I really like games heavy with theme. Not having a lot of time to devote to RPG’s, finding a game that compacts much of that experience into 90-120 minutes is a real win for me. Robinson Crusoe is one of those games. You are swept away as part of the story and when you are done playing, the game sticks with you as you re-imagine the events that took place. I tried to capture that in this piece of fiction, inspired by my experience with the first scenario (Castaways). While I tried to stick to the events of the game as closely as possible, there is some creative license and editing involved so it doesn’t become a play by play. I hope you enjoy and more importantly, I hope it strikes you as such that you scurry out and buy a copy of the game. Just don’t take it with you on your next three hour cruise…
From Robinson Crusoe: Adventures On The Cursed Island: Scenario I: You are castaways on a deserted island. It is the end of summer. You have to prepare for winter, build shelter, a roof and a palisade. It will be difficult to survive during the tough months of autumn and winter. You also have to build a pile of wood so you can light it on fire when you spot a ship on the horizon to call for help…
I don’t know how many days we floated along, a young man, the dog and I. The man calls himself Friday. I don’t know if that’s really his name, nor do I care. Any conversation is good when you can’t see land and time is at a standstill. He told me he was born on a Thursday, but named Friday after his parents spent a whole day arguing over what to call him. I reckon he was on the ship too, though I didn’t know him when I pulled him from the water, unconscious. I never saw the dog before either. When he paddled up to the sizable piece of ship we were floating on, it was a no-brainer to keep him with us; we didn’t know where our next meal was going to come from. There we were the three of us, floating along on wood until we ran aground on this island. As luck would have it, I managed to grab my box with a hammer and some nails before the ship went down, and we found an empty bottle on the shore. I am thankful to have the hammer, it was a gift from my father and passed on to me when I finished my apprenticeship and became a carpenter. We can use the bottle as a weapon if we have to, at least until we can makes something more useful. We relished in our good fortune for only a few moments, for we knew there was much work to be done. Friday and the dog surveyed part of the Island while I gathered wood and fashioned a makeshift shelter. I was able to save some of the wood for a fire. Friday and the dog found some grasslands just off the beach with enough edible berries to carry us through the night. Tonight we planned out how we would stockpile enough wood to build a bonfire should we spot a ship. We jokingly call this Day One because it’s the first day of our new life. At least that’s what Friday says. He has a great sense of humor and I think I am going to like him.
We felt better than expected this morning, for being stuck on an island with nothing but the clothes on our bodies. Friday and dog were able to gather more food and wood this morning, exploring a bit more of the island. He said they found a beautiful, mountainous area a bit further down the beach. Our original plan was to head back out once we built a better shelter, but Friday spotted movement in the shadows when exploring. That told us we needed to build palisades for protection and before we could head out, the heavy rains came. Fixing up the shelter and palisades took a bit more wood than expected, but we have had mostly good luck so far. The hard work paid off when the rains came again. We ate well and will get a good rest. Tomorrow has promise.
Life teaches lessons of perseverance. Predators come during the night and ate all of our food. My plan was to spend the day constructing a hatchet with vine, wood, and stone. Sounded simple enough, but I am used to using hatchets, not making them. In addition and thanks to our new food shortage, I had to spend part of the day gathering more food before more rain set in. I tried to rush the job and cut myself. “Ironic,” Friday said. Dog guarded camp and Friday patched up the shelter, which continues to take a beating each night. All was not lost though. We ate well and despite my pain, I expect to sleep well.
I would say it never rains unless it pours, but it doesn’t seem a time for wit. I decided to write this morning, since what seems to be an endless deluge of rain has kept us in the shelter since the fire. For the first time, a sense of desperation creeps in as it doesn’t feel like we have accomplished much for being here four days. During the storm, lightning hit a tree at the edge of the grasslands and started a fire which spread around the camp, burning up our stockpiles. I guess we are lucky to be alive. Such is life on a deserted island, joked Friday. Maybe now isn’t the time for joking; plans have to change. Do we move camp or build a shovel to try and keep the fire from getting any closer to camp? Friday’s not much for discussing the issue.
