My Overland Travel Rules adapted for Dragonbane

Yeah, not a good title, but I think it gets the message across.

Always being annoyed with how all the editions of D&D have overland travel speed systems that don’t actually work with any hex map scale other than 1-mile hexes and make you calculate annoying fractions, I eventually had created my own system based on historical data that always would get the party move a full number of hexes in a day without any fractions of hexes as a remainder. I had it all worked out quite well, ignoring forced marches because those really mess things up by giving you additional hours to move.

The Dragonbane rules have greatly simplified forced marches by giving the party two quarters (shifts) of the day for normal travel, with the option to push ahead forba third quarter at the price of becoming exhausted. A third quarter means moving 1.5 times the normal daily distance. And after some considerations, I accepted that the best way to avoid introducing fractions again would be to simply switch from a 6-mile hex grid to a 3-mile hex grid. The old hexes per day become hexes per shift and the players can either move two or three shifts in a day.

I have a great fondness for 6-mile hexes, as it is kind of the established standard scale and has been for decades. But 3-mile hexes just work out so much neater in practice that it’s hard to justify not making that switch. Very fortunately for me, I’ve not yet created the giant wall sized 6-mile hex map for the sandbox I’m currently working on. Otherwise that change to 3-mile hexes would have really hurt.

For everyone’s convenience, here is the updated system for overland travel adjusted for 3-mile hexes and the Dragonbane shift system as tidy tables.

Overland Travel

Load Easy Difficult
Light 6 3
Medium 4 2
Heavy 2 1

This table assumes different levels of Encumbrance, which the Dragonbane rules don’t include by default, but I think are a very important aspect of resource management if that is meant to be a feature of the campaign. In a game without Encumbrance rules, just assume a Medium load for adventurers traveling with all their equipment.

Unlike the rules in nearly any RPG, common mounts like horses don’t actually move any faster over the course of a shift. Their ability to run much faster is entirely negated by their greater need for rest after doing so. But they can carry much greater loads of gear and supplies than a person at the same walking speeds, which makes them hugely valuable (if the game uses Encumbrance rules).

For simplicity, terrain can be either easy or difficult to get through. Make that judgement for whatever types of terrain your setting is using and what feels fitting for the style of your campaign.

River Travel

Current Speed
Downriver, strong 6
Downriver, light 5
No current 4
Upriver, light 3
Upriver, strong 2

River travel might not seem particularly fast compared to someone walking with a light load, especially when going against the current. But as with mounts, a boat enables you to haul much larger loads of gear and supplies without being slowed down significantly. And while traveling on a river, you are also not affected by difficult terrain that cuts your travel speed by half.

Sea Travel

Wind Speed
Favorable 12
Average 9
Unfavorable 6

These sea travel speeds are deliberately kept very simple because ships in the early medieval period my campaign is based on were very slow, and because my game will probably feature barely any naval action. I made this table simply for parties traveling between ports on a single stretch of coastline. For campaigns that feature ship chases and naval actions, the table should probably be expanded to different ship types and more differentiated wind conditions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *