Advice on tracking time. [Spoilers]

Ironfang Invasion

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Trail of the Hunted says a lot about how much time they're going to spend in the Fang Wood - like the crazy storm that thrashes your camp if you're not already moved into the Trog Cave. My question is, what's a good way to keep track of time but also a good way to drag out the time they spend in the woods so they do all of the events? I'm thinking of limiting my players to 3 excursions a week, the rest will be spent maintaining their gear, healing, tending to the refugees, and maintaining the militia. Any suggestions?

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Hell's Rebels does something similar, at least in the beginning. Maybe that's worth looking into? Seems reasonable to me, either way. Frankly, time is something I always struggle with for my games, even with dungeon exploring. How much time did it really take to search that room? Did our protection from fire wear off yet? Was I really lost in the woods naked, tripping out for 3 weeks? Never ending...

I did some more thinking on it and I think I found a good system for it. I would like your opinion on it if it sounds fun and engaging.

So the Fangwood is a confusing and difficult environment to travel through. Because of this, I'm limiting my PCs to three expeditions a week where I'll roll a die to see what event they stumble into next. On the way to the event I'll roll an chance for a random encounter, and on the way back from the expedition I'll roll it again. This way things can happen on the way to a location, at the location, and on the way back from a location. I feel like it will make things a little more interesting and add to the vastness of the Fangwood.

One day of the week will be dedicated to resolving Militia actions, they can do a couple of checks this day, but for the most part they're drilling the Militia, commanding teams, and any other actions the militia requires.

The two other days of the week are personal down time, giving people time to bathe, sharpen their swords, fletch some arrows.

So in theory a week should run like this: Militia, Expedition, Downtime, Expedition, Downtime, Expedition - Repeat.

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I just started the campaign; we are wrapping up my prequel adventure this Friday, and then the invasion will start. I have my campaign map ready and plotted all of the event sites for the first three books on it. My concern now is - area and distance.

In response to the above post by Aunder's, that might work, except the forest is huge and these encounter locations are very spread apart. As in... DAYS apart. Per the core rules, travel in a trackless forest is 1/2 movement. For the typical party with a base rate of 20, that limits them to traveling 8 miles a day through the forest. If the plan is to explore a single "5 sq mile grid area", that alone would take several days of hiking around in it. Now compound that with going 5 or 6 squares away, and it could take over a week just to travel in a straight line. I made a d20Pro map using a 5 mile square grid. Here is the base map (all of the locations are overlayed in d20pro for me; I'll post a screenshot including those.) What I'm saying then is the party may be gone from the camp frequently for periods of a week or more as they begin scouting the more distant areas.

Go to Share

What I'm going to do is use a homebrew encounter system. I'm still hammering it out. Here is what I have so far. I'll put the Word doc in the above share and continue updating it.

Wilderness Encounters
This system is a work in progress, and was inspired by an article by the AngryDM. The gist of this system is it replaces percentages for random encounters with a visible time counter to help create urgency and tension for the players. It could be adapted to multiple environments and time increments.
Each hour that passes, the GM will drop a die into a tray visible by all players to count off the passing of time. Every four hours, the GM will roll all of the dice in the tray – the total number of “1’s” rolled will result in a negative event. The total number of “20’s” rolled may result in a boon. The two events may be combined.
Die to drop. The GM will need to make an estimation of the danger and die to drop.

Die / Danger Approximation / General Description /
Survival Check DC*

D4 / Very Dangerous / Very difficult terrain (Mountains), Deep forests, hostile controlled region / DC 30

D6 / Moderately Dangerous / Lower mountains, ravines, very far from any population centers / DC 25

D8 / Somewhat Dangerous / Rough terrain, denser forest / DC 20

D10 /Average Danger / Typical wilderness travel, open spaces, rural rolling hills, light forest / DC 15

D12 / Low Danger / Rural areas near population centers / DC 10

D20 / Very safe / Well-travelled / patrolled roads / DC 5

*Survival check to add a D20 to the pool instead of the lower die. In Very Safe areas, no Die will be added on success.

