Banecroft Barony

Lore :: How to pack light to be able to fight right








When planning a campaign, amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk strategy. And veterans, they speak of logistics.

Most gatherings of war, tourney, or quest in these Realms have quite a bit of baggage involved. Colorful warm spacious tents, bedding, banners, food that must be kept cool to prevent spoilage and cooked before serving. Cookware and fuel to do that cooking. Then the impedimentia of battle: weapons, shields, armor, spell components. So much baggage that lords have a veritable caravan and even the newest adventurer almost always makes more than one trip between cart and camp. But one doesn't always have that luxury, and specifically there is an expedition planned in March were one will not. Here is some tips to be ready.

Think of all your gear in the following categories: mission-critical, mission-support, and luxuries. And the goal is to have everything be light enough not only so it can be carried easily, but reasonable to fight in.

Your mission-critical gear is your weapon and/or your spell components and/or armor. Note I said 'weapon';, not 'weapons'. In many wars or quests, warriors take many and use the right tool for the right job. But that's not feasible for this expedition. While often I carry a bow backed up by a claymore, I would on voyages of exploration carry the versatile and always-handy bastard sword and regretfully leave be hind the occasionally-critical but bulky and inadvisable-for-use-at-night arrows. Your armor must be chosen with care; ease of wear might trump protective value.

Mission-support gear is the stuff that keeps you fed and warm so you're stronger and better able to deal with the privations of the quest. This is were some experience and scoutcraft can go a long way. First of importance, carry some water. One can reasonably expect to be able to replenish this, but one never can tell and if one must fight for even an hour some water can go a long way towards allowing you to survive. One seriously deep exploration missions, alchemical tablets or thamaturgical pumps are a requirement to remove curses and diseases from found water, and these devices are very compact and easy to carry.

The next mission-support item to consider is food. You do not want to mess with cooking any more than can possibly be helped, but a warm meal can make a big difference. You want food which is easily packed and doesn't spoil. That means iron rations: beef jerky, gorp and dried fruits should be a basic staple. Don't overlook a good start; don't start your expedition hungry, eat well before starting out. For carrying dinner, I strongly recommend the magically-treated food which has been dried to make them extremely lightweight. Encased in foil, one can cook the meal merely by pouring boiling water into them. They are worth the expense. One can carry a thamaturgical heat source and a single small metal container to boil the water, and those two items can service a whole questing party. Or just carry the metal container and make a fire. One could write a whole other essay on the qualities of the fire, but don't forget your matches. Make sure they're in a waterproof container and have every member of your party carry matches. Choose them carefully too. The type of matches I mean, no doubt you've already put much consideration into the members of your party.

Those with cash on hand may have the luxury of being able to purchase hot meals from the locals. Good idea, but don't rely on it; have a full kit with food anyway. After all, the vissitudes of battle and the lawlessness of the frontier might end with a loss of cash. There is even the unfortunate possibility that certain normally honest adventurers, when faced with actual hunger pains, might prove less reliable than one was used too. Such a theft would be deplorable in the extreme, but it is best to be ready. An army may travel on it's stomach, but you don't want to be reduced to crawling on one's stomach

Shelter and bedding are important mission-support equipment, especially in early April. That time of year you might have balmy spring, cold hard rain (a ritual component for May flowers), or even a sudden blizzard. Tents are hard to carry, even the best and most compact. You might want to have one member of your team carry it and all cram in, making sure to have selected the size to fit your team and leave the gear outside. Or if you have some skill in the craft of the guide and scout, you can create your bedroll. I can't show you in this essay, but one can combine a tarp, several blankets, and safety pins into a bedroll that is simultaneously waterproof shelter. I recommend that bedroll even if you have a team tent, as you will still need bedding. Don't skimp, the weather is cold in early April.

Finally there's clothing. You should bring spare socks, changing them before you go to sleep at night is mission-support, not luxury. Ditto underwear, but beyond that I'd only bring a single spare tunic; one which can be changed into while the other one's sweat dries overnight. Of course, dress warmly and take off layers to avoid overheating. Sweat is a waste of precious water and you'll be dangerously cold later. A poncho is not optional, unless you want a serious April rain to melt your questing team away by the end of your expedition.

As for luxuries, many saw this coming from the first paragraph of this essay: don't bring 'em. You're exploring, not tourneying.

How you carry your gear is also important; it's got to be close on you enough to be able to fight. I'll be busy on the western flank for this expedition, but were I going I'd have the following: Bastard sword in hand. Bota bag of water on one shoulder, satchel on my right shoulder carrying iron rations. Belt pouches with poncho (yes, it fits) and matches. Waterproof bedroll also over my shoulder. Done. That's it. Others might reasonably use a daypack/small backpack. A full backpack with tent and sleeping pad and sleeping back etc would be for long expedions, in my judgement overburdened for a night or two, but reasonable for one member of one's squad to carry, support for the whole squad.

One might be lucky and have good weather and friendly locals. Prudence demands not depending on that. Should there be rain and harassment of pickets at night, care and woodscraft will make the difference between a healthy army with good morale, versus less prepared adventurers packing it in early and the army strength faltering.

Good luck and wise precautions for your expedition,

Baron Diamond Banecroft