Survival When the Stars are Right

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As mentioned in part IV, I asked Mr. Anthony Teth if he would be so kind as to address level V – the return of the Ancient Ones. Thanks to him in advance for sharing his insights. – Gabriel

Survival When the Stars are Right

by Anthony Teth,

My good friend Gabriel (Poliadic) has charged me with writing a worst-case scenario blog dealing with one of my favorite subjects – the coming of the Ancient Ones, the hideous, alien horrors who transcend the confines of mere space and time. When the stars are right, they shall descend upon our world in a maelstrom of terror. We know them to be unspeakably evil things who have little care for the human race – beings that seem to respond to scientific as well as occult influences, but to varying degrees and only within specific parameters.

Gabriel’s general essays concerning things such as stockpiling food, salt, weapons, and basic wilderness survival are great beginning areas to work with. In any apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic situation, these basics are generally indispensable. However, I feel a few additional elements should be highlighted, considering the desperate survivalist nature of an Ancient One incursion.

Speed Training and Parkour.

Mobility is a prime requisite of all combat. There is a reason boxing, kickboxing, Kung Fu, MMA, Judo and many other martial arts practitioners incorporate a considerable amount of running into their workouts, and that is to stress both cardio-vascular endurance and mobility. Achilles, the legendary warrior of the Iliad, was known not as the strongest of the Achaeans, but as the fastest runner. In addition, the ability to scale and bypass objects with ease gives one a major tactical advantage. Re-watch movies like Rumble in the Bronx and District B13 and note that, even though wonderfully choreographed, just how many of the fights were “won” by dodging and avoiding danger by capitalizing on the nearby terrain rather than direct attack. When it comes to the bloodthirsty creatures of the Cthulhu mythos, many of the horrors one might encounter will be larger and far stronger than you, so the ability to avoid savage bites and flailing tentacles is clutch. Therefore, I suggest a regular regimen of running (preferably cross-country, and incorporating sprints) and parkour-style obstacle training. Conveniently, there appear to be a plethora of 5K mud runs springing up everywhere these days, so it should be relatively easy to accomplish this. You never know just what kind of terrain you might find yourself traversing when being pursued by a hungry pack of ghouls.

Observational Training and Faithful Animal Companions

It is not surprising to anyone, really, that the advent of texting, smart phones, and social media sites has created a general dearth of spatial awareness for the average human. A simple jaunt down the sidewalk on a typical day might find you bumping into one person after another who didn’t bother looking up from their Twitter feed to notice another domesticated simian within close proximity. Come the rise of the Ancient Ones, however, remaining alert shall become a top priority. Evil creatures used to surviving in the depths of the abyss can be rather stealthy buggers. Therefore, “constant vigilance” should become one’s survival mantra. Do you often look up? Do you check behind the door when you enter a room? Do you pay regular attention to the position of objects within your living space? If you’ve answered “no” to any of these questions, its time to start working on tightening up your observational methods. Start by looking at a room for 60 seconds and then closing your eyes. How much of the room can you reconstruct with your eyes closed? Can you recall the exact location of the desk or chair? Perhaps the lean of the water bamboo? How much beer did you leave in the glass on the table? This and similar exercises, though seemingly arbitrary, might prevent you from being devoured by a hidden and hungry abomination lurking in your apartment.

Come the rise of the Great Old Ones, it might also be prudent to have a loyal pet nearby. Animals have senses that put human ones to shame, and many have been known to despise the twisted creatures of the Mythos. Cats have been known to attack moon-beasts en masse, and dogs tend to become enraged when smelling the twisted progeny of Yog Sothoth. Granted, larger beasts might find your faithful critter little more than a tasty snack, but it would be quite an  honorable sacrifice were Fluffy to die so you might live.

Marksmanship and Bullet Construction

Though not all of the evil denizens one encounters will be corporeal, those monstrosities described as “having flesh” will be best dealt with from a distance. In this respect, marksmanship should be drilled constantly. Certain creatures can run and/or fly at ridiculous speeds, so you’ll want to make certain the first few shots you fire drop the creature in question, else reloading might not be in the cards. One should also concentrate on practicing with high-caliber ammunition to ensure maximum stopping power and damage.

