The Gassy Gnoll: What’s in *your* backpack? (August 2012 RPG Blog Carnival Kickoff)

For years we’ve seen Capital One market their cards with the slogan “What’s in *your* wallet?” They’ve used Vikings and Alec Baldwin to entertain you into switching credit card providers. Unfortunately *I* don’t have access to any Vikings or any of the Baldwins at this particular time, so you’ll just have to deal with this smelly old Gassy Gnoll instead. :)

Welcome to the August 2012 edition of the RPG Blog Carnival. What does Capital One have to do with the blog carnival? Not a lot and what is there is a bit of a stretch, but I asked myself a simple question the other day… What’s in *my* backpack? Every character I’ve had in 30 years has had some form of backpack. The “Standard Adventurer’s Kit” in D&D 4e even explicitly calls out “backpack” in the list it seems. (There’s a great forum conversation at RPG.net about the contents of the standard kit in case you’re curious.)

So here’s the question… “What’s in *your* backpack?” This could be your personal, real-world backpack. This could be your character’s in-game backpack. I’m just curious what folks are using these days as “standard” equipment.

For me, I’ve always started out pretty boring. Every character has a backpack with a bedroll, flint & steel, tinderbox, a torch, a waterskin, and 50′ of hemp rope. Beyond that it’s all upgradeable. You want climbing gear? Great! Invest in a grappling hook for urban settings or crampons, pitons, ropes, etc. for climbing in the wild. You’re a scholar? Great! Buy some paper, ink, and a pen or two. Wizard? Can’t be wizardly without a spell book!

But these are game-centric creations and have only limited application in the real world.

Look at your typical military backpack… According to eHow this is a pretty representative list:

  • Water pouch (2 liters)

    Backpack – markc09 – green/brown – OpenClipart.org

  • Food (MREs to last 72 hours)
  • Sunscreen
  • First Aid Kit
  • Medications
  • Fire kit/fire starter
  • Space bag
  • Extra socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Flashlight
  • Sleeping bag
  • Claymore/anti-personnel mine)
  • Bandolier with room for 6 clips for 30 rounds
  • Survival knife
  • Tactical radio
  • GPS unit
  • Sat phone/cell phone and/or laptop
  • Personal items like pad and pen, photos, etc.

As you can see, there’s a lot of stuff in this bag and the military isn’t really messing around. Some survivalists seem to be thinking along the same lines with a few additional bits:

  • Shelter (tent/poncho)

  • Navigation (compass, candles, mirror)
  • Tools (shovel, hatchet, Leatherman)
  • Info (Survival guide)
  • Hygeine (soap, comb, toothbrush, etc)
  • Miscellany (duct tape, work gloves, string)
  • Warmth (hat, gloves, blanket)
  • Fishing kit (hooks, lures, line)

So ultimately the question comes down to playability in-game. As a GM of a fantasy game, I’m not going to want to copper- and silver-piece people to death picking up 100 items they may never use in a million years. But in a modern game, maybe I’d suggest some more fine-grained pieces for the kit.

Where do you draw the line in your own games? Is “Adventurer’s Kit” or “Climber’s Kit” enough to get a PC through the majority of what they may need in the wild? Do you suggest items to your players to fit the setting and adventuring style or do you let them figure it out on their own?

And what’s in *your* backpack? Curious VikingsGnolls want to know!

Be sure to leave a link to your articles in the comments section and I’ll post a mid-month summary of links on August 15th and a final round-up at the end of the month.

Thanks for participating!

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