|First Catch of the Day (and last)|
Much of my idea about what wilderness looked like came from the land around my grandmother's house, which was a mixture of ranch land and wild areas full of pecan trees about 30 miles south of Cross Plains, Texas. Those were Robert E. Howard's stomping grounds, so at least I was in good company. But still, I didn't see a mountain until I was 17 on a trip to El Paso. The meager 23 mile long Franklin Mountain chain inspired an entirely new continent in which to set fantasy rpgs. Later, trips to Cancun and regional Texas lakes helped to form the Sea of Tears campaign, a world I designed made entirely out of small island chains - the peaks of mountains left dry after an aquatic cataclysm.
|Attempting to Draw Palo Duro|
It wasn't my first time through New Mexico, but it was The Boy's, and it was great fun to watch his expression as the bumps in the land grew bigger and bigger. "Is that a mountain?" "No, not yet." "Is THAT one a mountain?" "Nope." Eventually we got to a point where he didn't have to ask. The stark, empty terrain had me thinking a lot about Cowboys and Indians. Well, until I was jarred awake at the Dhillon Truck Stop in San Jon, New Mexico, a Punjabi buffet serving up chana masala, tarka daal, and a variety of curries. Life is funny like that. I wish I could come up with things half as amusing as that in my games.
First off, it's really, really hard to dig through basalt and granite. Black powder was used before the advent of dynamite to blast through the rock. And it is dark down there. The guide showed the differences in lighting techniques over the ages, and a candle just does not cut it. Yes, they mined by candlelight. I, however, cannot see a very successfully melee against goblins happening that way. And swinging a sword in a 10x10 corridor? Yeah, right. however, surviving an AD&D fireball was probably a lot easier than Gygax lets on - because the miners used to do it every day. They were just all deaf afterwards and, on average, had 15 years to live. :)