We finally caught a break from the rain, but another huge storm is approaching. We need to shore up the roof again, but also need to find new areas since most of where we’ve been is smoldering and worthless. Friday will fetch more wood and I will try to fashion a shovel out of what is not on fire so we can dig a ditch around our campsite to stave off the fire’s progress. My wound doesn’t seem to be healing like it should and it makes it hard to focus.
I couldn’t get the shovel made before I had to get out and find food and supplies. Dog and I explored new territory where we found food and herbs. This evening, I was able to make a passable spear out of a straight stick I found. Friday came back from his adventures with wood, but also a limp. He thinks it’s just a sprain. With no shovel, we can only hope the oncoming rain will put out what’s left of the fire.
Smoldering ashes turned to fire again, burning more of the explored area. The plains are on fire and the mountains don’t have any more usable wood. Our home looks like a wasteland. At least a ship should notice the island fire if it’s in the vicinity. That’s the only silver lining I can think of. More sounds kept us up last night and they were closer to camp. My disdain for another day of berries pushes me to my limit and I take dog out hunting. We were able to track down a wild dog and kill it for food and fur. With the help of Friday, we finally got a bit of wood stockpiled. This afternoon when I was fixing the damn roof again, a jaguar attacked the camp. I think the fire is driving the animals to the beach. Friday and I were able to kill it, but not without a cost in flesh for both of us. I have a wound on my leg that already appears to be getting worse. At least it’s more food and fur. I am too demoralized to celebrate; so tired, but have to stay motivated.
More heavy rains today. The upside is it put the fire out, but the downside is that instead of a ditch to keep out fire, we now have to figure out how to dig a moat to keep our stuff from floating away, or move inward. Is this island cursed? Friday helped with the roof again. Exhaustion is getting the best of me and I again cut myself with the hatchet, trying to chop wood; feels like no time to concentrate on anything. We have to keep the fire going to scare off creatures. Must sleep tonight…
Dammit all. Tools are starting to fall apart and no time to fix them. Hurricane came during the night, destroying all our resources and any progress we have made. No plans for the rest of the day because we have to search to find where everything went. AGAIN we fix the roof. Finally we get the shovel made. Rain turned to sleet. Firewood is gone. More rain, no food. Leg is hurting badly.
Still no sleep. It seems like we are taking one step forward and two miserable steps back. All this rain has led to flooding, so we can’t really do much. We stay close and rest for a bit.
Felt a bit better in the afternoon and fought through the pain to dig a cellar. Friday went out and brought back food. It is getting colder again as the weather worsens from its short break. Friday says very little anymore. Neither of us do. Silence.
I curse this miserable Island! Wound on leg is starting to fester, but that is hardly the worse of it. Wind blew the camp to pieces. We lost most of our roof and the palisades are gone. Friday and I will try to get more wood and then I will take dog to explore, though I don’t see the point in doing anything.
We Found a river when exploring and stumbled (quite literally ) on some wooden boxes. What good are they now? We used them to keep a fire going; it helps keep the creatures at bay. It is like they are on the outskirts of our camp, just waiting. Friday and I argued through the night about pointless things. We need some time apart…
Predators surround us, like they know we are close to the end. As if the island was foretelling our future, a dead body washed up on the beach. Are we next? It’s time to make amends, push through and explore.
Friday found some wood to help shore up the palisades, but the ice came in too quickly, destroying our repairs and forcing us to use up our wood supply. I have taken a fever and my leg is all but useless. We are hungry and beyond any glimmer of hope. I begin to despise the thought of another tomorrow.
Desperation sets in, Friday and dog go for one last chance at wood and food. Friday tells me to rest, but I think he just feels I am worthless now. As I write this, I discover what has been making noise around the camp. It is a Gorilla. I manage a smile as he approaches…