The Return-to-Town Travel Montage

I started up a new West Marches style campaign last night (in preparation for the Blest Marches Retreat) and one of the challenges I have had with this style of game is figuring out how to make the obligatory “return to town” at the end of the mission something significant enough to deserve the table time and quick enough to not take too much of it.

Last night, in the last 5-10 minutes of the session, I instituted a “return to town montage”. I was pleased with how it played out, and am excited to try it some more. Here are the rules for how to run your own travel montage.

  • Step 1: GM divides journey up into 3 legs: beginning, middle, end.
    • Each leg will have 2 phases, navigation and challenge.
  • Step 2: GM describes the general landscape and weather of the 1st leg of the journey and asks the party, “How do you get through it?”
    • Phase 1: The party navigates either by landmarks or direction & memory.
      • Navigating by landmarks – party describe the landmarks they use to return home.
      • Navigating by direction or memory – one of the party members makes a Wisdom (survival) check with a DC = most difficult navigation DC of the regions they pass through on this leg.
      • Resolution:
        • Successfully passing the navigation check or accurately navigating by landmarks reduces the final group check DC by 1, a success by 5 or more reduces the end DC by 2.
        • Failing the navigation check or inaccurately navigating by landmarks increases the final group check DC by 1, a fail by 5 or more increases the end DC by 2.
    • Phase 2: The party faces a challenge.
      • The GM chooses a player to describe a challenge the party faces on that leg of the journey.
      • Another player describes what their PC did to help the group overcome that challenge.
      • Resolution:
        • The GM calls for the resolving player to make a d20 test appropriate to their PCs solution to the challenge. The DC of the check = 10 + region difficulty.
        • Successfully passing the d20 test reduces the final group check DC by 1, a success by 5 or more reduces the end DC by 2.
        • Failing the d20 test increases the final group check DC by 1, a fail by 5 or more increases the end DC by 2.
  • Steps 3 & 4: Repeat step 2 for the middle and end legs of the journey home.
  • Step 5: The party arrives at their destination.
    • The GM calls for a group Constitution (Survival) check. The DC of the check = 12 + the # of regions passed through. Adjust the DC further up or down based on the success and failure of the journey home.
    • Resolution:
      • If < 50% pass, the group returns exhausted, dispirited, and grumpy
      • If 50% pass, the group returns home
      • If > 50% pass, the group returns home full of tales to tell, PCs all gain inspiration to begin their next mission.

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