Kewl, great idea guys. Just one question, I''ve seen things of this nature before in games and lets say you send the NPC back to town and then immediately follow after him. Even though you leave at almost the same time, he has had time to get there and do all the stuff you ask. Maybe having the guy actually take the path there (possibly a split window to overview or something of that nature maybe? could omit it though) or you could figure in the time of travel based on the area, danger, et cetera, and then if you follow after him, judging by another formula to computer how far ahead he is, you can catch up to him. Gee I wonder if thats one of those run on sentences my Eng teacher warned me about? Oh well, I ain''t in no computer programming for de anglish. (Yeah i know: "What?")
Portals that flourish abundantly are boring, another lame way of making magic common goods. If you want to use portals only let more experienced players be able to cast them, make the player rely on others not just himself and his own little spell/magic component inventory.
There are other ways of travel than just using portals, here are some ideas used in other games perhaps they can be of help:
* Word of recall. A cleric can utter a spell and be transported back to his starting place. ie. temple
* Moonwell. Druids can open a gateway between him/herself and another player
* Gate. Sorcs can gate another plane, and from that other plane gate back to prime/earth to a random spot.
* Teleport. Sorcs can teleport themselves within a certain radius.
* Dimension door. Sorcs can open a magical door which they can use, they target another player/npc.
* Have magical gateways/portals that enable players to move across huge spaces, like elf gates in FR.
* Mounts! Use mounts for fast walking. Magic carpets can be mounts to! Perhaps a player can be minotaur and carry players on his/her back
* Fly. Players can fly above the ground and move swiftly over water and other obstacles, providing a faster route.
* Levitate. Players can levitate above the ground to enable them to move with less fatigue over rocky/hilly landscape.
* Allow players to program macros/waypoints for speedwalking. In MUD for instance you can program a speedwalk 40n 10s 4e, perhaps you can use a similar system for graphical games, but use paces instead??
* Allow players to double click on a map, if the route is clear let them just move there direct, calculate the time it took. If they move through dangerous areas, or if there is a chance of being jumped by bandits, just roll a few dice and see if they make it or if they game must pause at the fighting scene before continuing.=)
The idea of having other party members perform certain tasks is nice, I believe you don''t actually have to have them do the actual walk there are workarounds to this.