or a storytelling tool as opposed to a separate combat mechanic. (GM Note: Rules for flanking, feinting, and surprise rounds already provide substantial combat benefits, representing smart positioning and deception in a combat scenario.)
Traveling & Movement
To complete your adventures, you will have to get yourself to various locales throughout your fantasy realm. Different parts of your story will require different types of movement. Sometimes, you may just be walking across town to the tavern, while other times you may be racing across a continent upon the backs of griffons!
Movement Basics: Movement in Story Gameplay
Move Speed: A character’s “Move Speed” is the number of feet he or she can cover with a single Big Action in combat. For movement in Story Gameplay, find your Move Speed in the tables below to figure out how far you can walk, jog, or run in a certain amount of time.
-Walking is moving at half your listed Move Speed per Big Action.
-This section addresses movement throughout the world during Story Gameplay. Movement during combat is addressed specifically in Chapter 9.6 – Movement in Combat.
What is a “Day of Travel?”
A day of traveling on foot or on horseback involves about 8 hours of walking or riding at a comfortable pace, plus a number of small breaks or one Short Rest along the way to drink water and avoid fatigue. Therefore, “a day’s travel” can be assumed to take 9 hours in total, with 8 hours of travel broken apart by an hour of resting in between. If traveling by horse, the horses require rest in a similar fashion!
After 1 full day of travel (9 hours), you must make a DC15 Perseverance check to continue traveling for 1 more hour without suffering any ill effects. Add +5DC per additional hour.
Overland Movement – On Foot
Distance Covered – Walking with Passive Awareness
Jogging with Passive Awareness doubles the indicated distances, but risks fatigue.
Walking carefully with Active Awareness reduces all the indicated distances by half.
Jogging with Active Awareness uses the same distances from the table, but risks fatigue.
Designer’s Note: If you do the math, you will find that these distances and times have been rounded for ease of use!
Jogging in Story Gameplay: Jogging at a steady pace is represented by moving your full Move Speed with each Big Action, using all your Big Actions to move. An average human jogs about 60 feet per turn, or 600 feet per minute.
You can jog for 5 Minutes per point of Constitution before you risk fatigue. After this time, you must make a DC15 Perseverance check or gain +1 Weakened Stage. Add +5DC for each subsequent interval of jogging. (The DC resets with each new Weakened Stage gained, or after a Short Rest.)
Overland Movement - Running
Distance Covered - Running for 1 Minute
*Run x2.5 requires the Runner Feat or other special ability.
*Run x1.5 is generally caused due to armor or encumbrance
Running in Story Gameplay: Running represents moving your maximum speed in an all-out sprint.
-Running multiplies your base Move Speed. Most creatures run at double their indicated Move Speed (Run x2).
Ex: A character with Move Speed 30 can Run up to 60 feet (30 x 2) per Big Action, moving them 120 feet in a single round.
You can Run for 1 round per point of Constitution before you risk fatigue. DC15 Perseverance check or gain +1 Weakened Stage. Add +1DC per additional round of running.
Story Gameplay - Terrain and Overland Movement: All the movement described in this section assumes fairly solid, level terrain with few impediments. For travel through craggy mountains, thick jungles, and sandy deserts, you will have to make some adjustments. Here are a few simple suggestions:
Somewhat difficult terrain or mild weather influence: 75% Speed
Ex: Scottish highlands, an overgrown path through a jungle, shallow snow during a flurry.
Very difficult or hazardous terrain or intense weather conditions: 50% Speed
Ex: Sand dunes without a camel, A swamp during a downpour. Active volcanic wasteland.
Roads and pathways through difficult-to-travel areas could avoid or reduce these penalties.
Creatures native to certain environments may be better able to navigate these areas, such as camels in a desert, or mountain goats in mountains!
Depending on the type of transport, certain terrain may be impassible. A large ship cannot travel on a river that is only 5 feet deep. A heavy wagon may not be able to make it through a mangrove swamp. A horse cannot climb a 20-foot cliff. Most of these decisions will have to be made by the GM on a case-by-case basis.
Note: The Terrain and Weather Effects section (Ch8.6a) describes how terrain & weather effects combat.
Option – Long-Distance Running: Sprinting for more than a minute or two is basically impossible. However, characters may attempt a long distance run by moving at a pace between a hustle and a sprint.
You may move at 75% your maximum Run speed for 1 minute per point of Constitution.
