Some more thoughts on spicing up travel through the abstract wilderness. Keep in mind I intend these in addition to encounters and in addition to terrain-based encounters. I'm just trying to shift the default from nothing happens to- there is some slow-burning tension.
One thing I've done in the past is add npcs to converse with on a ship. But that takes some prep and players don't seem to want to interact with anything that isn't explicitly a boon or a hook.
After my last post I was worrying that all terrain might be seen as an element wearing you down: thirst in the desert, cold in the tundra, etc. So I pushed my brain trying to think of a different approach for a mini-game. Here's an idea for steep and rocky terrain:
As long as the party has one of the item type that the roll says is consumed, then things are okay. If not, movement decreases (halved?) and things start getting harder (food and water consumption double?).
Well, it's similar to the swamp travel in that it's still wearing away at the party which I guess is what all resource management amounts too. But I was hoping with this, the party could be shown the chart before travelling, see what is consumed more commonly, and try to prepare for the trip accordingly, to give the feel of a big expedition. It could even make finding the remains of a previous expedition, with spikes and rope, treasure-like.