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Multiple wilderness adventures, ranging from the venerable B2 - Keep on the Borderlands to the more contemporary Tomb of Annihilation use rules for getting lost, as does the DMG under "Becoming Lost" on page 111.

However, in my experience, these rules often do not work well, or are boring to play. Either the PCs have a familiar or some other way to get up high and see distant landmarks, to triangulate where they are, or the whole exercise is a drudgery of rolling skill checks stumbling around in the forest, that gets in the way of more interesting content.

I like the idea of navigation in the wilderness posing an interesting challenge, but in game practice, I have not been able to get it to work well, and have mostly giving up of using it. Does anyone have experience of how to make this work better and more interesting?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I understand where the opinion-based closed votes are coming from, but I’ll wait and see how answers go before voting to close. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Yes - there are many other "How can one make X interesting" questions that are open and seem to be fine. One concern I had was that maybe keeping it system agnostic makes it harder to answer; I had hoped it could bring up tactics from other systems, which if they make sense I could leverage; I could narrow it to just D&D, or even just 5e if that was needed, which is where I am coming from here. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 21:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ System-agnostic and refering to a DMG is bad: you might be refering to -any edition book that has that name. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 8:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @trish Yes, I think this question is probably better to frame as a 5e question, also when it comes to resource management. These methods will work differntly in different systems. I will add the 5e tag. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 8:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NobodytheHobgoblin example why system matters: Dthe Dark Eye 4th has very explicit survival rules, pathfinder handles these things vastly different and D&D 5e is a combat simulator first, and offers only little advice in this regard. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 9:32

9 Answers 9

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Make it Time-Sensitive

As with many things in RPGs, impressing a time-sensitive objective helps resolve a lot of the tedium. No matter what rules you use for getting lost, the party will need to spend time getting back on track, and then could set them apart of the objective.

Doing things like having a familiar to locate landmarks may provide a bonus to recovering from getting lost (which I would introduce with advantage in D&D, or a free Fate Point in Fate), however you still lose that time.

This can manifest in a number of ways, but I prefer to provide the enemy with bonuses if the party takes to long to arrive. In contrast to penalizing the players directly, or even failing their objective, this lets the party still work their way out of the situation.

If an objective has a clear time component like arriving in time to warn an isolated city that an assault is imminent, you can still provide costs to being slow rather than failure. In this case, the city is already under siege and the objective has changed from warning them to sneaking in and helping to break the siege.

With less time-sensitive objectives, you can more easily offer changes. Perhaps if the party gets lost too many times, the enemy have entrenched their encampment, as their scouts noticed the party wandering in circles on their way there, thus making the objective to steal their runestaff more challenging.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I struggle to see where this becomes fun, or exactly how to do it. Are you suggesting rolling a survival check and on a failure the next encounter after the travel is harder? Being late for something doesn't sound fun to me \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 11:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are a lot of great, enriching answers to the question. I decided to accept this one as for me personally it answers my need best of how you can make the procedure or experience interesting to the players (even if not "fun", fun was not what I was asking for. To me it is OK when getting lost is not a fun experience. Downs can help make the highs feel better). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 18:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri This answer proposes that the reason getting lost isn't interesting is that it often has no meaningful consequences, and suggests that giving it meaningful consequences would make it more interesting. Being late for something important is fun in the same way that losing combat is fun: The fact that it could happen makes the journey or combat more tense and exciting. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Dec 24, 2023 at 1:07
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This answer is a little generic and goes for (A)D&D 2, 3, 3.5 and 5. I don't consider 4 a "real D&D" (although I personally liked it as a game) and Original D&D and AD&D had very different power levels for magic users and a lot less spells. So if I name a game feature and it isn't the exact 5e wording, I think you will still know what I'm talking about.

You cannot. Not in modern D&D.

Getting lost (in the wilderness I assume) has many challenges. Finding clean water, food, shelter, heat, direction. Not dying of a simple injury, because there is not penicillin or even just disinfectants in the wilderness. All very challenging for the average human.

