Duty Roster: Camp & Travel

Camp Duties
In the last worldbuilding post, Tweaking the Game: Options and House Rules, I said:
“I want to introduce travel and camping duties.” So let’s do it.
First off, why is this something you might want to include in your game? Well, D&D spends a lot of time focusing on combat. It also provides some tips and mechanics for social encounters. But, there is a definite lack of focus when it comes to exploration. D&D may have its Three Pillar philosophy, but those pillars aren’t the same. The load-bearing pillar is combat. The social pillar keeps the load balanced and exploration is… decorative.
It’s not all bad though. It’s not all D&D’s fault either. D&D is a trend leader, but they’re also following how people want to play their game. There’s been a departure from the old school peasant to powerful landholder setting. Generally players are hard-lining to heroic fantasy.
What does that have to do with exploration? Well, everything. You know what’s not heroic? Dying from dehydration, exposure, or syphilis. And I get that, I do. But exploration challenges still have value at low-level, before PC magic can hand wave them away. It isn’t out of place. It feels comparable to a goblin dropping a first level player character with one lucky shot.
Exploration also does other important things. Exploration can provide intense challenges, a window into the world, or it can be the spaces between a platform for other matters. If you watch Geek and Sundry’s Critical Role on Alpha/Twitch/YouTube you may have noticed how DM Matt Mercer uses exploration. Mercer uses the environment to challenge his players, but he also uses it to show off the scenery. There’s sights and smells, the weather, the passing of seasons woven into the narrative. It’s a better approach than saying the party travels from A to B or throwing random encounters at them.
The last part though, that’s where it shines. Mercer is a master of describing a travel or camp scene. He sets the stage and then asks the players what they would like to do before bed or while traveling. It’s as simple as asking the players what they’re doing while they walk along the road. They’re not force marching in deafening silence for ten hours. Maybe they’re looking for edible berries. Two characters might chat about an unrelated topic. A PC might be playing an instrument, another sketching the distant mountains.
So how do you encourage that? I turned to duties to spark more life in exploration. These duties also play into my travel rules, which I’ll detail in a later blog post. Let’s start off with travel duties.
Travel duties are things PCs can do beyond simply walking. They don’t have to perform duties, but there are potential advantages.

Travel Duties

  • Baggage
  • Forage
  • Orient
  • Rest
  • Scout
  • Wayfind


The character in charge of baggage secures gear to pack animals or a wagon, and drives the wagon. This character is also responsible for leading the pack animals. This is usually a Wisdom (Animal Handling/Land Vehicle).


This character keeps an eye out for food and water sources while traveling. They supplement the party’s food and water supply. It’s a Wisdom (Survival) check.


This character keeps the party’s direction true. The character carries the map and other tools to assure the party doesn’t get lost. This is usually a Wisdom (Survival) check. I would also accept cartographer’s tools or navigator’s tools proficiency.


This is an option for characters suffering from exhaustion levels. The character can gain the benefits of an extra long rest while traveling. Characters only gains this benefit if they lie down and are transported by wagon, litter, or other vehicle.


This character keeps the party aware of what’s up ahead. The scout checks for ambushes, identifies landmarks, and finds the best spot to ford a river. Typically a Wisdom (Perception) check, but this could be an Wisdom (Survival) or Intelligence (Investigation) depending on the circumstance.


This character picks the group’s course through difficult terrain and does the tracking. The PC is also in charge of keeping everyone together and scheduling travel breaks. It’s usually a Wisdom (Survival) check.
Besides travel duties, the players can also engage in camp duties.

Camp Duties

  • Camp
  • Entertainment
  • Fire
  • Food
  • Gear
  • Heal


Setting camp and taking care of the animals is an important job. This player character unpacks the wagon, sets up the tent, and takes care of the animals. This is usually a Wisdom (Animal Handling/Survival) check.


The party doesn’t live in silence and traveling can be boring. This character spices up campfire time and keeps morale high. Checks might include Charisma (Performance/Musical Instrument) and Wisdom (Gaming Set).


Fire is warmth, light, and safety. This character is in charge of tending the fire. That’s fuel gathering, firestarting, and maintaining the fire. It’s a Wisdom (Survival) check.


Cold, stale trail rations get old fast. Everyone looks forward to a hearty and hot meal. This character is in charge of cooking, cleaning, and protecting the food from animals. This is a Wisdom (Cook’s Utensils) check.


Adventurers have a lot of equipment that needs maintaining. This character oils, polishes, mends, and repairs the party’s gear. This is a Wisdom check. PCs can add an applicable artisan tool proficiency such as cobbler, leatherworker, smith, or tinker.


Everyday, minor medical issues still need attention. This character keeps the party in fighting shape by taking care of blisters, cramps, headaches, and more. This is a Wisdom (Medicine/Herbalism Kit) check.
Those are the standard travel and camp duties, but the possibilities are limited only by you and your players’ imagination. Feel free to let the players improvise. Duties can provide mechanical advantages, tasks for each PC to attend, and give them the opportunity to story tell their success or failure. It also provides a nice departure from point A to point B and constant random encounter traveling.
Think of more duty options you’d add to your game? Suggest it in the comments.

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