Ideas on making long in-game journeys fun?

Hi folks! I'm starting my second Numenera campaign soon and will be setting it in the Frozen South. My idea is that the PCs will be part of the Bitter Legion's reprisal task force against Darcadian Everlar for trying to, well, murder their commander and their squad mates with his time hopping assassin (I think that was the most Numenera sentence that I've ever written :P)

The problem that I'm running into is that the journey from Arxil to the Invisible Vale is roughly a thousand miles and across some of the coldest and most treacherous landscape in the Ninth World. I could just give them a teleporter or some other fast transport, but I'd like to find a way to make the journey actually matter but still be entertaining for my players and not take a ton of sessions to get through. Plus there are some side encounters that I'd like them to run into on the way, which makes teleporting/flying less than ideal.

So, what tips or tricks do you have for handling long journeys in this game system or others? I'm particularly interested in ways to not just make it "ok, roll Navigation... yep, you're still on the right track! OK, now roll it for the next hundred miles..."



  • Have you watched Wil Wheaton's "Titan'sgrave" on the Geek & Sundry channel from Youtube? He had an interesting process for long travel. His method is to go around the table and ask each player what their character remembers about the trip and kind of hand-wave the actual travel specifics until the characters got to their destination. I tried this method, with a little adaptation, in my game and it was fairly successful.

    My adaptation was a fist full of specific encounters I wanted the characters to go through. At the start of the trek I calculated how long the trip would take on foot, four days. I described the basic terrain they were going to be going through, then went around the table and asked one player what happened that was memorable about the first day of travel. If was good I had another player expand upon that if they could, and so on until we were all they way around the table. so they were building the "travel montage" for themselves. When they got to an area that fit one of my encounters, or they had said something that sounded like a trigger for an encounter I would have them go through it. Then I would have them continue with the montage.

    A trip of a thousand miles would take a long while, with encounters even longer. I would suggest that the encounters that you have already set up be the way-stations of their travel. Have them montage through the distances to get there and then play through the encounter. After going through the encounter have them do all the necessary rolling; their navigation checks, healing, go through their inventories, etc. and allow them to continue with their journey. If there are specific locations you want them to visit, do part of the memory travel montage yourself that directs them towards the location.

    "On the dawn of the fifth day, PlayerB, discovers that more than one of the party's water bottles was broken at some time during the night. PlayerC, What happened to the bottles? Was it your watch? PlayerD, you remember that there was supposed to be a (town/ruin/structure) in this area, which way is it? PlayerD, do you remember or know anything about it? Is there water there or a chance to replace the broken bottles?"

    This gives the players the feeling of more control over their own fate within the game, and allows for the players to actually Role-Play rather than just Roll-play. The actual distances that they have to traverse and the days it's going to take them can be hand-waved away. This way you can probably reduce the number of sessions necessary for the travel down to one or possibly two depending on how many encounters you want them to go through.

    Players, and I include myself when I was on that side of the screen, do have a nasty habit of not being terribly creative though. So you may have to prompt them a little, in the case of my players: a lot, until they are more used to the idea of the memory montage. And if one of them does come up with something really interesting throw them an experience point or two for the discovery, that will reinforce the need to be creative to the others. Careful with the experience though that's a double-edged sword there.
  • Stolentime, that was an awesome post, full of useful useful stuff. I'm going to try to put this to use, soon. Maybe I need to check out this Geek & Sundry channel.

    Maxter, I saw your corresponding thread in the subreddit. It's nice to see all that regular activity, no? It's also cool to see familiar screen names, yours and others. I just "ran into" a guy I hadn't "spoken with" in years. We used to both be pretty active on the various WotC forums in the SW, 3.x and 4E D&D days. We weren't really tight or anything, but it was cool to see him still gaming and getting his group started with Numenera.
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