I’ve taken Chatty DM’s post as a challenge: how can I make wilderness rules, with lots of dice-rolling for weather and other minutiae, useable in an actual game?
My first goal was to reduce the Wilderness Survival Guide – everything the players need for adventuring – to one printable page. If you need to flip pages to find anything, the rules are too long. I can imagine separate single-pages for random dungeon or city adventuring, random encounter generation, and random treasure. The players could keep the appropriate page on hand – only one would be needed at once. This would be a fun board-game-style handout.
My second goal was to provide concrete resource-management mechanics for wilderness travel. Ideally I’d like the players to be able to make some strategic decisions. Take the low-level route or the high-level route? The civilized or wild path? The explored or unmapped path?
What’s required to use these rules? The DM has to draw a small-scale wilderness map – 5 miles per square or hex – and preferably assign levels to areas. (For instance, the Plains of Timord are level 3, but they abut the Dark Forest, which is level 8.) Random encounters, and treasures, in an area are based on the area’s level, not the PC’s level.
The wilderness rules are not necessary in every campaign. I see them specifically used in a campaign which involves clearing the wilderness or extensive overland travel – campaigns which highlight the wilderness. Furthermore, the rules will become increasingly unnecessary as the players become paragon and epic: the world probably doesn’t have areas teeming with epic encounters (although other planes might).