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In Tomb of Annihilation the prospect of getting lost/turned around in the jungle is written explicitly into the rules: "The Land of Chult" and its "Navigation" section have the party navigator making a check every day, and they may become lost if the check goes awry.

But my party has a ranger, favored terrain of forest. Whose group, due to Natural Explorer, "can't become lost except by magical means."

Nothing suggests that difficulty finding one's way in the lion's Tyrannosaurus' share of Chultan jungles is magical. It's just mundane bushwhacking-sometimes-goes-awry.

So do groups playing Tomb of Annihilation who include a (forest) ranger simply dispose of the whole "Navigation" section while in the jungle?

(We've ruled that forest==jungle for Natural Explorer's purposes. As does Jeremy Crawford. If you disagree hold your ire and imagine we were talking about coast, or swamp, or mountain; all of these are Natural Explorer candidates and might be where navigation checks would be indicated in ToA.)

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Yes, But...

If your ranger knows the precise location of where you're going, he can chart a path to it and unfailingly follow that path. He will not get lost, because he cannot, and you may dispense entirely with the navigational checks.

If your ranger knows the general location of where you're going, he can chart a path to reach the edge of his search range unfailingly. But to find the actual place would require navigational checks, which (while they wouldn't cause the ranger to become lost) could cause the ranger to end up in a place he didn't intend to go to.
He'd still know where he is on a map though, and would as such be able to much more efficiently search a large area (because he actually knows what sections they've already checked).


As DM advice, rangers should be allowed to trivialize some of the navigational mechanics in Chult. It's literally part of the class fantasy.

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    \$\begingroup\$ tl;dr version: he always knows where he is, but doesn't always know where his goal is? \$\endgroup\$ – Michael W. Sep 29 '17 at 20:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's the idea, @MichaelW. He's like google maps, but it starts with no pins, and he has to drop them on the map himself for points of interest. \$\endgroup\$ – Speedkat Sep 29 '17 at 21:10
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Not altogether

The Ranger's natural explorer feature is applicable to only 1, 2 or 3 types of terrain at 1st, 6th and 10th level respectively selected from "arctic, coast, desert, forest, grassland, mountain, swamp, or The Underdark".

Chult has the following types of terrain: coast, forest (jungle), grassland, mountain and swamp. Therefore a single ranger cannot be a natural explorer for all of them. If the day's travel is exclusively within one of the Ranger's favored terrains (and they are not already lost - see below) you can dispense with the check but if it crosses into a terrain which is not favored you need to make the check.

Note that the wording is "Your group can't become lost" - they can certainly be lost and checks would need to be made even in favored terrain to become unlost.

Consider a 1-5th level Ranger whose favored terrain is forest (jungle). The party starts in Refuge Bay and want to trek due west. They are in "coast" terrain (not a favored one) so they need to make a check.

If they get lost you roll randomly for a direction - clearly if they end up heading NE or SE they will realize they are lost (because they run into the ocean). If they head N or S they will end the day in the next coastal hex. If the head NW or SW they enter the jungle (favored terrain). In any event, you need to roll because they are now lost and the ranger's ability doesn't help here (it only stops you becoming lost).

If they get into the jungle and are not lost, you can dispense with rolling until they hit the Nsi Wastes (swamp) when you need to start rolling again. And so on ...

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  • \$\begingroup\$ No, I'm making the distinction between coast, forest, grassland, mountain and swamp: all of which exist in Chult. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Sep 29 '17 at 0:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Okay-added a few possibly-salient details to OP. By your second paragraph I think this would make your answer a "yes." \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Sep 29 '17 at 0:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or at least a "Yes, with caveat". \$\endgroup\$ – Aviose Sep 29 '17 at 17:38
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Navigating a land without trails is more complicated than just knowing where you are and where you want to go. For Tomb of Annihilation, I would consider the Ranger's ability to mean that the Ranger always knows what Hex the party is in on the map. Each day they will be able to plot a correct intended direction because of the Ranger's ability.

I would still have the party make a Navigation roll to determine if they are able to make progress in their intended direction, giving them advantage at your discretion. If they fail the roll, then the terrain in which they are traveling or another obstacle prevents their travel in their desired direction. This is similar to the example given in the book of how a wrong tributary can be followed along a river.

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As far as I can tell there is no RAW or RAI way of differentiating between being lost and navigating from point A to point B. So if you would like my opinion on how navigating even in favored terrain acts it may be helpful.

With that said how frequent will the path be known for someone to go in a straight line through a forest to get from point A to point B?

Normally navigating through wilderness requires a survival check or a history check if they have a map and/or proficiency with cartographer's tools. But without a map or relevant directions navigating without getting lost still requires time and effort to accomplish. You may take detours, find traps, or come across the path of monsters which all can slow you down. You may even find something interesting during your travels to another place that can be helpful. All of this is based on how well you travel, scout, and generally know how to survive in the area. So while you may not get lost per say, you can get detoured around a dangerous trap or find that the stream you were supposed to follow on a map has since dried up and grown over.

tl;dr: Being lost doesn't mean you took too long to find a place. It means you couldn't find it. Getting there is one thing, knowing the path to get there is another thing, and getting there as fast as possible without getting hurt is a completely separate thing.

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    \$\begingroup\$ ToA has specific rules for Navigation; this answer seems to be written from the perspective of somebody who hasn't read them. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Oct 5 '17 at 17:23

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