23 December 2015

Forest Excursion - Daytime

 A year ago I took a hike over the family lands and took some pictures and recorded some notes in the interest of writing some D&D-related stuff from it. I went with my sister's dog, who tended to wander off on its own and back periodically, which was interesting from the perspective of "would there be an encounter if we weren't together" - i.e. at what point do I become aware of it.

Some of the photos are pretty hideous, but they're supposed to be illustrative and not artistic, and I'm sure the reader will understand. I also struggled with taking photos that really capture the nature and difficulties of the terrain; I experimented with panos, multi-tile fisheyes, and normal photos. I'm not sure which are most successful, if anyone has thoughts, I'd be interested to hear them. Keep in mind that in a 360° panorama, the right and left edge are pointing the same way. Things half an image width apart are 180° from each other.


Rained slightly night before, 12° C (54F), occasional faint breeze, overcast.


Moving carefully, investigating things, stopping for photos, etc., I averaged about 3kph along my route and about 2kph as the crow flies.

On my way back, I just went straight home, and averaged a little over 5kph, which is pretty close to my normal walking speed, but that only ended up being about 4kph as the crow flies.


The dog - about a 40lb ball of energy - was not nearly audible as much as I would have thought. It didn't seem windy at ground level, but the wind in the trees masks a lot of noise. With the dog at full gallop, I couldn't hear her past about 40-50 yards.

The narrow stream (not the larger one in the wetland photos) was audible at about 20 yards (we're talking about a foot across and maybe six inches deep).

Without carrying any gear, and without armour or pack, I quickly overheated and needed to shed my jacket, then my sweater, then my toque.

When the dog was around, she made it hard to listen. She was always moving and shifting about, rustling the leaves, and wasn't well-behaved enough to stop and be quiet. Horses don't make nearly as much noise in my experience.


Some on a good path, mostly moving across open forest. A bit of pushing through what I'd call "closed" forest, where movement and vision is seriously impeded by undergrowth and dense conifers or hawthorn/apple/other short/dense deciduous trees. A bit in the long grass around a large stream/seasonal wetland.

If this was a 1-mile hex, it would contain a farmhouse/barn, two notable wetlands (one of which I went to), a variety of open and closed forest, a large hill (didn't go to). If it was a six-mile hex, it would contain additionally several other scattered houses, another large hill, fields, more wetlands, and the nearby village.

Open forest

Description: Middle-aged deciduous, limited/no undergrowth, 100% dead leaf coverage (noisy), large spacing between trees (~10-20 ft). Movement easy in any direction typically, occasional thicket where some conifers were eking out an existence that could hide ambushes/spies. Occasional hidden muddy patches that look like normal ground but could easily ruin your day by sucking off a boot or wetting your socks. Also, would make a good ambush site - since you sink in with every step, running is almost impossible (moreso with a pack and armour).

Encounter Distance: 10-200 yards, ranging from when you're passing by a thicket, ridge or fold, to when you're on a hill or in a valley with good sightlines.

Gameable features: thicket (reduced visibility, ambush site, impedes movement), ridge (good view from top, more visible, blocks view), small stream (clean water), soft ground (movement impeded, running impossible, ambush site, wet feet)

Open Forest, 360° Pano (click for fullres). The open space in the centre of the photo is soft and wet - easy to lose a boot if they're loose. Hard to tell without stepping in it if you're not using a stick to check your way (I was).

Open Forest, 360° Pano. Ridge in centre, with a more closed conifer stand on it. Firm ground, easy travel. Can walk at same speed as on path.
A stream. If you're not familiar with the outdoors, or the area, it would be very easy for a thirsty traveler to never notice this stream. You can't hear it from more than 20-30 yards away, and it doesn't really look like much.

Closed Forest

Description: Dense conifers, low-lying hemlocks, balsams, etc. Visibility limited (sometimes only a few yards in any direction) and movement extremely slow. Impossible to move quietly, but very easy to hide if you're still. Easy to get scratched up if you're wearing short sleeves or light clothes.

I can't imagine crossing this kind of terrain with a horse/mule/donkey. I'm sure it's possible, but it certainly wouldn't be on its back.

Exists as thickets inside open forest.

Encounter distance: 5-150 yards. Encounters beyond 20 yards would be hearing something moving, but not being able to see it.

Gameable features: clearing (improved visibility within, possible campsite), chance of lost/damaged gear, attrition (hit points/flesh wounds for crossing), stream, large puddle (drinkable)
Have fun getting through there in your armour with a pack, weapons, bedroll, etc., and forget horses.

Closed forest thicket in surrounding open forest, crop of a fisheye. Jacket for scale. Perfect ambush site - if people come to fill their canteens in the stream at the bottom of the photo, they are vulnerable to missile fire from the top of the hill, while the assailants are protected to either side by dense growth, and straight on by the fallen tree and the treacherous, rocky ground. Charging up the hill against a few people with crossbows would be suicide.

Seasonal Wetland

Description: Grasses 3-4ft tall, could have hidden any number of enemies. Easy to stumble into a hole and get a soaker.

Stream forms core of wetland. Occasionally a serious obstacle if you want to stay dry (1-2 ft deep, 6ft across) when only twenty yards up or down stream it was easy to cross (either by fallen tree, or because it had broken up into numerous smaller streams). At times, broadens into a swamp-y/pond-y thing 100 yards across or more.

Boundary between forest/wetland characterized by bad footing, slippery rocks, difficult-to-see holes about a foot across full of water waiting to twist your ankle in. Can't see anything past the boundary from the wetland, can see out a little from the forest.

Encounter distance: 1-200 yards. Close encounters with things hidden in the long grass. Far encounters with things on the far boundary, or standing/walking in the grass.

Gameable features: dry crossing point (fallen tree, or simply where the stream narrows/splits), islands.

360° pano of wetland, stream portion. The stream isn't very deep, but that's not immediately obvious. It's about 100 yards to the far side (the stand of conifers about 1/4 in from the right). The wetland meanders for about a mile in both directions. The stream is easily crossable anywhere if you don't mind a soaker, and if you spend ten or fifteen minutes looking around, you can cross it safely without getting wet.

From about the same point as the previous pano, about ten or twenty yards from the edge. Can you spot my jacket hanging in a tree? It's just inside the forest, no more than fifty feet away, and yet it's almost invisible. The break in the grass in the bottom right is a little offshoot of the main stream.
360° pano. Pond/swamp portion of wetland. This is only a couple hundred yards east of the previous pano. Crossing at this point would require wading - probably up to your chest, but I've never tried. If you spend half an hour looking around, though, you'll discover it narrows to what you saw in the other photo just a little ways down. It gets less passable in the other direction (quite wide and deep, maybe 200 yards across, and probably at least six feet deep, if not more).

No comments:

Post a Comment