If an encounter is rolled, remove all of the 1’s. Parties travelling through varied regions over time could easily have different dice in the tray.
Stationary / Camped groups can make a Survival check to not attract attention for each 4 hours instead of each hour.

Example: Typical day, exploring a dense forest away from urban areas. For the 8 hours exploring, the lead survivalist can make an
aided hourly check, DC20. On each success, add a d20 to the pool. On each failure, add a d8. After 4 hours, roll the dice. If 1’s are rolled, consult the table. Remove the 1’s. Repeat for the next 4 hours. Assuming the party is not doing a forced march, but will then camp for 12 hours only 3 rolls are required for the evening and night, still rolling every 4 hours.

Results. To be fleshed out. The number of 1’s rolled will equate to the chance of a violent encounter (e.g. x3 1’s = 30% chance of hostile creature or party, per appropriate tables). Otherwise, a mishap occurs. A single one would be a minor mishap (broken gear, someone gets stung by an insect, gets a rash putting them at -2 for the day) while x5 1’s should be very serious. Someone falls in a trap and suffers a major injury, major weather event, party gets lost, loses all 4 hours to a dead end.

Conversely, the number of 20’s rolled could be a discovery, found treasure, a friendly / helpful encounter or some other boon.

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Sounds fine to me. Just be careful if you are tracking actual experience. Random events/encounters can add up. You don't want to push their level too high too soon. Some people get around this by simply advancing their parties when they are supposed to be advanced, ignoring experience. I can't do that, not yet at least. I'm old school, getting experience was what I always looked forward to. :)

You could also dabble with a slow track XP system if you are going to heap on the extra encounters... Perhaps valuing non-essential encounters at a lower XP award or something.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

You could use the Slow XP track for random ENC (especially if they're limited to 1-2 per day); then use the medium XP track for the planned encounters (or when there are >3 encounters per rest period).

Liberty's Edge

Aunders wrote:
Trail of the Hunted says a lot about how much time they're going to spend in the Fang Wood - like the crazy storm that thrashes your camp if you're not already moved into the Trog Cave. My question is, what's a good way to keep track of time but also a good way to drag out the time they spend in the woods so they do all of the events? I'm thinking of limiting my players to 3 excursions a week, the rest will be spent maintaining their gear, healing, tending to the refugees, and maintaining the militia. Any suggestions?

I'm facing the same question myself because I want to keep track of time in a way that feels natural and organic and to mark the passage of time. I intend to simply buy a regular day planner calendar (though a wall calendar will work), replace the months with Golarion Months, and cross of the days as they go by since the beginning. That way I can keep track of in-game time as the weeks and months go by, as well as the seasons, so that I can add environmental and weather changes such as snow, ice, winds and rain as the seasons change. I intend for the game to begin at the start of Spring (the market Festival will be held on the Vernal Equinox). And of course I can calendar particular future events and encounters that will happen.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

IronFang Spoiler:

1 Rova – the fall of Phaendar
– Phaendar fell to the Ironfang legion and the party rescued as many survivors as possible. From the Inn we rescued Jet (Human Aristocrat); a warrior 1, aristocrat 1, commoner 1 (2) as well as Aubrin the Green (Cleric 3, Ranger 3). Pchela went back and saved another commoner as well as two aristocrats. We then went to the chapel, rescued Rhyna (adept 2), warrior 1 (2), adept 1; commoner (4); At the shop, we rescued Lirosa and Taidel (half elf warrior 1), as well as Kining BLondebeard (dwarf expert 2). We met an earth elemental that Aerona named Tenten, who was trying to put out the fire. We were unable to save the alchemist in the alchemist shop but were able to save a 1st level adept, and a 1st level commoner. We destroyed the Bridge of Phaendar with Stump Remover. The entire party was severely wounded from this. We also learned Aerona isn’t healed by positive energy.

