Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How Busy on the Trail?

In my Wilderness Travel is SLOW! post, Pippin asked “Any comments on how long adventurers would have to spend on activities related to travel: stops, food, water, visibility, other stuff that struck you during the trip?”


To be fair, my thoughts on the time and effort for these activities reflect the fact that I was backpacking with 20th and 21st century technology. Things might be a little different in a fantasy game...

During the day, I spent relatively little time doing much of anything other than walking, looking around, and snacking on GORP, granola bars, and snickers. Moving at speed (even a slow speed) while carrying a pack burns a lot of calories. While the snacking wasn’t constant, it was frequent. I never stopped for “lunch”, though I frequently stopped around lunch time if there was an overlook or shelter with a picnic table to take off my pack and eat a handful of something. These stops rarely lasted more than 15-20 minutes. If water was available, I’d drink as much as I could before setting off.

I’d also use the outhouse at just about every shelter I’d pass. This resulted in my never having to dig a hole or use my spade. Anytime I needed to urinate when I wasn’t near a shelter I’d just find a bush off the trail to hide behind.

One thing that did take extra time was foot care. This was especially true the afternoon of the first day and the entire second day. Having to stop and drain blisters and bandage my feet always took longer than expected. This was in part due to the fact that the cheap knockoff swiss army knife I had with me was crap. Not a single sharp blade on it. I ended up using the tip of the corkscrew to pierce the blisters.

¾ nights I stayed in shelters, which limited the amount of camp making I needed to do significantly. Basically I could drop my pack, pull out my little steno and stove, and make dinner. Unroll my sleeping bag, and I was pretty much done. I did have a fire some nights, which necessitated collecting wood. Since we weren’t keeping a watch, and didn’t need to keep the fire going all night, our wood needs were relatively light. I say we because there was always someone else at the shelters with me.

In general, I’d say that as long as the adventurers have at least an hour between stopping to camp, and sunset, they’ll probably be good. Of course while camp setup is going on, they’re going to all be noisy and distracted.

The perfect time for a hostile or curious random encounter!

More on encounters in my next post...


  1. In Swordbearer, they set a half hour for breaking camp in the morning, a half hour for each rest, and an hour to make camp at night. Normally, a party needs one break during the day, but bad conditions and poor travelers add breaks as well as slowing down actual travel times. Large groups are noted as requiring more time for breaks and camp setup, but no specifics are given.

    1. Actually, I'm wrong about that last. It says that larger groups should take about double time, subject to GM modification.