Janakota: Map and Overland Travel Rules

A topographic map and the rules to traverse it.

Janakota is an island covered in oppressive jungle and teaming with dangerous wildlife. The legions of the Yellow City were recently withdrawn leaving the people of the island to, once again, govern themselves. For those brave enough to venture outside Janakota’s few settlements the jungle may hide unmatched wealth.

Travel Rules

These rules are intended to be the foundation of a travel-focused campaign. If you consider travel something that has to happen between the interesting bits, these rules are not for you. If the idea of mechanics to support the logistics of an expedition excites you, these rules may be for you.

A few notes: these rules are designed to work with my GLOG hack. Resilience is essentially HP. Fatigue is a lower bound to all checks – you must roll under your target number but over your Fatigue for a standard success. If you roll under your target number and under your Fatigue, you may succeed at the cost of 1 Resilience. I will likely change the Fatigue rules as I playtest more.

The primary goals of these travel rules are as follows:

Take advantage of the information afforded by topographic maps. Primarily distance and elevation.

Encourage realistic routes through simple mechanics. Players should, for example, organically choose a longer but easier route around a mountain instead of a shorter but steeper route over the mountain.

Require an absolute minimum of reference during play. All the detail provided by the map should not, in the end, lead to slow play.

And, honestly, by far the most important goal:

Have an excuse to print out a big-ass map. I just really like maps.


Each day is divided into six Watches of roughly four hours each. The party must decide on one course of action for each Watch. Possibilities include delving into a dungeon, a trip to the local market to pick up gear, traveling through the jungle, or resting.

The procedure for a Watch is as follows:

  1. Determine weather. I’ll be using my Janakota Weather Generator.
  2. Determine activity. The party chooses their activity for the current watch.
  3. Determine encounter. Some activities may effect encounter probabilities. This will be detailed in a later post.
  4. Resolve activity and encounter.

Watch Activities

Travel: The party traverses the landscape. Every 5 km traveled, every contour line crossed, and every river forded incur 1 Fatigue. Traveling at night incurs an extra 1 Fatigue per 5 km and requires a light source. Traveling on a road negates 1 Fatigue. A maximum of 5 Fatigue can be incurred due to travel in a single watch. Designate a navigator to make a Bushcraft roll. On a success, the journey occurs as planned. On a failure there is a complication.

1d6 Travel Complication
1 Rough route. Gain an extra Fatigue.
2 Weather shifts. Reroll weather halfway through the Watch.
3 Impassable. A section of the planned route is impassable. Choose a new route.
4 Active area. Roll an additional encounter.
5 Temporarily lost. The party has to spend a few hours to get back on track. Only complete half the Watch’s planned travel.
6 Totally lost. Only the GM knows the party’s location. During subsequent Watches the party may navigate based on the GM’s descriptions or spend a watch fixing their position.

Set Camp: The party finds a suitable campsite. Draw the layout. Consume a ration to regain 1d8 Resilience, plus one for every subsequent Rest.

Rest: The party regains their strength. If you’ve consumed a ration today, regain 1d4 Fatigue. If you also have a bedroll, regain 1d8 Fatigue.

Forage: The party searches for sustenance. Everyone makes a Bushcraft roll. For each success, gain 1d4 Rations.

This list of activities need not be exhaustive. If the players come up with something, find a way to make it work.

Play Example

First Watch: Morning

  1. Determine weather. It’s a beautiful, clear morning. No effects.
  2. Determine activity. Our intrepid adventurer Patra determines to set out southwest on the road from Merakatam. His planned route is 25km (+5 Fatigue), crosses one contour line (+1 Fatigue), and is on a road (-1 Fatigue); for a total of 5 Fatigue, the maximum possible in a single watch.
  3. Determine encounter. Megacroc tracks.
  4. Resolve activity and encounter. Patra makes a Bushcraft check and succeeds. There are no complications. The GM places the megacroc tracks near the river 10km south of Merakatam. Patra examines them but presses onward.

Second Watch: Midday

  1. Determine weather. No change – still clear.
  2. Determine activity. Patra continues on the road towards Mutalai. His planned route is about 20km (+4 Fatigue), crosses two contour lines (+2 Fatigue), and is on a road (-1 Fatigue); for a total of 5 Fatigue, bringing his total to 10.
  3. Determine encounter. 1d4 Raptors.
  4. Resolve activity and encounter. Patra makes a Bushcraft check and fails. A roll on the Complication table reveals the route is impassable. The GM determines that the river has washed out the road about halfway through the planned route. Patra diverts west to higher ground but encounters 2 Raptors. After a brief but bloody fight he scares the Raptors off but is left wounded and exhausted.

Third Watch: Evening

  1. Determine weather. Still no change – clear skies.
  2. Determine activity. Patra had planned to reach Mutalai in the evening but the washed-out road and Raptor attack have put that in question. He’s exhausted and wounded, likely to fail his next Bushcraft check due to all the Fatigue he’s accrued. Spending the night in the jungle is risky, but so is pressing on to Mutalai. He decides to press on. His planned route is about 20km (+4 Fatigue) and crosses one contour line (+1 Fatigue); for a total of 5 Fatigue, bringing his total to 15.
  3. Determine encounter. Megabird sighting.
  4. Resolve activity and encounter. Patra makes a Bushcraft check and fails. A complication roll reveals he is temporarily lost and only completes half the planned route. He sights a megabird returning to it’s roost on Paranta, the nearby peak.

Fourth Watch: Dusk

  1. Determine weather. Rain rolls across the mountains. +1 Fatigue this watch.
  2. Determine activity. Patra is committed to reaching Mutalai tonight. A night in the jungle is too risky – he can’t survive another attack. His planned route is 10km (+2 Fatigue) and it’s raining (+1 Fatigue), bringing him to a total of 18 Fatigue.
  3. Determine encounter. Tracks from a group of pilgrims.
  4. Resolve activity and encounter. Patra makes a Bushcraft check and succeeds, but rolls under his Fatigue. He chooses to lose 1 Resilience to treat the result as a success. On his way to Mutalai he comes across tracks left by humans heading towards Paranta. He reaches Mutalai without issue.

Fifth Watch: Midnight

  1. Determine weather. Mutalai is blanketed in thick fog. +1 Fatigue per 5km traveled.
  2. Determine activity. Patra plans to head to the local bunkhouse immediately.
  3. Determine encounter. The GM decides to waive encounters while in town.
  4. Resolve activity and encounter. Patra consumes a ration before bunking down. He recovers 1d8 Resilience and 1d8 Fatigue – rolling 6 and 4, respectively. His Resilience is back at full but he still has 14 Fatigue.

Sixth Watch: Dawn

  1. Determine weather. The fog rolls off – it’s clear for now.
  2. Determine activity. Patra continues resting at the bunkhouse.
  3. Determine encounter. The GM decides to waive encounters while in town.
  4. Resolve activity and encounter. Patra recovers another 1d8 Fatigue, getting lucky and rolling an 8. He still has 6 Fatigue and will need to spend at least the following morning resting if he wants to get a totally fresh start.

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