The problem is that each of those has a simple level one spell automatic success solution. Even multiple solutions, but create food and water, goodberries, alarm, cure light wounds, just a few to pop into mind that make each of those interesting problems meaningless.

So what remains? Random encounters. One after another, until you are "out of the woods" so to speak. Boring. You could have random encounters one after another without being lost. Just step into a random dungeon.

The actual fascination of conquering the wild, of mastering it, of making use of skills and ingenuity to overcome problems? All cast away, literally, by a spell.

And that is level one, spells get more ridiculous in their capacity to "solve the whole adventure" later on. Some adventures cannot be had in D&D. Or you artificially restrict your players and strip them of their basic powers. But that's not really D&D, is it? If you tell your players that a magic veil/bubble/fog of thiggamathing has appeared and half their spell book is mysteriously no longer working, I feel cheated if a DM does that. That is just lazy. If you don't want to play D&D as it's in the book, that is fine, just don't make me play "half D&D" then, let's just pick a better suited system to what you want to play.

But I want to? I really really do!

So, one option is always to talk to your players about what you want to do. If they all agree that such an adventure would be fun, they can create a party of characters that cannot solve those challenges with spells easily. Maybe they simply not take them for their spellbook, or pick that as restricted domain, or not play that class.

If you do that, it can be a good wilderness adventure. It can have challenges, agency, decisions to be made... a game. It doesn't even need random monster encounters, simply surviving in the wilderness can be interesting, under those conditions.

One thing that can be improved by any GM though: even if you have random tables... they are for the GM. So if you know it will be 5-10 days in this wilderness depending on how the characters do, then roll those events before the adventure. Harmonize them. Make them gel. If there is sun on one day and rain the next, don't be surprised by that as the GM because you roll for it in the morning... "you get up from sleep and... oh, it's pouring rain today, who'd have known". No. You the GM should know, you should weave in things like "you see clouds on the horizon" or "you wake in the middle of the night because it's raining and you lie in a puddle" or something. As a DM, it's your job to make those tables into an adventure, not be surprised by them in the middle of it. Roll them in advance, then craft the adventure around it.

You can get good examples of how to present and craft challenges by reading through some old D&D adventures. There were basically two kinds: dungeon, and dungeon but you have to get there. This "you have to get there" often had their own rules, independent of actual D&D. They might be old and incompatible today, but they are a nice inspiration what your specific challenges could look like.

What if I don't want to go through all this work?

Well, you can always set D&D aside for a few weeks and play something that is suited to a survival adventure. That has rules for finding clean water, malnutrition, diseases, severe injuries not trivially "healed" overnight. The same way that you would pick a different system if you wanted laser battles with aliens in space. It just makes D&D all the more interesting when you come back and take it for a ride for something it is made for.

Slight detour from your question

What you can do, and I just remembered that from an adventure way back in time in AD&D 2, is just make it about other people. Yes, the player characters can trivialize surviving for themselves. But that doesn't scale. What if they "get lost" with 100 other normal people? Assuming they feel responsible and don't just take off on their own, they now have the same problems (food, shelter etc), just magnified and no longer auto-solvable for all. It's no longer one PC foraging, it is one PC leading the foraging party. And it is no longer an amount of hitpoints lost on failure, that is easily replenished, but some poor chap who falls down a ravine or gets mauled by a bear. They won't spring back to life on a long rest, they are dead. Skills have to be used, and failure means something.

I enjoyed that particular part of the adventure a lot back then and the general point would still be valid, scale the "survival" and make the spells less useful. Sure, the party always survives with their spells, but they should want to survive with as many others alive as possible.

