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Direction Sense

Use: Unskilled use penalized. Macro skill.

Sample specializations: Orienteering, map reading, landmark recognition, sea navigation, specific locales.)

Direction sense is the ability to determine relative positions between a character’s current location, where she has traveled from, and where she is going. It is most often used in wildernesses, at sea and in strange environments. The skill covers use of maps, determining routes, finding the points of the compass (i.e., which way is north), recognizing landmarks and estimating distances.

Instead of forcing gamemasters to keep detailed maps of all the areas characters might travel though, the rules for navigating a trip and not becoming lost are kept abstract. Time is determined for the completion of a trip from one point to another without getting lost rather than keeping track of how far a character travels and in what direction. Should a character become lost en route, the exact time and location it occurs during the trip can be determined by the gamemaster as best benefits the flow of the story rather than stranding the character somewhere boring. Whenever a character is in a situation where they could become lost, the gamemaster should call for a direction sense skill check. The base difficulty is 6 but any number of possible conditions can modify this:

DIRECTION SENSE MODIFIERS

Condition Modifier

Clear day +0

Darkness (night) +2

Overcast skies +3

Surroundings obscure the view (forest, jungle, etc.) +3

In the living land +3

Traveling by vehicle +2

Traveling on foot or mount +0

Character familiar with area -3

On minor roadway (back roads, rural areas, etc.) -3

On major roadway (freeway, interstate, main city streets, etc.)

-5

No distinctive landmarks (open fields, large bodies of water, etc.)

+5

Detailed map of the area/route -5

Crude map of the area/route -3

If the skill check is successful, the character continues on her voyage. The gamemaster should make additional direction sense skill checks as seems appropriate over the duration of the trip. To keep a trip from being just a boring series of skill checks, the gamemaster should prepare a few minor, nonessential story ideas that they can use along the route to liven up the experience. If the skill check fails, the character may not initially realize that she is lost. If it failed by more than three points, the gamemaster should assume that the character travels a significant way off-course before realizing her mistake. She will have to successfully determine her current location compared to where she is supposed to be before she can try to back on course. This requires two successful direction sense skill checks; the first to determine her current location and the second to travel in the right direction to get back on course towards her destination. If the skill check failed by only one or two points, the character realizes that she has become lost soon enough that she only has to make one successful skill check to get back on course. Several direction sense failures in a row can get a character completely lost; the gamemaster should assume that after three or four successive failures the character needs to make a fresh start in Order to get anywhere. The character either needs some outside assistance (asking for directions, road signs, acquires a map, etc.) or will have to stop traveling for a while and try again after resting for a while, at least several hours. 

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