Steven Strife’s Trials and Travel: A Quick Player’s Guide to Succeeding in Role-Playing Games

Steven Strife’s Trials and Travel:

A Quick Player’s Guide to Succeeding in Role-Playing Games

Table of Contents

Starting Out




Party Capability Check


Miscellaneous tips

  1. Starting Out

    1. Supplies

      1. Fire creation (cantrip or tinderbox, or both)

      2. Shelter (usually tents)

      3. Waterskins (Two days worth)

        1. If you cannot find a source of water in two days, you are probably in a desert and drastically underprepared; you are going to die.

      4. Rations (Ten days)

      5. Light Sources

      6. Pitons (stakes)

      7. Rope

      8. Cartography supplies - someone needs to make maps

    2. Weapons

      1. Daggers

        1. They are light, cheap, you can throw them, and they do not cost spell slots to deal damage.

        2. You can use them for more than just fighting.

        3. Carry at least two.

      2. Own a melee weapon, a backup melee weapon, and a ranged weapon.

        1. You can throw daggers, but dedicated ranged weapons are nicer.

      3. FIGHTERS ONLY - Obtain at least one weapon of each damage type

        1. Slashing, Piercing, and Bludgeoning.

    3. Potions

      1. Everyone should be carrying at least one potion.

        1. This potion is reserved for your healer.

          1. It is important to ensuring your survival that your healer does not die.

        2. If not a potion, then some other way of healing the healer.

    4. Party Capability Check

      1. HIRE PEOPLE. Hire mercenaries, hire commoners, hire adventurers.

        1. Ideas

          1. Build a base of operations

          2. Fill gaps in the party

        2. You need a rogue.

          1. If you do not have one, get one.

            1. Stop what you are doing and go get one.

  2. RolePlaying

  1. You are not a block of stats. You are a person, and people have needs, wants, desires, goals, and motives; express them.

    1. Unless putting their life on the line for some further goal is necessary (mandated by their deity, or similar), adventurers should stop adventuring when they have the ability to.

      1. This is a hard lifestyle and most people do not want to live this way forever.

        1. You ARE a person right? If I look at you, will I see a list of numbers?

  2. If you find yourself lost at any point, DO ask your DM about what is going on. They are your eyes and ears to this world and are, more often than not, there to help you.

  3. Non-combat

    1. NEVER stop communicating with your party. Make sure everyone is in the know about things that would affect the party.

    2. Decision-making

      1. It never hurts to second-guess someone.

      2. Do NOT let the zealot make decisions for you.

      3. Combat should never be your first option.

    3. Players vs. Environment - On the Move

      1. Someone should be making a map.

      2. Whenever possible, try to do things without dipping into your own supplies

        1. Try survival checks to find food rather than eating your rations.

      3. Be wary of your surroundings (Perception checks).

      4. Have appropriate clothing for varying weather

      5. Keep escort targets out of sight.

      6. Marching order

        1. Rogue, Fighter, Healer, Blaster, optional support (something with higher AC than the blaster).

          1. The rogue takes point to scout and look for traps.

          2. The fighter follows to engage danger when it presents itself.

          3. Clerics behind the fighter to readily heal the fighter.

          4. Wizard in the back

            1. If someone is attacking the wizard, you have failed something.

    4. Players vs Environment - Setting Up Camp

      1. “Safe” camps are NEVER safe, especially outside.

      2. Set up a perimeter.

        1. All tents should face the campfire.

        2. The alarm spell is handy if you have it.

      3. Use as few tents as possible

        1. Two people per tent

        2. Sometimes set up empty “dummy” tents to fool would-be attackers.

      4. Night Watches are IMPORTANT.

        1. NEVER have a single person on watch, minimum two per shift.

          1. A clever illusion spell can turn a two person watch into a three person watch to an unwary, would be attacker.

        2. One person watches the party and the tents, and the other looks out.

          1. The watch should be facing each other to avoid blindspots.

  1. NPC Encounters

    1. It is disrespectful to cast magic in public.

      1. Shows a lack of trust.

    2. Ask for information. Add to your map. Also: Ask for maps.

    3. Know when to lie, and when to tell the truth.

    4. Share just enough important information - tell them only what they need to know.

    5. Most people embellish and exaggerate.

      1. One hundred goblins? Good chance it was like ten.

    6. Negotiations

      1. Know where you stand.

        1. Press your advantage, but know when to back off.

        2. When you are at a disadvantage, do not push.

    7. Peasantry

      1. You never work for peasants.

        1. Peasants cannot afford you. If they can, those are NOT peasants.

      2. Peasants are PROPERTY.

        1. This implies that someone of wealth and influence owns them. Do NOT go about angering such people.

    8. Nobility

      1. “A Noble in Need is Gold Indeed”

      2. There is a LOT of money in catching/exposing fake nobility

        1. Questioning nobility puts your life on the line, so be careful.

      3. Respect goes a long way.

  1. Creatures

    1. Powerful beings have agendas. Use that.

    2. Evil-sounding things are evil.

    3. Low damage usually comes with nasty secondary side effects.

    4. Do NOT look at nymphs.

    5. Figure out a way to deal with invisible creatures.

      1. Faerie fire

      2. Color Spray

      3. Dirt

      4. Sand

  2. Combat

    1. Not all encounters are meant for you to fight. Avoid obviously unfavorable combat that is stacked against you.


    3. Basic Formations

      1. Spear - V shape

        1. Searching

        2. Breaching a line

          1. Single target elimination

  1. Hammer - T shape

    1. Defensive.

    2. 3 melee in front

    3. Cleric immediately behind

    4. Ranged rogue

    5. Caster in back

  1. Shield: 

    1. Four person arc.

      1. Escort target in the middle back.

    2. Rogue sits 20ft behind any given person to watch for assassins.

    3. Gaps in the line allow escort target to run through away from danger

      1. Once the escort target has run between two people, they should close the gap.

    4. Used for escorting persons of interest.

  1. Aim to break enemy chain of command.

    1. This will break the enemy unit faster than killing them until they stop will.


  1. Miscellaneous tips

  1. By 3rd level, you should have some sort of home town/base of operations.

    1. This is not some kind of fortress the players own.

    2. This is just a  place where the players are known and operate out of.

  2. Draw maps out of character as well. Make sure they’re correct by talking with the DM.

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