I hate random encounters.

More specifically, I hate meaningless, throwaway encounters that interrupt travel. This might be because most ‘travel’ is reduced to a montage at best, with no real importance placed on say, the act of traveling.

It seems to me like the solution to this is simple: travel mini-game.

I’ve seen other games try to make travel into something more interesting than a burst of elevator music but not very successfully. Travel is so important that we sometimes forget that it used to be Serious Business.

Like, has its own gods important. Like, starts wars serious.

Anyone who’s played The Oregon Trail knows how perilous travel can be. But modeling a travel mini-game after TOT would be disastrous — that’s a game about reaching the destination, in which you can ultimately fail to arrive.

No, you need a game that’s about getting there at some cost.

Which is what brings me to Monopoly.

Monopoly has us rolling dice to get around the board. You roll the dice and you try to make it around the board to Go. You get paid whenever you pass Go — it’s a great little mechanic. Try not to land on the other players’ properties.

Interestingly, travel around a Monopoly board could be seen both as travel in the sense of distance — represented by the locations on the board — or time, as in taxes and pay periods. This hybridization may in fact be ideal.

If I were to use Monopoly as a direct parallel to travel in D&D, I would liken random encounters to Jail. You are waylaid before you can reach your goal.

But if Jail — represented by the Jail and the “Go to Jail” spaces — are random encounters, what do you put in the remaining thirty-eight spaces?

How do you make it playable without being obtrusive? …Actually, I started on something like this with my “Dungeons of Catan” rules hack.

We have a few consumable resources we can “tax” — naturally there are hit points, plus gear like water and rations. We also have money and ‘equipment’ (including backpacks and bedrolls), not to mention “consequences.”

If we were looking at a “goal” for this mini-game, look no farther:
“You only travel as fast as the slowest character.”

Everyone rolls for their character in turn, and when the last player “passed Go,” the party has reached their destination — likely lacking some rations and silver, but probably alive. Well, probably alive.

Could you imagine Monopoly with unique player powers?