Roads & Routes

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Example of a dirt road

Roads and routes are humanoid-made ways of travel, which variously fall into eight categories: high road, low road, cobbled road, dirt road, cart track, cart path, path and trail. The condition of each is determined by the amount of infrastructure present in the local 20-mile hex of the game world. Some roads cannot be used by any vehicle, or even by a mount in the hands of an amateur-skilled rider. Better roads facilitate travel, so that greater distances may be covered in the space of a day.

Route Descriptions

All chances given below are rolled once per day.

High Roads are paved surfaces with even surfaces of stone blocks or concrete, that are continuously maintained. They offer a smooth, firm purchase and good drainage. The roadstead is wide enough to accommodate two, three or four wagons, depending on how many hundreds of infrastructure are present in the hex. High roads will include toll bridges of stone construction across rivers between 7 to 20 pts. Rivers or streams less than 7 pts. will be bridged and will not charge tolls. For rivers between 21 and 28 pts., a ferry will be available for crossing. Transshipment docks will exist for any size of river above 28 pts.

Route Movement per 10 hrs
(mi. per action point)
High road 7.8
Low road 7.1
Cobbled road 6.1
Dirt road 5.0
Cart track 3.9
Cart path 2.8
Path 1.9
Trail 1.2
No route 0.7

Low Roads are paved surfaces made of smooth flat paving stones and mortar, with fair drainage. The roadstead nominally allows for two wagons to pass, though in forest & alpine ranges this space will be tight. Low roads will include toll bridges of half-timbered construction across rivers between 5 to 15 pts. Rivers or streams less than 5 pts. will be stone-bridged and will not charge tolls. For rivers between 16 and 24 pts., a ferry will be available for crossing. Transshipment docks will exist for rivers up to 60 pts.

Cobbled Roads are made with rounded stones ("cobbles") and mortar, providing an uneven but hard surface, with minimal drainage. A dirt shoulder, often muddy, and perhaps not available for hundreds of yards at a time, is necessary for passing oncoming vehicles. Cobbled roads will include toll bridges of wooden or half-timbered construction on rivers or streams between 3 and 10 pts. Fords will occur in places between 11 and 13 pts. Ferries will be available for rivers between 14 and 20 pts. Transshipment boats will arrive every 4-7 days for rivers up to 45 pts.

Dirt Roads are surfaces made of earth, clay and loose stone materials, with minimal maintenance. They are often muddy and unevenly surfaced. Areas may be worn away, causing a rough ride over exposed routes; parts may be ingrown with plants. There is no reliable drainage and large puddles are common. One of two wagons attempting to pass must exit road to pass and may require (1 in 20) considerable work to bring them back onto the road. Carts may pass one another, or a cart and a wagon. There are no bridges of any kind. Fords will cross rivers and streams up to 6 pts. Ferries will be available for rivers between 7 and 12 points.

Cart Tracks consist of two ruts on either side of a center mound, with loose stone materials supporting the wheels. The surrounding wilderness is cut back to allow two carts to pass one another, but there is a 1 in 12 chance of a cart becoming entangled in vegetation or slipping off the track's grade. Wagons cannot navigate the track. Grass and scrub will cover the track up to one foot high for hundreds of yards at a time, and time must be taken to strip the vegetation from the cart's axles. No bridges or ferries. Fords will cross rivers up to 4 pts.

Cart Paths are similar to cart tracks, but are used so infrequently that the ruts are not maintained with stone and vegetation will have encroached upon the route. This takes time to physically hold it back or cut it away. The existing centre mound will scrape the axles, causing breaks (1 in 16). In places (1 in 12) the cart will need to be levered over humps. No bridges, ferries or fords. Though desert routes have no ruts or vegetation, they are classed as this type of route.

Path between trees

Paths are very uneven, narrow routes over a hard clay surface and are impassable to carts. Mounts must be ridden single file. The width is typically between 4 and 6 feet wide. Surfaces are covered with roots and scrub, with brooks and rivulets that must be jumped. There are occasional places, every few miles, where the path squeezes between trees or rock outcroppings. Rock falls or avalanches will have buried the path in mountainous ranges (1 in 30).

Trails are animal-made routes, variably surfaced and meandering, with breaks that must be jumped or crossed by make-shift bridges. Trails are 1 to 2 feet wide; they will often quit at points, two or three times a day, requiring searching to pick up the trail again.

As routes degrade in quality, ease of travel is also inhibited by loops and bends that inhibit straight-line progress. This is often due to the land surface. Paths and trails in particular will wind considerably and will include places where steep grades have to be scrambled. Even so, the progress made on a route is better than through pure wilderness, where even in open prairie progress is lost through recalibration and necessary retreats to good observation points.