You should also remember that there will be an inherent scarcity of available ammunition in a post-apocalyptic society. Therefore, if a hideout is constructed and properly concealed, it would be best to include a bullet press, a few kilos of properly stored black powder, and thousands of loadable shells. If you can’t loot the ammo stores of the recently deceased, you can always make your own.

In addition, it would be wise to train with other ranged weapon styles – bows and arrows, crossbows, throwing axes, spears and hatchets. These weapons have the advantages of stealth and silence, and training with them improves hand-eye coordination considerably while simultaneously strengthening various muscle groups.

Occult Knowledge and Care

Many of the indescribable horrors rising from the sea or walking between dimensions are incorporeal, yet subject to the manipulations of certain mystical and occult formulae. Thus, it behooves the aspiring survivalist to learn much about occult practices from various disciplines, specifically of the banishing and protection variety. Protective circles, sigils, and glyphs will help to ward off the malignant shades that stalk the shadows between worlds, and banishings can be employed to send them back to their places of origin should they find a way to materialize in our dimension.

Now, you should be warned. Certain spellbooks that do not concentrate on banishing and protection tend to be not only unsavory, but prone to infecting the mind of the reader. Paranoid delusions, schizophrenia, and suicidal tendencies often result from reading such grotesque tomes. Sometimes, however, one has no choice but to delve deep into the depraved grimoires in order to find a necessary banishing or counter-spell. If you ever find yourself in such a predicament, proceed with utmost care. It would certainly be a waste if you carefully survived for months only to later snuff yourself after reading a particularly maddening section of Unaussprechlichen Kulten.

Improvised Explosives, Incendiaries, and Sterilization

Some of the cyclopean monsters you encounter will be far too large to properly affect by bullets, spears, or other such weapons. This does not mean that they are invincible, mind you, but merely call for a heavier hand. Thus, knowledge of improvised explosives will be indispensable in the strange aeons to come. A few pounds of chemical fertilizer and some random household accoutrements might be your only chance of taking out the shambling shoggoth terrorizing your small survivor village. Therefore,  you’d better know how to turn said ingredients into a big badda-boom, else what’s left of you might be coming out the wrong end of an Elder Thing’s favorite shape-shifting pet.

Also, though many things might be able to regenerate a lacerated pseudopod, it is exceedingly difficult for anything to regenerate incendiary damage. Thus, Molotov cocktails should be readily available. Any base camp should involve a still for creating high-octane liquor from the most basic of ingredients. (Note: It is imperative that said still should be kept very far away from the previously mentioned store of black powder.) These liquors can then be used in both explosive and basic incendiary construction, and can also be a source of invaluable antiseptics. Bacterial infection, tetanus, gangrene and other such malignancies are serious concerns for the would-be survivalist. The all-too-common scrapes, scratches, cuts, and bite wounds typically inflicted by a nasty fight or flight through degenerated urban wasteland can quickly turn toxic if left untreated. However, pouring something 100 proof or higher into an offending wound might effectively sterilize the situation.

Slashing and Edged Weapons

Your last-ditch effort will be melee combat. You don’t ever want to find yourself in this stage of the game if you can help it, but if forced into a corner by an enraged mi-go, you are going to want a blade on you, and preferably something with reach. Blades stressed over bludgeoning weapons because many Lovecraftian nasties tend to lack a skeletal structure at all, and seem far more like cephalopodic invertebrates or sentient fungi, so breaking their bones may not be as effective as cutting them up into tiny pieces. Therefore, training with broadswords, sabers, kindjals, katanas, bastard swords, wakazashis, axes, hatchets, glaives, machetes, bowie knives, and anything else you can get your hands on will be very necessary. Japanese Kendo and Budo dojos, SCA or LHA Fencing and Heavy List academies, and Filipino Arnis/Escrima/Kali schools are easily found, and probably not far from you. Weapons skills learned at these places just might give you the necessary edge (pun intended) to eke out a victory over a hungry eldritch foe.

