Combat encounters are measured in 6-second rounds (or 10 seconds in some games). Dungeon exploration is measured in 10-minute turns. All that is common knowledge. What I propose here is that overland travel should be measured in 8-hour watches. So, one day of travel is composed of three watches.
Assuming a regular terrain, a party of adventurers can travel 13 km (8 mi) in a watch, or 39 km (24 mi) in 3 watches (24 hours), but this space and time equivalence is an abstraction, since it’s not impossible to continuously march during 24 hours (continuous march.) In reality the total travel time in a day is 8 hours of discontinuous march, as well as 8 hours of sleep and 8 hours of diverse activities (food, rest, hunting, setting up camps, cleaning weapons, repairing equipment, exploring the terrain, surrounding impassable areas, preparing spells, &c.), all of them discontinuously distributed between 3 watches, or 24 hours.
Usually, watches are counted as complete even if only a fraction is considered. For example, if traveling from Townton to Citypolis takes between 16 and 24 hours, we can say that the travel takes 3 watches (up to 8 hours is one watch, more than 8 and up to 16 hours are two watches, more than 16 and up to 24 hours are three watches). Exact time is not important. Travelers will reach their destination at any time during the third watch.
If you need, if you really need to know the exact time, and I mean REALLY, you can use one of the following options. Otherwise, be pragmatic and stick to what’s been said above (it’s funnier!):
Easy Option: Roll a d8. A result of 1 means that travelers arrive during the first hour of the watch; a 2, during the second hour, &c.
Difficult Option: Use math. Take into account that 1 hour equals 1.6 km (1 mi) of discontinuous march, or 4.8 km (3 mi) of continuous march. If the distance was 45 km (28 mi), the travel would have lasted more than 3 watches (3×13 = 39, 39<45) but less than 4 watches (13×4 = 52, 52>45). Subtract the distance per full day (39) from the total distance (45): 45-39 = 6 (in miles, 28-24 = 4) and calculate how many hours or watches you need to travel the remaining fraction (6 km, 4 mi). In this example, we can travel the remaining 6 km in just over one hour without stopping. We don’t use discontinuous march speed because the fourth travel watch corresponds to the first watch of the second day. As the adventurers have just started the day, there’s no point in stopping to rest when the destination is in sight. If the arrival was during the second or third watches, or the destinations is not visible or otherwise unknown to the travelers, it would be reasonable to use discontinuous march speed, that is, rest, eat, &c. The fraction of 6 km, at a rate of 1.6 km per hour, would take 3 hours and 45 minutes to travel.
Actions in a Watch
The referee can roll random encounters or special events from 1 to 3 times per watch (adjusted to their campaign world’s necessities or preferred style.) Time during non-combat encounters is best kept in abstract, not affecting the 8-hour period, unless it becomes a really long encounter, like going into a dungeon or visiting a town, since the adventurers will spend a long time there. “Long time” also being an abstraction, anything from several hours to several days.
Food and Rations
Eating Rations: At least once per day. To keep things simple, each day, during the first watch, everyone in the party has to take one ration. Those who don’t will get a penalization of -1 to all rolls up to one watch after they eat. The next day, if again they don’t eat, this penalty increases to -2, and they lose 2 points of Constitution. The third day, this penalty increases to -3, and another 2 points of Constitution are lost. These detrimental effects continue to progress until the victim takes a ration and perhaps takes a rest (for a full watch other than their 8 hours of sleep, for a full day including sleep, or whatever makes sense.)
Food and Water: Bookkeeping is boring. Don’t separate water and food. Instead, keep rations abstracted as a combination of water and food (fruit and vegs, carbs and starches, dairy, protein, sugars and fats, water; it’s all included in tour rations.)
Scavenging: For each day of travel, one player (and only one player) rolls a d6. In a 1, the party found and collected enough food and water to make 1d6 rations. This activity is done during travel, so it doesn’t hinder advance. If a character has points in Bushcraft*, roll that instead, reduced in half, rounded down (1 to 3 points equal 1-in-6 chance; 4 and 5 points are 2-in-6 chance; 6 points are 3-in-6 chance.)
Forage and Hunting: During the first watch of any day of travel, one player rolls a d6. In a 1 or 2, the party successfully found enough food and water to produce 1d6 rations. If this activity is engaged in, traveling is not possible for the day, and an extra wandering monsters or random encounters check is done while the group is hunting or foraging. If a character has points in Bushcraft*, roll that instead, without penalty.
*LotFP skill system. You can easily adapt this to other systems, just be consistent.
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