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What are some good resources, on or off-line, for determining clear travel times for:

  • different methods of travel (eg: foot, horse, vehicles by period and type, etc)
  • different terrain types (eg: rocky, plains, forest, desert, etc)
  • weather conditions (eg: rain, typhoon, etc)
  • historical travel routes (eg: caravan, train, dirigible, steamship, etc)
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Just a reminder, this question is asking for resource material, either in book or online form. –  Runeslinger Aug 29 '10 at 22:55
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By asking for real-world resources with which to determine travel times, the reader can apply the information uncovered, if any to whatever system they want. –  Runeslinger Nov 19 '10 at 9:06
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3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

In the 13th century, "..an average day's journey on horseback was about 30 to 40 miles, although it varied widely, depending on circumstance. A messenger on horseback, without riding at night, could cover 40 to 50 miles a day and about half as much on foot. In an emergency, given a good horse and a good road (which was rare), and no load, he could make 15 miles an hour and, with changes of horse awaiting him, cover 100 miles in a day. The great merchant cities of Venice and Bruges maintained a regular postal service betwen them so highly organized that it covered the 700 miles in seven days. pack trains made about 15 or 20 miles a day; armies, when slowed by baggage wagons and retainers on foot, sometimes covered no more than eight miles a day."

-Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror

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With the amount of time that has passed since the question has posed, and this being the only answer to offer real-world information, let's go with it for now - 'til something better comes along. Palladium Fantasy offers the most complete 'game specific' information I have personally encountered for varying rates across varying terrain for varying methods of travel, but again; that is a game resource. –  Runeslinger Apr 2 '11 at 6:28
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J.P. Cardier has worked out some pretty detailed travel speeds for foot, horses, river boats and sailing, and shown the workings, so you can decide for yourself where you disagree. These rules are for Exalted, but the conclusions would be valid for most games, as far as I can see.

There are also a few useful figures here

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On Foot

Budget for 2 miles per hour, with an extra hour per 1000 foot elevation climb. This is assuming you can walk on the slope. If you are only carrying yourself (and maybe a water bottle), figure on 3 mph.

Figure you have about 8-10 hours of walking a day, will give you 15-20 miles depending on conditions (mud, hills, extreme heat/cold will slow you down).

Horse

I've heard that horses are able to do somewhere between 25 and 40 miles depending on conditions, whether or not the horse needs to forage, and how hard you push the horse. Call it 30 miles for the long haul.

Wagons/Carts

Are going to cut the horse speed in half. Or you could add more horses to make each horse's weight load much less.

Over land

If you don't have a path/road to travel on, you will probably see your speed drop significantly.

Ships

How fast is the wind blowing? I've heard that most ships can do the wind speed on a good day (holds empty, all the sails up, sympathetic wind direction to desired travel direction). But somewhere around 75% of wind velocity is more likely to occur.

Others

Steamerships I recall being given a rate of around 10 mph while going downstream and much lower when fighting the current, dirigibles I don't know, and camels (caravans) travel about the same speed as horses. Trains seem to vary. The early models were speedy at 5 mph. Now, you have bullet trains that can do 200-250 mph.

Hope this helps!

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+1, good answer when compared to my hiking/walking/gaming experience. On semi-hilly roads it's possible for an unfit geek like me to keep 6km/h for a few hours every day (allowing breaks), but accounting for daylight, setting up camp and looking for fresh water will reduce the amount of hours available. –  Tsojcanth Aug 27 '10 at 15:07
    
Sources for this information, particularly ship-based travel, would be great. –  Dave DuPlantis Dec 9 '11 at 19:43
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