A couple of weeks ago I had the great fortune of scoring an affordable copy of a Holy Grail product I have been patiently searching for a good long while now: Midkemia Press's Heart of the Sunken Lands.
Though like many so-called Petalheads (thanks, Scott) I get my rage on for the Tekumel lifting by Raymond Feist, the setting's popularizer, I have a great love of the actual gaming products they put out with all their interesting sandbox subsystems (the encounters and down-time business in Cities in particular) and eye for nestling those systems in colorful setting specific ways.
With Rudy Kraft--co-designer of the gold standard for wilderness sandboxes, Griffin Mountain—listed as the author of Sunken Lands I figured it had to be a solid piece of work.
I wasn't disappointed.
The book lays out (with a nifty four-panel blank players' map) a first-class wilderness sandbox set in a large, mountain-ringed, jungle-choked depression. The product has a lot of depth with many pages being devoted to navigation/exploration of the unique range of terrains; inventive, non-standard creatures, plants, gems, extractable resources, and humanoids; an expeditions table (lifted from my favorite section of their Jonril books) that hardwires in an interesting range of incentives for player exploration; and a couple mysterious sites.
With my eponymous campaign now shifting for the moment to the exploration, clearing and possible colonization of a wilderness region called the Feral Shore (more about that later) what I found most intriguing were the subsystems for wilderness exploration (apparently planned for a never-published Midkemia wilderness supplement). I found them highly inspirational and instantly set down to custom fit them to the new mini-campaign.
|What the Feral Shore looked like 500 years ago |
before being wiped out of existence by the Turko-Fey
The outline of that system (redacted to not tip off the players over much) I share below.
Feral Shore Exploration and Movement
What's different from the typical D&D systems:
- Movement is calculated by the hour instead of by the day.
- Encounter checks are done by the hex rather than by time.
- Encounters cover a wider range of events than the typical wandering monster-like check. Interesting plants, mineral deposits, geographical features, run-in's with sentient beings, strange sites etc are included on tables specific to the terrain of the hex.
- Checks are also made on a Mishap table per hex (includes such things as getting lost, having a horse go lame, equipment break, inclement weather, etc.)
- Speed matters. A party moving at a slower speed will have an increased chance of hitting an encounter but a decreased chance of having a mishap.
Exploration 6 average hours/day
Cautious, Encumbered or Party over 50 8 average hours/day.
Normal 10 average hours/day.
Traveling Light or Forced March 12 average hours/day.
Assumption for Normal travel
Foot: STR 8-14 character can hump 25-40 lbs of gear in pack and pouches, armor of chain/half-plate or less, two weapons, shield. Weaker character -10 lbs, Stronger character +10 lbs
Mounted: Horse can hump 150-250 lbs normally (total includes rider and related gear). Mule 200-300 lbs.
Foot: Average Miles per Hour (includes breaks)
|Light Woods, Scrub||2||1.5|
|Grassy Hills or Moor||2||1.5|
|Scrub or Rocky Hills||1.5||1|
|Forested or Steep Hills||1||.5|
|Swamp or Heath||1||.5|
|Light Woods, Scrub||4||3|
|Grassy Hills or Moor||4||3|
|Scrub or Rocky Hills||3||2|
|Forested or Steep Hills||1.5||.25|
|Swamp or Heath||1.5||.25|
Encounter Chart example
Light Woods: Encounter on roll of 1 on a d10. +2 if moving at Exploration, +1 at Cautious, -1 at Fast.
|1-3||Roll on standard D&D Wilderness Encounter|
|4||Human or Sentient Neutral|