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Journey Best Practices

This page provides tips for running journeys.

  1. 24-mile hexes. If you choose to use hexes on your maps, 24 miles is how far a group travels at normal speed in a day. Using 24-mile hexes makes counting travel time easy--one hex per day.
  2. One activity. It is strongly recommended that you limit journey activities to one per Region, unless the Region is unusually large. The added granularity of resolving daily activities generally doesn’t add to the gameplay. Journey activities are designed as little background things, resolved quickly.
  3. One encounter. Keep encounters to one per Region unless the Region is unusually large.
  4. Experience points. Remember that full XP from an exploration challenge is only gained from a critical success.
  5. Narrator's discretion. Don’t forget that exploration challenge rewards and penalties are entirely up to the Narrator. The core rules play it safe, but you may prefer much more severe consequences for failure. The reward should match the risk.
  6. Modes of play. Running the journey is a different 'mode of play' to the real-time mode of the actual encounters. Normal actions are not available as part of the longer-scale journey mode outside of special encounters.
  7. Single rolls. Try not to reduce an exploration challenge to a single die roll. Spend time describing the situation, encourage interesting solutions, and allow yourself to spend time in the challenge. If the challenge does end up being a single die roll and not much else, the XP reward should be minimal if anything.
  8. Vignettes. Think of an exploration challenge as an evocative encounter. Remember that the PCs will be getting experience points for this, so it should be a noteworthy event. Embellish it and take your time. If you're simply asking for a skill check, it's probably not worth XP.

Suggested Penalties

The outcome of an exploration challenge is decided by the Narrator. On failure of an exploration challenge, there are suggested outcomes in the challenge stat block, but also consider the following penalties.

Penalties can be instantaneous, permanent, until the next long rest, or until the next haven .

Exploration Challenge Damage

If a challenge inflicts damage as a penalty, the following values are suggested. Damage is doubled on a critical failure.

Tier Obstacle Trap
Tier 0 3 (1d6) 7 (2d6)
Tier 1 5 (1d10) 11 (2d10)
Tier 2 11 (2d10) 22 (4d10)
Tier 3 22 (4d10) 55 (18d10)
Tier 4 55 (10d10) 99 (24d10)


A trap is designed to inflict damage directly. An obstacle inflicts less damage but may also incur Supply loss or other effects.

Note that damage is recovered during a long rest, so unless a combat encounter is anticipated before the next long rest, damage has less practical effect as a challenge penalty.

Unusual Penalties

  • Aging +/- 1d6 years (permanent)
  • A stink or odor which inflicts disadvantage on Charisma checks until you reach a haven
  • Other conditions , such as rattled or poisoned until the next long rest
  • Inability to consume or benefit from Supply until you reach a haven
  • A magical mutation of some kind
  • Nightmares which prevent benefiting from a long rest until you reach a haven
  • Loss of voice (which can affect spellcasting)