Sunday, March 13, 2022

The Oxymoron that is RPG Travel

The Oxymoron that is RPG Travel
I've been "fortunate" in my life that I have had the opportunity to travel for work. First the Air Force, then for an Interventionist (he was one of those guys on that A&E show for a hot minute), and now for a military contractor. Thing is, in general, employees do NOT like to travel for work. An overnight once a year maybe, but the average employee balks at much more than a small conference and maybe 10% are willing to travel on a monthly basis. Road warriors that spend weeks away.....probably more like 1-3%.

Now I'm on the road away from home a total of 2-3 months a year, added all up. All too often I run into people that tell me, "I love to travel." That statement....I never quite got, mostly because while I like being out on the road, I personally loathe travelling. Erik doesn't give me enough rope to go on about everything that cheeses me off about travel....and he shouldn't.

So my experience tells me that few people are willing to travel for work, but many state they love to travel. A bit of an oxymoron if you ask me.

Right about now if you've made it this far you're probably thinking, "WTF does this have to do with anything RPG related?" Fair enough. 

So the thing that connects all of us, I'm assuming table-top RPGs here, generally has us playing PCs....who HAVE to travel to "work", and travel a lot, like modern-day road warriors. I'm thinking that PCs being 1-3% of the population is probably overly generous, but they are most likely a subset of that small percentage. 

It is also my experience that the "travel" portion of so much PC adventuring is quite underplayed, unless that's part of the adventure itself. I've seen a fair amount of to & from the dungeon simply hand-waived. Not saying there is anything wrong with that, BUT...

(again from my experience) most people don't travel much, but say they love to travel. Seems like a bit of a missed opportunity to me, enough that I'm trying to work on a new d30 table for longer-haul travel. No this is not an ad for this new table, especially since I'd be surprised if it's done this month, just an observation and one thing I'm planning on doing to address this.

Personally I think there is a lot of room for some new ideas about PC travel......


  1. Before I had a family I loved travel. Even more so before email on your phone and plane wifi. Back when you were traveling for work but disconnected from the office. New places, expense acounts, swimming pools, day drinking on a plane.

    Now it's just not fair to my partner.

  2. I think when most people say that they love to travel, they mean that they love to be at the destination for a while. Getting there, and getting back, are necessary pains needed to reach that destination and kick back, or explore, or shop, or whatever they're doing once they get there.

  3. My experience has been quite different than yours. Travel has been a big feature, and is not just glossed over.

  4. I cut my teeth on the Wilderlands, which was all about exploration of the wilderness. So in most of my games, the Journey is often as important and enriching (in treasure and lore) as the destination.

    The Journey is a huge factor in classic heroic literature and fantasy fiction, from the Odyssey to The Hobbit, and from the Nibelungenlied to the adventures of Conan, the Journey often takes up a larger portion of the story than the events at the destination!

    However, one thing that I have found over the years and the iterations of Dungeons & Dragons is that the Wilderness portion of the adventure has lost out to the Dungeon portion of the adventure, by design. OD&D, AD&D, and BX, each gave Wilderness adventure equal measure to the Underworld adventure. From 2E on up, however, the focus came more and more on the Dungeon itself, rather than the Journey thereto.

    I think it is in part the fact that time, for many, became more of a factor. As the player base aged, got careers, had families, or simply got stuck in the nightmare that is the modern "Work Three Jobs to Pay the Bills," the time to play became shorter, and opportunities fewer. So players needed more bang for their buck out of modules and materials, as they cold only play once every other week for a couple of hours, instead of two or three times a week and overnight on Saturday.

    This is essentially core to the 5th Edition experience, where a session is designed to last 3 or 4 hours, rather than a whole evening, and to be more self-contained and done-in-one than campaign oriented. To be sure, there are plenty of ongoing campaigns out there, but even the official 5E D&D mega modules are designed to be run as discrete 3- to 4-hour (max) sessions.

    It is neither good nor bad, it is merely a thing. I know plenty of folks who love that style of play; easy, breezy, minimal investment, lots of adventure in each session. I also know of players who like the long Journey, discovering the world along the way.

    The only winning move in D&D is if you have fun... you win.


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