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OD&D Wilderness Movement

Just a quick one today! I came across something I felt was interesting when I was running through a wilderness adventure. The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures book (D&D Vol. III) dedicates just 1 and a 1/2 pages of it's 30 plus pages of rules to movement across a wilderness hex map. There are a couple of references to OUTDOOR SURVIVAL, the early 70's wilderness survival board game. For the most part OD&D implies that terrain penalties are the main thing to be adopted if using a "Referee's map" for "exploratory adventures." But the text regarding lost parties is intriguing. 

OD&D Wilderness Movement

The Underworld & Wilderness rulebook tells us that "There is a chance of being lost, the chance depending on the type of terrain the party begins its turn upon. A lost party must move in the direction indicated by the die roll (1–6, as shown in the OUTDOOR SURVIVAL rules and on that board) and may make only one direction change from that direction. When exploring the referee should indicate which direction the party is lost in."

Two things leapt out at me in the passage of text. Firstly, that the party can "make only one direction change" and secondly "the referee should indicate which direction the party is lost in." Why do I think these things are important? They imply a challenging limitation must be made in regards to movement when a party becomes lost, but also, the referee should tell the party they are lost and in which direction they are lost in, so really the party can simply correct their movement by going back the way they came, costing them only a little time! This doesn't seem quite right to me, it feels like something is missing. Then I spotted a line in the OUTDOOR SURVIVAL rules that states "Parties may never make a 180 degree turn, that is, re-enter a hex just left."

This particular piece of text brought me to thinking "how was wilderness movement meant to work in OD&D, is it presumed that the method of movement in OUTDOOR SURVIVAL should apply?" if this is the case (which I actually think it is), then we can extrapolate some things that have an interest impact on how we would approach OD&D wilderness adventures. OUTDOOR SURVIVAL has several Direction Ability cards for different scenarios (whether the party are lost, searching, rescuing etc). It makes sense to use "searching" as the basis for some implied rules. It's the least restrictive and the most appropriate to an exploratory adventure, and if we remove any further limitations that don't seem intended for OD&D we may get something that looks like the following: 

Movement is calculated in terms of hexes. Basically a party expends one movement point of its total movement (point) allowance for each hex entered. To enter some types of hexes requires more than one movement point (see TERRAIN PENALTIES in D&D VOL. III)

Parties may move over different types of terrain as long as they have sufficient movement points to enter that particular type of terrain. Thus, a party with a movement factor of 2 could not move at all if surrounded by mountain or swamp hexes.

Movement may be in two ways: straight, with no turns; or straight with turns. The party may start in any direction. After moving one or more hexes they may make as many direction changes as desirable (unless they become lost). The party is not required to move at all during a turn and may move less than their current movement allowance. Parties may never make a 180 degree turn, that is, re-enter a hex just left. Parties must move straight in the new direction after turning. They may turn at any point after the first hex is entered, but it is never required for them to turn.

A party may enter a trail hex at the movement cost of one only if they enter that trail hex through a hex side which is clear terrain or pierced by a trail.

In regards to rivers and fords:

Terrain penalties for entering a hex with a river always applies regardless of whether or not the river is actually crossed. Fords do not have the same qualities as trails. They merely negate the river in that particular hex for purposes of movement across the river.

I also decided to add my own little rule that there is a 2 in 6 chance that a river has a ford. If the river is within 5 miles of a settled hex then there is a 4 in 6 chance. This rule was added because I randomly generate my wilderness so it is not predetermined whether a river is actually fordable.

In conclusion I think incorporating some of these elements from OUTDOOR SURVIVAL helps make sense of the rules for parties getting lost and having a single direction change limitation. I also think it makes the game a tad more interesting and removes the advantage given to players if the referee is supposed to tell them that they are lost and tell them which direction they are lost in.

Additionally for solo OD&D games these additional rules help to enforce a few things to make soloing through the wilderness less ambiguous. Now a player can find his party lost and have no meta advantage.

Let me know what you think! 


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