But I don't know if leading a caravan or being shipwrecked with hundreds of other people counts as "lost in the wilderness" adventure for you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The problem is that each of those has a simple level one spell automatic success solution. - that begs for the solution of Kill the spellcasters. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 9:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ the slight detour I might call raising the stakes \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 10:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ The "Not in modern D&D." section might be improved by naming some editions that weren't like that. \$\endgroup\$
    – J. Mini
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 15:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @J.Mini I said that in my first sentence: D&D and AD&D (the original product of that name, not what is known as 5e today) did not have that much power or spellselection for magic users. \$\endgroup\$
    – nvoigt
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 16:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Even without spells to neutralize the difficulties, overland travel can still often feel like an exercise in bookkeeping. How many rations do you have on hand? Roll to hunt for food and deduct so-many rations to make up the difference. Save against exhaustion. Roll for random encounters. Now do it all again. I don't know. If you want story, you have to have a story. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 15:26
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Don't Bother.

I spent a while trying to make the wilderness survival parts of Rime of the Frostmaiden interesting and fun. It was a near-complete failure. That adventure has a few wilderness encounters that actually matter though, so it's not ideal to just remove it. Here's what I did to mitigate that:

First, I ran it straight for a while. Rolled for encounters, rolled on the tables, all strictly as written. We lost about four hours to encounters with random stuff that was not a lot of fun. One of the important encounters turned up early though, and I made it a big set-piece. That seemed to drive home the sense of danger to travelling.

Next, I placed the other major encounter a few trips later, underscoring that this was dangerous. But at the same time, I started just narrating all the other encounters ("A deranged rabbit leaps at you, screaming 'death the the despoilers!' It's pretty weird, but you just cut him in half. The next day...")

Then I quietly dropped everything about travel except travel times. This was the most fun of all.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I’ve downvoted this because “I failed to make this fun and interesting” isn’t an answer to “how do I make this fun and interesting”. This is more like an “I have this problem too” than an actual answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 14:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ I actually also ran into this (which triggered the question) playing a modded Rime adventure as a Christmas special. There at least the bad lighting and snowfall helps against the long range familar scanning of the environment; but I still struggled with making being lost anything useful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 14:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov, I disagree. This is essentially a frame challenge answer, supported by their applicable, real world experience along with the consequences of how that worked for them. While it may not be a good answer for every group, it's a good answer for some folks asking the same question. +1 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 18:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ This isn't even a frame challenge. The question was "can I" and the answer is "no". It's not only a good answer but in the case of published adventures, probably the best one. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 14:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sometimes the correct answer to "How do I do X?" is "You can't." \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 18:13
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It's all about the serotonin

A lot of gaming sessions are about quick dopamine rushes. You find treasure, you slaughter monsters, you kick arrogant nobles in the face. For exploration to be interesting what you need isn't quick pleasure, you need meaning. For exploration to be fun you need to know where you're going, how you're going there. Focus on stimulating their serotonin.

This is why roguelikes and dungeoncrawlers are addictive games to many people. The rush of exploring and understanding a location more and more.

Have a hexmap

It's a lot easier to have a meaningful game when you have a map which the players can explore. There are lots of options for this. You can have roll20 with a black screen across everything and reveal it when they explore it. You can have a physical map. But regardless, the feeling of uncovering more about the world is key.

Make the location they are lost in interesting to explore

This is a key consideration I feel a lot of DMs miss. Two of the top answers are making it time sensitive, or spending more player resources. Is being poor or losing time interesting? In my experience that often just makes players hate being lost.

What you need to do is make the location that they are lost in interesting. Have cool traps, have cool monsters, have rare loot that they couldn't find in their current location. Above that, you should have interesting information revealed that tells the players more about the world and makes the map more meaningful and interesting.

Suppose the players wander into a forest which twists the senses. Rather than arrive in a dreary forest which twists the senses, make them get lost somewhere interesting. They might in the hut of a witch casting spells to ruin them, or the wrong side of a treasure haul with too many traps to escape, or in the middle of a rival adventure group who is close to death from starvation. I've found players enjoy getting lost a lot more when it's an interesting experience and the location they are lost in is meaningful.

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The consequences of being lost are twofold:

  • You spend extra time and use up resources, such as food, water, and light (natural or artificial).
  • You attract attention from those who dwell in the area you're lost in, otherwise known as "wandering monsters."