Travel Per Day

A full day of movement allows a comfortable maximum of ten hours walking or riding. This allows for an additional hour and a half in the morning to wash, dress, eat and load one's kit; and an hour in the evening to cook, eat, rub down animals, ready one's bed, study and discuss elements of the character's sage abilities with one another. This time of contemplation is important for characters who, through reflection, ready themselves for the moment when their experience points propel them to a higher level. Travelling more than ten hours in a day is considered a forced march, which will exhaust the players, possibly resulting in maladies.

A hour of travel can therefore be calculated by taking the above numbers given and dividing them by ten. The pace represented is a "stride-3," which is a normal walking speed of 3.9 miles per hour for an unencumbered traveller with 5 action points (AP). We can see that many things come into play where travel is concerned. A party moves at the speed of the slowest party member. If one member of the party is limited to 3 AP, then everyone moves at 3 AP. Movement on horseback is calculated to the speed of the horse, just as movement with a cart or a wagon is likewise calculated. Additionally, a party can "amble" — that is, move along as stride-2, enabling to see more and become more informed as they journey. A party can "hurry" at stride-4 or "rush" at stride-5, enabling them to journey faster but for less time of the day, while taking risks with regards to accidents or being surprised by encounters. The benefits and drawbacks of these choices are covered under Travel.

Each choice of the player determines how long it takes to "get there." This allows the party to control their travel, even in the most difficult to reach places.

Creating Route Maps

What sort of route exists in a given 20-mile hex depends on the amount of infrastructure. Infrastructure is expressed as a number, calculated from the density of population that exists in that hex, and other hexes within the same geopolitical province. Zero infrastructure (0) indicates no humanoid development of any kind; less than 4 describes a highly isolated community with few people, usually living as villeins, far from any authority or noble jurisdiction. Essentially, a "frontiersman or woman," though the word hadn't been coined in the 17th century. An infrastructure between 5 and 15 describes an isolated village; between 16 and 30, a well-connected village or small town. Large towns and then small cities emerge with infrastructures between 31 and 100 ... and any place with more than 100 is either an important political and economic center, or on the periphery of truly large market and military centres like London, Paris, Vienna or Constantinople. Some parts of Holland, Italy and Japan are so dense that high roads crisscross and lead in every direction, without the traveller catching a glimpse of true wilderness.

Route Minimum
infrastructure
# of connecting
routes
High road 100 six
Low road 35
Cobbled road 20 four
Dirt road 12
Cart track 6 three
Cart path 3 two
Path 1 one
Trail 0 uncounted
No route 0 none

Hexes with more than 100 Infrastructure

As seen on the table, the infrastructure number determines the type of route and the number of connections that hex has with others, using that route. Using Stockholm as an example, we can see how to create a remarkably complex route system with a few simple rules.

20-mile diameter hexes surrounding Stockholm

Stockholm is the most important city on the Scandinavian peninsula; in Scandinavia, it is only rivaled by Copenhagen. Each of the hexes shown, including the one containing Stockholm, has an orange number in the upper left corner. This is the hex's infrastructure number. The black number in the bottom right hand corner indicates the nominal elevation for the hex. We do not need to be concerned with the black number.

Stockholm has an infrastructure of 627. Starting at the upper right, in the hex containing Norrtalje, the infrastructures number 326, 311, 313, 320, 336 and 350. The infrastructure of these adjacent hexes is radically affected by their proximity to Stockholm. I will use these numbers to as a label for these hexes in my explanation. Stockholm's infrastructure is above 100, so it has built six routes, one to each of the other hexes. Of course, there would be scores of other routes, but we don't need to represent these on our map. The players will only want to know what route they use to leave Stockholm or come back to it. We can invent secondary routes in the area for game purposes if we need them.

Because Stockholm has more than 600 infrastructure, each of its six "exit" roads is a high road, indicated by a dark red line. These roads are drawn passing through Solna and Lidingo, and leading to each of the adjacent six hexes.

Now look at "Hex 320," between Stockholm and Nynasham. It also has six connecting routes, but its infrastructure of 320 allows only three of these to be high roads. These high roads connect with the largest adjacent hexes: Stockholm of course, and hexes 313 and 336. So you see: each hex is individually calculated; the way in which the infrastructure number is calculated creates unity, so we don't need to draw the road from Stockholm any further than the edge of its hex. So long as the next hex is important, and the one beyond that and so forth, a cohesive route map will result. This has been tested and it works perfectly.

