At the heart of exploration is the journey, or the story that happens while the adventurers travel from origin to destination—surviving the elements, discovering new places, and overcoming the obstacles presented by the environment. This section provides the rules and resources for running a journey from start to finish.
Before a journey, the party sets their travel pace, or how fast they’d like to go. The Narrator determines the difficulty of the journey itself and the number of encounters the adventurers have on the journey. Some encounters might be a fight against one or more monsters or happening across other travelers, but they’ll also have to contend with the world itself in exploration challenges.
When the adventurers have a map (see) there is little chance of them getting lost. The mystery lies in the time it takes them to reach their destination, and the challenges that they face along the way. Without a map, adventurers always know which region (see below) they are in, but are not usually aware of adjacent regions (unless one of them takes the Scout journey activity). They can journey from region to region, making choices along the way—for example, the party might be in Rolling Grasslands, and need to decide between hiking Lofty Mountains or chancing a Feywood as their next step before finally reaching some safe Open Roads leading to their destination.
Adventurers can travel at a normal, fast, or slow pace, which determines the distance they cover in a day of travel (see Table: Travel Pace). While a fast pace might shorten the time required for a journey, moving so quickly makes travelers less aware of the dangers around them. Likewise, a steadier slow pace prolongs a journey but adventurers can stay alert, cover their tracks, and move more stealthily. The effects from traveling faster than a slow pace are cumulative.
Fatigue. Creatures suffering from two or more levels of fatigue cannot travel faster than at a normal pace. Creatures suffering from three or more levels of fatigue cannot travel faster than at a slow pace. Creatures suffering from four or more levels of fatigue cannot travel faster than a crawl.
|Crawl||50 feet||1/2 mile||4 miles||Advantage on Survival checks to cover tracks|
|Slow/wagon||200 feet||2 miles||16 miles||-|
|Normal||300 feet||3 miles||24 miles||Unable to use Stealth|
|Fast/mounted||400 feet||4 miles||32 miles||
–5 penalty to passive Perception and disadvantage on Perception checks
|Gallop||800 feet||8 miles*||-||on Survival checks to track|
* A mount can only travel at gallop speed for 1 hour each day. Otherwise it travels at the fast/mounted pace.
Adventurers on a journey can travel for up to 8 hours in a day before requiring a long rest to reinvigorate themselves and continue—any further and they may exhaust themselves. For every additional hour of travel past 8 hours, an adventurer makes a Constitution saving throw at the end of the hour (DC 10 + the number of additional hours of travel), suffering a level of fatigue on a failure. The party can set the pace, increasing the DC of the saving throw for a normal pace (+1) or fast/mounted pace (+2).
For example, after traveling for 8 hours a party decides to push themselves and continue the day’s journey for 1 additional hour at a normal pace. At the end of the hour they’ve traveled another 3 miles, but each adventurer makes a DC 12 Constitution(10 + 1 additional hour + 1 for normal pace), suffering a level of on a failure.
Mounts and Pack Animals
Mounts such as riding horses can only travel for about an hour a day at the gallop pace listed in Table: Travel Pace. While mounts and pack animals may be useful on a journey, they are also a responsibility—each mount requires its own Supply, may have difficulty traveling in different kinds of environments, and can become a liability during certain exploration challenges. For example, it may be difficult to lead a mount through a swampy area or have it traverse a landslide.
Resting and Havens
While on a journey, adventurers are only able to recover from the second level and beyond of fatigue or strife on a long rest when they have access to a haven. A haven is a place to get a meal and a full night’s sleep without the reasonable risk of attack or harm from the elements. For example, an inn is considered a haven, but a campsite where adventurers must take turns keeping watch through the night is not. Some spells and class features may create havens.
Mundane consumable items like food and water are simplified into a single item called Supply. When an adventurer gains access to food and water, they can add Supply to their inventory.
- 1 Supply consists of enough combined food and water to sustain a Small- or Medium-sized creature for a day.
- Large-sized creatures require 2 Supply each day. Creatures of Huge size or larger require an amount of Supply determined by the Narrator.
- A creature can carry a number of Supply equal to its Strength score in addition to the rest of its gear. A Large-sized creature can carry Supply equal to twice its Strength score.
- Whenever a creature takes a long rest, it must consume Supply. If it does not, it gains a level of fatigue.
- At the Narrator’s discretion a beast can hunt, forage, or graze before taking a long rest, only requiring Supply if the region is not plentiful enough for it to do so.
- Supply consumed while in another form (like while under the effects of a polymorphing spell or a druid’s wild shape) is wasted and provides no nourishment when a creature returns to its normal form.