Conclusion

Survival when the stars are right is not entirely hopeless. It’s just mostly hopeless. You might be able to live like a nomad for a time subsisting off the land, or perhaps construct an easily defensible bunker out in the sticks, but ultimately, the Ancient Ones shall come. I can only hope that these meager  suggestions might provide you all with a fighting chance against the indescribable terrors that await mankind.

Shopping for the end of days: Part IV

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Well we’re not dead.

So, level four. We’ve moved beyond hopeful natural disaster survivor to rebuilding society. In other words, there’s still enough resources and the sun still shines, so people might actually work together to bring civilization back from the edge of destruction. Probably the equivalent of a country-wide EMP detonation, maybe a global plague, but basically no creature comforts anymore.

By this phase you really need a decent method of carrying stuff, water, and something to fix your broke ass. Assuming you have all that covered, let’s move into learning.

You could have all the technology, but if you can’t run a few miles, climb a tree, dig a trench, swim – you’re done. So you can guess where this is going.

Training

A. Gym membership: just some good old-fashioned strength training and cardio. Personally I like something more like crossfit, but just go with what works for you. If you’re a runner, run. If you’re a lifter, lift. Just make sure you train everything some.

B. Hand-to-hand combat: I’m not a martial artist, and everyone else seems to be an expert… take your pick, krav maga, taekwondo, whatever. Have some idea of how to handle yourself in a fight beyond that one time in fifth grade.

C. Beyond Thunderdome: There are a lot of places you can go to get some real experience living off the land (basic training isn’t one of them, but later stages are). Honestly, I’ve only looked around a bit, but there are plenty of short to long-term classes you can take focusing on everything from living off the land, to ninja tactics. Just do your research before you blow all your cash.

D. See what’s around you: I was surprised by the number of meetup groups and the larger Mid Atlantic Primitive Skills Group in my area – you can get workshops on stone tools, making leather, animal tracking, etc, often for free. Chances are there is something near you. If not, consider yourself having a leg up on the competition.

E. Weapons 101: I’m a big fan of weapons you can make and maintain on your own. Bows, arrows, spears, they’re all great. You can spend some money to get something a bit more high-speed, or maybe just get some training on how to make your own arrowheads.

Part V: prequel

If you see level five there’s not a lot of preparation to be done. Level five basically means the stars align just right, and the Ancient Ones reclaim what is theirs. To that end, I’m inviting Mr. Anthony Teth, one of the hosts of NecronomiCon Providence 2013.

Congrats on making it another year on the dirty ball.

Shopping for the end of days: Part III

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Sorry part 2 was a little light on content. Also, I just realized the apocalypse counter ended. Did anyone have some sort of crazy pre-apocalypse party? I really wanted to but we’ve been neck-deep in dealing with grown-up stuff – so no party. Seriously though, I thought it was an excellent excuse for a costume party. I hope some of you did.

Getting back to the list. I’m trying to think of what 3 is on the scale, and really I’m not sure. Assuming five is basically the stuff of TV series/movies/etc, I guess three is serious long-term “camping.” This is probably along the lines of regional disaster, but not necessarily “end of days” bad.

Again, I’m keeping this to a few items, and there’s certainly room for overlap with earlier phases.

A. Vitamins. This should have been under point 2, but certainly belongs here. Like salt, vitamins are easily overlooked, but can make a world of difference – physically and mentally. To illustrate, I once received a twelve month, all expenses paid trip to a challenged nation. One day, I was talking to one of the locals I saw now and then, and he mentioned how much his back hurt from doing physical labor. I didn’t have any pain killers on me, but I happened to have some Centrum. I gave him one and thought nothing of it. Long story short, next time I saw him he starts raving about the magical pill I gave him. How he had all this energy and how his relationship with his wife had also benefited. I gave him the bottle and felt bad I couldn’t get everyone the same.

That’s how awesome vitamins are.

B. Good shoes. Something you can wear forever, is comfortable, breathable, and durable. You could find yourself having to walk tens of miles per day – do it in something that won’t turn your feet into clumps of hamburger meat. You’re going to want good treads, something that can handle going through water for prolonged periods, mud… basically everything bad. I’m a fan of my desert boots I got along with my paid vacation, but to each their own.

