Walking Away From Undertake a Perilous Journey

For a game that purports to be "fiction first", there are a number of moves that seem to more closely adhere to "old school D&D tradition first", or just aren't particularly well thought out. Undertake a perilous journey falls into the latter category.

In case you don't have the move memorized, here's the most relevant part:

When you travel through hostile territory, choose one member of the party to act as trailblazer, one to scout ahead, and one to be quartermaster. Each character with a job to do rolls+WIS.

It's a move that, at first glance, aims to streamline the whole overland traveling process. In older editions of Dungeons & Dragons, going from point A to B could involve multiple rolls (every day/hour/etc, or maybe each hex if you use hex maps), to see if you run into something and/or whether you notice it.

So, why doesn't it work?

For starters, the I guess explanatory text that follows the move says you only make the move when you know where you're going.

This means that if you're just wandering around aimlessly, no one is the scout, or trailblazer, or quartermaster. I'm not saying that you still wouldn't want to have people in charge of those tasks even if you know where you're going, but when you don't know what to expect, they seem like they'd be especially important.

Then there's the fact that a job can only be taken by one person, no matter how many people are in the party, and everyone makes one roll, no matter how far the journey is.

Take the scout job. Yes, I wonder why more than one person can't help out with each of the jobs, but when you're going through hostile territory, wouldn't it make more sense fictionally for everyone to be on the lookout? This can partially be addressed with the aid or interfere move, but the problem is no matter how many people help, whether one person or the entire party, you can only get +1.

Then there's the quartermaster job. How come when you don't know where you're going, you eat up rations at the "normal" pace, and how come when you take a journey to a known place, only one character handles the group's rations? There's no move for preserving/managing supplies when you're in a dungeon, or when you're aimlessly wandering through the woods, both times when you'd think closely monitoring your food stores would be much more important.

Nope, only when you know where you're going does one person in the party take responsibility for everyone else's food.

I'm going to just write off the move in its entirety. For the as-of-yet-unplayed elf ranger, you'll just always reduce the amount of time it takes to get through wilderness terrain (not sure what I'd do with Follow Me, though). Instead, when the characters go somewhere I'll tell them how many days it takes (not rations, days...except in A Sundered World, where there aren't days), and they'll make camp each day.

If they run into something en route, I'll make up some sort of new +WIS "special move" for either one person or the entire party to roll: on a 10+ you notice the creature and have time to act before it closes the distance/does whatever it's going to do (maybe even a +1 forward, like with take watch's 10+ result), on a 7-9 everyone's going at the same time, and on a miss it gets the drop on you.

This gives everyone a chance, and "fictionally" reinforces the idea that everyone in the party is doing their part to keep an eye out.

Another, maybe simpler idea is to make one person roll for the entire party, probably the guy with the highest Wisdom, since my group always elects the character(s) with the highest Wisdom to tackle the jobs anyway. Not sure if I wanna do +1 for each other character also looking about, or just limit it to characters with a Wisdom of +1 or higher.

This would also represent everyone else keeping an eye out, but with a party of 3-4 people it means they're likely rolling +3 to +5 at the start of the game (though, you could slap on -1 or -2 for good cover). But, hey, sneaking up on a group of understandably wary adventurers is probably hard.

DriveThruRPG is running their Christmas in July sale. During this time (which is just under eight days), everything in our store is 25% off.

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out!

The Golem is our latest "monster" playbook, and the fourth to be made due to fan demand. Next up is The Rakshasa, followed by a few more that we're not ready to talk about just yet (one of which features yet another character sheet design).

On the topic of classes, I want to give a shout out to Maria Rivera's The Lich. I not only provided some design insight and content, but also did the cover (with the help of Melissa, who colored it), the logo, and layout for both the digest pdf and new character sheet.

If you're interested in having Melissa and I look over a class (or adventure, or whatever it is you're working on), and/or do art, hit us up! We're cheap (or in some cases free).

The Dungeon World GM Screen is currently available in pdf and landscape insert formats. No matter which you choose, you get eight sets of pdfs that let you have access to the screen in both landscape and portrait orientation, in color or black and white, and with or without art.

We're waiting on the portrait inserts. Assuming they look good, they'll be available soon. They're now available.

Next up, mini screen!


  1. Sir you clearly speak blasphemy. Good Work, keep it up.

    1. In other words, talk about the other moves that bug me? :-D

    2. How about addressing the moves you don't like and providing alternate rules for them? If they are well received, you could compile them and sell them fora buck or something. Or make a sourcebook with alternate moves and also class moves for the thief, druid, cleric, ranger, fighter, and wizard who desperately need it.

    3. @Victor: I can do that. Dunno if I'd charge for it: seems like minor work.

      We're gonna do alternate classes for those that vote on them (up until Melissa and I get tired of DW stuff). Really hoping for the fighter, but cleric and druid would also be fun.

  2. Definitely has the feel of a holdover from other games, and one that doesn't work very well. I haven't run DW yet, so I'll most likely give it a shot in my upcoming game, but I just don't see the benefit at the moment.

    1. @John: I'm confused as to how it made it into the "finished" product, myself. I'm curious how it will play out at your table.

  3. I feel like it was intended to simplify and speed up travelling, like Indiana Jones red line, but got hour lost in execution

    1. @Adam: That's what I felt initially, but after all our Ravenloft/Sundered World sessions, I've wondered why only one of you keeps a lookout. :-P

  4. Ive been thinkign about this move lately. Maybe you could modify the move so that the roll is made daily and when its not through a known road. The trailblazer could reduce the time travel by half a day, or by a few hours on a partial success, or gets them lost/takes more than a day to get there. One person per job makes the roll and those who are not doing anything can aid the others.

    Another option is to make a move for each job seperately.


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