Are you tired of boring travel sequences in your ttrpg game? Do you want the party to go on an epic quest but not sure how to get them from town A to town B across the map? Campfire is here to help liven up your traveling experience.
If you haven’t heard of Campfire by AbyssalBrews I am glad that you have found your way here. I recently won a copy of this 5e supplement through a giveaway by Phantasmal Farce Inc on Twitter and was very pleased to be able to finally review this, as Campfire has been on my Wishlist for some time. I first found out about Campfire and AbyssalBrews from Twitter. Campfire was written by Matthew Ross and Illustrated by Fernando Dominguez and is advertises on the cover that this booklet is “an elegant travel system” for 5th edition games.
As a DM, I enjoy doing traveling sequences but it definitely is one of the more “clunky” parts of my ttrpg game. Campfire reminds us that traveling is more than just random encounters on the road. Players must go through the three stages (or phases) of travel. I will admit that I should be better with giving players the chance to Prepare, which is stage one. Maybe the players need to go shopping for supplies, perhaps an old woman/man can warn of storms to come from their aching bones. There can be a lot of foreboding and foreshadowing that I have previously been missing in the preparation stage.
The booklet Campfire goes over each of the three stages of travel (Preparation, Expedition and Resolution) in more detail including how to figure out your Travel DC and what is your destination score. I found that I am only doing what is considered short journeys and feel inspired to make a more difficult long journey with a higher travel DC. Page 2 of the document talks about expeditions and walks you through the concept of using skill checks vs the Travel DC to determine the player’s success on making it through their journey. The creators put in here that this booklet is not for short journeys as brief road encounters dm's can make the call to let the players simply get to the destination that is not far away. I do see myself creating more moderate and longer journeys after seeing how this rule set works for travel.
During the Expedition phase the players take the chance and see if the dice help them write a story of success or failure. The players use their skills to attempt making an amount of successes to match the Destination score before they have have accumulated that number of failures. This is where Dm's narrate and everyone at the table builds a story. This is the portion where roleplay can shine and players can surprise Dm's with their creative notions on what to do to get out of situations. This section is very well written and helped me as a DM understand how I can narrate and make the expedition portion more meaningful to the party with interactions based on the DC.
As a DM I also appreciate that the author here put into words that DM’s “should be open to the idea of using skills in non-traditional ways and award creativity early and often” (page 2 of the Campfire- printer friendly version, pg 3 of colored version). I think that if a player is using their creativity that it is worth giving the time to consider it rather than binding players to rules as written only. I always appreciate writers who point that out in their works as no matter what TTRPG you play, it's about building a story rather than doing what the rules allow. Some of the best role play and some of the most memorable moments for you players can come from the creative things that they come up with that Dm's allow. Rules are guidelines but the player creativity levels can expand outside of the lines to make some beautiful memories.
In the resolution section there is a d20 chart for windfalls and a d20 for hardships to help give some flavor to your traveling storytelling. Whether they get the boon of a windfall or the danger of a hardship is based on the party's rolls to see how successful their journey was. AbyssalBrews did a great job on the Resolution section of Campfire and I enjoyed reading each of the options that can occur for Windfalls and Hardships. I enjoyed that some of the boons that they can get for windfalls are bonuses for the players for doing well, but nothing is super OP with the boosts. The Hardships also each make sense in a story sense and I can see how it can continue to add the story stress of you had a really hard journey and here are the natural consequences.