Field Craft

1985 05 wilderness survival 01 basic shelter 550p jpg.jpg


Credit: Squirrel

Surviving in the wild is a difficult task. One must make use of what little materials they have to stay alive for as long as they can, evading predators and ambushes, gathering resources, protecting oneself from all dangers. Whether travelling with professional equipment or relying on naught but the world around them to provide the materials they need, whether in temperate forests or the barren sands of the Hotlands, as an individual or as part of a group, during the day or the night, it is Fieldcraft that they turn to. Given the extensive reach of the skill, it leans heavily on the knowledges that the user builds up over time and association with their particular needs of the skill, in order to determine what it may be used for. Users who spend too much time in one particular environment may find it difficult to suddenly switch to another, even at higher levels. After all, knowing all the characteristics of poisonous plants of Ivorian will not carry across to Ne'haer.

Whether stranded in the wilderness or simply making a small trek through uncivilized territory, there are always priorities to be kept.

The first priority is always food. Existing food parcels can be packaged in different thicknesses of cloth to preserve them for as long as possible, occasionally using other techniques such as salting, smoking, drying and pickling when possible. In the event of a food shortage, in forests, scavenging for non-poisonous berries and tracking down small woodland creatures can supplement meals; although, when cooking animals and collecting foodstuffs, they might never be able to match that of a chef in his kitchen - that same chef will struggle to find which ingredients in the natural wilderness will sustain his body for as long as physically possible. In desert environments, where food is much more scarse, one may be able to prey on spiders and scorpions, as well as potentially tracking down non-venomous snakes to catch and eat. At high altitudes, hunting down deer or even tracking birds may become a necessity. In both frozen and oceanic conditions, one may learn how to find the thinnest portion of ice and then fish for food, as all other sustainable sources will most likely be extinguished. When food supplies run low, the more experienced practicioners will be able to comfortably ration out what little they have, making small amounts of food last considerably longer than normal.

The second most important resource is water, often found using small streams in more bountiful environments, or in scarse conditions it can be found by creating makeshift spriggots to use on nearby trees or other water-holding plants, or found via underground resevoirs. Those of higher levels will learn how to create their own waterskins from what they have available, whether it be water-proof leaves stitched together, or the waterproof internal organs of a small animal. Management of water and rationing will quickly follow to make small volumes of water last days, even weeks when necessary.

Third, shelter. Those of lower levels will most likely make use of what the environment gives them and little more than that - hiding out in caves or inside hollowed-out logs. As level increases, hand-made shelters created from leaves, rocks, branches or snow will become more preferable, and in the higher levels, the complexity of the shelters they will be able to make, becoming sturdier and more resistant to the elements of rain and wind, eventually becoming able to shield their creators from even climactic conditions such as extreme heat and extreme cold. The more sturdy and compact the shelter, the longer it will be able to last, allowing users to potentially set up permanent domiciles in the wild. These shelters will not only protect from the elements, but also from predators or ambushes from human attackers. After all, nobody is ever alone when they're in the wild.

Protection is a more miscellaneous priority compared to the first three, but by no means is it any less important. It covers the general knowledges that ultimately move towards protecting those of lower and higher levels from injuries and illnesses that could otherwise be avoided by the more experienced practitioner. This can range anywhere from choosing appropriate clothes and footwear to different methods on staying warm and hydrated, to treating injuries and illnesses associated with the outdoors. From hazardous plants, to insect bites and stings, to animal bites and wounds, even those of higher experience will make mistakes that could be deadly for those less invested in healing these minor cuts and infections before they spread and turn septic. Shelter can often play an important role in protecting the user, but by no means is it a complete supplement.

Surveying is a lesser form of navigation that focuses on creating a spacial awareness of a given area using landmarks to determine one's relative whereabouts, as well as searching through the finer details of the user's surroundings. Food, water and shelter are often out of sight and far from the reach of those that seek them. Finding water might be as easy as tracking around a stagnant lake until the fresh stream that feeds it is found - or it might take breaks to follow the clues of damp rocks and weathered soil until the nearby stream is found that caused it. This is not a priority, mostly because it is not always needed - although there are those who become stranded without a map nor the directions to find their way to either their home or their destination, there are those who make their home in the wilderness and never find a need to escape. By surveying, not only can those of a higher level understand where the nearest food, water and shelter might be, but also the nature of their surroundings, the types of animals and plants that surround them and, to those of even greater experience, where they are and in what direction they can find civilization. Using special landmarks and knowledge of their surroundings, including anything from the different variations of rocks and trees, to the animals that they find and specific rock formations, surveying is a trick that is often used in collaboration with other relevant skills to build up a mental map of their surroundings.

Skill Ranks

Novice (0-25)

After spending some time in the wild, they has begun to learn small, in most cases insignificant tricks to coping by themselves. It is at this stage that they will begin learning ways of building a fire, and how to track large animals by their footprints. They will still require a substantial supply of food and water, along with all other necessary survival gear whenever they travel, however they will now be able to supplement it in small ways, by occasionally catching water from streams or feeding from insects along the way. Thanks to what little knowledge they have, they are less likely to be attacked by wild animals, although it is still a threat.

Competent (26-75)

At this stage, for short periods of time travelling between cities, this person will be able to provide for themselves. It may not be comfortable, but as long as they carry their own supply of survivalist gear including tents and waterskins, they'll be able to survive. Food and water, while scarse, is still obtainable.. and when necessary, they can supplement their shelter with something more sturdy, should the environment provide it.

Expert (76-150)

By now, this person can not only provide for themselves and their own safety, but up to three others accompanying them will also be able to benefit from their abilities. Their man-made shelters will last longer and will be on equal footing in terms of protection and durability with those that can be bought, and many who reach this stage become wilderness survival guides for others.

Master (151-250)

If they so wished, these people could leave civilization and never come back, living very comfortably in the wild for the remainder of their lives. Most do, simply because they've spent so long beyond the reaches of civilization that it's almost a second home. There is nowhere in the world these people cannot live in and they require absolutely nothing to do so. Their tracking skills allow them to follow animals from tracks left weeks ago and they can comfortably provide for several others on their journeys, should they so wish.