C. Water. Since we’re talking long-term now, you’re going to need something to carry water in, and something to boil water in. There are a lot of choices out there. If possible I’d go with one metal canteen, and maybe a camelback.

D. 550 Cord. If you have a problem, 550 cord can probably solve it.

E. Multi-tool. Digging with your hands or even a rock can suck. Take your 20 dollars and invest in a shovel/pick/axe. It doesn’t weigh much compared to the ass pain of not having a shovel.

F. Fishing line and hooks. You can use them for fishing, you can use them for snares. Either way it gets some protein in you (assuming you know how to use them).

G. Something to trade. Carry extras of essentials for trading. Carry lightweight luxury goods for the same reason. Given the scenario, unless you have a base of operations, I’d pass on carrying booze, but could be worth having a stash hidden.

So that’s level three. For levels four and five we’ll get into team mode for apocalyptic scenarios!

Shopping for the end of days: Part II

I was thinking of going straight to 5 since it’s so late, but whatever. Here’s 2 of 5 on the “Oh shit” scale. At two we’ve moved into the realm of actually needing tools to make it. If you’re at level two, you’re probably lost on foot, without food, and civilization isn’t all that nearby. This isn’t lost in Siberia lost, or adrift on a lifeboat screwed, but it’s not good.

Going with the theme, you’re going to want to already have items from part one. If nothing else, the fire-steel and the emergency blanket, but I’d want the whole kit.

A. First Aid Kit – You need this now. No really, you need it. Ever have diarrhea? Imagine having it while trying to climb up/down a mountainside… in the rain… and cold… and you haven’t eaten for several days. Get some ibuprofen, some pepto (or whatever), some antiseptic swabs (good for fires also), baby wipes, and something for a sling/tourniquet (in case you’re really screwed).

B. Compass – Your iWhatever is awesome, until it dies. A compass can help you from going in circles. Learn to read one. Find water and then travel along it.

C. Solar panel – Your iWhatever really is awesome, so maybe consider getting one of the many solar pack items to charge your device. It’s great to know how to take care of yourself, but nothing wrong with using technology.

D. Guide to Plants – A double here. There’s a lot of plant life you can eat, and a bunch you shouldn’t. Get a guide (I’ll list some good ones in the Bare Essentials) to help identify medicinal and edible plants. Flora doesn’t move as fast as fauna, so energy wise it’s worth going after, unless you get it wrong. Don’t get it wrong. The double? See “C”. Get that solar panel and you can have all this information on your e-reader device! You can carry all your field guides at a fraction of the weight of the paper versions!

E. A friend – Right now a good capable friend would really help.

Its_dangerous_to_go_alone_Take_this

F. More friends – More eyes and ears increase your chance of survival. Other points of view do the same. Really it’s like diversifying your portfolio, or gene pool. Worst case scenario, your friends will save you by not being able to out run a bear/cougar/etc. Best case, their combined brain power will see you through adversity comfortably and quickly.

Shopping for the end of days: Part I

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So I thought I’d make a breakdown of possible survival-esque gifts on a “oh shit” scale of 1-5. I’ll provide links for examples, but the brands are not recommendations (at least not today). Today we’re covering the basic basics in the common scenario: “Oh Shit, I’m Lost/Out of Gas”

So you’re lost, out of gas, and probably out of luck for a few hours to a day. Here are some basic items that can make your stay in purgatory-light a bit lighter.

A. Firesteel:

Firesteel

Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel Mini

You probably won’t need it, but if you’re stuck overnight this can make all the difference between a cold miserable night, and a comfortable night. Just remember kids, only you can stop forest fires.

B. Emergency Sleeping Bag

Exactly what it sounds like. Lightweight, fits in a pocket, wind/waterproof, and can reflect a lot of heat back to the body. Can also double for use as a signal (reflective). Cheap.

C. First Aid Kit

Any kit is better than no kit. Look around at some of the DIY sites for ideas on making your own, or go the other route and buy a few online. For this scenario a few bandages of multiple sizes, medical gauze, disenfectant, and some pain reliever would probably do the trick. Then again, if this is sitting in the car, maybe get something a bit more comprehensive.

