Thursday, April 15, 2021

Scale and the Woodland Pathcrawl

 On working up my procedures for the Woodland Pathcrawl I had to contemplate scale in both time and distance. The 10 minute classical dungeon exploration time-frame could be used but it would take forever to explore the are designated by a typical wilderness hex and while I do want to slow things down but getting in closer I don't want it to drag on and on, so 10 minutes and feet traveled are out. Next up the rules generally only cover daily movement rates across fairly big hexes, I certainly don't want adventurers exploring forests at the rate of 12 miles a single day long turn so that's right out.  Determining the scale of action is going to enforce the flavor  a woodland hex crawl isn't a constant race agaisnt the clock and while paths resemble a dungeon corridor in some manner one also has to consider the impact the terrain and distance really has.

An oddly useful measure that helped me zero in on the much smaller measure I eventually settled on for further calculation and signifigance is the league. Now this measure is specific in the modern world but in older times when measure were not uniform a league came to be identified in the distance a man could walk in an hour and this typically falls somewhere between 3 and 3.5 miles with a healthy unburdened person on a fairly easy route. Interestingly the Japanese have a unit of measure figured similarly to a league but here it is how fast a man can carry a load on a mountain road and this Ri comes in a bit under 2.5 miles. So two hourly travel based distances within slightly different parameters made it easy to zero in on the lower measure of 3 miles for the league I'll be using.  A league is still a large distance for small-scale travel but it also serves becasue t isn't one tightly tied to us in modern life and a league is a league to those of us that travel mile after mile or kilometer after kilometer.The league is also a handy measure if using 30,24,12, or 6 mile wilderness hex maps becasue they all break down evenly into 10 league, 8 league, 4 league, and 2 league hexes. The league measure let's us see how quickly a distance could be traveled in hours if everything was relatively ideal.


The league was however only useful for a larger big measure  scaling down we have miles and kilometers both of which are too large and too tied to modern measures for me to be comfortable with so time to go in closer.  Feet, yard and meters are all too small as we'd quickly be using 100's of those in covering ground in any meaningful fashion even when wanting to use a more granular measure. This led me to look into traditional units of measure which got hammered into imperial units later in history but also had some bearing on how people related to the distance and time in the pre-modern world. 


Looking into the pre-modern agriculturally derived measure led me to the useful measurement of the furlong. A furlong is traditionally defined as the length of a furrow an ox team could plough without resting. While the actually distance would vary on the quality of a plow, the land be ploughed, and the strength of the oxen used it has come to be standardized at 220 yards (660 feet, just over 201 meters). while it's not a measure we may all use now in our regular lives it's an easy one to envision with practice and splits up into other measures fairly well. The furlong being 220 yards in length works out to there being 8 furlongs in a mile. 

The furlong and the 3 mile league come together in a handy synchronicity. Since there are 8 furlongs to a mile there are as such 24 furlongs in the league used here. This is a very handy measurement in oldschool fantasy gaming wherein the original rules had a man moving at movement rate of 12" (later refined to 120 feet or just 12).  So in an hour an unburdened character could travel a league or 24 furlongs. Deciding 12 would be the base movement rate for conformity to classical rules and ease of math this lead to settling on 1/2 hour for the time-frame of the woodland pathcrawl.


The half hour long Woodland Pathcrawling turn works out nicely in my estimation. A furlong is about a bow shot in distance it's possible to relate to this in play as "oh it's about a bow shot away from you" isn't difficult to hold in your head. If one has their wilderness hex maps scaled to 2 leagues that also let's us have sub-scaled maps that would be 48 units across, not too many to deal with but certainly granular enough to have the Woodland Pathcrawl play out more like traditional dungeon crawling than zooming about the map at miles eating pace. It's also possible becasue we are using a relative term to describe distance (the furlong) one could stretch or shrink it to fit their larger scale maps without needles worry and math; the world will not break if your originally 5 mile scale hexes are now 2 leagues across or if your 8 mile hexes are 2 leagues or 3 leagues across as the smaller scale distance and times are still relative and not unreasonable.

Going fourth on Woodland Pathcrawl posts distances will be given in furlongs and the procedures will be based on that.  Unencumbered parties of man-like adventurers could travel two league in but 4 Pathcrawl turns, if the road were straight and no impediments were present but where would the adventure be in that?

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