When adventurers run out of Supply while journeying, they can access more in a few ways. Some journey activities allow adventurers to forage for more food and water. Boons and discoveries, which are common rewards for exploration challenges, may lead to more Supply. As a last resort, the party may need to take a detour to the nearest town, find a wandering merchant, or even abandon the journey and head home.
Not all travel is done by foot or hoof. Vehicles are used by many adventurers to help travel the vast distances of the world.
Land Vehicles. Wagons and carts are unable to go faster than a slow pace, but some land vehicles can choose at which pace to move. Stealth cannot be used while journeying in a land vehicle, and they require a DC 13 land vehicle check every day spent traveling at a fast pace. On a failure, the vehicle suffers a malfunction.
Water Vehicles. Water vehicles are restricted by the speed of the vehicle and gain no benefits from a slow pace, but have no penalties for moving at a fast pace. Depending on the vehicle and crew size, a ship can travel up to 24 hours a day.
A region is an area of the world, defined geographically by its physical features. It might be a vast forest or a sandy desert; or it might be a snow-tipped mountain range or a stretch of underground caverns. Regions are often—but not always—named areas on the map. Regions are important building blocks of the world, and each region has its own properties and encounter tables. Later in this chapter are some common regions for Narrators to use.
Combined Regions. Sometimes an area on the map might fit the description of more than one region. The Narrator may choose either region, combine both, or create a new region.
Terrains. A region can have more than one kind of terrain and those listed are suggestions for the most common types to be found there" and similar
Regions and Tiers. Each region on the map is designated with a tier (from 0–4) which corresponds with the adventuring tiers of play. Any region can be any tier, but some regions lend themselves towards certain ends of the scale; for example, a tier 3 Country Shire would be highly unusual, but a tier 2 Feywood would not.
The combination of region and tier allows for a wide array of building blocks with which to build the game world. A tier 1 Feywood might be a small forest on the edge of a village where it is rumored that satyrs play in the moonlight, while a tier 4 Feywood could be home to powerful and capricious fey beings, or ruled by an ancient green dragon.
A region’s tier determines the difficulty of the challenges encountered within. Exploration and monster encounter tables are all categorized by tier, making it easy to select tier-relevant encounters. Of course, exceptions can and do exist, and a powerful monster can wander into that tier 1 Country Shire, or a cruel necromancer might make their lair on the outskirts, but such an occurrence is not typical of that region and is usually used as the subject of an adventure rather than a random encounter.
It should be noted that it is possible for a low-level party to wander into a region too dangerous for them. The Narrator should provide clues to the danger level and—where appropriate—allow for some means of escape should the adventurers find themselves in over their heads.
Party-Appropriate Challenges. In some games the Narrator may prefer not to designate regions with a default tier, and instead present the adventurers with encounters and challenges appropriate for their level.
Each region contains a short list of randomly generated weather options. These are generally limited to non-extreme weather conditions, including clear, overcast, mist, rain, and snow, and are purely descriptive tools to help the Narrator set the scene—they do not affect the adventurers. More extreme weather events are treated as exploration challenges (see page @@) and include phenomena like blizzards, dense fogs, hail storms, sandstorms, tornados, thunderstorms, and more.
Roll a d20 for weather once for each region. In the winter season, add 5 to the roll.
Each region the adventurers travel through will include one or more encounters. The Narrator decides how many encounters the party has.
Encounters include four categories: monsters, , and . It is important that the players do not know which type of encounter they’ve stumbled into—it should be introduced to them narratively. That chill feeling might be mere scenery, but it might be the sign of some kind of undead spirit, or it might foreshadow a weather event.,
Each region presents encounter tables which include all four encounter types. The Narrator can roll on these tables, choose an option, or introduce something new.
Along a journey the Narrator should employ a mix of combat encounters, social encounters, exploration challenges, and scenery. Exploration challenges, which are detailed later in this chapter, have assigned tiers and challenge ratings that correspond to adventurers’ levels. It is assumed that high-level adventurers are able to pass tier 1 exploration challenges without much effort, but a tier 4 exploration challenge poses a major threat.
Ultimately how many encounters adventurers have while traveling is at the discretion of the Narrator, but in general it’s recommended that the party has at least one encounter (combat, exploration, or social) in every region they journey through to make it memorable. Some regions are going to have more encounters than other regions—either because they are tumultuous, the area plays an important part in the campaign, or they are large in size—and the types of encounters the party might have in a given region are listed in its Exploring table. Depending on the needs of the game and campaign setting, the types of encounters, frequency of encounters, and difficulty of certain journey activities might be different.