It’s the sailor’s oldest fear, with stories of desert islands, savage natives, and terrifying monsters haunting sailors’ imaginations as they sit up late, telling stories over a mug of grog or to help them stay awake on the late watch. Yet fortunately for the player characters, they won’t have to face the terror alone.
The following article contains a basic overview of how to survive and prosper in your new situation.
The following rules are tailored to assist you while stranded and lost in the distant wilderness.
Food and Water
A Medium creature requires a gallon of water and a pound of decent food each day to avoid starvation — in hot climates (such as the tropical climate of Smuggler’s Shiv), characters need twice as much water each day. Small creatures require half the amount of food and water that Medium creatures do, while Large creatures require twice as much.
Of course, certain spells can vastly ease the search for food and water. Create water produces 2 gallons of water per casting—since this cantrip is usable at will, a character with this ability effectively removes the worry about drinking water. Similarly, purify food and drink effectively removes the need for water if you have access to the ocean.
Food is a tougher problem to solve. If there’s no magic available to feed and provide water for the stranded passengers, you’ll need to rely instead on Survival skill checks. The island is relatively hospitable when it comes to game and fresh water, and 4 hours of hunting and foraging allow a character to attempt a Survival check.
Shelter is important on Smuggler’s Shiv, if only to give you a place to rest and recover your strength after a day of hunting, exploring, or adventuring. There are two environmental effects on Smuggler’s Shiv that shelter can help protect against — disease and heat.
- Disease: Smuggler’s Shiv is rife with biting flies, mosquitoes, gnats, ants, and other pests—many of which carry disease. Sleeping in a shelter reduces the chance of exposure to any disease.
- Heat: The Jenivere shipwreck occured during the height of summer, and despite frequent rainfall, the days can become very hot for 3 hours from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. You can avoid having to make Fortitude saving throws against the heat’s effects by spending those hours in shade or shelter and not taking part in strenuous activity — but even one combat is enough to trigger a Fortitude save for hot conditions. Keep in mind the penalty for wearing armor in tropical environments.
Establishing a Base Camp
Creating a safe camp to sleep, eat, and relax in can make the difference between survival and death. A base camp needs to be located in a safe and stable location, and must adequately provide for shelter from the environment and protection against wildlife. Once a campsite is established, it provides a safe place to rest out of the relentless heat of the sun, while the shelter and smoke from a campfire helps to ward off insects (reducing the chance of being exposed to disease).
There are five roles that survivors can take up as part of their daily duties to further enhance the effects of a campsite, as detailed below. In order to fill one of these roles, the character must spend the entire day pursuing the role.
- Defender: A defender works to set traps, shore up a shelter’s walls, and see to the safety of the campsite.
- Entertainer: An entertainer helps to raise hopes for rescue and has the potential to raise morale (see below).
- Guard: Guards reduce the chance of a wandering monster attacking the camp during the day or night.
- Hunter: Each hunter provides enough food and water for up to eight survivors per day.
- Medic: Each medic reduces the chance of being exposed to disease and increases natural healing during a night’s rest in the camp.
The Other Castaways
You aren’t the only one stranded on the island, other people survived the wreck of the Jenivere and are stranded on the island with you. It’s in your best interest to keep them from an untimely end during this adventure.
Each castaway has an initial attitude toward your group. You can attempt a Diplomacy check to adjust a given castaway’s attitude beyond this initial attitude once per day (roleplaying may be required). One of these castaways may hold the secret to getting off this island.
How the castaways act and relate to you depends on their current attitude, as outlined below.
- Hostile: The person may take a foolish or aggressive action that can cause problems for the rest of the castaways.
- Unfriendly: The person is standoffish and unfriendly and unlikely to help with others efforts.
- Indifferent: The person is willing to cooperate in activities directly related to survival.
- Friendly: The person is likely to volunteer helpful information and may venture out with the group.
- Helpful: The person will be willing to help in all activities and will likely have more than just information to offer the group.
The castaways react to their near-death experience in different ways, and someone doesn’t bolster their morale, they could easily fall prey to despair. Although the shock of the wreck is enough to mute their personalities somewhat on the first day, clashes among the castaways are likely to occur on the island.
Morale has five categories: hopeful, normal, shaken, frightened, and panicked. All castaways start with a morale of shaken. Events during play can adjust each castaway’s morale in one direction or another, either positively (to normal and eventually hopeful) or negatively (to frightened and eventually panicked). Morale affects only NPC castaways.
Every morning, the castaways’ morale may increase or decrease by one level or stay the same. However if the castaways become hopeful, they are likely to stay that way unless something drastic shatters that hope. The mood of the castaway is likely to affect how easily they get along with others.
Exploring the Island
Smuggler’s Shiv is a relatively small island, but its rugged terrain makes exploration and travel difficult.
The dense jungles, steep hillsides, and trackless swamps all work to make travel through the wilds a difficult and arduous task. You can travel about 1 mile every 2 hours due to the fact that it’s never possible to move in a straight line in the wilds of Smuggler’s Shiv.
Coastlines and trails allow for much more rapid travel (2 miles per hour), although both are in relatively short supply on the island since much of its coastlines are rocky cliffs that present little in the way of sandy beaches to walk on. The island’s crashing waves and swift currents make swimming offshore difficult and dangerous.
The rivers on Smuggler’s Shiv are relatively narrow and swift moving due to the numerous ridges that scar Smuggler’s Shiv. Each ridge is a 100-foot-tall vertical shift. You must make climb checks to scale a ridge if you do not wish to go around.