D. Water Purification tool -

You have a lot of choices here. There are pills, straws, solar decontamination methods, and old school boiling. Maybe have a few options. Water is one of those things you don’t think about, but it really sucks when you don’t have it. The only reason I’m putting it second to last here is because in this scenario you’re probably only stuck short-term.

E. MRE – meals ready to eat.. they are terrible, but probably not as terrible as they were 20 years ago. I had one for Thanksgiving a few years ago (a story there) and it wasn’t that bad. There are probably some storage considerations and a limit to how many you really want to be dragging around, but might be worth tossing in the car if you’re traversing a long empty stretch of road.

F. Knife – Tools make life easier, that’s why our ancestors made them. Don’t go out without one.. or five.

Leatherman multi-tool

Leatherman multi-tool

Any absolute short-term must haves you keep on hand I didn’t cover?

Next time, the “nice move stupid, now we’re screwed” scenario.

PS – here’s a little holiday gift from Team Unicorn Instructional Films!

Overcompensate Much?

It’s been a while and I won’t bother with excuses.

Walking Dead and that preppers show are back on and once again I am dumbfounded by the over-reliance on bullets. Sure I’m biased – I do prefer a more low-tech approach, but I’m really amazed by the sheer number of folks I run into (and groups) who focus on bullets.

Then there’s the shelter people who just want to hoard all the food and water and just hope.

But what’s really going on here? Do these strategies say anything about the prepper (for lack of a better term)?

If you want to know what a given person (or persons) internal threat picture looks like, simply observe. An abundance of moats, walls, and other physical barriers could indicate a self-perceived inability to fight or a certain degree of anxiety in dealing with the unknown. On the other hand, an predominantly offensive presentation may indicate a highly reactive rather than proactive stance – in other words a tendency to lack long-term planning.

Obviously these are a bit extreme, but you get the idea. A balanced strategy should have something of a feng shui to it; an imbalance in flow creates vulnerabilities and highlights weaknesses.

The point? If you have a weakness, don’t advertise it. Better yet, advertise a weakness that is actually your strength. Advertise desperation when you have fortitude, advertise walls when you have knives, advertise low tech when you have high-tech, advertise nothing if you have everything.

Happy Holidays!

Strategic Caching

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So I’ve been meaning to add seeds to The Bare Necessities list and do a bit of an entry regarding survival gardening, but today I had a really interesting conversation/brain storm with a co-worker on a related concept – live food caching.

Whereas animals and people use caching to build up their stores, live food caching is more of a strategy which may be utilized. Basically it goes like this, after taking into consideration the climate, soil types, animal presence, competing plant species, etc, one could in advance of a catastrophic event, go and plant high calorie gain vegetables, tubers, etc in strategic locations.

public domain

For example, if you live in an urban setting you probably have an idea of which routes you’d prefer to take out of the city. You could go out along those routes and plant seeds in patches off the beaten path every few miles or tens of miles.

I’m not sure if I would take this to the extend of geo-tagging each patch, but one certainly could so long as the satellites keep working. Alternatively I would propose making more patches throughout areas so if they are unavailable at one cache site due to plant disease, or another person or animal ate your patch, it’s not a big loss.

Whereas hording can get you through a winter, the great thing about this type of caching is you are only limited by the time to plant and environmental limitations (soil acidity, sunlight, etc). With strong planning, one could plant patches with the intent to visit the location in several years!

Somewhat related, I just got a few texts on wild food foraging for food and medicinal use. I’m pretty amazed at how many of these plants I already can identify, but just didn’t know were edible. Hopefully there will be a foraging expedition in the near future for me to go over here.

To Hell in a Handbasket

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Today our friends over at The Urban Apocalypse discussed the survival likelihood of the 1% with the doomsday rental. If you haven’t read about these magical places you should check out Kennedy and Wren’s article and respective links. By the way, there are also some Arks being built out there which apparently the investors did not want publicized, but for the life of me I cannot find. If anyone happens by a good link on that, please let me know.

Anywho, back to the bizillion dollar bomb shelter. Kennedy and Wren raise an excellent point, absent sufficient notice the renters are unlikely to actually use their spots. But imagine they could.. what would that be like?

hint!

