Wreckage to Deliverance

Getting Lost

There are many ways to get lost in the wilderness. Following an obvious road, trail, or feature such as a stream or shoreline prevents most from becoming lost, but travelers striking off cross-country might become disoriented—especially in conditions of poor visibility or in difficult terrain.

Poor Visibility: Anytime characters cannot see at least 60 feet due to reduced visibility conditions, they might become lost. Characters traveling through fog, snow, or a downpour might easily lose the ability to see any landmarks not in their immediate vicinity. Similarly, characters traveling at night might be at risk, too, depending on the quality of their light sources, the amount of moonlight, and whether they have darkvision or low-light vision.

Difficult Terrain: Any character in forest, moor, hill, or mountain terrain might become lost if he moves away from a trail, road, stream, or other obvious path or track. Forests are especially dangerous because they obscure far-off landmarks and make it hard to see the sun or stars.

Chance to Get Lost: If conditions exist that make getting lost a possibility, the character leading the way must succeed on a Survival check or become lost. The difficulty of this check varies based on the terrain, the visibility conditions, and whether or not the character has a map of the area being traveled through. Refer to the table below and use the highest DC that applies.

Terrain Survival DC
Desert or plains 14
Forest 16
Moor or hill 10
Mountain 12
Open sea 18
Urban, ruins, or dungeon 8
Situation Check Modifier
Proper navigational tools (map, sextant) +4
Poor visibility -4

A character with at least 5 ranks in Knowledge (geography) or Knowledge (local) pertaining to the area being traveled through gains a +2 bonus on this check.

Check once per hour (or portion of an hour) spent in local or overland movement to see if travelers have become lost. In the case of a party moving together, only the character leading the way makes the check.

Effects of Being Lost: If a party becomes lost, it is no longer certain of moving in the direction it intended to travel. Randomly determine the direction in which the party actually travels during each hour of local or overland movement. The characters’ movement continues to be random until they blunder into a landmark they can’t miss, or until they recognize that they are lost and make an effort to regain their bearings.

Recognizing You’re Lost: Once per hour of random travel, each character in the party may attempt a Survival check (DC 20, –1 per hour of random travel) to recognize that he is no longer certain of his direction of travel. Some circumstances might make it obvious that the characters are lost.

Setting a New Course: Determining the correct direction of travel once a party has become lost requires a Survival check (DC 15, +2 per hour of random travel). If a character fails this check, he chooses a random direction as the “correct” direction for resuming travel.

Once the characters are traveling along their new course, correct or incorrect, they might get lost again. If the conditions still make it possible for travelers to become lost, check once per hour of travel as described above to see if the party maintains its new course or begins to move at random again.

Conflicting Directions: It’s possible that several characters may attempt to determine the right direction to proceed after becoming lost. Make a Survival check for each character in secret, then tell the players whose characters succeeded the correct direction in which to travel, and tell the players whose characters failed a random direction they think is right, with no indication who is correct.

Regaining Your Bearings: There are several ways for characters to find their way after becoming lost. First, if the characters successfully set a new course and follow it to the destination they’re trying to reach, they’re not lost anymore.

Second, the characters, through random movement, might run into an unmistakable landmark. Third, if conditions suddenly improve— the fog lifts or the sun comes up—lost characters may attempt to set a new course, as described above, with a +4 bonus on the Survival check.

Desert Terrain

Desert terrain exists in warm, temperate, and cold climates, but all deserts share one common trait: little rain. The three categories of desert terrain are tundra (cold desert), rocky deserts (often temperate), and sandy deserts (often warm).

Tundra differs from the other desert categories in two important ways. Because snow and ice cover much of the landscape, it’s easy to find water. During the height of summer, the permafrost thaws to a depth of a foot or so, turning the landscape into a vast field of mud. The muddy tundra affects movement and skill use as the shallow bogs described in Marsh Terrain, although there is little standing water.

The table below describes terrain elements found in each of the three desert categories. The terrain elements on this table are mutually exclusive; for instance, a square of tundra might contain either light undergrowth or an ice sheet, but not both.
Desert Category Tundra Rocky Sandy
Light undergrowth 15% 5% 5%
Ice sheets 25%
Light rubble 5% 30% 10%
Dense rubble 30% 5%
Sand dunes 50%

Light Undergrowth: Consisting of scrubby, hardy bushes and cacti, light undergrowth functions as described for other terrain types.

Ice Sheet: The ground is covered with slippery ice. It costs 2 squares of movement to enter a square covered by an ice sheet, and the DC of Acrobatics checks there increases by 5. A DC 10 Acrobatics check is required to run or charge across an ice sheet.

Light Rubble: Small rocks are strewn across the ground, making nimble movement more difficult. The DC of Acrobatics checks increases by 2.

Dense Rubble: This terrain feature consists of more and larger stones. It costs 2 squares of movement to enter a square with dense rubble. The DC of Acrobatics checks increases by 5, and the DC of Stealth checks increases by 2.

Sand Dunes: Created by the action of wind on sand, dunes function as hills that move. If the wind is strong and consistent, a sand dune can move several hundred feet in a week’s time. Sand dunes can cover hundreds of squares. They always have a gentle slope pointing in the direction of the prevailing wind and a steep slope on the leeward side.

Other Desert Terrain Features: Tundra is sometimes bordered by forests, and the occasional tree isn’t out of place in the cold wastes. Rocky deserts have towers and mesas consisting of flat ground surrounded on all sides by cliffs and steep slopes (as described in Mountain Terrain). Sandy deserts sometimes have quicksand; this functions as described in Marsh Terrain, although desert quicksand is a waterless mixture of fine sand and dust. All desert terrain is crisscrossed with dry streambeds (treat as trenches 5 to 15 feet wide) that fill with water on the rare occasions when rain falls.

Stealth and Detection in the Desert: In general, the maximum distance in desert terrain at which a Perception check for detecting the nearby presence of others can succeed is 6d6 × 20 feet; beyond this distance, elevation changes and heat distortion in warm deserts makes sight-based Perception impossible. The presence of dunes in sandy deserts limits spotting distance to 6d6 × 10 feet. The scarcity of undergrowth or other elements that offer concealment or cover makes using Stealth more difficult.

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