Stay tuned! I want to shed a little light on what an author goes through when they submit a story for publication. I'm going to add a page to the website that will track all the stories I have out for consideration, how long they've been there, and how many times they were rejected until (hopefully) being picked up. I'll let everyone know when the page is live. Until then, go write!
I just recently moved. There was seven years of accumulated shit at my old house. Before we moved, I put a bunch of that shit into storage so we could "stage" our old house. It had to be de-cluttered and spruced up to look appealing. I ended up filling a 10x15 storage unit full of stuff. I haven't missed anything I put in there yet. That tells me one thing -- I don't need it.
Why do we collect things? Nostalgia? Memory? Do I really need all of it? Who knows, but this brings me to the topic of my post. Bug-out bags. The same thing that I encountered with moving, I've found with my bug-out bag. Too much stuff. I think my bag weighs over 50 pounds. I packed it to the brim with things I thought I would need. Too much shit.
A bug-out bag should contain necessary items needed to get from point A to point B in a survival or disaster situation. What's necessary you ask? It depends on your climate, but some things are universal. Food, water, fire, knife, container, warmth and cordage. With these basic items, the know-how, and the will to survive, you're well on your way to getting out of dodge a little better off.
I already posted about knives in an earlier blog post, so I won't get into too much detail here. Just make sure it is a quality cutting tool. The container will be used to hold water. I would suggest you carry one of those aluminum or steel bottles, that way you can purify water through fire. It wouldn't hurt to carry some purification tablets as well. Any food you carry should contain the necessary proteins and carbs to get you through the day, but not bog down your bag. Trail mix, power bars and the like are excellent choices. Freeze dried food is nice because it's light, but keep in mind it will take water to process. As for fire, I would recommend a lighter, matches, and a blast match/magnesium match. Three different ways to make flame triples the chances of you getting a fire going which will provide the warmth and means to purify water if needed. Warmth also means clothing -- put a change of underwear and socks in the bag, you'll thank me later. If you live in a cold place, a jacket or sweater is a must as well, just use common sense.
Other nice items could be a first aid kit, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, emergency radio, light, blanket, etc. You can see how this can get out of hand quickly. Keep it light. It shouldn't be more than 20% of your body weight. Assume that you're going to packing this bag around all day long on your feet. Do you think you can do it and not get worn out after an hour? If not, reconsider what's in there.
I keep a small get-home bag in my car that is a miniature version of my bug-out bag. It's meant to get me home in the event of an emergency. It will also come in handy if I get stuck out on the road. Look what happened to those drivers in the UK who were stuck overnight on the highway due to snow.
Ideally, have a place to go if the shit hits the fan. Use your bug-out bag to get you there. If need be, have some geo-cache spots along your route filled with essentials to restock your bag. Finally, test your bag out. Take it out for a weekend in the woods and see if it is going to work. Better to work the bugs out before the emergency happens.
Ever ran a table-top game and rolled the dice in combat only to see a natural critical show up? Generally that's a good thing, not for the players of course, but it can provide some entertainment nonetheless. However, there have been many times that I've had that roll show up, a roll that would have killed the player, and I lied or reduced the number of damage taken.
I'm not above killing my players, in fact I think it's part of a healthy game and helps bring focus back. Nothing gets a player's attention like the words, "You're dead." Disbelief always follows and it takes me a couple times of explaining what just happened before the reality sinks in. Yet, in my games, I seek to provide entertainment above all else. There's a time for killing, and there's a time for story. Generally, story takes charge and the players get a few miracles tossed their way.
Just like with writing, I think running a table-top game is entertainment. As the DM/GM, it's my job to make things fun. If I had players dropping like flies, it wouldn't be fun for anyone and I'd lose people wanting to play. So I see no problem fudging the dice-roll to make things move the way I want to.
Yet on the flip-side, I have never, nor will I ever fudge or lie about a roll that would cause a player to die. It all goes back to the entertainment and fun aspect. Oh there's been plenty of times that I've sat in disbelief that nobody died, but it just adds to the fun.
Remember, if it isn't fun, do something else. This applies to almost everything.
C.R. Langille writes horror, fantasy, urban-fantasy, dark fantasy, and is considering stepping into the sci-fi realm. He has a grasp of survival techniques, and has been a table-top gamer for over 16 years.