Friday, June 22, 2012

Cooks Illustrated August 2012 Number 117


"The route is a series of twists and turns and requires a sharp memory. The problem was, as soon as we got high up, we found that loggers had clear-cut the mountaintop and the landscape appeared ragged and unfamiliar. After leading our horses trough a large field of felled tress and swamp, I set out searching for the way forward. At one point, I got within a few yards of the trail but turned back, thinking it was a dead end. Eventually, we trotted home, disappointed and bone tired." The editorial by Christopher Kimball.

When I read that bit in the new Cook's Illustrated, I had to share. You see, in the dreaded 'real world', someone I know recently suffered a terrible loss of a loved one in the woods. The police were unable to find the loved one but a search party did and not that far from where the police, with dogs were searching.

When taken out of the familiar, well, EVERYTHING is different. Directions no longer matter. West and near west and landmarks and old familiar terrain are gone.

Even a quick travel through the woods can turn into something disastrous and its not something that springs from fiction or fantasy but the fact that outside a certain comfort zone, those who are not trained in specific wilderness survival skill survive only through those who have it.

If dealing with some 'city folk' style players, have their caravan ambushed or destroyed in the deep woods and see how long the players can survive.

Mind you, this only works if you're going for a change of pace. If you're running a dark and gritty campaign like the old Fantasy Flight Midnight Setting, well, its an easy standard to abuse. "Make an Endurance check! You're freezing to death!" It's a good way to showcase how a setting is different, how its more dangerous, how it doesn't follow the standards, but if your idea of adding atmosphere is making skill checks and ability score checks and saving throws versus the elements without any of the drama that goes with them, we'll, we're roleplaying differently.

Christopher then suggests the Searcher and Lonesome Dove, so I think I'm off to see what Netflix has to say about these movies.