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Wilderness Survival

Discussion in 'Research' started by Queshire, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    I've got a new idea for a story, in essence it's Swiss Family Robinson meets Minecraft. A guy from modern day mundane earth gets stranded in the wilderness and needs to survive but complicating things is the presence of monsters, magic, ruins, etc. While the can help excuse things if I get them wrong, but..... just to be safe I figure some research into real life wilderness survival would help. This is where you guys come in seeing how the closest to a wilderness survival situation I've been in is a middle school field trip to a national park. The particular wilderness he needs to survive in is the classic high fantasy temperate biome. I would love any general tips or internet resource I could look at.
     
  2. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

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    I'm speaking from personal out in the wilderness (no civilization within at least a hundred miles and a gas station within that hundred miles isn't "civilization" wilderness) for two weeks with nothing but maps, food, water filtration/canisters, bedrolls, a knife, flint, and a flashlight kind of experience. Note: all said adventures take place in a higher altitude environment so if your characters are going around through lowland forests, this won't be the typical experience although you can draw some parallels.

    The three biggest things I would consider:

    -Food acquisition and food protection: Bears (or werebears or giant growth-ed flying bears or whatever) are really good at sniffing out easy food. How are you going to catch your food and how are you going to protect your food? I'd suggest a really good system of hanging food up some trees that are bear proof. I.e. nothing big enough the bear can climb but nothing small enough the bear can knock it over with a good swipe. Bears are smart. (One trip we lost a large portion of food because of improper hanging. The bears especially liked the Koolaid packets.)

    -water (or fluid) acquisition and purification: bears (again) don't really care where they *ahem* do their business, nor do fish or other animals. I presume the liquid most likely to be drunk would be water, but you'll have to put a lot of attention at gathering that resource. I'd also presume there'd be some kind of purification spell that your character could do off page, but just be aware that just because it's snow-melt doesn't mean it's clean. (Also, don't eat glaciers--even if it looks like an advert for "Nature's SnoCone". Just don't. I have. Not as "clean" as you'd suppose. Although if you wanted to build in some comedic relief, forgetting to do the water purification spell and having your characters come down with your world's equivalent of cholera or waterborne illness might be fun.)

    -Shelter: and more bears or lions or tigers (oh my!). How do you keep the local monsters from eating you in your sleep? A fire? Netting? Build a hut every night? Sleep in the trees? Dig a hole and cover it with fallen branches?

    I'd also consider lesser things like disease protection (are there rampant diseases like Sleeping Sickness, or Lyme Disease, etc?). How would your character do wound care if he got bit by a poisonous snake/spider/orc? Does your character instinctively avoid things that look like poisonous animals/plants from his world and it works or are the innocuous looking things poisoned on this new world?

    I think a big thing to consider from the ground up is how much knowledge is this guy going to need to survive in this new environment? Can he make assumptions about how our world works and draw parallels to how this new world must work and thus make it to chapter 2 alive? Does he get a knowledgable guide fairly early on, or fall into a party of adventurers?

    I hope any of that is helpful! This should be a fun story, once you get this kind of thing worked out.
     
  3. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

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    Primary survival skills demand doing things in a pretty set order, shelter and water come first. Find the water source, then find a shelter location. I found this site on primitive fire making skills that you might find helpful. 7 Methods of Primitive Fire Starting

    Here is a link to basic water sources. HowStuffWorks "Purifying Water" For your Golem I'd think Hot rocks would be easiest. Rocks heated in a fire can be dropped into a container of water to make it safer to drink. A simple sand filter would be easy enough for him to make via digging a hole in the sandy bank of a stream and allowing nature to do its thing.

    As far as shelter, I've no idea what a golem would do, are they subject to being attacked by predators?
    You can write anything so long as you have set the rules well in advance, but readers can only take suspending reality so far. The basic laws of science still apply to some extent even in fiction.

    I hope that helps you some. Good luck.
    ~B.L.~
     
  4. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

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    Finding a source of water & water purification is the number one survival issue. The body can go for weeks without food but just a few days without water and you'll suffer serious deficiencies.

