Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wilderness Campaigning in Savage Worlds

I’ve found the “raise” mechanic in Savage Worlds to be particularly useful for procedural tasks that come up in wilderness campaigns. [Each raise in SW represents a multiple of four by which you beat the target number; if your die roll beats the target by 8, you get two raises, for example. Dice explode in SW, so raises happen a little more frequently than you’d think.]

With that in mind, here’s what I’ve been tinkering around with for our campaign.

Orienteering and Getting Lost
We’re using a 5-mile hex map to explore the world of Autumn Frontiers. When heading overland, the party announces their general destination for the day (“We’ll head south until we get to the abandoned watchtower and then camp for the night”), and then one player makes a single Tracking check. Generally this will be the character with the best Tracking stat, but I can imagine situations where other PCs may have to step up to the plate.

A success means they’re able to navigate a single hex and proceed on toward their destination, rolling again in the next hex. A raise means they get through one additional map hex — covering 10 miles, estimated very roughly, before rolling again. A further raise equates to another 5-mile hex covered, etc. It's possible, with a single incredibly lucky dice roll, to have the PCs to hike unmolested several dozen miles toward their destination without getting lost.

If the roll fails, the party is lost in whatever 5-mile hex they ended up in. The GM should describe the physical geography, especially if there might be a chance that the players could spy a landmark and thus orient themselves that way. This can either lead to more exploring to find a new route, or perhaps an overnight stay in the wilds before attempting orientation again the next day.

Foraging for Food
A success means the character hunts/scavenges/forages enough food to sustain himself for the day — in our campaign, this is going mostly going to mean wild game meat, because one of the characters took “Vegetarian” as a hindrance. Each raise allows the PC to feed one additional character for that day. Note that foraging — especially hunting — takes a significant amount of time and should definitely affect how fast the party can travel overland.


jamused said...

Not sure whether this is a house-rule or you're just going by the pre-errata SW Revised rules, but by-the-book (SW:Ex or the errata sheet for SW:R) a raise on the Survival roll finds food and water for an additional five adults.

PatrickWR said...

Yeah, consider this a house rule -- the by-the-book success capability doesn't fit with the survivalist feel we're trying to conjure up in our campaign.

jamused said...

Fair enough, but I'd like to point out the BTB rule would let a small party press onward into the wilderness as long as they had a good hunter, perhaps occasionally experiencing hunger or having to take a day or two to stock up. The house rule means they're living hand-to-mouth once they run out of food, and probably their only real option is to start working back towards civilization. A few instances of that may persuade them that it's just not worth trying to get too far from home. Not trying to dissuade you, just food for thought.

PatrickWR said...

Good points. Nothing's written in stone just yet (the beauty of house rules!) and we're always willing to revise house and/or official rules as necessary.

I can't remember -- have you posted a few of your house rules over at Tales of the Rambling Bumblers? I'd love to see 'em if you have any.

jamused said...

When it comes to wilderness survival, I just ask myself WWWMD? (What Would Wolverine McAlistaire Do?) In other words, I'd like for it to be conceivable that a hunter or a small group with a good Survival be able to stock up enough (potentially while building a cabin) to survive the winter.

As far as house rules, most of the substantial ones have been things like the AB: Demonology and AB: Scholastic Magic Edges, or the Savage Bookkeeping for consumables which I've posted at Tales of. I'm trying not to tweak too much until the group really gets used to the rules. I suspect sooner or later I'm going to end up with some house variant of Grapple that represents wrestling for a dominant position, where the current rules seem to assume that a successful Grapple amounts to getting the foe completely pinned.