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How to deal with travelling long distances?

   
How to deal with travelling long distances?

Okay, this is a problem I've come across when planning to run games of my own. When situations arise that require travelling for a long way, I'm not really sure how to do it.

Do I make the players go through the journey post-by-post, even through sections I don't have anything planned for?
I don't know how much I like this option, it seems like it would become very grueling for both me and the players to keep up a post per day rule if no one has anything to talk about. I mean, roleplay can come to the rescue here, but how much are the players going to enjoy that after the first few days of it? I know that journeys like this realistically WOULD be boring, and grueling, and repetitive disregarding accidents and things of the like. But that doesn't seem like the right thing to do in the interest of fun.

Do I plan something for every leg of the journey?
Now, typically there are things to do along the way. But a constant stream of events and combat doesn't seem likely unless the players are being actively hunted or are doing something that causes aggression everywhere. Or perhaps the players are doing the hunting, and the prey are actively trying to escape. This is an option with some merit, but only if the circumstances are right.

Do I 'fast travel' the players where they need to go, or give them a portal of some kind?
This is the laziest option. Don't worry about that "journey" crap, we have more important stuff to do. Okay, the portal option is just a terrible thing to do unless that somehow ties into the plot. The fast travel thing I might see working if it was something like this.
"How are you going to travel?
a) Fast and Reckless
b) With mild precaution
c) Slow and very cautious"

A system where the players decide how they're going to travel, and I write back with the consequences of their choice. And even then I don't like it. It doesn't feel right, and it's just not fun. But it ties into our next question:

Do I skip to the interesting bits?
I've seen this way played quite a bit, but I've got a problem with it. By summarizing the journey and jumping right to the meat of it, you've destroyed a lot of opportunity. The biggest problem I have with this is that it makes it impossible to create a suspenseful or mysterious section. The players know that if you skipped to this particular point in time, something important will be happening soon or very soon. You can't hide it. You lose all the wonder of the moment you had been hoping for. The players also lose chances to develop their relationships. Doesn't it seem odd to come out of a several hundred mile long journey with someone and not feel any different about them?

Do I give them interesting travel companions with a subplot, so that the story follows them?
This is another option I like, because it you aren't losing anything with it. Everyone is interested and involved in a story, (Well, at least if I'm doing my job right.) so things don't seem quite as slow, and I don't miss any opportunities for subtlety, AND the travelling gets done. But there isn't always going to be an airship journey with a volatile crew, or a trading caravan going the same way as you. But once again, this is a situational option.

Do I give them a very difficult to maneuver environment with constant challenges?
This would be something like scaling a mountain or traveling through a cave. But not every path is a mountain or cave. Why take the hard road if there is an easier one?


Those are the options I've thought about so far, and short thoughts on each one. Being a good DM probably means that your characters are going to be in a situation that makes things interesting before they have to travel. But I'm newer to the role of Dungeon master, so I'm here to get some feedback/ideas. Feel free to give me tips, or post unconventional solutions of your own. I appreciate any help I can get.

Quote:
Do I make the players go through the journey post-by-post, even through sections I don't have anything planned for?
I don't know how much I like this option, it seems like it would become very grueling for both me and the players to keep up a post per day rule if no one has anything to talk about. I mean, roleplay can come to the rescue here, but how much are the players going to enjoy that after the first few days of it? I know that journeys like this realistically WOULD be boring, and grueling, and repetitive disregarding accidents and things of the like. But that doesn't seem like the right thing to do in the interest of fun.
If there are things they want to talk about during their travel or doing things (such as keeping an eye out for herbs along the way) then have them post it. Or you could basically do at 'Day 1 of journy: What do you do' post and let them decide what they do during the day while they post. The second one would also be a good idea if there is a chance of them being ambushed and do the Day 1 [ private] [ roll]1dwhat ever the chance is [ /roll] [ /private] and go along with that.

Quote:
Do I 'fast travel' the players where they need to go, or give them a portal of some kind?
This is the laziest option. Don't worry about that "journey" crap, we have more important stuff to do. Okay, the portal option is just a terrible thing to do unless that somehow ties into the plot. The fast travel thing I might see working if it was something like this.
"How are you going to travel?
a) Fast and Reckless
b) With mild precaution
c) Slow and very cautious"

A system where the players decide how they're going to travel, and I write back with the consequences of their choice. And even then I don't like it. It doesn't feel right, and it's just not fun.
Fast travel only if it makes sense. It would make sense if they have an airship or if the town REALISTICALLY has a portal system in place, again look at my pervious answer.

Quote:
Do I skip to the interesting bits?
I've seen this way played quite a bit, but I've got a problem with it. By summarizing the journey and jumping right to the meat of it, you've destroyed a lot of opportunity. The biggest problem I have with this is that it makes it impossible to create a suspenseful or mysterious section. The players know that if you skipped to this particular point in time, something important will be happening soon or very soon. You can't hide it. You lose all the wonder of the moment you had been hoping for. The players also lose chances to develop their relationships. Doesn't it seem odd to come out of a several hundred mile long journey with someone and not feel any different about them?
never skip the fun and interesting bits.

