HI, my name is James and welcome to Code/Switch, today I want to talk about travel. Back in August, I along with the KD crew went to Gencon. Alex and I drove in with a group of 2 other friends from Philadelphia, a trip of 643 miles (1034km) that took 11 hours, a blown tire on the way back, and about $65 from our collective 4 pockets in travel costs. When I got the bill from the owner of the car, I was surprised by the low cost, about 4 hours’ worth of work for someone earning the median individual income of a US worker. This low cost started to make me wonder what would be the cheapest way to travel the distance from Philadelphia to Indianapolis if we were using travel options found in Pathfinder.
Away We Go!
Not taking into account food and lodging costs, the cheapest way would be to just walk. Using the Pathfinder travel rules walking for a day nets the average human 24 miles of progress. This speed is pretty quick, if using an 8 hour day, it sets a 20 minute mile pace. It however is the slowest of options, getting you to Indy in a blister inducing 27 day march. This can be improved if you became a monk or barbarian, used the longstrider spell, or took fleet as a feat, this time would be improved, but even doubling your move speed still makes this a grueling 14 day voyage. Combine the distance with having to carry all your saved travel cash and you’d probably hitch a ride on the next wagon that trundles by.
Instead of just walking like Forrest Gump, you consult your local guides travel rates and realize no cart can get you to Indy in less than 14 days. You despair, put on your comfiest boots and prepare for bunion city when an eccentric man wearing a monocle and sporting a handlebar mustache and boastfully offers you a seat on his airship for the kings ransom of 1gp per mile (according to this Eberron-Pathfinder conversion wiki). The airship, similar to a sailboat moves for 24 hours, and with a speed of 11mph (100ft/6sec) this baby hauls at 264 miles per day! Being a planeswalker you take out Alex Augunas’s handy Capital Exchange Rate Equation to find this 3 days voyage will burn a $41,795 USD shaped hole in your coinpurse.
The fancy lad notices your glazed over eyes doing math and rightfully ascertains that you’re not in his peer group, and flies away. Screw that guy, you’re an adventurer, you can take out a second mortgage and pay it off with loot you find questing! If you’re gonna bet the house you’re gonna get the fastest transport you can, you head to your local wizard and ask for an estimate for a teleport spell. Indianapolis’s distance is such that the lowest level wizard capable of casting the spell can get you the entire way. The teller slides you a 4,500g ($292,500 USD) estimate and with a swift “Thank you!” huff to the bathroom to figure out how to avoid walking to Indianapolis.
Finally, your adventurer luck kicks in an in a display of gross serendipity you see an advert scratched into the stall “LF1M to split Tele scroll to Indy, 113g”. In your panic you forgot about scrolls reduced costs, or maybe you don’t know about magic, a lot of assumptions are being made. The teleport spell scroll is 450g and of sufficient caster level to take the caster along w/ 3 passengers, so the cost can be split. 113g is a lot, but it’s much cheaper than the airship clocking in at a thrifty $7,345 USD.
That’s Still Expensive!
Travel is so much cheaper in our modern day. One of the many reasons major cities were founded near bodies of water as it was often the fastest way to get from place to place. The cost for incremental speed increases in Pathfinder are so gigantic, and contain options our real history didn’t have. For $65 I drove to Indianapolis, for $78 I could take a train, and for roughly $250 I could take a plane, each more expensive service shortening time or making the trip easier. Make no mistake; if teleport was an option, you know I’d be pinching my pennies.