DwDD – Exploring Exploration, Pt. 1

The Mad Wizard Shawn Merwin and Teos "Alphastream" Abadia dish about everything D&D with a focus on the brand and newest edition of the world's most popular Tabletop RPG.
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EpisodeBot
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DwDD – Exploring Exploration, Pt. 1

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One of the pillars of Dungeons & Dragons that doesn’t always get the spotlight, what does exploration mean in D&D? Teos and Shawn really get into the meat of this often-ignored element of the hobby that can be vital to building an engaging story! Hit us up on Twitter @downwithdnd!...

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shawnmerwin
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Re: DwDD – Exploring Exploration, Pt. 1

Post by shawnmerwin »

Hey there! What did y'all think of the episode? What did Teos and I get right, and where are we wrong? Or what did we forget to mention. We're covering this topic more in our next episode, so give us your two cents and we'll discuss your points on the next show!
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Jared Rascher
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Re: DwDD – Exploring Exploration, Pt. 1

Post by Jared Rascher »

I think a lot of the problem we have with the exploration pillar is that it is one aspect of the game where there are "absolute" solutions to the challenges that it poses.

Even if there could be more structure to it, if you want to mechanized roleplaying, you have skill checks, and mechanics to give you advantage, disadvantage, etc. No class has a feature where they automatically make persuation or intimidate checks without a roll, for example.

However, on the exploration pillar, we have abilities that grant passive scores that are so high it's nearly impossible to miss something, we have class features to make it impossible to get lost, and we have background features that automatically allow characters to feed the party while travelling without a check. We don't have any way of saying that if you buy X number of days of supplies, that those supplies don't get misused or go bad, so everything in the exploration pillar is a push towards not interacting with the exploration pillar.

Adventures in Middle-earth's Journey system is great, because it gives people individual roles on the journey, and has them rolling to see how the steps of the travel work out, and it plays with inspiration and exhaustion in interesting ways. However, it's not something that can port over to "standard" D&D directly (I know I tried it for a bit in my Storm King's Thunder game), because of the assumed base of 5e.

Everyone expects to get a long rest when they say they are resting. Everyone expects that when a feature says you get enough food and water, that you don't need to roll to see if that's really true. The Journey system works because the backgrounds and class features in Adventures in Middle-earth don't have any of the absolutes that D&D builds into travel.

Looking at other games, I would love to see a way to quantify a short/medium/long trip, and to have PCs make a series of checks based on what they need to do on the trip, not unlike a group skill check. For each failure, the DM could get some kind of token to spend for adversity on the road. I would also say that medium and long trips start with a base number of tokens.

Those tokens could be spend on random encounters, but they could also be spent on weather events, unexpected impediments to expected routes, etc. You aren't making long trips feel long by rolling random encounters 37 times, for each day of the trip. You are making it feel long because the group had more chances to fail checks where the DM can get "adversity tokens."

Anyway, just some thoughts I've had after a few campaigns where people have traveled from here to there, with varying degrees of success making it feel meaningful.
shawnmerwin
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Re: DwDD – Exploring Exploration, Pt. 1

Post by shawnmerwin »

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Jared! I've been attempting to work something similar to what you are describing (group ability checks) into some upcoming adventures set in Icewind Dale for getting from one location to another during severe weather. We'll see how it goes.
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