It has been a while. In that time there were a number of losses and gains.
Life can be a bastard sometimes. It can take and take and take. It’ll take so much that you wonder how much more it can possibly steal, however, in this world and the Primal Age, you had to remember that it will give as well. Just because life takes, doesn’t mean that it isn’t giving, or that when it takes it isn’t giving you a different opportunity at the same time.
I am not here to tell you that loss won’t hurt, sometimes it might seem like it will kill you, but remember to stay in the fight and everything will even out.
Strays is the term I use to refer to any human being that crosses your territory that is not a member of your team or an outlier of such.
An outlier is someone who isn’t part of your team, but perhaps someone you gave your location to in case they could make it.
First I am going to talk about outliers. Since you knew an outlier in the Old World, you should have an established signal and requirement for them to join. Whether they get your attention via a set number of whistle blows, or flash light signals you should have a preset signal for them to identify themselves. Just avoid using something obvious like S.O.S in morse code. I used to get a kick out of the bumper stickers that said, “Gas, Ass, or Grass, no one rides for free”. Same applies to your survival in the Primal Age. Maybe this person was a doctor who never took the Primal Age seriously enough to want to prepare, so you said “hey doc, if the end of the world does happen this is where we will be.” You just picked up a doctor. Great. But, what if they aren’t a doctor, and they wouldn’t take you seriously enough to prepare. Make sure they know the toll. Whether they need to bring X amount of food, guns, ammo, fuel, knowledge, no one should get into your fortress for free, especially an outlier. Outliers in some ways are a personal insult. They didn’t care enough to train and prepare, but they now want your protection. Make sure the Ferry Man is paid, if you’ll accept them at all.
Strays are an entirely altogether different concept. These could range from groups to a lone survivor varying between better prepared than you, and near death. Much of this comes down to personal code, and will depend on the strength and size of your team.
I can’t tell you how you should act. I am not a preacher and do not wish to be. So, instead I will give you pluses and minuses to different situations.
If a group of strays is equal to or greater than you in numbers:
Pros: if you can wipe them out all of their belongings are yours.
Cons: if you don’t wipe them all out and they can retreat you now pissed off a group that knows where you are. You may have killed off someone valuable to you. You may have slit your own throat, by killing a team that would have been a buffer for you from other threats.
Pros: You get their supplies and possibly their man power.
Cons: You might not want their man power. You might be forced to kill those who don’t wish to join you. They join you and now form a majority of your group causing a switch of power. You can’t capture them because they outnumber you and now are forced to fight without the element of surprise and are exposed.
Pros: They may choose to join you without a fight. Might create a friendly relationship where once they are settled you can begin trade relations. Might be able to trade there on the spot for something you need.
Cons: You may not want them to join you. They could upset the balance of power. They could turn hostile. Another group of survivors knows where you are and all the negatives that can come of that.
Pros: They don’t know where you are. There is no conflict.
Cons: They might realize you are there anyways. They might want to claim the ‘unmanned’ location. You may miss out on valuable people, supplies, or relations.
If a group is weaker than yours, all the same cons apply with the exception of shifting your balance of power; however this can still lead to unrest. The pros are the same.
When someone wants to join you make sure they are worth bringing along. Making someone wait exposed for a length of time, or making sure they have enough supplies or knowledge to not be a determinant are not bad ideas. Every body you take on is a mouth to feed. Made sure it is worth the risk.
The easiest and simplest way to figure out where people reside is fire or smoke. (Also keep this in mind for yourself. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow). If you see plumes of smoke rising from a building or area more likely than not people were there or are there. At night if you can see the flames, someone is there. If you can smell smoke on the wind, there is a good chance there are people in the direction of the wind.
If you happen to find an area where there are multiple downed zombies you are looking at a well-defended area. If they all seem to have fallen in the same direction, you are looking at an expert sniper. This is probably a situation best to be avoided.
Most people don’t walk with a light step as not leaving tracks isn’t something an American has had to worry about in decades. Combine that with many people will be wearing shoes to improve traction, human prints won’t be the most difficult thing to find.
Shit. All types of animals have a different look to their deification. Human’s particularly so based on our unnatural diet. Shit is a great indicator of people. Also, a good reason why you should bury your own.
Be wary any time you approach water. There is a reason every civilization developed around water. This doesn’t mean there will be people there, but always keep your eyes peeled.
If a place seems logical to you, it probably seemed logical to someone else. Always assume there is someone in any location you are going.
Bottom line; use your eyes, use your ears, use your nose, and most importantly use your brain.
Before I get into any of the different categories, let me first say whatever weapon you choose for the Primal Age make sure you train with it, and it is durable.
Second thing before I begin. This is something I consider so important I want to list separate from the rest: Brass Knuckles. Make sure you have a set. They add very little weight, you can wear them almost always without being a hinder, and the kicker is you will never fight unarmed.
So, to break this down I’m going to discuss three types of Melee weapons; sports, tools, weapons.
