Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Outdoor Survival!

As a little, early Christmas gift to myself, I bought a copy of Avalon Hill's Outdoor Survival board game. For those not in the know, Gary suggested using the Outdoor Survival board as a map for the overland environs in a D&D campaign. If it worked in 1974, I think it'll work just fine now.

The game board is going to serve as the regional map for my Keep on the Borderlands sandbox game. Here are my impressions of the map so far:

  • It's a mounted gameboard, making it more durable and giving it a nice, solid feel. As a physical artifact, I like the heft of it. It'll just feel nice to lay it down on the table and ask the PCs where they want to go.
  • It has plenty of mountains, swamps, forests, and other nooks to explore. It looks like a wilderness ready for exploration.
  • It lacks an obvious scale, so it's easy to simply treat the hexes as huge regions or tiny bits of wilderness. There aren't any huge bodies of water, so any map that needs oceans or seas is right out, but otherwise it's flexible.
  • The map comes in three pieces. I would've preferred one big map.
  • There are 10 cabins scattered about the map. Most of them are on the center map piece. They might be a distraction if you choose to ignore them. Otherwise, that's 10 places (ruins? settlements?) that the map imposes on you. I don't mind it so much, but it could prove a bit restrictive.
  • There are deer icons all over the map, presumably markers for the Outdoor Survival game. They're a little distracting.
  • There's a lot of blank plains on the map. I'd prefer more mountains and forests.
  • The hexes aren't numbered. Either I'll to number them myself (and mark up my precious map!) or make a smaller, reference copy of the map in my notes. This is easily the biggest drawback, IMO. I think I'll sketch a copy in my notebook, but it would've been nice to use hex reference numbers instead.
Still, overall I'm happy I dropped the money on a piece (albeit a tangential one) of D&D lore. I'm excited to run a sandbox game in 4e. The game's design makes it perfect for that style of campaign. 4e's emphasis on a structure - the standardized math, spread of monster level vs. PC level, and treasure independent of encounter type - make it easy to throw together a lot of material quickly and to build the world on the fly.


Xeveninti said...

Will you be using Stronghold Builder's Guidebook for when your players want to build a place to keep their stuff, house their henchmen, and rule their fiefdom? I've been thinking that most of the rules from that 3.0e book could still be used in 4e.

LesInk said...


Someone took a picture of the map at if that'll help you. There is an even larger picture if you log in. You can probably just clip the picture and use it in your notes.

Also, you might want to setup a strip of papers with numbers/letters on the edges of the map to help identify where the players are (kind of a A10 locator).

Mike Mearls said...

LesInk: Thanks for the pointer! I'll have to use that image as my behind the screen reference.

M.gunnerQuist: I might use it, depending on the direction the game goes. I'm intentionally focused on keeping things open, to let the players dictate how the various alliances and feuds in the region play out.

Robert Conley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Conley said...

Here I hope this version helps.

note that it should be 5 miles per hex not three.

Note that the path of trying to get permission to use this commercially lead to me working with Goodman Games in releasing Points of Lights #1. (With a #2 on the way in the spring.)

Mike Mearls said...

Hey Rob!

Thanks for the link. That will definitely help!

Robert Conley said...

I forgot to add

The squares (cabins) are towns
The circles (ponds) are keeps
The diamonds (deers) are lairs (or liars as preferred)

Robert Conley said...

One further note:

The deers as lairs is my own invention.

The ponds as castles and Cabins as towns are per page 15 of Vol III of OD&D.

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