March 19, 2012

River Fording

Most of Ig is given over to wilderness. The communities across the plains are connected by dirt tracks worn by man, animal, and wagon. The lack of legitimate roads and bridges make crossing the many rivers of the land treacherous, especially in spring when the snowmelt from the Dark Mountains turn even the smallest stream into a torrent. There are no stone bridges since new quarries become beacons for every terrible thing miles around. The people of Ig are forced to make due with ramshackle bamboo and carapace bridges built close to their villages, most of which don’t survive the spring floods. Beyond the lights of civilization a group must search for a ford or risk the current.

When crossing a river during overland travel make a Reflex save for each person crossing the river, including any pack animals. If mounted on an animal or in a vehicle roll once for the group using the Reflex save of the mount. On a failure something has gone wrong! Roll the appropriate die on the Fording Event table modified by the character’s Luck. For events that cause encounters treat multiple results as safe crossings, or add a few extra HD to the encounter if feeling especially wicked.

Ford Table
Reflex DC
Event Die
Light Rain

Large Animal (Horse, Mule, etc)+1
Small stature (halfling, dog, etc)-1
Vehicle (wagon)+2

Fording Events
>0~1You’re sucked into a sinkhole, beneath a river bank, or caught in a whirlpool. Horrible death by drowning occurs in 1d6+CON modifier rounds.
2-3You are swept away in a rush of white water. You travel 1d10+1 miles downstream, taking 1d6 damage for each mile traveled. Each piece of gear carried is lost on a d6 roll of 3+.
4-5You're less buoyant than you thought! Drop 1d6x5 pounds of gear or begin drowning.
6-7You are smashed against rocks while fording the river and takes 1d6 damage.
7-8Your clumsy attempt to cross the river has attracted the attention of something. Roll on the appropriate encounter chart. 50% chance it occurs on the far side of the river. 50% chance it happens during the fording, making combat all kinds of troublesome for anyone in the water.
9-10A misstep on a slick rock dunks you into the water. Any items susceptible to water damage are ruined. Items not strapped down are lost on a d6 roll of 5+.
11+Seasonal problems!
Fall: You’ve attracted the attention of 2d6 Berzerker salmon (treat as LL Bull Sharks).
Spring: lurking in a deep area of the river is a giant dragonfly larva. It hungers.
Summer: 1d6 alligators take note of your flailing and swim over to investigate.
Winter: You fall through the ice taking, take 1d6 damage a round from hypothermia until a DC 15 Fort save is passed (+10 with a campfire, +5 with a change of clothes)


  1. Berzerker salmon--now there's a tasty menace.

    1. Punchiest name I could think of in the middle of the night when I wrote most of this down. Other ideas were Bloodfin (apparently a Warcraft reference) Berzerker Coho, Psycho Coho (discarded for too much alliteration)

  2. I'm definitely using this should it come up in my campaign.

    1. Overland travel is high on my list of things I usually hand-wave. I'm trying to force myself to add more interesting things to the journey, hence this post!