Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Man Who Made Me Rethink the Survival Skill

I happened to be watching the Discovery Channel when my new favorite show came on. “Man vs. Wild” with Bear Grylls. Just a little bit about Bear Gyrlls, according to his website, which you can find at, “After breaking his back in three places in a parachuting accident, he fought his way to recovery, and two years later entered the Guinness Book of Records as the youngest Briton to climb Mount Everest aged only 23.” He was also a member of the British SAS (Special Air Service) and that gives him some mad street cred’.

Now on with the show! The premise of “Man vs. Wild” is that Bear Grylls drops (literally jumps off moving aircraft into water, or parachutes) into treacherous locations around the world and shows us normal folk how to survive in the wild. Ultimately he achieves his goal and is “rescued” or he escapes to a more hospitable location but not before some interesting displays of his superior survival skills.

Watching Bear as he bit the head off a snake or dug for insect larva in a rotting tree made me re-think the Survival skill in RPGs expressly Dungeons and Dragons. The survival skill says that a Survival check at DC 10 (DC= difficulty check) will allow you to hunt/forage while moving at half your normal movement rate and you can provide food and water for one other person for every two points over ten (the DC) on a successful roll.

Now having seen Bear in action made me wonder about how to add a little spice to the survival skill. Do the players find a water source in the desert or do they have to drink their own urine? (Yes folks, Bear did this) Or, what kind of food are they surviving on. Are they eating grubs and beetles or can they catch an animal and what kind of animal is it? What about gear? Are they adequately supplied with blankets and bedrolls, tents and tinder?

My mouth is watering at the thought of all the fun to be had. GAME ON!

Below is a video of Mr. Grylls in action. Enjoy:)

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