Monday, July 13, 2015

The Moving Pointcrawl

Over at the Hill Cantons blog, Chris has written a lot about the pointcrawl, which abstracts a map to the important points, eliding the empty places/boring stuff a hexcrawl or similar complete mapping would give equal weight. One unusual variation not yet explored is the crawling of moving points.

Admittedly, these would be pretty unusual situations--but unusual situations are the sort of stuff adventures are made from: Exploring a flotilla of ancient airships or the various "worlds" in a titan wizards orrery; Crawling the strange shantytown distributed over the backs of giant, migrating, terrapin. Flitting from tiny world to tiny world in a Little Prince-esque planetary system. Some of these sort of situations might stretch the definition of pointcrawl, admittedly, and to model some of them in any way accurately would require graphing or calculus, and likely both.

Let's take a simple case--something from an adventure I'm working on. Say the wrecks of several ships are trapped in a Sargasso Sea of sorts. The weed is stretchy to a degree, so the wrecks move to a degree with the movement of the ocean, but the never come completely apart.

The assumption (to make it a pointcrawl, rather than just a hexcrawl, where the points of interest move) is that there were pretty much only certain clearer channels a small boat could take through the weed--or maybe certain heavier areas that a person who wasn't too heavy could walk over without sinking in complete.

The map would look something like this:

Note that this map is pretty abstract, despite appearances. The distances or size of the weed patch aren't necessarily to scale with the derelict icons. Length of connecting lines is of course, indicative of relative travel distance. The colors indicate how "stretchy" an area is: blue can move d4, orange d6, and red d8 in feet? yards? tens of feet? Not sure yet. Anyway, whether this drift is closer or farther away would depend on a separate roll of 1d6 where odds equals farther and evens closer. Of course, they can't come any closer than the distance they are away on the map, so any "extra" distance would be a shift to one side or the other.

Zigzags denote a precarious patch, where there would be an increased risk of a sudden thickening (if I'm going with boat travel) or falling in (if I go with walking). Dots will denote an extra wandering monster or unusual event check.

So there are a lot of kinks to work out, but that's the basic idea.


Anonymous said...

How would this be substentially different from a pointcrawl with variable travel times?

christian said...

I really like this concept. When I was writing my hex crawl series for Loviatar, I was amazed at how bloated the word count became as I tried to provide information for an entire region. Your approach would greatly focus your preparation and therefore game play, while still providing some juicy randomness.

Are there going to opportunities for adventure beneath the kelp and wreckage? I've never done a lot with underwater campaigning myself.

Jim Shelley said...

I like your map! The zigzags indicating tricky going are a nice touch.

Trey said...

@christian - Maybe. I think it will be an option, at least. The player's will probably have enough to worry about above water.

Andy Bartlett said...

"It is a pointcrawl with variable travel times."

Surely it could be 'more' than that, though, if the movement of the nodes were represented by the making and breaking of connections with other nodes? So, at one time the PCs can leave their node and head to A, B, or C. But if they explore their current node for another week, they'll find that the tides have shifted and they can now reach C, D, and E. They can still access A and B (perhaps), but must get there through intermediate nodes. Or they could wait and hope (or perhaps) know that A and B will drift back.

This is also getting me thinking about a plot-crawl, and a combination of geographic nodes and plot nodes.

Trey said...

Yes, certainly it can be more than that. My comment was in response to a question about it being identical to "variable travel times." I was acknowledging it was a subset of things that cause variable travel times but aren't identical in other respects.

Chris C. said...

Really nice idea. I think there are lots of ways it could be applied.

garrisonjames said...

This is one way to map the things that actually matter or impact the game. The zig-zag lines are a good touch, much simpler than icons like I have used in the past.