Depending on the kind of game you're running, one or the other of these options may be more important — the loss of time or resources can be represented as "ticks" on a "clock," as in Blades in the Dark, or simply the exhaustion of equipment that you're tracking. Attacks from denizens can be stronger or weaker depending on how badly lost the PCs are.

If your game doesn't have an emphasis on either combat or resource management, then being lost is mostly a dramatic convention — what the PCs lose is the advantage. Use narrative to advance them to whenever they extricate themselves from being lost, then tell them what's happened in their absence.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You are right, this is mostly a D&D issue for me. In Call of Cthulhu or other non-fantasy RPGs I played or DMd, wilderness exploration of this sort is not a typical play experience. I left it as generic though, as you say, there are concepts from other games I could borrow to make this work better. Now that we are playing 5e, the resource management is hard to get to work as a constraint, with ridiculously low difficulty to forage and full daily healing up. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 13:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NobodytheHobgoblin: And in practice, even if you made foraging harder, spells like Goodberry (aka provide complete food [and water?] needs for a party of 10 at the cost of a single first level spell slot) make the resource management game pretty meaningless from the get-go (cast it before ending your long rest before you begin adventuring, renew it before the end of any long rest where you have left over spell slots from the prior day of adventuring), and completely meaningless around level 5, when your first level spells are typically no better than your cantrips, so utility spells win. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 0:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Due to very well found critic, the system was added as D&D-5e \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 9:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this was pre-5e tag but I don't see how any of this makes getting lost fun. You might get a harder encounter at the end, and you spend time and resources on pointless wandering monsters that don't add to the story. That is pretty much DND rules as written, which is really boring. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 11:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri The remit wasn't "fun" — it was interesting. This is an obstacle, and the fun in obstacles comes in ways of avoiding or overcoming them. The things I noted are more interesting than "surpass the problem with magic/tech" or "roll dice until it goes away," which were the previously presented solutions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 12:57
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Being in unfamiliar surroundings is a campaign onto itself

There are campaigns centered around "being lost", exploring or finding a specific location. For example, there's Pathfinder's Kingmaker, there's the classic "shipwrecked" hook. And they do two things very different from the lost situation you depict:

You stipulate that being lost is a thing that is either easily solvable or a problem to be overcome with a series of dice rolls. That is utterly dissatisfying, unless it is framed properly.

Let me stipulate how a much better "lost" campaign could function, based on my experiences for over a decade of RPGs. But before even trying you need the players to buy in to the situation. That means they have to be willing to do do things such as exploring and charting, roleplaying a difficult situation and gain fun from that. Yes, a campaign (or even a situation) in which you are lost can require FUNTM and carve enjoyment from an utterly unsatisfying situation, but that makes some of them all the more memorable.

Raising the Stakes

As Neptune Nep suggested from an old game situation, bypassing the limits of spells can make the survival rolls required. David Coffron mentioned time constraints. Jadasc properly mentioned resource limits. Nvoigt properly notes that D&D offers a multitude of magical remedies.

But in general, making the rolls relevant requires to somehow raise the stakes in such a way that the easy-out solution of level 1 spells to feed and pamper up the group is unavailable, not enough, or better served not to be used on such spells. I know from my own experience several such situations, best brought to a point in this one example:

In my year of the Griffon campaign using The Dark Eye 4.1, the party simply had no such spells that would easily solve such survival problems available when they eventually had to make a long trip from Griffonford to a specific place. They did let themselves wash down the river to even have a chance to escape the town alive, had no maps with them for they had left swimming in the river, and nobody knew the exact way. They were only lightly armed to be able to swim and knew that downriver would be one or two larger towns. However, they couldn't walk at the riverbank to avoid getting into combat and alerting the enemy. That was all the buy-in those players needed to use the respective skills needed and conserve the little magical power they had at hand for emergencies.