After this time, make a DC15 Perseverance check. This DC increases by +1 for each additional minute. If you fail this check, you gain +1 Weakened Stage and you must slow down to a hustle or walk.
Ex: Rock the Barbarian has a 40’ Move Speed and an 18 CON. He normally uses Run x2, which would get him 2000 feet per minute. If he decides to use Long Distance Running, he could cover (2000’ x 0.75) 1500 feet per minute, and he could maintain that pace for 18 minutes before risking fatigue. (That’s fast enough to run a mile in about 3 and a half minutes!)
Long Distance Running has been included as an option for use in Story Gameplay.
A character with at least a -5 Mobility Penalty or who is Encumbered cannot attempt a Long-Distance Run.
Movement - Important Note: It is the GM’s job to determine when specific movement rates are important. During casual scenes, you generally won’t need to know exactly how many feet you’ve moved, or if it takes you 6 or 7 minutes to get to the center of town. But when an assassin tries to make a run for it, or when a goblin army is bearing down on your hometown, these rules on movement can be used to create a suspenseful and exciting scene as you find out whether or not you can get there in time!
Suggestion - Marching Order: As an adventuring party, you should know who usually walks in front and who guards the rear. Your “Marching Order” is the normal order your characters walk in while exploring dungeons or hiking through a mysterious forest. While you are free to change positions as you go about your adventures, it is a good idea to have a default order. This helps the GM narrate the story and makes it easier to set up the Battle Map when combat begins!
-New Player Help: Try to have someone with good Listen and Spot Skills leading your party into the unknown. Rogues and Rangers can usually spot traps or an ambush before it’s too late. After the scout, get a hardy Barbarian or well-armored Fighter to deal with more direct threats. Characters with fewer hit points are best kept in the middle of the party so they can be protected from harm while also healing allies, launching arrows, or blasting out powerful magic spells from cover. The rear of the party should be protected by a character with a fair amount of hit points and decent awareness. A character with ranged attacks can still participate in combat from the rear while the leading characters fend off incoming attackers.
Of course, the specific terrain, party configuration, and other circumstances will shift your party order, but this is a classic “all-round” set-up that is effective in most situations.
Below are some basic rules for types of transport found in a medieval fantasy setting.
Transportation - Overland Movement
Buying a Transport Vehicle or Animal
Horses & Transport Animals purchased by adventurers are combat-trained. (See Handle Animal Skill, Ch4.6)
Transport Vehicle prices do not include the animals needed to pull them.
Donkey / Mule / Pony (50gp): These medium-size pack carriers weigh 300-500 lbs. They can carry a light load of 100 lbs, Medium 200 lbs, Heavy 300 lbs. They can pull 600 pounds in a wheeled cart at a medium encumbrance.
Horse, Light (200gp): This fast, slender horse weighs about 1000 pounds. It can pull a small, wheeled wagon with about 2000lbs in it for a full day at a medium encumbrance.
Horse, Heavy (300gp): A large, powerful horse that weighs 1800 pounds. It can pull a large, wheeled wagon load of up to 5000lbs in it for a full day at a medium encumbrance.
Stats on Horses are located in the Animals section in Ch15.3. See the Ride Skill for details in Ch4.17.
Small Wagon, 4-Wheeled (100gp): Large traditional “trailer” style wagon, pulled by 2 horses. May have the rear area covered with canvas for +20 gold. Pulled by 2 horses. 2 seats: Driver & Rider. Space for 2 medium sized people in the back. Max capacity 2000 pounds.
Canoe/Row Boat (20-50gp): 2-3 person wooden boat, about 8-15’ long, 50-250 pounds.
Cart, 2-Wheel, Hand Drawn (20gp): A smaller cart with two handles designed to be pulled by a single person. You may adapt this design to be pulled by a donkey, light horse, or similar animal. Max capacity 600 pounds.
Ships & Other Vessels: See the Seafaring Skill (Ch4.18) for more information.
GM Note: Players owning their own transport vehicles, horses, and ships can be a help and a hindrance. Owning a horse requires that your players figure out how to feed it, where to put it while they rest, and the inability to bring it over certain terrain or into dungeons & buildings. This also requires knowledge of the Ride Skill and the mechanics of mounted characters & combat. Similar issues may arise if players own a nice wagon or a boat. This can lead to GM trouble with adventure design; your players may not be willing to leave their horse behind, or to abandon the expensive wagon so they can delve deep into the jungle. A plan you had for a grueling 100-mile trek could become quite a simple affair with a couple of horses and a wagon full of supplies. On the other hand, you may want them to have a horse & wagon to simplify a long journey so you can quickly get them the next exciting encounter in the mountains! There is no correct solution, but be aware of the new dynamics these things may create within your world!
