Monday, 18 June 2018

Into the Gloom: Rules-Light Wilderness Survival

Survival in The Gloom.

During an expedition, one must survive The Gloom – not just the horrors within, but the mundane and prosaic threats of starvation, exposure and ever-present darkness. A character may only Long Rest within Gloamingen – meaning every expedition is essentially one adventuring day for the purposes of fifth edition rules. Short rests can be had in the wilderness is suitable shelter is found.

These rules are designed to be challenging and intense. The Gloom is not a nice place.

Travel in the Overworld

The world of The Gloom is divided into hexes. Travelling across a hex takes a day of travel, unless the hex represents some difficult terrain such as a swamp or mountain side. Each day of travel will cost each character, retainer or animal in the party 1 food and 1 water ration. Taking any action in a hex (scavenging for food, searching or investigating, taking a short rest) will cost an adventuring turn. If you use three adventuring turns in the same hex, time has passed and night has fallen once more – meaning another day’s rations are needed. If a dungeon or other landmark is entered and investigated, that will also cost an adventuring turn. Spending adventuring turns in a region or travelling through it will come with the risk of a random encounter native to that region. In travel or an adventuring turn, characters declare their actions from the DMs left around the table after sufficient bickering.

In the Darkest Dungeons
Should the characters encounter an adventuring location, play will then resume in initiative. Every turn within the dungeon will go in initiative order and all actions will be adjudicated thus. These are places of great danger, so extraneous time spent conversing, plotting or bickering may result in a random encounter check. Players may freely delay or pass their turn.

The Darkness and the Light
The Gloom is a place of perpetual darkness – in the ‘brilliance’ of midday the light level resembles twilight, requiring low-light vision or light. At night, The Gloom is as utterly dark as the recesses of the void, requiring dark vision, Devil’s Sight or an appropriate light source. Torches are a much needed currency in Gloamingen and players will expend a torch per adventuring turn for the party. The Gloom is capricious, however, and in the darkest night or recesses of a dungeon torches can give out unexpectedly – every round of initiative there is a small chance of the light being snuffed out. Characters whose vision is limited have disadvantage on everything requiring vision and are at considerable risk of sanity deterioration.

Food, Thirst and Starvation
Food can be gathered in the wilds with a suitable survival check – bearing in mind The Gloom is not teeming with easy sources of food so this may be more difficult than expected depending on the region.
Success is as follows:
Less than 16: Failure. You find nothing.
16-20: Moderate success. You find food with a complication. (Rotten, stumbled across predator, food is other adventuring party’s remains etc)
20+ Success: you find food (one ration number over 20, minimum one ration.)

Should the party run out of food and water, each day of starvation will have an effect equivalent to cumulative exhaustion (see PHB).

If an already exhausted creature suffers another effect that causes exhaustion, its current level of exhaustion increases by the amount specified in the effect’s description. This will also damage a character’s sanity.

The Weather
Weather and climate are ever-present threats in the Gloom. Every day or when travelling to a new hex, the DM will roll to determine the weather. Each hex will have a modifier to the weather (eg hexes in the extreme north will have a -8, making cold weather extremely likely.

-20C. Freezing. Risk of immediate character death when not in shelter or source of warmth.
-5C. It is bitterly cold. Characters need a source of warmth to rest successfully and risk death from exposure when not in shelter.
0-10. Whilst not exactly balmy, this weather does not threaten characters.
10-16   It is actively warm. Roll twice on the precipitation table for weather effects, combine or choose.
20oC+. It is as hot as The Gloom gets: a muggy, sultry heat. Strenuous activities (fighting, travel) face a constitution check or cause a level of exhaustion (CON 14). Players must consume twice as many water rations.

A torrential downpour, snowstorm or tropical storm. (See temperature). Bows have disadvantage as bowstrings are wet, visibility becomes 10”, survival checks are taken at disadvantage, all fire damage is halved, fire and torches go out and characters risk death from exposure.   Firearms may misfire.
Drizzle. The party needs to use twice as many torches per adventuring turn. Firearms may misfire.
As clear as a day gets in the Gloom.
A Gloom Mist. Visibility becomes 10”.
A Sunburst! Spirits are lifted, The Gloom recedes, visibility is perfect, sanity recovers: roll 3d6 Sanity Points recovery for each character.

Into the Gloom utilises a simplified system of encumbrance. Your character’s STRENGTH score determines their carrying capacity exactly, with each point of strength being equivalent to two Encumbrance Units. (A character with 14 strength can carry 28EU).  This measures not just weight but the general difficulty of carrying something and moving fluently. You must track your own encumbrance – if encumbered you are treated as heavily encumbered as per 5e rules:

“...your speed drops by 20 feet and you have disadvantage on ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws that use Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution.”

1 Weight Unit
2 Weight Units
3 Weight Units.
A day’s food or water ration.
Three torches.
100sp in cash.
A handful of trinkets, garnets or other small treasure.

A one-handed weapon.
A shield.
A small curiosity or art object ie idol or painting.
A two-handed weapon.
A larger source of treasure ie a strongbox or candelabra.

Clothing/None = 0 EU
Light = 2 EU
Medium – 4 EU
Heavy = 6 EU

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