2 Rova -12 Rova – Survival of the Survivors
- We established a camp. The below were responsible for different duties
Aerona – Scouting
Pchela – Handle Animal
Halt – Survival
Krieger – Tent Building + Lookout
Found Locations :
Dire Wolf Cavern
Wasp Hive
People Encountered:
Edran the Spy
A Wight

13 Rova – 14 Rova – Day Before the storm
Placed Aristocrats, Adepts and commoners in the Dire wolf den.
Warriors went with us as well as beasts. While enroute to the great caves, we encountereed some hobgoblins and find Kining’s headless corpse as well as a bounty notice. One of the hobgoblins satchel contained the head of our fallen dwarven experts head. We then moved forward and met a centaur whom we ended up having to slay. We found the shack containing a wight, outside the house was an evil cat that hurt us more then anything. We left the warriors and commoners here and we rested up before moving forward.

15 Rova – Dawn before the Storm
We traveled to the large caverns we saw and found it to be a trogolodyte cavern that used to belong to derro’s that worshipped the Xiomorns. Pchela met and tamed Monty the Monitor LIzard. We found a strange Oracle’s Fog as well as managed to tame a crystalline creature.

16 Rova – Day of Meditation
We meditate in the mists of the Oracle’s Fog.
Pchela – Sees a feyish woman who has one hostage. Pchela must choose between her father or her mother. Though she staggers the mist when the mist asks Pchela what she desired. Which was the greatest maple syrup.
Aerona – She saw something and learned she is a dhampir.
Krieger – Saw that his commander was alive, but not the same as he was before.
Tanterath – Was out smoking – Will get details later.

17 Rova – 7 Lamashan – Home of the Maple Leaf Hemlock Banner
We rested and met Navi. Aerona begins developing new powers and starts hunting in the night. We meet the snirfneblin Navi and her feyish acquantance. -Pchela begins calling vermin (Giant Bee, Giant Bee Queen, Giant Dragon Fly, Stegocentipede, Giant Black Widow Spider). Pchela has the Queen and the Giant bee begin forming a hive. Aerona gets found out by Tantherath, and he begins joining her. We meet two people, one is Arbalak and the other is a priest of invictus and asmodeus. The party celebrates but is poisoned with love potion and all craziness ensues. From the Darkness we meet another group, a monkey man named Kuza whom tries to be nice to the dire wolf but ends up getting bitten. At the end of the week, Navi returns with our purchased goods.

8 Lamashan
Aerona and Tantherath get ambushed by Scarvinius in the night and the party comes to help.

9 Lamashan – Prepare for Battle
Halt performs a scouting mission to see their activity. The party prepares for the upcomming battle.

10 Lamashan – The Battle Begins
Halt doesn’t return as planned. The party advances the plan for the Hemlock Offensive. We fortunately had no casualties, however Aerona was severely wounded in the battle. Tenten almost fell in the conflict however was saved due to the misfortune that Scarvinius was experiencing due to a Pugwampi.

11 – 21 Lamashan
The party gets a one week reprieve. On 11 Lamashan, Aerona saw the ghost of Scarvinius. krieger seems to be changed. Navi receives another order for goodies. Pchela begins training two of the Npc’s as her apprentice in the ways of the entomancer. Lucrecia and Pacoste. Arbalak is going to sell in the fey markets and gather news of the Fangwood. Wotan wants a Lesser Metamagic Rod of Widen Spell (3000 gp) so he can use widen plant growth to fortify the surrounding area. Pchela wants 1666.67 gp in crafting materials. During the week Wotan will gather Herbs from the Forest Fairy Cap + Moly as well.

22 Lamashan
Current Day

I just finished book 1 and this is how I did ours. I hope that it helps.

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I am creating a reasonable sized hex map of the southern Chernasardo Region on roll20. The PCs clearly have their original home base identified, but under the GM view I have several hexes marked for only me to see.

The "Events" occur on their own after so many days, or are triggered by actions, but the Locations and Encounters have physical locations. The party is able to travel "their speed" (6 hexes) and back in a single day if they pass my assigned Knowledge Geography DCs (otherwise they get lost and move slower or in a random direction etc.), or choose to move further and camp-out in the wild wherever they stop.

Any of the marked hexes that they pass through they trigger that encounter or foraging opportunity or whatever and it then becomes view-able to them on their map. It will be reminded to them though, via notes or interrogation that they are being pursued and that the refugee camp may not be safe on their own for too long.

Days are just tracked by normal days on a calendar.

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