Forest Crawling

frank hurley chateau-wood-1917

This is a response to:

I’ve been planning a game in the Symbaroum setting. I have been waffling about how to run the forest. I had thought about trying to break it into hexes, but the forest is very large and that seems tedious. The system seems to assume I will be playing it very “trad” and planning each session out ahead of time, but that is not how I prep my games.

I really like running point-crawl one-shots, but I have not thought through about how you might slowly evolve a point-crawl over the length of a campaign. I think that I will have a point crawl map with two main elements, nodes and paths. Both nodes and paths will have a variety of tags, that will have mechanical implications. I want to flesh out some of those implications over a series of blog posts.

To start, paths might simply have the following tags:

  • Rumored Path – Traverse in 1d4x the standard time. 2x Random Encounter chance.
  • Rough Path – Traverse in standard length. 1x Random Encounter chance.
  • Trodden Path – Traverse in half time. 1x Random Encounter chance.

Rumored Paths might be overheard in a tavern, hinted at in a notebook, or sketched on a rough map. Rough Paths would be described by an experienced adventurer, depicted on a detailed map, or shown to the party by a tracker. A trodden path is a commonly known and traveled upon.

Likewise, nodes might have a variety of tags to describe the likelihood of treasure, danger, competition, and corruption. I am still thinking about what number of tags is useful versus just being overkill crunch for something I would be better off not having written down.


3 thoughts on “Forest Crawling

  1. I’m unfamiliar with Symbaroum, but is there an underlying costs to slower paths or is this dependent on the situations in play? Meaning – does the system have time pressure besides what the GM invents?

    I’m totally down on the idea of nodes and paths and using a tagging system.


  2. I’m using 5e as the core system, and hacking the setting out of Symbaroum. I think your question has a lot of merit even still, as adding more time to travel doesn’t have a clear penalty in 5e. Lots of GM’s hand-waive the book-keeping elements of food, encumbrance, and travel time. At the very least, I would have one unit of travel time require a ration to be expended by each character, and a random encounter to be rolled.

    Where my brain went with your question though, is whether that is something I want to be spending table time doing. In my mind, the core concept of this game revolves around the immense work of uncovering rare artifacts from a hostile forest. As such, I think that travel time and resource management need to be somewhat core elements to communicate that risk. I fear that the systems will take time away from character narrative and might feel too much like a mini-game sub-system.


  3. I think travel systems and exploration based games go hand in hand. My brain goes toward a version of what UVG does:

    – Say travel time is in number of days and each day is 1 ration and 1 “hazard roll” (more later)
    – Stopping for a short time to forage, repair, investigate, heal or similar costs EITHER 1 ration or 1 hazard roll
    – Stopping or diverting for a full day just takes a day as normal.

    On the hazard roll, the Hazard System on comes to mind immediately, but I was also thinking something closer to the Perilous Wilds roll – a roll that always presents SOMETHING and it can be good.

    Hazard Roll (d6): 1=encounter a danger, 2=signs of a danger, 3=obstacle, 4=fatigue, 5=signs of a discovery, 6=encounter a discovery

    Just spitballing…

    Liked by 2 people

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