Exploring Your World – Terrain, Climate, Weather:
Your adventures may take you to search for artifacts in tropical jungles, trap demons in a desert tomb, or battle giants on a craggy highland outcrop. From bright, sunny days to thunderous maelstroms, these terrain and weather effects can enhance the believability of your world & add exciting backdrops to epic encounters.
Difficult Terrain: This term is used for all types of unsteady or slippery terrain, such as thick mud, snow, and more.
You move at Half Speed when traversing Difficult Terrain.
You cannot take a 5-foot Step into Difficult Terrain, and you cannot Run through Difficult Terrain.
Standing on Difficult Terrain imposes a -2 penalty on Attacks, -2AC, and -2 on Physical Skill Checks.
The GM may allow some Skill checks to bypass the penalty if they feel the terrain does not affect the check.
-For more details on Difficult Terrain in Combat, see Ch9.6 – Movement in Combat.
-Falling Damage is covered in Ch9.9c (Ex: If a character falls off a cliff or is pushed off a castle wall.)
You can use the following chart to help describe the weather and climate in an area. The chart provides details, examples, and describes the Terrain and Weather Effects (T&WE) generated by this type of weather.
-The “steps” shown on the chart are used for certain spells that can alter the weather.
Weather Description Chart
-Temperature Norms: Tropical = 3-5, Temperate Summer = 3-4, Temperate Winter = 2-3, Arctic 1-3
-Humidity Norms: Desert = 3-5, Forest = 2-5, Rainforest = 1-4, Plains = 1-5, Mountains = 1-5
-Wind Norms: Outside of storms, most locations will have only Step 1 or Step 2 wind, but wind can greatly increase with storms, high altitude, or vast temperature differences. (Step 3 is normal for higher altitude encounters.)
How does Weather affect Gameplay?
Wind: Strong wind causes small projectiles to suffer a penalty to Attack Rolls (arrows, crossbows, thrown rocks, darts). Massive projectiles are unaffected. At GM Discretion, flying creatures may have difficulty moving, or may risk falling from the skies (See the Gust of Wind spell, Ch11.4, for more info.
Terrain & Weather Effects: The chart below describes the level of interference caused by the environment, generally making it harder to see, fight, and navigate.
Terrain & Weather Effects include foliage, rain, scattered trees, fog, and the like. As they combine together, the penalties get more severe. A sparse forest alone would not cause any effects, but that same forest on a rainy day could become “moderate,” and a day of heavy snow may be “severe.” Even busy city streets and marketplaces may cause “Terrain Effects” at GM Discretion.
-Example “Moderate” Terrain & Weather Effects: Average forest, moderate rainstorm, light fog
-Example “Severe” Terrain & Weather Effects: Dense jungle, heavy thunderstorm in a sparse forest
-Example “Opaque” Weather Effects: Dense fog, white-out blizzard, haboob (sandstorm), volcanic ash storm, tall cornfield
Melee Concealment: Attacks against targets up to 5 feet away suffer the indicated Concealment. (See Ch9.7e)
Ranged Concealment: Attacks against targets over 5 feet away suffer the indicated Concealment.
Opaque Terrain & Weather Effects: Due to the lack of vision beyond 5 feet, creatures that cannot properly sense their surroundings have their movement reduced to half speed. (This is the same move reduction caused by blindness)
-For more details, see the Cover & Concealment section – Ch9.7e.
Extreme Environments: How do characters deal with frozen mountaintops and searing desert sun?
Extreme Heat / Sun: Make a DC10 FORT Save every 2 hours to resist fatigue. Add +1DC for each consecutive check. Failure causes +1 Weakened Stage and deals 1 Fire damage. Characters require twice the standard amount of water per day in such environments. If you can find a cool or shady place to take a Short Rest and get some water, you will reset the base DC back to 10.
Extreme Cold / Snow: Make a DC10 FORT Save every 2 hours to resist fatigue. Add +1DC for each consecutive check. Failure causes +1 Weakened Stage and deals 1 Cold damage. If you can find a warm place (inside a tent with a blanket is okay) to take a Short Rest and get some food, you will reset the base DC back to 10.
The DC of these checks assume the characters have at least some basic clothing. Characters poorly equipped may suffer penalties on these checks at GM Discretion.
Hurricanes & Tornadoes: These natural disasters are more powerful than anything listed above, and generally anything outside will be destroyed. Combat is nearly impossible. Magnify the information above to create a storm of epic proportions as you desire. See the SL8 Druid spell Tornado, Ch11.4, for specifics.
Extreme Weather & Special Senses: Blizzards, Sandstorms, and other extreme weather events can cause problems for creatures with Echolocation (Blind Sense/ Blind Sight), Heat Sense, Scent, and Tremorsense. For simplicity, at GM discretion, reduce any effective range for these perceptions by half (ex: Blindsense 30 becomes Blindsense 15) and grant targets Partial Concealment (20%) while within range.
These weather events cause so much noise, temperature fluctuation, & moving debris that these senses cannot properly function.
GM Tools - Random Weather Generator
This Weather Generator can be used to flesh out your daily descriptions. Weather can and add some interesting roleplay opportunities and make your world feel more real and dynamic. The information provided here is not a required rule-set! It is a tool to help you tell a more immersive story!
Obviously, different areas & different worlds may have vastly different types of weather!
-In a Desert environment, reduce Precipitation 2 steps (GM Discretion)
-In a Humid environment, increase Precipitation 1 step
-Wind is left to GM discretion. Assume None or Low in most cases, or Moderate Wind (Strong Breeze, Step 3) for higher altitude areas.
-In a very warm or very cold environment, you may increase/decrease Temperature 1 Step
Food & Water – Eating & Drinking
How much Food and Water do you need? Surviving as an adventurer means dodging poisoned arrows and avoiding sword blows, but also getting something to eat! This can become especially problematic as you quest through deserts and barren tundra, pushing your body to the limit.
Food & Water Needed per Day
-A waterskin holds 2 days’ worth of water (4 quarts).
-Water weighs 2 lbs per quart or 8 lbs per gallon.
1 quart is similar to 1 liter. 1 liter of water is 1kg.
-1 ration weighs approximately 1 lb (about 0.5kg), takes up 2 Storage Slots, and costs 5 silver pieces (5sp).
-In Hot Climates, the amount of water needed is doubled.
-For simplicity, any beverage counts as “water,” although alcohol has its own consequences.
Getting Food & Water: You can purchase rations from most general stores, and cooked meals can be bought from just about any inn or a tavern. Beverages can be purchased, and clean water may be available from a town well, river, or pond. If you are out in the wilderness, you can use the Survival Skill to find food and water. Keep track of how much food and water you have with you before you set off on your next adventure!
The Sleep & Rest Section (next section, Ch8.8) provides prices for meals at inns & taverns.
See the Adventuring Equipment section in Ch6.3 for details on item cost, weight, and inventory space.
Surviving Without Water – Dehydration: A character can go without water for 1 day, plus 1 hour per point of Constitution. After this time, the character must make a DC10 FORT Save every hour or suffer +1 Weakened Stage. Add +1 DC per additional hour. These Weakened Stages cannot be cured until you receive a daily ration of water.
Surviving Without Food – Hunger & Starvation: A character can go without food for 2 days without penalty. After this time, the character must make a DC10 FORT Save or suffer +1 Weakened Stage. Add +2DC per additional day. A character who goes an entire week with only 3 rations or less automatically gains +1 Weakened Stage (no Save). These Weakened Stages cannot be cured until you receive a daily ration of food.
GM Note: If you and your players are not interested in keeping track of exactly how much food and water you have, that’s okay! Some gamers enjoy the realism added by these details, while others just see them as “getting in the way of the action.” If that’s the case, just try to make sure your players mention getting food and water at reasonable intervals. If your players say “we buy some rations in town,” and “we eat some dinner while we rest,” and that’s all the detail you need, then that’s fine. If they forget, you can just remind them with, “it’s been a while since you guys have gotten food and water. Maybe you should buy some rations or go hunting.” You don’t need to be strict on any of these rules if you feel they will diminish the quality of your story or the fun you are having with your friends!
