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All Rules in Mastering the Wild

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Discovery and Exploration

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 124
Unspoiled wilderness and uncharted lands represent an opportunity for exploration and the discovery of ancient secrets, lost treasures, natural wonders, and the remote lairs of terrible beasts. As exciting as exploring wilderness can be, the fact that there are no city streets or dungeon walls to guide choices can make running exploration in uncharted wilds a challenge. The rules presented in this section can be used when a group enters such uncharted lands to discover what lies within, and at your discretion can serve as an expansion on the rules for exploration as presented in Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Campaign. Brief definitions of terms used in this section are listed below.

Discovery Points: As the PCs explore a territory, they’ll accumulate Discovery Points—an abstract measure of how thoroughly they have explored the region. Note that while gazetteers, maps, research, and rumors can grant bonus Discovery Points for a region even before the PCs set foot within the wild, inaccurate information gleaned from such sources can penalize the accumulation of Discovery Points.

Exploration Check: As the PCs search a territory, they’ll attempt exploration checks to determine how many Discovery Points they accumulate. Exploration checks are typically Survival checks, though unusual territories may require other specialized skills. A character can attempt an exploration check using Perception in place of the required skill with a –5 penalty.

Location: A location is an adventure site or other point of interest within a territory—it could be an ancient ruin, a dragon’s cave, a druidic monument, a hidden treasure, a portal to the First World, or anything else of note. Each location has a discovery score equal to the number of Discovery Points required to find the location.

Territory: Territories are discrete geographic areas with defined boundaries. These can be political borders or geographical transitions. If you’re using the exploration rules from Ultimate Campaign, a single hex constitutes a territory. Alternately, a territory can be a much larger region; in this case, the PCs’ exploration of the territory is a much more abstract concept and doesn’t involve tracking exact locations on a map. In either case, each territory has its own Challenge Rating, which determines the danger of wandering monsters in the territory as well as the DC for exploration checks to earn Discovery Points.

Way Sign: Way signs are events, objects, or terrain features that give a hint to find a location. Discovering a way sign, either by stumbling across one in the wild (such as by reaching a vantage point that gives an excellent view of the lay of the land, or by stumbling across an old road sign) or by researching a region beforehand (such as by consulting gazetteers, maps, or the rumor mill), can grant bonus Discovery Points or reveal the existence of previously unknown locations—but some way signs may be inaccurate or misleading.

The Exploration Process

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 124
Typically, explorers come to a territory to seek out a specific location within its reaches. Sometimes they know of multiple locations reputed to lie within the region and needs only find them. Other times, some or all the locations remain unknown until the explorers stumble across them or find clues as a result of their investigations in the territory. In either case, before explorers can discover a location, they must first accumulate enough Discovery Points (either by succeeding at exploration checks or by correctly interpreting way signs).

Once the explorers reach the territory in question, they can begin exploration and discovery. Their efforts result in the accumulation of Discovery Points, which they can spend to discover locations, and in finding way signs, which provide additional Discovery Points and sometimes also reveal the existence of further locations to be discovered. Discovery Points earned in a given territory are tied to that territory; the PCs cannot apply points earned in one territory to a new territory. The party’s accumulated Discovery Points remain indefinitely, even if the PCs leave the territory and return later.

Creating a Territory

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 126
The steps listed below present all the information you need to generate territories for your PCs to explore. If you’re using the hex-based exploration rules from Ultimate Campaign, follow these steps for every hex in your map, though you can reuse information for similar hexes.

Example Territory: White Canyon

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 127
Suppose the PCs have learned of a great evil rising in a hidden temple of Lamashtu in the arid hills surrounding the gnollheld territories of White Canyon. Rather than generate a map of the region, you instead use the rules in this section to guide the PCs’ exploration of White Canyon and their search for the hidden temple. You might also include a few other adventure sites in the region for the PCs to seek out and way signs to help them get a jump on locating these sites. Your notes on White Canyon might end up looking like the following.

White Canyon Territory   CR 5

Arid hills ruled by bickering gnoll tribes and stalked by desert beasts and ghuls
Exploration Check Survival DC 23

Location Discovery Scores

Hidden Temple of Lamashtu 12 (base score of 6, hills terrain +2, location is deliberately hidden +4)
Red Sultana’s Camp 1 (base score of 3, hills terrain +2, location is traveled to or from often –4)
Wyvern Lair 8 (base score of 6, hills terrain +2)

Simple Way Signs (1 Discovery Point)

Rumors about White Canyon A successful DC 15 Diplomacy check to gather information in a nearby settlement can reveal information about the region.

Moderate Way Signs (3 Discovery Points)

Recalling White Canyon Lore A successful DC 20 Knowledge (geography) check reveals information about the region.
Reconnaissance via Flight A character who spends at least 30 minutes flying above the region and then succeeds at a DC 20 Perception check spots landmarks and gets the lay of the land.

Complex Way Signs (5 Discovery Points)

Deciphering a Journal If the PCs find an ill-fated explorer’s journal in the wyvern’s lair, a PC who can read Aklo and succeeds at a DC 25 Linguistics check correctly interprets her coded notes.

Random Encounters

Frequency 4 times per day (morning, noon, dusk, midnight) Chance of Encounter 20%

1-15Giant vulture4
31-55Gnoll wild pack (1 gnoll, 3 hyenas)5
56-752 dire hyenas5
76-85Gnoll hunting party (1 gnoll rageborn, 2 gnolls)5
86-951 wyvern6
96-1002 ghuls7