The Revenant – Wilderness Campaign Inspiration

untitledI saw The Revenant today, which is a great film.  However, this post isn’t really a review of the movie.  Rather, the whole time I was watching the movie, I kept thinking “this is what a D&D wilderness hex crawl should be like.”

Replace the natives with orcs and goblins.  Replace beaver trapping with treasure hunting.  Replace bear attacks with owlbear attacks.  Place everything in the howling wilderness, weeks or even months away from anything remotely resembling civilization.  And give the players actual wilderness hazards to contend with: blizzards, rain storms, floods and the like.

I’m sure the old school grognards have probably been doing this all along, but I noticed in the hexcrawl games I’ve played (particularly Pathfinder), the grit of the wilderness seems to be missing.  Certainly, high level play takes a great deal of the sting out of the wilderness, what with teleportation and instantly summoned magic huts, and all that.  But even at lower levels, one rarely gets the sense of the isolation and majesty of the wide open wilderness.  Anyways, it’s something to think about for the next campaign.

If you’re looking for good inspiration for subjecting your PCs to starvation and exposure, The Revenant is a good place to start.  Cheers.

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4 Responses to “The Revenant – Wilderness Campaign Inspiration”

  1. Tiorn Says:

    Works well for PFBB. No one should ever be high enough level to cast travel spells, therefore there should not be any magic items to allow it either. But the PFBB books let slip with some magic items that shouldn’t exist in that format (mainly +2 weapons and armor when it takes a 6th level caster to make them). Any magic item that requires spells higher than a 5th level caster is able to should be considered artifacts of a lost era at best. Or excluded from the game entirely.

    One of the guys on Gnome Stew suggested making out a game calendar with day-to-day weather for up to a year. Heavy rains for awhile, as an example, should allow you to know when the potential for floods is great. Your players won’t have a clue though, so if they pick the wrong time to go for a hike in the woods, oh well. 🙂

    I’ve been bouncing around a campaign idea in my head for awhile. I haven’t made out a day-to-day calendar yet, but I’ve already determined that its going to be rain season for the region and those rains can be monsoons at times. Also, I’ve decided that the climactic point of the campaign will be taking place during a hurricane that has moved inland. I’ll be putting together a ‘quick’ pre-encounter table as well… allowing encounters to be with a environmental hazard instead of a monster. Maybe allow for both a hazard AND monster as well, to go along with whatever weather there will be that day. 😀

    • EdOWar Says:

      Good point about the PFBB, though I think it has looted scrolls of teleportation. But even so, those should be rare enough that you’d only use them for emergencies, not to pop back to town every night to sleep in a warm bed.

      I really like the idea of a weather calendar. I’ve been thinking about setting up a more detailed calendar for my next game. Adding weather for each day wouldn’t be that hard, provided the campaign is set in a relatively small geographic area.

      I also like the idea of environmental encounters. Now, mixing them with monsters. Well, I’m not saying it should be a Sharknado, but….Sharknado? 🙂

      • Tiorn Says:

        Throwing a sharknado at the players would be kinda hilarious. But, of course, that wasn’t what I was meaning. I was meaning more along the lines of… the PCs finally facing off with the Big Bad Guy… at Mount Doom… which is an erupting volcano! Lava flowing all over the place, ash heavy in the overheated air, debris being blown around. Just as an example anyhow. Like, I mentioned a hurricane as well… there would be tornados formed, high winds of course, debris flying around, potential flooding, etc. PCs vs BBG/monsters vs a hostile environment. Even throwing in quicksand in some appropriate environments. The books talk about the environmental hazards such as quicksand and forest fires, but it seems like those just get lost in encounter building. Hell, I’d put a planned forest fire on a weather calendar if I thought it was fitting! 🙂

        I ran one encounter awhile back inside a Temple of Elemental Fire. I kept it simple with two lava pits in a large room before a Fire Elemental and one or two other fire-related elementals entered the encounter.

        The first thing I did on my calendar work was determine seasonal rain patterns. The heaviest rains are roughly organized like the jet stream and shift north and south of the equator to the tropical lines (Cancer and Capricorn) through out the year. I repeated the same thing in the north and south for the heaviest snow patterns. With this info, I know when its most likely to rain at the equator or be dry. I also know when the snows are pushing towards the temperate areas. I decided that these were just for the heaviest rains and snows. Lighter amounts could still push outside the pathways I made.

        The core rulebook has weather tables to roll on for a day to day basis. Most of the table results is based on ‘typical’ weather for that region. So, now that I know if its rain season at the equator and I get a ‘typical’ result, its going to rain! At least for a good part of the day anyhow. I haven’t even started on the weather table yet, to see if I need to do any tweaking to it or not. Once I have that done though, I can generate the day-to-day/month-to-month weather as I please, whether its tropical, temperate, or arctic. 😀

      • EdOWar Says:

        I figured you weren’t going to throw something like a sharknado at your players…it just popped into my head when I read your last post.

        However, a show down with the BBEG on an erupting volcano during a hurricane does sound pretty epic.

        I like your ideas for building the weather calendar. I’ll have to remember them for when I’m ready to build one.

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