Exploring The Wilderness

For the purposes of this section of the OSRIC rules, "Wilderness" can mean any adventure in open country, including adventures at sea. The basic unit of time for wilderness exploration is the day. It is a good idea for the GM to use paper marked with a hexagonal grid ("hex paper") to pre-draw maps of the wilderness before the players explore it, if possible.

Order of Play:

When starting out with OSRIC games, each day should be resolved separately. More experienced GMs sometimes tend to allow the days to run together; but please don't try this until you are certain you know what you're doing. The order of events is as follows:

  • Setup: The GM advises the party of prevailing weather conditions and the party decides which way to go.
  • Navigation: The GM checks in secret to determine if the party has become lost.
  • Wandering Monster Check: The GM rolls for wandering monsters.
  • Move and Act: Party members move, make stationary actions, or both.
  • Encounter: Any encounter is resolved.
  • Camp: The GM indicates what options the party has for a campsite. The party camps.
  • Wandering Monster Check: The GM rolls for wandering monsters again, and if one is met, begins the resulting encounter.

On the time scales allowed for wilderness adventures, most static actions take negligible time, so as a general rule a player character can combine many static actions with a normal move.

Weather and Direction:

While choosing a direction of travel should present no problem to anyone capable of playing OSRIC, determining the weather can be a more complex matter.

Some GMs write campaigns with detailed rules for randomly generating the weather by month or season. Others prefer to decide the weather on the spur of the moment based on their gut feeling or to create a sense of narrative tension. This is not a matter in which generic tables would be helpful—a campaign set in a Norse winterland would need quite different tables to one set in a Caribbean archipelago—so no weather-generation rules are provided here. The GM must decide and advise the party accordingly.


The party will never become lost if following a road, river or other natural feature, nor if they are following an accurate map, nor if they are travelling over terrain at least one party member knows well. (This could include an NPC guide if one is hired for the purpose.)

Otherwise, the party's chance of getting lost depends on the terrain and prevailing weather conditions. If the party is crossing a flat savannah towards a range of mountains they can see, the chances of becoming lost are negligible, but if they are travelling a forest at night through thick fog, getting lost is virtually guaranteed!

As a guideline, allow a 10%-25% chance of getting lost if the party is crossing normal terrain and taking normal precautions.

If the party does become lost, determine their actual direction of travel randomly. In most cases they will go somewhere within a 60° arc in front of them, but if the roll is particularly bad, the GM may adjust this to 120°. Only in exceptional circumstances will the party get completely turned around.

Wandering Monsters:

Normally the GM should make two checks each day, with a 1 in 12 chance of encounter per day, and a third check at night (see below). As always, GM discretion is critical—adjust this frequency downwards if the party is crossing patrolled and civilised terrain, and upwards if they wander into a goblin-infested forest, for example.

Movement and Stationary Actions:

See the previous section (on dungeons) and the Movement Rate section in Chapter 2.

Encounter Resolution:

The mechanics of this are as in a dungeon, though tactically the wilderness presents entirely different challenges. (Player characters will find horses, missile weapons, and long-range spells much more helpful in the wilderness.)


The party has to camp if spell casters are to regain their spells. Mounted parties will normally need to rest their animals and armoured player characters, or physically weaker ones, will need rest and sleep. In a forced march situation, the characters could march through the night, but a second night without rest will result in the characters suffering a penalty of -2 or -10% on ability scores, "to hit" and damage rolls, and saving throws from exhaustion. A third night without rest will increase this penalty to -5 and spell casters will begin to forget any spells they still have memorised. At this point, player characters should check their system shock rolls (see Ability Scores, Constitution) or fall asleep involuntarily. No human or Demi-human in OSRIC may go four nights without sleep.

Sensible parties will set a watch rota overnight, with different characters standing watches to ensure the safety of the sleepers.