I’m going to generalize a bit here, but you know how people get on an airplane? Well imagine if that plane was all first class. Now imagine the flight lasts over a year. Also, the host is all out of beluga, perrier, snuggies, and oh.. sunlight.

Source: from Wikipedia, uploaded by Armigo

mmm.. beluga…

A five-year supply of water and food is great (so is caviar!), not to mention the security of an underground establishment, but it’s just not feasible. Sure for a few people maybe, but once you start getting into the whole “I paid for this apocalyptic bungalow” type conversation, things are going to get heated.

Just check out the people freaking out on flights on youtube.. those people are the ones living in the silo. And that’s people really. We’re not too different from rats; put too many of us in a cramped space with limited supplies and we tend to start killing each other (and all sorts of other horrible things).

Now I’m not saying the 99% would fare much better in the silo. Frankly it would end just as badly. What I am saying is we shouldn’t be envious of the bizillion dollar bunker people. Their apocalypse is going to be worse than anyone elses because they will torture each other while the rest of us starve, but starve in peace.

Bonus, when they do kill each other there will probably be some decent swag to grab. But remember! Take only what you need!

Post update: I was looking for something to really illustrate how quickly we Westerners start to freak out when comforts are imposed on. If you haven’t already read First World Problems it’s pretty good.. also some choice material at White Whine.

Leave the gold, grab the salt.

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Salt.

Unfortunately not the Angelina Jolie type.

© 2012 Sony Pictures Digital Inc

It’s one of the oldest commodities known to civilization and for good reason. It makes bland food taste better, and better food taste awesome! Your body also needs it to retain water, which despite the first world problem of water weight, is actually pretty damn helpful. Oh, and it’s used in food preservation.. just in case you run out of mac and cheese during the apocalypse or whatever.

Salt is so awesome, I’m not even going to bother to go through all the things its good for. There are a few reasons it’s at the top of my Bare Necessities list, and they’re not all related to how you can die without salt (but maybe you want to look at what’s out there on Wikipedia or something). Before I get into it, not all table salt has iodine, which can keep you from getting a thyroid problem (you don’t want that) and most would agree iodine is required for animal life to exist.

Dead Sea

mmm.. salty!!

Aside from the biology of it all, when life really starts to suck, nothing can make a person start to feel human again like a decent meal and a hot shower. Get where I’m going with this? That’s right, win friends, make for easier diplomacy with hostiles, and maybe get some choice gear all because you have salt. It’s a lot lighter than gold, it’s easy to authenticate, and it’s easy enough to make (boil sea water) that people probably won’t get killed over it,. Also, really what are you going to do with gold? You may, however, be asked to cook.

And what better way to survive a harrowing situation than by making yourself a valued, skilled, human being? You know how to procure food from the woods? How to make salt? I know it sounds crazy, but really who thinks about salt these days?

If a person had enough cooking skill, they probably wouldn’t even need a weapon so long as they cooked for others. So to provide a bit of counter-point to my last entry.. if the crap hits the fan – don’t bug out, do grab the spice rack.

P.S. For those of you who are interested in salts, take a peek at Jar Of Salt, some great stuff over there!

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poliadic:

An excellent post from The Urban Apocalypse on a commodity not usually thought of in survival situations. Also, while excessive use can dehydrate, it can be a cleaner source of water!

Originally posted on The Urban Apocalypse:

ImageFor those of us still recovering from yesterday’s festivities, the thought of consuming more alcohol – beer in particular – is enough to make you want to crawl back under the covers and bury your still-aching head. But don’t let the effects of an excessive celebration deter you from including beer in your survival plan. Read on to discover the benefits of consuming beer in moderation* and learn why you should be stocking up now.

Beer’s primary post-apocalypse benefit is very similar to its function in our current society as a social lubricant. Everyone loves the person who brings the keg to a house party, and there is no reason to suspect this will change in the aftermath of a cataclysmic event. Conversely, it is more likely to be greatly appreciated by disorganized fellow survivors who failed to procure their own supply. In addition to building social bonds and…

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