When you think of a sports melee weapon the first thing you probably think of is a baseball bat. Just keep in mind how many times you watch a baseball player shatter their bat. A human head is not a weak thing to bash in so be sure of your bat’s durability. Other options include field hockey and lacrosse sticks, cricket bats, hockey sticks and yada yada. Obviously if you play one of these sports you’re likely to want to use your option, however I suggest either a field hockey stick or baseball bat.
Tools cover a wide variety of options. These are a wise choice because of their dual function. The most widely accepted tool is a full size pry bar, because it is heavy, has one pointed end, and a shepherd’s hook end that works great as a handle or for bashing. However this area is not limited to just the pry bar. There are sledge hammers, mauls, and axes which are decent choices, but come with many more drawbacks than a pry bar.
Weapons. Again the options list is super long, but you want a sword and you want an Asian sword not a European sword. The reason for this is a European sword is made for stabbing, while Asian swords are made for slicing(The samurai actually had a move with their katana that was specifically for flicking blood off the blade). Slicing the head off of a zombie is far easier than stabbing its brains out. Bottom line if you are picking a weapon you want a sword, and I recommend the katana or one of its smaller cousins.
Now things to consider for making your selection.
Bashing vs. Slicing. Both Sports and Tools rely on bashing your opponent. This is effective for smashing in skulls in the event of zombies or if you are against an opponent wearing body armor. (Even if you pick and ax or maul your attack is more related to bashing than slicing). Slicing weapons are geared for removing the head at the neck, or against a living opponent, opening up an artery. Slicing is the far easier maneuver, but you are vulnerable against an armored opponent. Bashing is far more difficult to perfect, however you may only need to act one.
Recovery. If you miss, what type of position will you be in. The strike out pose with the bat? Completely bent over and stuck in the ground with an ax? Or ready to swing back again with the blade? Think about how off balance and exposed you will be when(not if) you miss.
Space. When you swing how much space is needed to be effective? If you’re fighting in close quarters a six foot katana might not be your best choice, or the overhead swing of an ax. The other aspect of space is when you strike how much space is created between you and your target?
Death zone. On a maul or sledge you have to be pin point precise where as a bat or sword gives you a longer area of damaging impact.
Maintenance. Do you need a wet stone? A tape wrap? Or is your item durable enough to work for life without ever failing you. This is important because what you need for maintaining your weapon will have to be carried with you.
Dual wield. Can you mix and match for a more effective combo? Remember though, twice the weapons equals twice the weight.
So, now that you know how to rate your weapon, remember to practice every day to make it an extension of your body. You should know your weapons as well as your own hand and take better care of it. There are only so many bullets in the world, so why waste a bullet when you could bash in some skulls.
I know I only listed a view example in each section, however anything that is long and can be used to crush a head can be considered. A good practice technique is to set up a water melon. If you plan to use a slicing weapon, you want to be able to slice through the lower quarter in one swing. If you plan to use a bashing weapon you must be able to crush the water melon in one swing to a point that it is no longer recognizable.
My recommendations for a weapon are a large pry bar due to its duality or a katana due to its practicality. However a correctly made katana is not cheap.
That doesn’t mean you must use one of these, but you should pick something that you will be most effective with. Your choice in melee weapon is far more important than the gun you carry.
Feel free to list any weapons you’d like added to the list…before someone adds it we all know the light saber would be awesome, but sadly I don’t know how to make one.
Picking your Fortress
The term fortress is used to describe the place you plan to settle in the Primal Age. Always keep in mind no location is worth your life, and in the journey to get there your plan may have to be adjusted.
The first and most important thing you need to account for when picking your location is water. You want a fresh water supply, such as a river, creek, lake, or well. You will need to continue to purify this water, and if in a cold climate find a way to penetrate the ice to get to it, but you can count on this source never ending. Man made things such as a water tower aren’t bad things to consider in addition to a natural source, but nothing is a substitute for a natural water source. Just keep in mind that every survivor out there should be searching for a natural water source, so the more obscure your source is the less likely you will be to have unwanted visitors.
Why were castles built on hills? So you could see your enemy coming. Two commonly accepted strategies in surviving the end of the world are elevation or underground. Now if we were discussing nuclear war, or some airborne virus, underground has many advantages. If we are talking about zombies, or some form of military invasion you want to see your enemy coming. So, find a place that offers elevation. This can be in one part of your fortress, such as a watch tower, or can be your entire location.
Preset defenses can include anything manmade or natural. Is your fortress on a cliff? Or have a large stone wall around it? The less time you have to spend on defenses the safer you’ll be upon arrival.
How many people can the fortress safely house? How many supplies can it store? How many people will it take to maintain? How many people will it take to defend? Does it have a self-sustaining power source? How far away is your fortress from your present location?
These are all things to consider when picking where you will be going. I’m not going to list possible locations; however I invite anyone to share a logical choice.