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Into The Woods - Sylvan Survival


Alex Greene

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And so your adventure leads the Characters up to a vast bank of primal trees. They look at the pitch darkness beyond their sight, take a look at you, and decide to go around the trees. And you probably can't blame them. Line of sight reduced to a few yards; light levels practically at pitch blackness; and every sound they make probably carries for kilometres as if to tell every hungry predatory beast exactly where they are.

You don't need to make a forest haunted or demonic to make the environment terrifying. Mundane animals, humans, and natural features alone can pose challenges for the staunchest Adventurer, without bringing in weird magical monsters.

Terrain

Depending on how dense the woods are in the area (hex, if you're navigating through a woodland map hexcrawl), line of sight, visibility, light level, terrain hindrance, and cover might be affected.

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The only places where you are likely to encounter roads and paths, other than desire paths marked out by animals, are in Cultivated, Light, and Medium forested areas.

Terrain Hazards

Getting Lost  - A major hazard of travelling through unfamiliar territory is getting lost and losing your way. Before GPS apps on mobile phones, before even compasses, characters who get lost in the woods are likely to be doomed unless they can make those Navigation checks. If your Adventurer spots a landmark they are familiar with, the Navigation check becomes a lot easier; otherwise, it remains Difficult.

Unstable or Treacherous Terrain - Gopher holes, exposed tree roots, loose stones, and similar hazards can trip up moving Adventurers, damage the legs of steeds, and so on. The ground can be slippery, particularly after heavy rainfall. Wet clay soil provides problems with traction, reducing Speed considerably.

Other Hazards

Biological Hazards - Pollen may trigger allergies. Poisonous plants from nettles to poison ivy, poison oak and so on can also geerate adverse reactions (treat as an infection). Likewise, insect or other creature bites can have an adverse effect - depending on the creature, they may range from irritation to bloodloss, to more serious diseases such as malaria, or even just kill your Adventurers outright such as snake bites or black widow spider venom.

Falling Hazards - Tree branches breaking and falling, or even whole trees, can injure an Adventurer unwise enough to be walking underneath them.

Temperature Extremes - Temperatures in the forest can range from one extreme on the weather table to the other in the course of a single day. Use the Mythras Weather Table on page 85 as a guide. Exposure is deadly to the unprepared; and depending on the Adventurers' Locale and Survival skill checks in picking out a suitable spot to build a shelter, those Endurance checks to avoid exposure can range from Easy to Herculean.

Water - It is possible to die of thirst in a forest in the middle of a rain storm, if the Adventurer is untrained and incapable of collecting the water. There is also the danger of finding water which is undrinkable due to pollution, parasites, diseases, or even poisons from plants.

Fatigue - All that pushing through the undergrowth can leave an Adventurer too fatigued to push on.

Infections - A disease does not have to be something like necrotising fasciitis to be a danger. One of the hazards of the Amazon Ultra Marathon is the potential loss of a runner's toes through an infection as simple as trench foot. Untreated, gangrene can kill the Adventurer.

Rare Calamities - Limited visibility means that catastrophic events from fluke lightning strikes hitting trees within a few metres of the Adventurer (anything less than 10 metres is enough to stun an Adventurer, even without the risk of a burning, lightning-struck tree falling down on them), to dangerous landslides following heavy rainfalls (deadly whether you are standing on top of the ground as it gives way, and even deadlier if you are passing underneath). Other such rare events could include hail, a tornado cutting through the region or, if your forested area is close to sea level and near a beach, a tsunami.

Morale - Forests can be bleak places. Adventurers may need Willpower checks just to press on of a day, ranging from Standard all the way to Formidable.

Resources And Equipment

Adventurers need at least the following equipment to survive a journey through a forested environment of any length.

Water

Food

Knife

Shelter/ Shelter Building Equipment

First Aid Kit

Weatherproof Clothing / Raincoat

Signaling Device - A mirror or lantern can be a lifesaver.

Some means of making fire

Cordage or Rope

Surviving The Wild Wood

Life is hard enough for an Adventurer, without having to worry about encountering implausible magical beasts or uncivilised rural people trying to kill them with banjo music. An adventure scenario pitting the Adventurers' Locale, Navigation, Endurance, Brawn, Willpower, Survival, First Aid, and Track skills against the harsh terrain of an unfamiliar woodland area can provide a story as memorable to the party as any dungeon delve.

Edited by Alex Greene

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