What is in a Scene Description
Each wildland scene description represents a particular type of land feature (what geomorphologists call a landform) that is found in many places with similar landscape settings around the world. Many are not the stereotypical scenery elements that are commonly envisioned for deserts, mountains, caves, and other settings. Each description also features a particular real-world reference location that we have visited and documented with notes and photos. A description has these parts:
- An Introduction to the scene and its relation to the surrounding, broader landscape setting. This includes some of our own photographs, from one or more visits to the reference site.
- A brief Dimensions section provides additional size and distance details, which may be important to understand terrain challenges or to plot out characters’ actions within a scene. There may also be a simple graphic profile or schematic map of some part of the scene, to give a better idea of land forms and layout of features. Maps are consistently laid out on a five-foot (1.5 meter) square grid, appropriate for application in many table-top role-playing games (note also game-ready full versions of these maps available on the FOR GAME MASTERS page).
- A section of Key Details describes features of the landscape scene, its character in various types of weather, natural processes occurring there, and other supplementary information drawn from observations at the reference location, earth science principles, and other location research. The various items in the bulleted list give varying perspectives, some more likely than others to be useful for a particular application. More photos highlight scene details.
- The Introduction and Key Details sections of a description may be enough to develop some unique ideas for a scene or story. For those who would like more examples of ways to capitalize on a site’s special features, there’s a second bulleted list section, Story Elements. It gives suggestions of ways that distinctive features of this scene might play into a larger narrative. They are certainly not meant to be exhaustive, but they are varied, in story function and in genre, and may at least serve to get the imagination flowing.
- At the end of the description is Reference Location information, accompanied by a locator map. While this type of landscape feature may be found in many other places, identification of this reference location allows gathering of more images/information online, or possibly a visit. This section may note that a particular place is difficult to access or dangerous to explore, but many of the scenes are in state/province or national parks, or otherwise opened for public use.