Lost / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 10
Last week we finally got to the last day on our 8 day voyage, but unfortunately our Navigator got us lost. On our ultimate day at sea, our navigator failed us and now we have no idea where we are on the map… it’s pry best we just make that Navigator walk the plank, they clearly are incompetent.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s revisit where we are. We are at that final hex before the dark green one; the green represents land, and the dark shade represents that we haven’t been there yet.
At the end of Day 8, our Navigator rolled their navigation check and failed it quite miserably, as a reminder because they are on an Undiscovered Hex they needed at least a DC 15 Navigation check.
I Don’t Think We Are In Kansas Anymore
While they are traveling, the Navigator knows where they are on the map, and I envision that the GM could have a map that they can reveal to the players. Or they can force their players to draw their own map. Really, I’d recommend Inkarnate to work off of for these maps (It’s what I’m currently using) it’s a pretty good tool for these hexcrawl type things.
Now, because they have a map they can work off of, the GM is going to have to make this next roll in secret. See, when you get lost, there are a variety of ways that WotC has handled this.
On page 111 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide it talks about how a party can become lost when the navigator makes a Survival check and fails the DC. When the party gets lost, they must spend 1d6 hours to try and get back on track and the navigator must repeat the check to see if they get back on track.
I don’t care too much for that ruling, but I do like Tomb of Annihilation’s take on getting lost. On page 38, under Navigation it explains that the DM makes a Survival check on behalf of the navigator at the start of the day, and if the check fails the party becomes lost over the course of a day. Instead of moving on to the next hex of the party’s choosing, they instead have 6 hexes surrounding their current one and the DM rolls a d6 to determine which hex the party actually travels on to over the course of the day. On the next Survival check that is a success, the party learns their location on the map. This means that if the party fails multiple checks, they are effectively lost for multiple days, though reading through the rules, that means that they can’t stay in one spot and try to figure out where they are. I like these rules a lot more than the DMG’s and I’m going to adjust them to better fit what we are doing.
Not All Who Wander Are Lost… Except We Are Totally Lost
Let’s go ahead and figure out how it will work being lost. Because we are relying on Hex grid, let’s go ahead and keep that d6 roll that the GM will make, but personally, I don’t care if the player knows they are lost or not. The players probably already know the DC for getting lost, and whether I roll or they roll, the result is the same… they are going to get lost occasionally. The biggest difference between our current Navigator checks and the ToA checks is that we do are checks at the end of the day, while ToA does there’s at the start of the day. I can understand why the GM would hide the navigator roll at the start of the day, but it’s less important at the end of the day to hide it. The players will know they are lost at the end of the day regardless.
So, when are navigator inevitably fails their check, the GM will roll a d6 to determine what hex they actually went too instead of the hex they were planning on. There is a 0.16667% (repeating of course) chance that they actually move forward on to their desired hex… which is nice for them I suppose. The GM will hide the fact about which hex they are on and the players will know they are lost, even if they are still going in the same direction they wanted to go.
And then the next day, we go through the same things we always do, check for weather, encounters and then the navigator must then make their check. If they are successful, the GM reveals what hex they are on and they decide what hex to move onto next. On a fail, the GM repeats their d6 roll and the party moves further away from their destination. This repeats until they make their check, or they stumble onto a random island thanks to the random encounters. Let’s go ahead and write that up all pretty like:
The party chooses a party member, or NPC proficient in Navigation tools, to make a Navigator check; the party can switch its navigator day to day.
At the end of each day of travel, the navigator (or DM) makes a Navigation check. This check determines whether or not the party becomes lost on the open seas during the day of travel. The DC of the check is based on weather and if the party is on a Discovered Hex or an Undiscovered Hex. If weather is causing poor, or no, visibility, the DC is 20. Undiscovered Hexes are DC 15, and Discovered Hexes are DC 10. Apply a +5 bonus to the check if the ship is sailing at a slow pace for the day, it is impossible for a ship to sail at a fast pace.
If the check succeeds, the ship makes progress on their journey (moves a hex) and the party knows exactly where they are in relation to discovered islands/hexes and their destination.
