Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cave Passages

For gaming purposes perfectly emulating mundane cave exploration would be unrewarding; An “adventure” cave needs somewhat larger chambers that are a bit more common than most of what nature provides, for example. The passages don’t have to be very different though, and they shouldn’t be. Navigation through a cave should not be a simple matter of walking through tunnels in the typical fashion. The whole appeal of using a cave instead of a castle is that it is dark, difficult, and confusing place.

In a cave the passages from chamber to chamber are not designed by any mind, and human needs are not considered by the processes that do create them. The ceiling can be quite low, and the portals between chambers may be horribly narrow and small. If a hallway is even roughly emulated it’s a lucky event, but most of them are lengthy and uncomfortable if they are even navigable at all.

This system makes the following assumptions:

  1. The rate of exploration is being tracked.
  2. The passage of time is being tracked.
  3. Encumbrance is being tracked, using the LotFP system (if you’re using any kind of “encumbrance levels” this will be adaptable)
  4. The Players navigation is up to them. They can’t merely say “we go back the way we came”. They are making a map, or taking notes about which way to go where.
  5. Marching order and position are important for encounters. (you're using a battle map of some kind)

If none of these things are true this method will not be very useful. If time and distance are not tracked in some way it doesn’t really matter if it takes longer to stoop instead of walk, and if there’s no encumbrance system in play the provided method for determining who gets stuck is also not of much consequence. If there are no time-based random encounters there isn’t a compelling reason to care about time, and if resources aren’t tracked the primary difficulties of exploring a cave are nonexistent. If the Players can merely state “we go back” none of this is very interesting because they won’t need to make choices about which passages to take, and so on. 

The numbers used are based on the LotFP movement rates.

This method does not attend to the three-dimensional features of caves (like passages into the floor or through the ceiling), or the various other features you find in cave chambers, or generating cave chambers at all. At least, not yet. We'll get to that later.

Anyways, with all that in mind, here is a method for describing cave passages.

Roll 1d12, 1d4, and 1d6

1d12: This passage has the following characteristics, and can be navigated as follows with the following effects:

1-4 The ceiling is high enough to allow for walking, each Player moves at the usual exploration rate.

5-7 The ceiling is lower than head-height, and the Players must stoop. Each Player moves with +1 Encumbrance. Melee attacks cannot be made with Large Weapons.

8-10 The ceiling is so low that Players must crawl on hands and knees. Each Player moves with +2 Encumbrance. Melee attacks can only be made with Small Weapons.

11 This passage is so small that Players may only navigate it by crawling while lying flat. Each Player moves with +3 Encumbrance. Melee attacks cannot be made.

12 This passage may only be squeezed though with effort due to its’ minute size. Ignore the rolled 1d6, Players may only pass through in single file. Each player moves with +3 Encumbrance. In addition, each player must roll 1d6 for every 30 feet they pass through. On a roll of a 1 (+1 for each level of encumbrance), the Player has become stuck. To become unstuck they may attempt a roll for Open Doors once per turn to attempt to free themselves. Melee attacks cannot be made.

(Ex: A player who has one point of encumbrance becomes stuck on a roll of 1 or 2)

The approximate distance for calculating travel time through this passage is equal to 1d4 x 30 feet.

D6: The passage is wide enough for
1-3 One
4-5 Two
6 Three
Players to pass through side by side


The Referee should never state a length for any passage before it is passed through, especially a difficult one such as a crawl. The party is not doing anything resembling precise measurement and has at best bad visibility; they will only have an approximate idea (one suitable enough for mapmaking on graph paper) once they have gone through, not before.

Examples:

d4: 1, d6: 3, d12: 8
This passage is about 30 feet long, must traveled single file, and must be crawled through on hands and knees. It adds +2 Encumbrance for calculating movement speed, meaning that only those who are Lightly Encumbered or Unencumbered may pass through at all. Attacks could only be made with Small Weapons.

d4: 2, d6: 4, d12: 6
A 60 foot passage that must be stooped in, with room for two to travel side-by-side. +1 Encumbrance for movement, meaning only those who are Heavily Encumbered or less may pass through. Large Weapons cannot be used.

d4: 4, d6: 6. d12: 12

A 120 foot passage that must be squeezed through. The d6 is ignored, it may only be traveled through single file. Only Players who are Unencumbered may pass through, and must roll 1d6 four times to determine if they have become stuck before they successfully navigate it.

d4: 2, d6 1, d12: 1

A 60 foot passage that is high enough to be walked through. There is only enough room to walk single-file.