September 17, 2018 0 comments

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Overland Movements


May I ask what's your source for the Km of travel per day in table 2.12 (page 50)?

50/95 Km per day (unmounted/mounted) while unencumbered seem too much. Because of that, I asked a history professor friend, and he told me that ~50 Km per day is the fastest that a mounted messenger (unencumbered) could traverse in a day.


Ah, travel in the ancient world is a very fascinating topic!
As to how far people could travel in a day, I've come across different answers. One of the main problems is that the ancient world did not have "standard measures", so when sources talk about leagues, cubits, and other measures, we only have an aproximate idea of the lenght intended by the writer. Of course, we may refer to modern-day examples and researches, but that's not exactly the same thing.
In any case, scholars seems to have different ideas about it: for example Eric Jager in his "The Last Duel" (which, to be honest, is set in the 14th century, which might be a little too late for VsD) tells us that in winter, a squire could travel more than 50 miles in a day, and "with relay of fresh horses, a courier could eighty or ninety miles a day under good road conditions". Others historians (like your friend) are more inclined towards far shorter distances.

So, in the end we decided to compromise and go about half-way (keeping in mind that the PCs are supposed to be heroes, and thus rounding up rather than down). Anyway, and this will become more clear in the Full Rules, distances in the table are given mostly as a references. VsD cares more about the "narrative" structure of travels and about the hazards faced, than the precise distance covered by the heroes.

Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.

I think the key in your explanation is the "fresh horses". When I showed my friend your response, he told me (again, anecdotal evidence, so take it with a grain of salt) that you can't travel much further in a single day on mount, because even if you reach the place faster, the horses will be tired. However, if you can change mounts that's a whole different thing. ?

I know that your travels are going to be narrative (an approach I prefer!), but I still need to roughly calculate how far they can travel in a week or so. At least my players are very concerned about those things when there's a Darkmaster army coming! In that case I think I'll consider the mount distances valid when you have a change of mounts available.

Again, thanks!

Yes, that's surely a way to handle it. Also remember that if your PCs are traveling for a week or so, they'll probably be at least encumbered, as they'll need to carry rations and traveling gear. That brings down the distance covered to something more in line with what your friend was proposing.

Another way to handle it is treatinf the horses as an animal Hazard: the players can cover that distance if they push their horses, but they risk breaking them. What Will they do?

Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.

I always forget how easily you can get lightly encumbered. That's a great solution!

In my own game designs I have been interested in the “league”—the distance a person can walk in an hour. I have then factored steed and vehicle movement and terrains by looking at approximate rates on any chart.

When I run Swords & Wizardry, my players object to traveling just 12 miles a day (per the rules)! I’ll have to direct them to the professor. ?