Why do you travel?

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RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallExploring dangerous sites to claim the magic and wealth found there is as important as getting there in the first place. Travel is, after all, one of the three pillars of Dungeons & Dragons, along with combat and social interaction, and the masterminds behind Moebius Adventures have challenged us all to make it more interesting and fun selecting it as the topic for May’s RPG Blog Carnival.

But travel can also be boring, uneventful, and slow down your game. Just a few weeks ago, my very cool YouTuber friend The Dungeon Coach released a video on how to have engaging travel in your D&D game, offering four different systems to give the right feel for travel.

In essence:

  1. He assigns traveling roles to the heroes (navigator, scout, defender, utility)
  2. He incorporates skill challenges, updated from 4e (which I loved and I still do!)
  3. He does nothing (as they go up in levels, a short description fastens the game, but you can always encourage roleplaying)
  4. He uses travel tables, which you may want to watch and like the video to collaborate with!

The thing is, adventures usually involve travel. And since he beat me to the topic and my blog focuses on the Eberron campaign setting, it’s my turn to twist these pieces of advice into setting-specific motivations. Let’s look for reasons to travel!

Some heroes may need to climb the highest mountain, sail through the Shargon Teeth in order to arrive to Xen’drik, ride the lightning rail to cover distance in the shortest amount of time, or even fly aboard a skyship while escaping from a pursuing dragon. “Eberron : Rising from the Last War” includes a few pages about travel, emphasizing the innovative means of transportation this setting has to offer, but it was the “Explorer’s Handbook” the one which really gave us everything we need to know about how to get from one point to another in this setting.

 

Exploration

No one knows what’s out there, so it’s high time someone found out.

You know knowledge is power, so your goal is simply to acquire it. Knowledge comes in many different shapes: maps, journals, art, relics… any cultural information you gather about inhabitants of your destination is valuable. Your trips and expeditions might be sponsored by parties interested enough in learning about the region you want to visit. The main advantage of exploration is that you are not under a schedule nor a ticking bomb. Without a time limit, you are free to take as long as you wish to map each area with dedication and precision. You also don’t care much about any bounty or treasure, making your trip back home much safer.

Xen’drik is of course your best choice for this sort of trip, since it is far larger than Khorvaire and it has only a fraction of its lands mapped in modern times (and most of those maps are erroneous at best). Argonnessen and the Demon Wastes are also mostly unexplored, but the dangers in those lands often outweigh the interest scholars have in mapping them. Organizations that may be willing to fund your extraordinary voyages of exploration include the Wayfinder Foundation and the Library of Korranberg.

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“Seek the Wilds” by Anna Steinbauer

Prospecting

If there’s something valuable out there, let’s bring back as much of it as possible.

Knowing stuff is for know-it-alls. You get what you want. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s waiting for you to grab it somewhere in Eberron. Similarly to exploration journeys, usually there isn’t a specific time frame for completing a prospecting one, unless of course the law of supply and demand comes into the equation. Whoever wants to buy what you’re offering probably wants it also sooner than later (but they also want it to arrive rather than not). You must be ready for danger, as your trip home might be even more dangerous than the original leg of the expedition if pirates learn of your endeavours.

Dragonshards and soarwood are examples of very coveted resources. The Syberis kind of dragonshards has Xen’drik as the prime choice for prospecting them, while the Khyber kind requires a journey deep underground. Both are as lucrative as they are dangerous. It isn’t hard to find a patron related to House Tharashk’s Finders Guild to purchase your good once you have them. As for soarwood, Zil shipbuilders are known for paying vasts amounts of gold and gems for the buoyant wood from which they make airships and galleons.

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“Chart a Course” by James Ryman

Transport

Here’s something that needs to be someplace else; take it there.

Sometimes what you have to do is to leave a very well known location and arrive to a different but also well known location. If it would be easy to mail or charter, the job wouldn’t be as handsomely paid. Uncertain territory is the option when the cargo needs to be protected or hidden between its origin and destination. The cargo itself is a determining factor on how dangerous the job will be: a valuable relic or a royal heir easily attract attention, so you should expect trouble. Time is also frequently a factor in a transport mission: whatever you carry, it’s very likely it needs to arrive to its destination as quickly as possible.

Adventurers are hired by House Orien’s Transportation Guild all the time, asked to escort caravans to and from almost every settlement on Khorvaire. If the “cargo” is a person, though, it may be House Deneith’s Defenders Guild who will try to employ your services.

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“Skyship Weatherlight” by Jaime Jones

Assault

There’s a threat to our way of life over there. Let’s eliminate it.

Forget personal fortune. This one is for your life. When commissioned on this type of mission, you are expected to find and deal with a threat. The end result takes priority over the journey as solving the problem is what matters. As a result, speed and swiftness are the main concern of an assault expedition (remaining undetected comes to a close second place). Obviously, such trips are inherently dangerous, as some members of the opposition may as well be trying to eliminate the threat you have become.

Several governments of Khorvaire are always secretly looking for clandestine agents to carry out unsanctioned missions in enemy territory, Mission Impossible style. Even if the Last War is supposedly over, the nations not only don’t trust each other, the actively spy on one another. With another entirely different purpose, the Church of the Silver Flame is known for organizing quests to destroy evil creatures and vanquish them (even outside the terriotory of Thrane).

 


Now that we have covered the “why”, I’ll dedicate two more articles to the “how”. The first will be about the Orien Lightning Rail and the second about a Lyrandar Airship. Come back in a few days for some treats about these fabulous means of transportation!

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