Due to the nature of how magical energy replenishes in D&D (everything overnight) compared to TDE (slowly over several nights), this could be challenging to properly emulate. The closest thing would be to limit the amount of long rests due to circumstances. Otherwise, the resources available were seriously limited as they only had a weight allowance to bring. The main point here is, that due to the stakes the players choices that led them to the wilderness trip, they not only raised the stakes but also declared to be fine with the survival situation, which included being somewhat lost and required to find the right way, forage and all other that entailed. The players got their buy-in by raising the stakes.

Campaign Tone and Goal matter

In the Pathfinder 1e campaign Kingmaker, the whole premise of the campaign is, that the characters are trying to map out unknown lands. All of the mapmaking is upon the players based on the GM's explanations of the surroundings. So technically, they are lost all the time. Even though they have somewhat easily accessible magical aid in the form of spells that would create necessities or allow them to find a distant reference point, that does not exactly bypass the camp roles and survival rolls from the DMG or make them superfluous in this situation. There seem to be things that the skills are better at with the GM's help, at least from my experience of a similarly styled game that only focussed on exploration in a similar vein.

For example, rolls of survival would regularly bring assistance with the map, such as getting the exact hex you are in, or at least a rough group of them. Finding a navigable way through dangerous or slow terrain would often be handled with a single roll, though failure mostly meant being slowed down considerably rather than being fully lost. Perception rolls to notice dangers or specific locations were used more sparingly, usually once or twice a day, and often would use the passive values to determine if something is noticed at all. Generally... I remember each player rolling about... maybe four times to tell the story of a busy day that did not involve combat, and each roll meant something.

In any way, other resource management was also crucial due to the campaign being somewhat low-level and the players choosing fighter, ranger, rogue, and druid. For a time this limited the easy access to "survival spells" nvoigt criticized correctly, and with only "one and a half" casters, the spell slots were used more penny-pinching than freely.

Rations and foraging were the norm. This was also helped because the GM loved to interrupt long rests in some way or another, whenever he thought that we entered the long rest with too many spell slots remaining. When using slots to feed us, usually that backfired since it almost ensured a combat encounter where we could have needed the spell slots "burned".

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"Lost" should mean "stepping into a different adventure for a while"

Fundementally it doesn't matter what kind of adventure you are running, D&D is a series of encounters. Maybe it is a sprawling dungeon, a town, a desert, or a forest in which you have become "lost".

The way a DM plans all of those is the same, you work out the exciting locations where the adventure happens, and then you narrate the transition from scene to scene.

In a dungeon you might have several rooms with nothing in them, you don't make the party explore them all, you just narrate how they navigate across a few empty rooms and then get to the room where you have something planned to happen.

In a town you treat it the same, they don't stop at every house, you have certain places planned (tavern, blacksmith etc) and a vague idea of some other places they may want to go to, but the party doesn't interact with every peasent hovel.

You need to treat "being lost" in the same manner. They may have been travelling between town adventures, but now they are in a forest adventure. You of course knew there was a chance of the party getting lost here, so you planned a forest adventure - or at least the first scene of it.

Example:

You are travelling from A to B but the forest is thick and dense, there are no real landmarks and you can tell some kind of enchantment magic is preventing the person who took the outlander background from really pinpointing which direction they are travelling in. Roll a survival check to see if you keep on track, you can have advantage if ..

With that low roll you realise that you have been going around in circles, you find fresh footprints which at first worries you, there really shouldn't be other people in this area, but then you realise they are your own footprints. You are lost.

Following your own trail isn't going to get you anywhere other than back to where you started, so you make your best estimate of direction and set off.

The forest seems very repetative, a tree is just a tree, and then it isn't. You come across first pre-planned and interesting thing.

Then you run that mini-adventure as a series of pre-planned and interesting encounters which leads to the way out, or further into a rabit hole depending on how you want to play it.

Bonus points if you tie whatever they find into a character backstory, or some other interesting side quest.

