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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Overland Travel

Here's a question: does anyone know of any place in the LBBs where the size of a hex is specified or at least suggested? I'm not seeing it. Movement rates are given in hexes, but there's no specification of actual time spent traveling. You have to figure that it's during daylight only, and that extra time has to be allowed for making and breaking camp and for two meals a day. I've seen lots of discussion on various forums and blogs on how individual GMs have handled wilderness map scale, and I certainly have my own ideas, but I'd like to know if I've missed anything before I put something into the potential clone that will actually contradict a known rule.

The LBBs give standard human travel as 3 hexes. Post-LBB versions of the game have a lot of variation in how far a human is assumed to move in one day. AD&D 1e says 30 miles, which would mean that if we interpret the LBB figure as per day, one hex equals 10 miles. Labyrinth Lord say 24 miles per day; Swords & Wizardry says 24 miles for a forced march. Using that figure would set a hex to 8 miles.

However, I'm inclined to make wilderness turns more like underworld turns. Underground, one turn of exploration equal ten minutes, and characters make two moves per turn. We're so accustomed to using "turn" to mean ten minutes that we forget it's really standard game terminology, even outside of RPGs and wargames. I see the underworld turn as having this structure:
  • players describe their first move,
  • referee describes what's visible from the new location,
  • players describe their second move, ending their turn,
  • referee describes what's now visible and takes his turn, assessing effects of movement or passing time, rolling for wandering monsters if necessary.
I would like to keep this structure for wilderness travel, with one turn equal to one day. That means that a man on foot moves 3 hexes in one move, two moves per day, which would make one hex equal to 5 miles if we use the AD&D standard or 4 miles if we went for the LL/S&W standard. If, as Philotomy suggests, we use the 2.5 mile league, it would then take two hours to travel one hex... but then actual time spent traveling would be 12 hours, without break.

It's probably better to assume only six hours 0f travel per day, making one hex equal to one league, with a lot of extra time for scouting, grazing while traveling, rest breaks, and the like. This means that the rule about occupied castles being able to keep a 20-mile radius of wilderness clear of monsters could be based on camps or outposts one-day's travel from the castle, with guards traveling up to two hours away from their post as part of their patrol.

Edit: Turns out there was a one-line comment just below the section on Rest:
Scale: Assume the greatest distance across a hex is about 5 miles. 
So, the 3 hexes per move, two moves per day, 30-mile scale is the one that fits. Instead of the 2.5 mile league, we'll go with the 3-mile league, which makes one move equal to five hours. As an added bonus, we can limit winter travel to one move unless the party is willing and able to travel at night for the second move.


  1. Well based on my military experience and a blurb from a manual (FM 21-18), one could assume 12miles in 3hrs:

    "b. After a 30-day preparatory training period, soldiers can march 12 miles in less than 3 hours loaded to about 60 pounds, when energy expenditure at that rate would cause exhaustion in 2.5 hours for soldiers who have not received special training. A number of considerations should be examined when developinga program for march conditioning."

    This ties in well with your 6hr a day walk theory and a 24mile hex. I for one, having done many 12mile road marches, would NOT want to do 24miles a day, everyday. Blisters, sore legs, dehydration, etc.

  2. Your personal assessment fits with another bit in the LBBs: "All creatures must rest after six days of movement."

    But I just noticed something else...

  3. I'm going with 5 mile hexes.

    The Roman army marched along at 15-20 miles a day. That was with supplies to set up a full camp and lot's of training.

    A healthy and fit man could cross six outdoor survival hexes in a round. At a 5 mile hex that's 30 miles in a day.

    book 3 of OD&D says a man on foot get's in 3 hexes a day. This is a man with weapons, armor, food and gear. 15 miles a day.
    Light horse can cover 10 hexes. 50 miles a day is doable on horse, 80 is unlikely, 100 isn't going to happen.

    So 5 mile hexes.

  4. If you do a search for either 6 or 12 mile hex, you will find some good reasons to use that scale, separate from whether it is in the LBBs. Something to do with distances based on a hex shape.

  5. @Paladin: I think I've seen some of those before. However, now that I've spotted the line in the LBBs, I'm going to stick to the source for the potential clone. Houseruling can come later.

    @JD: Vol. III actually doesn't say it's 3 hexes per day, or per any time period, really. Presumably, it's per day/turn, but it kind of breaks the symmetry of two moves per turn. What I'm thinking is that I'll make it one 15 move per day, or two for a forced march, but then you have to rest a full day. This fits with the fact that 15 miles is doable in 5 to 6 hours.

    Only problem is: what's the consequence of taking the two move option and *not* resting a full day? Save vs. Sleep every hour on the second day? Reduce move to the 3" rate?