Rivers in the Barbarian Prince

Is anyone else out there playing Barbarian Prince?  I’m still pretty obsessed with the game, and recently have really been scratching my head over what the flow is supposed to be regarding checking for getting lost and random events when crossing a river.

Here’s the deal, basically as you move around the hex map there’s two checks to be made: do you get lost, and does a random event occur?  This basic mechanic is described in the rules thus:

Getting Lost (see r205): each time you try to leave a hex, you may get lost. See r205 for details. If you get lost, you are unable to get out of the hex by the chosen route, and are stuck for the rest of the day in the hex where you started. You cannot select an alternate action.

Travel Events (r204b): each time you attempt to enter a new hex, an event may occur. Find the terrain type you attempted to enter on the Travel Table (r207) and read to the “Event” column. Roll two dice. If the total equals or exceeds the number listed, an event occurs. Roll one die and read across to the proper “Event Reference” number listed for that die roll. Then go that event section.

OK, seems pretty straight forward.  I assume for events the language around “you attempt to enter a new hex” that it means events happen regardless of whether you get lost or not.  OK, now add in rivers.  There are two sections in the rules on rivers, one under “Travel” and one under “Lost”.  Here they both are:

River Crossing (r204e): if your travel takes you over a river, you must first consult the Travel Table (r207) for getting over the river without getting lost (r205), and then for a possible event crossing the river, by using the “River” line of the table. If this doesn’t prevent you from crossing, you then enter the hex on the other side, check for getting lost moving into that hex, and any travel events for the terrain entered there. If you are flying, you can fly over a river and ignore all crossing problems (do not check for getting lost crossing the river, and do not check for river crossing events).

River Crossing (r205d): if your party is trying to cross a river, first check to see if you get lost in the crossing. If you do, this represents an inability to find a proper crossing place (ford, place to swim, materials for a raft, etc.).  There is no travel event afterwards. If you are following a road or airborne; you can cross a river automatically.  Crossing by road implies that a permanent bridge exists there (such as one between hexes 1318 and 1319).  Once you cross the river, you must still check for getting lost in the terrain of the new hex you are trying to enter. If you get lost after you cross the river, you count as across the river, but are still in the hex where you started the move. Tomorrow you can try again to enter a hex on the opposite side of the river. For example, if you start in 1017, try to cross to 1118, and cross the river but get lost going into 1118, you end your move back in 1017. However, you are now over the river, so tomorrow you can try to enter either 1016, 1117 or 1118, which are all over the river, and next to the place where you start.

OK, this is pretty convoluted.  The things I wasn’t entirely sure on are:

  1. If you get lost trying to cross a river, are there no events whatsoever, neither based on the hex you are trying to enter nor the river itself?  I think that’s what they’re getting at here, but it’s not clear and does kind of contradict the normal lost/event rule, where events are checked for regardless of getting lost.
  2. If you find a crossing and then the river event prevents you from crossing, do you check for a regular event?  I think not, but it’s not totally clear.

I made a flow chart of how I think it’s supposed to work.  If anyone out there is also playing, or wants to put in the effort of reading the above rules chunks and looking at my diagram to check for errors, I’d really appreciate it.  Here’s the diagram:

6 thoughts on “Rivers in the Barbarian Prince

  1. You know, my first impression reading the basic rules is that, if you get lost, then you would NOT check for an event. Clues for this are: (a) difference between “try to leave a hex” and “try to enter a new hex” (which seem ordered and exclusive to me), and (b) fact that event is based on new hex terrain, plus (c) the fact that the river case explicitly calls out no event if the river blocks you. Not ironclad, but that’s how it dawned on me. (So for me, “Lost Entering New Hex: Yes” would go straight to “Remain in Old Hex”).

    Is the normal “lost” chance based on terrain in source hex or destination hex?

    And I’ll just say: Ugh, the fact that you can be over the river but still count as being in the first hex. Just ugh. I would want to rewrite that (could be in either a generous or punitive direction), but other than that, nothing in your flowchart jumps out at me as wrong (although one might distinguish between “Remain in Old Hex/Over River” vs. “Remain in Old Hex/Not Over River”).

  2. The following appears under the general description of “Lost”:

    If you get lost, you cannot further that day. You are stuck in the hex you tried to leave. You must check for a travel event (see r205b) in the hex you tried to enter, as if you actually entered it. This reflects you wandering around on the edges of the new hex and perhaps encountering something.

    So clearly under normal movement where no river crossing occurs you do check for events every day, regardless of getting lost. I think this is actually good for the game, as generating events are actually key to making things happen in the game that might actually help you reach your goal (though also they present risk of death.)

    I totally agree though that the river crossing part is pretty cumbersome. I’d almost prefer it to just be a complete duplicate of the normal logic, that is:

    Use the river tables instead of normal terrain tables when crossing a river. If you get lost or the river event prevents crossing, the day ends. If not, you must next perform lost and event checks for entering the hex as normal.

    I suppose the reason for no event if you get lost crossing the river is the idea that getting lost while crossing the river implies you couldn’t even find the river, so many of the river events probably wouldn’t make narrative sense. As for the whole “you can be over the river but still count as being in the first hex”, yeah that’s really painful. The only reason to support it I can think of is to make it less difficult to cross rivers, though I would think that could just as easily be accomplished by reducing the chance of getting lost due to river crossing. Which sort of makes sense in the narrative I think, as a river does strike me as a land mark that should be somewhat easier to find.

  3. ^ Well, that extra quote certainly shuts the case on that.

    And I agree with the reasons why they’d do that other stuff, I’d just prioritize differently if I had my druthers (like maybe just waive the 2nd lost check entirely). And the language “this represents an inability to find a proper crossing place (ford, place to swim, materials for a raft, etc.)” seems to indicate that you find the river, just not a way across, and thus you don’t get in a location for watery encounters.

  4. Nice flow chart for such a great game! There is also a wild west version that came out in 2019 called The Drifter you might like to check out!

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