100% remembered I was going to write something this week. I’m super prepped this week! I’ve been super busy completing a bunch of small stuff and it got me onto the idea of the side quests as we travel.
As PM’s, we like to create what would feel like a world. and in these worlds we like to give the idea that travelling is not instantaneous. But actually getting them to travel, and making it feel like an epic journey is actually really tough.
There are a few different methods of dealing with this:
Time Efficient PM approach – Short Trips
Ask our players to decide what challenges they want to face. It allows the players to feel like they are informing the world AND they get to face the types of challenge’s they’re looking for.
Choose two players and get them to enact a small scene between them. This can sometimes feel really forced (because it is) but can come up with some really interesting results.
Rather than forcing a situation, you can also ask them if they want to treat this a little like down time – time to interact, time to plan, time to pray – that sort of stuff. if you give them the chance, I’m sure they’ll come up with a wide range of ideas.
Now this is great, perfect in fact for short trips between places. It gives our players time to interact with one another, create the world a little and gives us the PM’s a chance to improvise and relax on preparation. They build it themselves.
But say you want it to take weeks – and not just travel, but under take an actual journey.
PrePare – the Longer Journeys
Prepare like it is a whole session. If nothing happens on their trip, then there’s nothing to do. No game will take place. No time will feel like it has passed. So what’s a PM to do?
Describe the world It’s not often you get to describe the world outside of cities, homes or dungeons. Take your time to talk about the world, the people they see, the vehicles they’re travelling in – little inns they might come across. Some people thrive for these little details.
Encounters! Either random, which will just fill time, or make it have a point – something in their backstory, an NPC they wronged (or righted) or a related side quest.
- Travel random encounters that mean nothing and add very little: We tend to really dislike side quest after side quest and random encounters like this. Not that EVERYTHING we do has to have a point, and they do have their place in building the world. I personally just don’t like them – mainly because they’re over used.
- Make something out of a potential nothing: “Hey remember that guy we saved from trolls on the road… well he owns a leather working shop and I kind of need new gear”. Adds to the world and doesn’t make it feel like a play for time.
Now random encounters are definitely world building, have their place and can be freaking hilarious – and just like salt and pepper – too much and you ruin the meal. Use them sparingly.
The biggest take away from this, if you want travel from a to b feel like a journey, and not a fast travel point – plan and prepare like it’s a session, with sprinklings of downtime, description and random, but relevant, encounters. Otherwise, let our player’s have at it!
Time at the bar, drink up bitches.
– Blood, I will most likely laugh when you hurt yourself.