Roads west and south of Stockholm

Look at the other three routes leading out of Hex 320: two pink lines lead to hexes 178 and 168, and an orange line leads to hex 162 (containing Nynasham), the adjacent hex with the lowest infrastructure. The pink routes are low roads; the orange is a cobbled road. When determining the number of routes of a type, there are always two "secondary routes" and the remaining routes are always "tertiary routes." In this case, since a high road is primary, the two secondary routes are low roads; and the one remaining tertiary route (six routes out of a hex this size, remember) is a cobbled road. All six routes into the six hexes surrounding Hex 320 are accounted for.

Nynasham's hex has an infrastructure of 162; that allows one high road. However, Nynasham's is only connected to one adjacent hex, being mostly surrounded by sea. Therefore, the high road connects to Hex 320's tertiary cobbled road. A traveller going from Nynasham to Stockholm, then, would enjoy a high road for a few miles, which would then turn into a cobbled road for about eight miles, only to meet another high road. This way of calculating routes causes most throughways to become a collection of different road types ... with the best routes being those nearest the largest cities, and lesser routes accumulating as those cities become more distant.

Hexes between 35 and 99 Infrastructure

We can quickly see how Hex 168 (Nykoping) is calculated. Nykoping has 168 infrastructure, allowing one high road, two low roads and a very short cobbled road west into Hex 97. Let's look at Hex 97, as it has less than 100 infrastructure.

Hex 97 west of Nykoping

A 97 infrastructure isn't sufficient for a high road; but we can see from the table above that a "low road" requires 35 infrastructure. Hex 97 can manage that 35 twice ... and so it has two pink low roads that lead out of its hex, into hexes 178 and 168 (those being the adjacent hexes with the largest infrastructure). 97 infrastructure still provides for six outgoing routes, so two of those are orange-coloured cobbled roads (to hexes 168 and 174) and the remaining two are "dirt roads," brown coloured on the map and certainly a step down for the ex-Stockholm traveller. Still, these dirt roads are brief, becoming a low road again as one nears Norrkoping, or a cobbled road once entering Hex 61.

Note the thin blue line passing above Norrkoping; that's a stream, about 4 yards wide, with a small blue number at the top of it, indicating the stream has 4 pts. Since the Norrkoping route is a low road, there's a non-tolled bridge over that stream. To the south is another, a river with 9 pts. The cobbled road south of Norrkoping has a tolled bridge across it; the thin black line laid overtop the cobbled road (and over the low road it becomes) indicates a major overland trade route from Norrkoping inland. The cross symbol used for the town of Norrkoping designates it, like Stockholm, as a market town.

Next, let's look at Hex 61, west of Hex 97 and northwest of Norrkoping. It hasn't enough infrastructure for two low roads, so it only has one; and that one isn't towards Norrkoping, but towards Hex 118, which is the largest adjacent infrastructure to Hex 61. This is because, though Norrkoping is a market town, Hex 61's connection with Stockholm is still more important than it is with Norrkoping; so the hex's most important route leads to the northeast. Hex 61 also has two cobbled roads to Norrkoping and Hex 97, and three dirt roads (rounding out the six routes it has) leading to hexes on the northwest, west and southwest.

For 12 to 34 Infrastructure

The rules above generally apply, except that there is only ever one primary and one secondary route, and no more than two tertiary routes (because four routes is the maximum). This will mean that for hexes with this infrastructure, there will always be two hex sides for which there is no route. It also means that routes that reach out towards other hexes and become dead ends will start to proliferate. I suggest leaving them as dead ends, where we might suppose there is a mine, quarry, logging operation or some other quested for resource that is being linked to the network.

Alternately you may suspend the rule of routes linking to the highest adjacent infrastructure and instead, arbitrarily, attaching outgoing routes based on where the best possible connections can be made. Remember that non-linkups could indicate transport by animal trail, where goods must be ported by humanoid, donkey or mule.

For 6 to 11 Infrastructure

Now there is only ever one each of the primary, secondary and tertiary routes (three maximum). Hexes with this amount of infrastructure will always have three hex sides without a route. The primary route for these hexes will be a cart track.

For 5 and less Infrastructure

Hexes with 3-5 infrastructure have two routes, a primary and a secondary. Hexes with only 1-2 infrastructure have only a primary route.

Hexes without an infrastructure, or an infrastructure of zero, are considered to always have animal trails. However, finding the animal trails is a matter of luck or knowing how to find them.


See Also,
Caravans
The Adventure