Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Heart of Ice versus The Fabled Lands (Outdoor Survival)

Returning yet again to our Frozen Lands mash-up…

4. Outdoor Survival. Another aspect of the Fabled Lands that is under-utilized in the interests of speedier gameplay and less book-keeping, is that of supplies and provisions. In fact, one of the few places where rules for this are provided is on the Great Steppes between the Spine of Harkun and the Peaks at the Edge of the World. Here, in the colder northern parts of the steppes, we find the following applicable rules:

The sun is sucked below the horizon, casting its wan rays across the flat and desolate steppes. You camp for the night. If you have a wolf pelt, the fur helps to keep you warm. If you do not, lost 1 Stamina from the cold.
You need to hunt for food. Make a SCOUTING roll at Difficulty 11. If you succeed, you find a wild hare to eat. If you fail, you go hungry and must lose 1 Stamina point. (Morris & Thomson, 1995, paragraph 666)

This is comparatively tame however, compared to the merciless conditions of the Saharan Ice Wastes, and presumably much of the territory that lies between the far-flung cities of Heart of Ice. At this point, we discover the perils of the weather are such that:
If you lack both a fur cloak and cold-weather clothing, lose 4 Life Points. If you possess either of those items, lose only 2 Life Points. (Lose 1 less Life Point if you have Survival, and 1 less if you possess a burrek.) (Morris, 1994, paragraph 426)

In addition, all travellers on the wastes need polarized goggles or they will suffer snow blindness (for effects, see Morris, 1994, paragraph 13). The food situation is such that 2 food packs must be consumed per location, or suffer 1 Life Point loss if you have 1 food pack and 4 Life Points loss for none, reduced to 3 if you have Survival, and reduced by 2 if you have a burrek, which you can slaughter (Morris, 1994, paragraph 444). (More on burreks later!)

Previously, Morris and Johnson (1987, paragraph 422) had provided rules for crossing the frozen expanse of the Mistral Sea, in The Kingdom of Wyrd, which make for an interesting comparison. Here, you lose 5 Endurance points for each day on the ice, with the following modifiers:

        One less point lost each day if you have a fur cloak.
        One less point lost each day if you have rations to eat.
        One less point lost each day if you have a bedroll.
        One less point lost each day if you have a brazier.
Also, if you do not have gloves, you suffer frostbite and lose 1 point of Fighting Prowess for the rest of the adventure.

A consideration of all of these sources has led to the creation of the following summary for outdoor survival in the Frozen Lands. As per the Fabled Lands series, this sequence would be included for every location that would be designated an Ice Waste (i.e. not ruins, an oasis (poisoned or otherwise), or the lands around the Lyonesse Swamps), usually after rolling for and resolving random encounters.

Outdoor Survival in the Frozen Lands
- After you enter the wastes, there’s an item check to see if you have polarized goggles. If not, you waste 1 day dealing with snow blindness.
- Lose 2 Stamina points each day/location. Reduce this by one if you have a burrek/camel or cold-weather clothing.

- Need to eat 1 food pack per day/location or make a SURVIVAL roll at Difficulty 11 to find some food. Lose 2 Stamina points if you have no food. If you are desperate, you can slaughter your burrek/camel to counter this.

I’ve tried to mix and match here, and create something simple but effective. Wilderness travel should be difficult, but not too punishing for the well-equipped, as they head out into the wastes to trade, explore, hunt, and just wander about aimlessly…

In the next post I will explain the wonder that is the oft-mentioned burrek, and look at adding pack-animals, steeds and transport rules to the Frozen Lands milieu!


Morris, D. (1994). Heart of Ice. London: Mammoth.

Morris, D. & Johnson, O. (1987). The Kingdom of Wyrd. London: Knight Books.

Morris, D. & Thomson, J. (1995). Fabled Lands: The Plains of Howling Darkness. London: Macmillan.

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