The main point is that you have to have an idea that getting lost is an option, and plan for it in the same way that you would plan for anything else. You as a DM can fill that forest with interesting things to get lost into, or you can choose not to and not bother letting them get lost.

D&D 5e gives you some tools for this, but as with pretty much all the guidance in the DMG, and indeed their own written adventures it seems that they have no idea how their own game works. Wandering monsters, pointless hazards that just involve a few dice and may or may not cause HP damage or exhaustion are neither interesting or fun, and don't move the story along.

What moves the story along is a DM creating something fun and finding a way for the players to find it. So they were never really lost, they just found something unexpected.

If you need inspiration - think about whichever Hobbit movie gets them lost

The dwarves and Bilbo go into the enchanted forest, fail their wisdom saves and their survival checks and get lost. Soon they are surrounded by spiders, but not just by rolling on an encounter table and getting 2d6 giant spiders, it is because the DM knew the spiders were expanding from the fortress and they can be tied into the Radegast sub-quest.

It was slightly tied into Bilbo's story because he got the opportunity to go loco on the strange pale thing, and then introduced the elves so they could sell more Legolas dolls engage the audience on a more familar level.

The DM knew they may get lost so planned the spider encounter deliberately. At the end of the session that encounter was almost done, so the DM knew they needed another encounter in the next session. After the game the DM planned the elves, worked out a prison sequence, a jailbreak, a death defying river escape and eventually landed them where they needed to be just in time to do the thing they set out to do. And Bilbo never knew it was all scripted.

Extra

There is a fair amount of advise in the other answers about things like time penalties, but they are consequences of actions rather than interesting things in themselves. If the party is a day late and the enemy has had time to fortify, they don't really know how much that mattered because A they never see the unfortified version, and B D&D 5e encourages the DM to keep encounters balanced anyway. Maybe a hostage dies or something else, but again that doesn't make getting lost interesting, it just introduces stakes to the initial dice roll.

It is perfectly fine to have stakes but still skip the travel, just narrate it.

"You found the forest challenging to navigate, the faint enchantment magic in the air seemed to have you going around in circles. You have arrived at the right place, but you know it has cost you time. How many hostages have been killed because of your mis-steps? Hopefully not too many"

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The original D&D lost-parties rule explicitly referenced the rules from the earlier Outdoor Survival game by Avalon Hill (noted as recommended equipment, even prior to dice, paper, and pencils, in OD&D Vol-1, p. 5).

In that game, you play with the entire territory hex map in plain view, and the result of becoming lost is to have a forced-move for a day in a possibly undesirable direction. This then spawns reasonably interesting choices for the players in response. They can look at the surrounding terrain and make decisions about how to correct for the bad day: Do we go around the spur of the mountains, which is longer but safer? Do we try to cut across the highlands, or desert, or river, which may be shorter but more dangerous? How do we balance that against our supplies/life levels/access to water/time constraints?

I've had fairly good experiences playing wilderness adventures close to the OD&D book (Vol-3) on the Outdoor Survival map, and players have asked me for more every year at a small local convention. The main difference from 1E and later play is to make the whole map visible, and the effect of being lost only affect one day's move (not cause ongoing mis-mapping), as per the foundational Outdoor Survival game. Of course, your mileage may vary.

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Your party may be lost in the wilderness, but they are unlikely to be alone in the wilderness. Even if they think they are, they are attracting attention, friendly, unfriendly, or neutral. (Or, as a DM of mine once said, "chaotic hungry"... but that runs the risk of spawning a boring series of hack-and-slash foes.)

Do they approach or avoid signs of sentient life?

Do they ignore signs that other travelers have passed this way, never to return?

Does your party have skills they could barter for assistance? Even a Bard singing for an NPC stranger might be valuable. Maybe there's a side quest they need to complete to earn a guide. Maybe the "guide" plans to rob and murder them.

Have landmarks been magically altered, and that's why they are lost? Who would have done that, and why?

The mechanics of navigation may not be interesting, but being lost may be its own adventure...

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