Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Ranger Caves: A place of sanctuary in this Topsy-Turvy world.

Hidden entrance to a Ranger Cave

  Dotted throughout the borderlands and hinterlands of the realm, are places of sanctuary known as ‘Ranger Caves’.
Life beyond the walls of the city can be dangerous. Bandits, inclement weather, hordes of monsters waiting to eat you; and all of that, before you’ve even eaten breakfast… and when night falls, well, that’s another matter entirely. Sometimes you just want to be able to rest, see to a wounded colleague, maybe patch your armour, fix a shield, or get a good night’s rest without being hassled by every wandering beastie that’s out there. Well, now you can.
Duggan, Head Ranger of the Northern Ward, proposed a system of sanctuaries, where those who knew how to look for it, could rest up safe and sound, before having to continue on their way. Initially, it was for Rangers only, and followed the long arc of their patrol routes, but over time, those who chose the path of Light and Law were allowed access. They are found throughout the landscape from the smouldering City of Arthuriatos in the south, to the shores of the Northern Marches. These places of respite can be caves, hollowed out tree-trunks, or any other type of refuge that’s off the beaten path and hidden from prying eyes.
  If they are so well hidden, then how do we find them I hear you ask? Simple really.
 Those in the know can give you directions, or, if you are out bumbling around the bush, just follow the signs. A PC with any sort of outdoor adventure skills should be able to spot them. A secret mark on a tree trunk, a row of bushes not normally found in these parts, or a subtle pile of branches and leaves showing you the way to safety. There are also closely guarded maps detailing their whereabouts. They are usually close to a fresh water source and away from animal paths. However, it would be wise to enter them with caution, especially in the winter, they make great hideouts for hibernating bears.
‘Ranger Caves’ are much more than just a place to lay your head. Fully stocked with everything a ranger, or a party of adventurers might conceivable need, they operate on an honour system. If you take something, then you either leave coin, or something to the value of what you have taken. If you use the fire-wood, then chop some more to replace what you have burned.  If you have anything you want to donate, feel free. There are several individuals whose job it is to make sure that the ‘Ranger Caves’ remain provisioned, especially before the winter snows fall. They use the money left behind to purchase more goods and equipment. There’s many a time a group of adventurers got caught short, and had to hole up during fierce snowstorms in order to survive.
 The areas around the cave are generally situated away from anything of interest, or places that might draw attention to your location. It is of the utmost importance that you do your best to remain hidden while using the ‘Ranger Cave’. Indiscriminate noise, and fire-building, will draw unnecessary attention to yourselves. Normally, a ‘Ranger Cave’ has a fireplace that allows the smoke to flow through a long system of ant/termite tunnels that run for many meters, usually ending on a river bank, just above the water, or some other innocuous part of the forest.
Smoke trickling from the ground. 
 So, next time you’re sick of sleeping in the rain? Head to your nearest ‘Ranger Cave’, and call it a day.

 What’s inside?
What’s listed below is just a rough guide of what you may find.  You can stock it as you see fit. Just ensure that there is at least the basic items for survival present in the ‘Ranger Cave’.

 Vitals (Some examples of what’s in the larder)
1.       Barrels of Salted Pork
2.       Dried and smoked Fish
3.       Dried and cured goat
4.       Dried Fruit
5.       Biltong (for my non-South African readers, that’s dried meat, similar to jerky in the States, but better ;)
6.       Root vegetables
7.       Peas
8.       Corn
9.       Mixed Legumes
10.   Elven Trail Bread
11.   Oats
12.   Dried Nuts and Berries
Equipment (A general idea of what you might find)
1.       Rope
2.       Iron Spikes
3.       Hammer
4.       Hand Axe
5.       Snares
6.       Tinderbox
7.       Lanterns
8.       Oil
9.       Hand Saw
10.   Chisels
11.   Block and Tackle
12.   Grappling Hook
13.   Canvas material
14.   Snow Shoes
15.   Waterskins
16.   Blankets
17.   Hammocks
18.   Firewood
19.   Fishing Tackle and hand-cast fishing nets
20.   Snares
21.   Potjie Pot (again, for my non-South African readers, this is a three legged pot that goes directly onto the embers of the fire. See picture below.)
22.   Whetstone
23.   Lamp Black
24.   Torches
25.   Rope Ladder
26.   Swatches of Leather
27.   Needles, thread, and cat-gut
28.   Small Mirror
29.   Candles
30.   Cloth Sacks ( Large and small)

Potjie Pot. ( Three legged)
 Weapons, Armour and Clothing (All left behind by other adventurers; 10% chance they are magical)
1.       Long Bow
2.       Quarrel of Arrows
3.       Spare Bow Strings
4.       Daggers
5.       Short Swords
6.       Staff
7.       Helmet
8.       Shield
9.       Boots
10.   Cloaks
11.   Basic clothing
12.   Leather Armour
13.   Breast Plate
14.   Mace
15.   Warhammer
16.   Spear
17.   Sling
18.   Crossbow
19.   Crossbow Bolts
20.   Long Sword
Healing and Priestly Accruements
1. Herbs (How much they restore is up to you)
2. Bandages
3. Ointments
4. Small Wooden Altar (Generic) could double as a table if need be)
5. Sharp Cutting Instruments
6. Slings and Splints


  1. Good stuff!
    That top photo looks a lot like a small hole I visited in Wales where some saint (?) was supposed to have hidden. Not very roomy but one wall was covered with scrawls he had scraped into the rocks recording his story (IIRC).
    Maybe sort of like a visitor's book... with plot hooks intermixed between mad ramblings and ordinary accountancy.

    1. It's actually the entrance to Rob Roy's cave. I remember going there as a child and spending hours playing there, and in the forest that surrounds it.