    There's a ton of information available on survival techniques...videos on YouTube, TV shows, books, etc. Recently, bushcraft has gotten popular. There are even schools dedicated to teaching wilderness survival where students go primitive for weeks at a time...a few folks go for a couple years. Forget his name but there's a guy who lived 2 years in the deep woods with nothing more than a knife. It's documented on YouTube I believe.

    If you want this to feel real for your reader, expose yourself to some of the techniques. I'm not suggesting you try going without food and water or anything dangerous. But, you can try to start a fire with steel and flint...better yet, make a bow drill and see if you can get a fire started. It's not easy. Just that exercise alone will give you a good idea of the difficulties your character will face.

    Either way, the good news is your research topic has a lot of information available.
     
  5. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Watch Survivorman on Netflix. It's entertaining and very educational. If you want to watch Man vs Wild with Bear Grylls, my advice is to watch it only to learn what NOT to do. I don't doubt that Bear Grylls could survive on his own in the woods but almost everything he does on the show is asinine and completely against the advice of experts. Dual Survival is also good but can be a bit needlessly dramatic.

    Also, if you have any military bases near where you live they probably have civilian survival trainers on the payroll. These people sometimes have websites and even offer classes. It's worth checking out, even if you only want to interview them and not actually attend the class.

    Not to take away from what others have said before but there are four things you need in a survival situation and they should be pursued in a certain order: Shelter, Fire, Water and then Food. Water may be necessary within 2 days or so but without shelter you can be killed by the weather or a predator in hours or even minutes. Fire goes hand in hand with shelter and keeps you warm and predators at bay. It also serves to purify any water you find later, if you have or can make a container to boil it in. All that being said, the most useful item in a survival situation is a good quality blade. With skill and luck, you could survive with that alone.

    I did a presentation on this after a lot of research and would be happy to send my files your way.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
    Ireth likes this.
  6. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

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    Dual survival is an awesome show. I like the new guy! Cody was a whinny little putz. If I'd been stuck in the wilds with that man I think I'd FORCE a bear to eat me. The man has skills, but... GI Joe is a nice blend of both worlds.
     
  7. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Since I only have Netflix I didn't know they'd replaced Cody. He is where most of the needless drama came from. I look forward to seeing his replacement.
     
  8. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

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    His name is Matt something or other. He's a primitive skills expert. Graham I think is the last name. Cool cat, but he thinks the trees are "sexy" LOL
     
  9. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Here's a superb source of information for writing thrillers. It's more about guns and police work than swordplay, but plenty of survival tips too: Fiona Quinn's ThrillWriting: Saving Your Heroine
     
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  10. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Besides Survivorman, Man vs. Wild, and other survival shows, you can find a lot of survival information here: Online Army Study Guide - Survival | ArmyStudyGuide.com

    I remember posting this a long time ago, but it's probably lost on the forums at this point. The last one was better, I'll keep searching for my last link.
     
  11. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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  12. Tirjasdyn

    Tirjasdyn Scribe

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    Something to keep in mind which no one mentions...what type of wilderness will they be surviving in? The guy in Into the Wild died because he trained to survive in the Badlands and tried to apply that to the Alaskan Mountains.

    Will it be desert? Mountains? Mountainous desert? Tropical? Etc. One does not translate to the other in terms of finding food, water and fighting off predators.

    Surviorman is great because it is setting based and has some really practical advise. He's willing to show you an unlivable situation.

    Man vs Wild is COMPLETE bunk and will get you killed or at the very least VERY SICK. He's just doing things to get ratings and most of what he does is just for that. Hell, he gets sick in the second show because he makes the tourist mistake and drinks from a "clear mountain stream". Good thing he was airlifted to a hotel every night.

    I grew up above 10,000 feet and could live in the Rockies for a while without help. I spent a lot of time in the Southwestern deserts of the US and could live there for bit if I needed to. I would die in the Pine Barrens because I have no idea what to look for.
     
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