Survivalist Gaming – Water water Everywhere…

…and not a drop to drink. In real life survival situations, securing an adequate supply of water is perhaps *the* most important consideration (sometimes eclipsed by the need for shelter depending on environment). You can live around a month or so without food (with some steep drop offs in functionality throughout that time), but water you get at most a week and that’s in a perfect climate without needing to exert yourself aka not the reality for real life people in survival situations and/or characters in a game.

So let’s discuss how an increased focus on the realities of water can improve your role playing game.

Survivalist Gaming: The Survival Skill

Like most skills in modern role playing games, ‘survival’ is something of a catch-all (though not so much as that most rolled skill in Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons 5e – Perception). This is totally fair; too much granularity gets in the way of fun. Basically, the ‘survival’ skill (in conjunction with perhaps ‘knowledge nature’) is utilized for doing ‘outdoorsy’ stuff; tracking, avoiding the worst effects of inclement weather, and whatever. More often than not, someone should have it to track the bad-guy through the forest, but other than that it won’t come up.

Which is too bad, because a character skilled in Survival would be able to do amazing and interesting things.

So what should the survival skill actually cover? How can players (and GMs) make better, more interesting use of it?

Survivalist Gaming: Fantasy Go-Bag

*Note: While I won’t be system specific in this article, what I most commonly play is Pathfinder so you’ll find most of the suggestions drifting in that direction. If you have suggestions, tweaks, or alternate items for your particular flavor of Dungeons and Dragons, Savage Worlds, Torchbearer et al please mention them in the comments!*

The Bug-out Bag (most commonly referred to as a BOB, also sometimes go-bag, and a 1000 other names) is a staple of survivalist preparation. The concept is simple. In order to get through a slight disruption (earthquake), evacuate an area, or get to more permanent shelter you want to have 72 hours of supplies in a portable form (usually backpack). There’s lots of debate about the best contents for a real world bug out bag (because survivalists *love* obsessing about gear) but if you’re interested in one for yourself the red cross has a handy intro article (basically, food, water, first aid kit, extra walking shoes, knife, flashlight are the absolute essentials in my mind).

But what would go into a fantasy game BOB? Learn more after the jump.

Survivalist Gaming: Dungeons as Fantasy Fallout Shelters

There are as many kinds of dungeons as there are monsters: living dungeons, conquered dungeons, ruined places, and many more. But dungeons work best when they have a plausible reason for their existence. If it has living inhabitants, there needs to be a way for food to get in and out; and a reason for its inhabitants to be there in the first place. I want to discuss a underutilized kind of dungeon for your next fantasy game; a dungeon that was designed to serve the same purpose as fallout shelter during the cold war.

During the cold war and the subsequent rise of fears of nuclear war lots of people and organizations began the grim task of building fallout shelters

Survivalist Gaming: What is Survivalist Gaming?

My name is John, I write as J.M. Perkins, and I spent a lot of my childhood preparing for the end of the world and how our family was going to survive it. (My parents were evangelical post-tribulation biblical literalists if that means anything to you.) I’m also a huge geek, fairly experienced gamer and game designer, and my survivalist background comes up a lot in the games I play and how I choose to play them. On Tribality, I’ll be producing a column about survivalist gaming and I need your input to make it great.

What is Survivalist Gaming?

Lots of RPGs setting are based after an apocalypse