Sleep & Rest
No matter how tough you are, at some point, you’re going to have to get some sleep! Every adventurer needs time to dress wounds, clean weapons, or regain magical power. Resting is a key part of stories in a fantasy setting; it lets you heal and spend time and converse with your allies, but also keeps you in one place, leaving you vulnerable to wandering monsters, thieves, and other dangers. Learning how to find safe campsite locations, manage your resting time, and properly keep watch can mean the difference between life and death.
There are two main types of “Rest” that you can use as an adventurer: Long Rest & Short Rest
A Short Rest is optional. It is used to catch your breath, have some food, or recover from fatigue.
You need a Long Rest every day to continue adventuring at the best of your ability.
Resting – Quick Summary:
-A Short Rest is a 1-hour break. You heal +1HP and may remove 1 Weakened Stage. A Spell-caster may regain 1 expended Daily Spell Slot, but not from their highest SL.
-A Long Rest is 8 hours of rest with 6 hours of sleep. You heal +1 HP/lvl, +CONMod. You may regain all expended daily spells & class abilities. You regain Confidence Tokens and recover completely from Weakened Stages 1-3.
Resting – Short Rest & Long Rest:
Short Rest: A Short Rest is a moderate period of downtime in which your characters catch their breath, refocus, and complete menial tasks. A Short Rest does not require sleep (but you can take a nap if you want).
A Short Rest must be at least 1 hour in length.
During a Short Rest, you may only do simple, light activities such as eating, drinking, playing cards, conversing, dressing small wounds, reading, standing watch, basic maintenance of equipment, and so on.
If you successfully complete a Short Rest:
Some Weakened Stages are reduced or removed, depending on severity. Weakened Stage 1 is removed completely after 1 Short Rest. Weakened Stage 2 or 3 is reduced 1 level of severity.
Once per day per character level, you may also heal +1 HP when you complete a Short Rest.
Spell-casters may regain one expended spell slot; this spell may never be from the highest SL available.
Prepared casters may swap out 1 prepared spell for a different spell of any SL available.
Long Rest: A Long Rest is an extended period of downtime in which your characters sleep, recuperate, and relax.
A Long Rest must be at least 8 hours in length; you must sleep for at least 6 hours of a Long Rest.
During this time, you may spend up to 2 hours doing simple, light activities such as eating, drinking, playing cards, meditating, reading, standing watch, maintaining gear, or tending small wounds.
Spell-Casters may study their spellbooks or commune with their deities to prepare their daily spells.
If you successfully complete a Long Rest:
You heal +1 HP per Level, and an additional +1 HP per CON Mod.
Weakened Stages are reduced or removed, depending on severity: Weakened Stages 1-3 are removed completely after 1 Long Rest. Weakened Stage 4 or 5 are reduced 1 level of severity. (See Conditions, Ch9.10)
Spell-casters renew their daily spell allotment after studying/communing/meditating as needed.
New Confidence Tokens are given out for a new day. For information on Confidence Tokens, see Ch13.4b.
Characters may never gain the benefits of a Long Rest more than once per day.
If interrupted by active combat or strenuous activity, you must restart your Long Rest (GM Discretion).
If you go more than 24 Hours without a Long Rest, you must make a DC15 Perseverance check (or FORT Save).
Failure on this check causes +2 Weakened Stages, which cannot be cured until you complete a Long Rest.
If you remain awake, you must make another check at +2DC per additional 12 hours you remain active.
Disrupted Long Rest: A “Disrupted Long Rest” occurs when you complete the full duration of a Long Rest, but with some sort of complication, such as nightmares, discomfort (such as from wearing armor or being hot/cold), or being awoken constantly. This is better than nothing, so you still gain some benefits:
You heal +1HP per 2 Character Levels, +1HP per +2 CONMod. (Minimum 1 HP healed)
You gain only half your normal number of Confidence Tokens. (confidence failures are gained as normal)
You recover a single Weakened Stage of Stage 1 or Stage 2. You do not recover from Stage 3+
You recover your daily spells, except you do not recover any spell slots of your highest Spell Level.
A Disrupted Long Rest does not count as a Long Rest for purposes of determining consecutive days without sleep.
Sleeping / Asleep Condition: While asleep, you are Helpless. A sleeping creature naturally awakens after a full night of rest, if they take any HP damage, or if roused (by sounds, discomfort, shaking, etc).
-You suffer a -10 penalty to Listen checks while asleep. Passing one of these Listen checks rouses you.
-You cannot make Spot checks, but obvious changes in lighting conditions may rouse a sleeping character. Most sleeping creatures will eventually awaken with enough exposure to normal or bright light (GM Discretion).