If the check fails, the party becomes lost. Each hex on the map is surrounded by six other hexes; whenever a lost party moves 1 hex, roll a d6 to randomly determine which neighboring hex the party enters, and do not divulge the party’s location to the players. While the party is lost, players can not pinpoint the group’s location on their map. The next time a navigator succeeds on a Navigation check, you reveal the party’s actual location to the party. This represents them turning themselves around and finding their location.
I’m Not Lost… I Just Went The Wrong Way On Purpose
Now, let’s put this into practice. When the party leaves the Penultimate Hex (hex 7) and travel to the Ultimate Hex (hex 8), they become lost. So we will then roll a d6, and determine what hex they actually traveled on from Hex 7.
So, I went ahead and rolled a d6 and got a 2. This mean, our ship moves off to the top right. Now, we will begin our next day. The GM will check for weather, and then encounters followed by the players rolling a Navigation check. Now, if they make this check, they will know that they are in the hex marked “2”. If they fail this roll, then they are still lost and we roll another d6 to determine hex they move on from the hex marked “2”.
… Not even kidding I rolled a 1 on a d20 to determine if they were going to get lost… sigh… So, we now must roll a d6 to determine which direction they go… and I got a 6. So things are working out quite well for our adventurers! Of course we have an extra day of travel, but if they make their next check, they will know they are in the hex marked “6” on day 9 of their journey!
So let’s go ahead and assume we figure out our weather and encounters for the day and the players rolled a great Navigation check and they know they are on the original Ultimate Hex before they arrive at their uncharted island. Now, because they made their check, they know they are on they are on that hex, and the next day they will arrive at the island!
Lost Is A State Of Mind
So, let’s revisit everything that happened in the last couple of days. On Day 8, they tried to sail from the hex two spots below their uncharted island to the hex just below it. They fail their navigation and actually get lost. They went off to the top right hex on Day 8. The next day (Day 9), they travel a bit more and fail their Navigation check again. This one actually helped them out as they moved back on to the original Ultimate Hex they were trying to sail to on Day 8. Thus ends Day 9, the party is still lost.
The next day, Day 10, ended and they finally made their Navigation check. Instead of rolling a d6 to determine which hex they travelled to blindly; we instead keep them on the same hex they blindly travelled to on Day 9 and we show them on the map where they are. This getting lost cost them 2 days of travel, but it kind of worked out in the end. They are one day of travel from arriving at their destination! And let’s save island discovery for next week!
In the meantime, let’s go ahead and make another encounter!
Abandoned Ship Floating On The Waters
Just off in the distance, you can see a boat floating on the waters, seemingly unmanned.
Roll a d4
1 - The boat is listing to the side and upon a successful DC 15 Bosun/Repair check, you can tell it will sink within the next 1d4 hours. If the party decides to board, they find no rations, but they do find some mundane treasure and gold. Roll on the Individual Treasure: Challenge 5-10 (DMG pg. 136). There are no logs or information as to what happened to the ship, and no signs of fighting.
2 - The boat is in perfect condition, but the decks are coated in a thick layer of blood that appears fresh. Searching through the ship, you can find enough rations to feed 10 people for a week. All money is a single black chest with a sturdy lock, DC 20 Thieves’ Tools to unlock it. Roll on the Individual Treasure: Challenge 11-16 (DMG pg. 136). If any treasure or other items are taken from the ship, 1d4 Specters will attack the party, one of them appears to be dressed as the captain of the ship.
3 - A massive hole is in the side of the ship, and it has only a few minutes left before it will sink beneath the waves. The party can see that 1d10 swarms of rats are swimming from the sinking ship and heading to theirs. They will attempt to reach the ship and climb aboard, attacking anyone that tries to stop them. If they get on board, they will scamper down into the bowels of the ship and devour 1d4 days worth of rations for every day they are on the ship.
4 - The floating ship appears to be in excellent condition, but all supplies, including treasure, has been taken off the ship. There is a single, bloodied note, that tells the story of hearing music coming across the water that drove men crazy. They would toss treasure, rations and even their own bodies over the side of the ship one at a time. He was lucky enough to put wax in his ears before he was taken… but he is extremely curious to hear this wonderful music they others are hearing.