Episode 105 – Exploration

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Grant and Peter are back to talk about exploration as a major feature in RPGs! First, a bit of sad news from Peter; then, we spend a bit of time talking about Grant’s Fellowship game, and how strange the system feels to him. We also answer a fun question from Patreon backer Jim, who asks what little, almost insignificant feature factors into our decision-making when we buy cars.

After our Scripture readings, we delve deep into our main topic, discussing why exploration is fun and why it matters; what sorts of characters might be motivated to explore unknown territory; how to set up random or incidental encounters so that they don’t feel artificial; a brief discussion of hex crawls; and sources of inspiration for wilderness and exploration encounters.

This episode topic was selected by our Patreon supporters, who bring you this show every two weeks and help us make the show better. If you’d like to help support us on Patreon, you can do so here. Thanks, folks—we really appreciate your support!

Mentioned in this episode: The /r/ImaginaryLandscapes subreddit; Ball’s Pyramid; the SCP Foundation wiki; and Cordyceps fungi.

Scripture: Genesis 13:14-15Mark 16:15

Campaign Report 3: Exploration & Narrative Railroading

Hey, folks! It’s been about a month since our last campaign update, and I’ve got four sessions to recap as a result. That’s a lot to cover, so I’m going to break this up into two posts. Expect a follow-up later this week. A lot has happened for the PCs, and as a GM I’ve done some good and some bad things, all worth talking about. I don’t want to skimp on too many details!

Anyways, let’s talk about exploration—and bad GMing.


For those keeping track at home, I’ve written about three sessions so far. Here’s a recap of the next two.

Session 4

Ball's Pyramid (North)So after exploring the ancient monastery and clearing it out, the various colonists moved in (somewhat) and started settling down in earnest. After a day or two of helping with various chores, the PCs decided to explore and try to find an easy way to the top of the cliffs they had settled in front of. They went south, following the coastline, and found a sizable bay there that might one day be a good harbor, though the current colony location is a bit far away to use it themselves. In the distance, well to the south-south-east, they also spotted a sharp, solitary spire of rock jutting out of the ocean. (The picture I sent them to illustrate this was of Bell’s Pyramid, a pretty amazing natural wonder in the ocean between Australia and New Zealand.)

After about half a day of travel, they eventually found a place where they could get up the cliff face. They found a sub-tropical forest at the top, along with a few high places they could get a better view of the inland terrain from. That gave them a glimpse of a bit more geography—a tall, volcanic mountain in the distance, a plateau sloping away from them … and a thin, barely-visible plume of smoke rising in the distance to the west of them, suggesting that someone might live there.