Campfire Review – Sometimes it’s the Destination


For many Dungeon Masters, especially those unskilled with the journey as a destination trope, travel in roleplaying games serves one of four purposes: the main (or a major part) of the adventure, a short distraction or transition between adventure settings, a place for short or long rests (or practicing skills), or an annoyance to be dealt with swiftly. For all but the first, travel remains a sore point for many DMs because they want it to be interesting and valuable, but not dominate the play time.
Enter “Campfire.” It succeeds at extending travel’s value and minimizing its in-game time. A wonderful combination for many DMs. In the span of 15 minutes, you can resolve all your travel concerns. “[Campfire can be] used for traveling across a large city or journeying into the frozen wilds.” But why is this necessary? Because “…often, the destination is more interesting than how they get there.”


Matthew Ross’ writing is competent, knowledgeable about D&D, easy to follow, and elegantly guides you through the travel process. Additionally, the tables are clever and full of flavor. The artwork by Fernando Dominguez is excellent throughout. His style and taste is apparent in plate after plate, and his attention to detail is apparent in even smaller inset artworks. This supplement is professional in every way.
Illustrations in “Campfire” by Abyssal Brews
Illustrations in “Campfire” by Abyssal Brews


Campfire breaks travel into three parts:
1. Preparation: Gathering supplies and (for the DM) setting the difficulty of the journey (“Travel DC”)
2. Expedition: The journey, combining PC skill use, resources, as well as storytelling and roleplaying
3. Resolution: Arrival—from jaunty and at ease to miserable and travel-weary
How it works:
PREPARATION: the DM sets the travel difficulty. Basically terrain + weather (using charts). Simple and straightforward. Then you set the Destination Score, which “…represents how long they are exposed to the wilderness.” The longer the journey, the more rolls required.
EXPEDITION: Interestingly, this phase is more collaborative than I was expecting—making it enjoyable and fun for players—even as they fall apart under torrential rain. The goal is simply to achieve more ability check successes (against the Travel DC) to match the Destination Score before acquiring failures equal to the Destination score.
But it’s not all numbers. The DM still narrates the journey concepts and length of time and players determine what skills they would utilize to best counter the hardships of the journey. Each time the DM requests a roll, that is a success or failure that slowly accumulates toward the Destination Score, with some bonuses either way as they get greater successes.
As a DM, you get to set the road problems and can adjust for, say, a well-traveled, brick-paved and guarded road versus a meandering forest path. I love this, and even though rolls determine the eventualities, the narrative makes things more interesting and challenging. To this end, I found this to be an excellent quote that exactly fits my perspective on using Campfire: “You should be open to the idea of using skills in nontraditional ways and award creativity early and often.”
Once either the successes or failures equal the destination score, move to…
RESOLUTION: If the successes achieved the Destination score, you gain the benefits of a Windfall, if failures equalled the Destination score, it was a hardship. A few charts later you learn what the road offered or extracted from them.
Windfalls can be mundane, like you collect a bounty of game or arrive early, or it could be more interesting, like discovering a valuable potion or benefitting from a bonus on dexterity on their next saving throw. Hardships work the same way, but as a negative, from reduced movement for a time (sore feet) to a Wild Magic surge.


I really like that the successes/failures is really a ratio, If you had a Windfall journey, you roll a number of times equal to your successes-failures, so potentially there are opportunities for many rolls. Of course, that works both ways.

I’d like to see a system that allowed a trip to be either not 100% Yay! or 100% Boo! Maybe a ratio of rolls—2 Windfalls and a Hardship, for instance. Another thing I think would benefit this would be the power of locomotion. Do you have a cart or wagon? Are you riding on horseback? Those should give you benefits (and potentially challenges) on the journey—and not just in speed of the trip. For instance, if you have a cart or wagon, perhaps a different chart an additional chart, because some of the weariness of the road is reduced when you can sit the majority of the way. By the same token, a breakdown can add delays, or losing whatever the cart was carrying (a broken wheel is a real trial on the road). It would make for interesting party decision-making on what to do with the stuff they can’t carry.

It could also have some rules for practicing skills and feats during downtime. Some player is inevitably going to ask about this? Perhaps the benefits or lack of them is tied to whether it’s a Windfall or Hardship trip.



Campfire is a wonderful tool for when the journey needs to be shortened in game time. I don’t think it’s always a replacement for game travel, and the supplement states this, like when the DM has planned adventures along the road, but this really does both speed up an often dull part of the game and rewards players’ storytelling without having to track every moment of the journey. It’s definitely been added to MY DMing journey.

$4.99 at DriveThruRPG  or Ko-Fi and includes a printer friendly version.

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Abyssal BrewsPublisher@AbyssalBrews@AbyssalBrews@AbyssalBrews
Matthew RossWriter
Fernando DominguezIllustrator

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