-You make FORT and WILL Saves normally, but automatically fail REF Saves while asleep.
Wake Up & Get Up: (2 Big Actions) If asleep and you have been roused (by an ally, hearing something, etc), you must use one Big Action to awaken your body & mind (No AOO), and another Big Action to physically stand yourself up out of your resting area (Provokes AOO). You can grab a light weapon as you arise only if you specifically kept one on you (or under your pillow). You may not ready a shield as part of this action.
-A sleeping character is automatically roused after taking 1+ point of HP Damage, though they must still use their Big Action to “Wake Up” and another Big Action to physically get up.
Rouse an Ally (Awaken Someone): Big Action, provokes AOO. You physically rouse a sleeping character, such as by shaking, poking, or slapping them. The character must use their actions to Wake Up & Get Up.
Where can I sleep?
Inside a tent or survival shelter with a bedroll in all but the most extreme weather.
On a bedroll in fair weather.
On a bed or bedroll in a tavern, inn, home, or similar structure.
Note: You can try to sleep just about anywhere, but discomfort and risk of wandering monsters make campsites and inns the preferred resting locations!
Sleep on the Ground: If you sleep on the ground with no bedroll, blanket, or survivalist preparations, you must make a DC15 Perseverance check after your Long Rest. The Save DC may be modified based on weather or other conditions at the GM’s discretion. (See the Survival Skill, Ch4.22)
-If you fail this check, you do not get a restful night’s sleep; you only manage a Disrupted Long Rest.
Suggestion-Campsite: Have a regular campsite arrangement so you know which characters usually sleep in which locations, and who is normally on watch at what time. This helps the GM figure out what happens while you rest!
Extra Benefits of Good Rest
While getting a full night of rest is certainly nice, sometimes you have a truly wonderful night that makes you more confident and capable the following day. Use the following rules to entice players to role-play, explore character abilities, or spend a few extra gold for a better room at the inn.
Good Night: You gain 1 Confidence Token after awakening from a Good Night.
Possible ways to have a Good Night*:
Full Night of Bed Rest (Requires a comfortable bed and 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, or 6 hours for an Elf)
A Bard or other performer may entertain his/her party members using the Perform Skill (Ch4.15).
Quality sexual encounter (Requires a FORT Save or Perseverance Check DC20. You gain a +5 Innate Bonus on this check if you care for the other person.)
Eating a Delicious Meal.
Great Night: You gain 3 Confidence Tokens after awakening from a Great Night.
Possible ways to have a Great Night*:
Amazing sexual encounter (Requires a FORT Save or Perseverance Check DC25. You gain a +5 Innate Bonus on this check if you care for the other person.)
Excellent Party/Fun Time (Diplomacy or Under Cover check DC15 for success)
Excellent Bed Rest (WILL Save DC10 for success. Requires 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep in your own home or a safe environment with high quality bed, such as a very high-quality inn or a noble’s guest suite.)
*All of these situations (and additional possibilities) are at the GM’s discretion!
Paying for Services: Sleep, Food, Labor, Spellcasting
-Whether you lack the time, the resources, or the training, sometimes you just need to pay someone to do a job for you.
Paying for a meal or a place to spend the night:
Paying for Labor Services:
-Combat & Hunting prices may vary based on the threat level of expected foes. If someone agrees to help you in combat, it is expected that you provide them medical care at your expense if injured.
-Illicit activities can vary wildly depending on the story and the severity of the requested action.
*These prices assume assistance from NPCs of level 3 or lower. Characters above level 3 are not easily accessible for daily service. If they are, they will likely charge much more! (GM Discretion)
Paying for Spellcasting Services:
The prices for these services assume you go to the spellcaster and they are afforded ample time to prepare the spell & components. (This generally requires notice 6-24 hours before the spell is cast)
Single Spell Cost = 5gp x SL2 (SL0 casting costs 2 gp)
Ex: Casting the Cure Wounds spell at SL2 = 5gpx2x2 = 20gp
-If the spell has a unique component, you must supply the component, or pay the price required to acquire this component.
-Most frequently used for healing, magic item identification, or enchanting, many towns and settlements have priests, shamans, or magical guilds willing to offer their services for a price. As with anything else, the story, supply & demand, and GM Discretion can greatly change the prices.
Transport Services such as horses, wagons, and ships are described in Ch 8.5b.