Quote:
Do I give them interesting travel companions with a subplot, so that the story follows them?
This is another option I like, because it you aren't losing anything with it. Everyone is interested and involved in a story, (Well, at least if I'm doing my job right.) so things don't seem quite as slow, and I don't miss any opportunities for subtlety, AND the travelling gets done. But there isn't always going to be an airship journey with a volatile crew, or a trading caravan going the same way as you. But once again, this is a situational option.
If you think it's nessissary in order for the plot and RP to advance then go right on ahead.

Quote:
Do I give them a very difficult to maneuver environment with constant challenges?
This would be something like scaling a mountain or traveling through a cave. But not every path is a mountain or cave. Why take the hard road if there is an easier one?
Only if it makes sense, if the road on the map shows that it goes through a mountain, then by all means, throw a mountain at them (Some times litterally if it's a mountian range of Collossal Earth Elementals).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cnyperos View Post
never skip the fun and interesting bits.
I actually wrote 'Skip TO the interesting bits.'

Thank you for all of your comments, Cynperos. You've given me some more to think about.

Always skip to interesting bits in PBP.

If you dilly dally with mundane details you will frustrate players and their interest will wane.

If there is something interesting or necessary along the way, include it, otherwise skip it.

Allow that players can interact if that is their stated wish, but don't tell them to. At most put something up like:

"Your characters spend a month at sea aboard the Red Herring, during their time they are free to interact with the crew, study, train skills etc. within reason. Conversations can be RP'd, but otherwise just include a couple sentences of what your character does and we're on to the next scene."

If you'e especially in a hurry, include the set up for the next scene as well to encourage players to move forward as fast as possible by interacting with the new scene.

On the subject of skipping to the interesting bits, don't forget to narrate the skipped parts. If you just write 'you get there' they may be under the impression that nothing happened. You don't have to do that just because you are skipping the grind, feel free to note elements of the harrowing journey that you are glossing over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Penchant View Post
On the subject of skipping to the interesting bits, don't forget to narrate the skipped parts. If you just write 'you get there' they may be under the impression that nothing happened. You don't have to do that just because you are skipping the grind, feel free to note elements of the harrowing journey that you are glossing over.
I should have included that. Always include some description, even a couple mundane things if nothing notable happens. This helps with player immersion and will encourage your players to engage the environment more.

What I suggest (if the players go along): open a separated thread if the players want to RP some part of the journey. This way you can continue the adventure in the main thread, while having a secondary thread where they can release their writing inspiration and RP with each other or with the NPC's and such. Leave the thread opened for a fixed period of time.

It has worked wonders in one game I was in, but it kinda failed in another of my games. I guess you could try.

I like to ask people OOC if they want to have any time during an extended travel period to chat, like around a campfire. Sometimes they have a plan to hash out, sometimes they have other things to discuss, and sometimes they don't really care and would rather just move on. Give them one increment of your post per day amount to respond to the question, and if no one posts, just skip it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by P4yne View Post
What I suggest (if the players go along): open a separated thread if the players want to RP some part of the journey. This way you can continue the adventure in the main thread, while having a secondary thread where they can release their writing inspiration and RP with each other or with the NPC's and such. Leave the thread opened for a fixed period of time.

It has worked wonders in one game I was in, but it kinda failed in another of my games. I guess you could try.

This can lead to time paradoxes very easily if you're not super careful.

I agree with everything said about skipping to interesting bits. PbPs move slowly enough as it is, and people will get bored if they have to do something that isn't really plot-relevant.

Really, the same principle applies to tabletop to some extent. Most players are going to get bored if they have to play out every single day of their journey from Point A to Point B. A random encounter or three spaced out across the trip is fine (in tabletop, not PbP), but if you make players roll Spot each night at watch for an in-game month it's just going to be dull.

Also, random encounters, in my experience, aren't usually a good idea in PbPs unless they are seamlessly presented as part of the main story. Combats take foreverrrrrrrrrrrrrrr in PbP and an unnecessary encounter only slows things down.

Something many professional writing teachers and authors say: If it's not relevant to the plot, throw it out. Don't write about it because your reader won't care, or will be wondering when you're going to tie it into the plot. I think it's similar for PbP. If the details of the journey are really not that important in the bigger scheme of things, there's no reason to include them. Your players will lose interest and fade away.

A PbP needs to maintain a steady beat to hold most players in the long term

The option to allow players to RP on the side is a good choice if you feel a need to do something for the interim. It falls flat in a few of my games. Usually once the main thread is up, players focus more on that.

In another of my games, all of the players and the GM have each other on instant messenger and I think this is a great option if your players have messengers. We do some chat roleplaying to have our characters interact during "downtime." Most of the characters have also embarked on many solo or duo (sometimes even trio) adventures during the between-main-threads time. These adventures run concurrently with the main thread but are taken care of via IM and are inserted in an appropriate part of the timeline. Our GM is usually willing to come up with something for us to do, and he's also good at setting up adventures that allow our characters to pursue their own goals. So if I really want my character to get in the good graces of some faction or NPC, the GM will usually set up a solo IM adventure where I can earn the faction's favor.

Meanwhile, the main thread keeps moving!





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