[D&D] Travel Montages with consequences and benefits


Staff member
One of the elements I really like about The One Ring is the way that it makes travel significant and yet manages to keep the process very easy. @dr_mitch ran it so we made appropriate rolls and described what problems we encountered and how we dealt with them.

When I saw that 13th Age’s Book of the Underworld covered travel montages, I picked it up as I was looking at using a similar tool for D&D 5e for Grendleroot. I wanted to do this as I wanted travel to adventure sites to be more than just “it takes three days of hard caving and you get there”. There’s some good prompts and ideas in the Book of the Underworld but it prompts to look at the original material in the Reference Guide and Screen, which is one of the few 13th Age products that I didn’t get when I scored the bargain bundle on eBay. I snagged a copy this week, and it doesn’t really add a lot more except for examples; in honesty, the Underworld version was enough.

13th Age does this a little differently; there’s no mechanics beyond storytelling. The One Ring ties to travel (and other rolls). I’m not sure if @dr_mitch was running RAW (and it’s a long time since I read TOR), but we could pick up extra dice to use and other benefits from the mechanics.

I’m thinking on adapting this into D&D 5e; basic build would be the problem / solution calls made by different players like 13th Age (so one player proposes a hazard and another describes the way they overcame it). However, I’m wondering if I add in an ability check that - if successful. - potentially gains some mechanical benefit. For example, if you succeed, you can draw on this for inspiration in the future, with a critical perhaps allowing you to describe how you help out another player who fails (giving them a second dice - effectively advantage perhaps). If you fail, perhaps you suffer disadvantage or fatigue in some way?

Has anyone done anything like this? How would you approach it?
Andrew Watson introduced me to this technique and it works really well.

- Set a certain number of challenges that have to be done to complete the journey. Say, one per character, as they travel towards the orc citadel)
- Decide some outcome at the end of the journey that might depend on the success of the voyage. (So, say, the orcs in the citadel will have reinforcements based on the success of the journey)
- Each PLAYER creates an encounter on the journey and then passes the resolution of that problem onto another PC. So, for example, I say that the road is blocked with fallen trees and boulders. I pass it onto Krondar the Barbarian, who tries to move the rocks with his mighty thews.
- If they succeed, hurrah! If they fail, the consequence clicks forward one point. Reinforcements arrive etc.
- etc.

You can do the same thing, but lose the consequences and instead have some resource attrition. Lose a spell slot, lose a recovery dice, a charge from a magic item etc.

The big benefit is that it allows the players to illustrate the session and to set the others up to either look amazing, or on occasion, look terrible just for laughs!



The Guvnor
Staff member
I use variants of the core 13th Age one with each player setting up a problem for the next one around the table to solve with any skill they think is appropriate.

So the entire montage is built and defined and resolved by the players.

It works for any game system IMHO.
Sometimes I count the success/failure ratio to guide how things went, sometimes not.

What it creates for me are fast, but very memorable journeys that usually create story threads **and** involve all the players.


Staff member
I'd forgotten AIME, which I have digitally. Having unzipped it and skimmed the journey sections in both guides, there's probably more crunch than I'd want (and certainly more than I remember as a player in TOR), but some good ideas there. Food for thought definitely, especially the loss of short rests from failure (in that you've already used the HD).