So imagine yourself…

So imagine yourself sixteen years old, about to be dropped into a fantasy world, a jungle, with no guarantee that you'll come home anytime soon. There seems to be a war of some sort going on there, on a swords and archery level. You can pack a backpack with stuff to help you survive (but only items you can easily find around your parents' house) -- what would you take?

14 thoughts on “So imagine yourself…”

  1. My Leatherman, of course. Matches, and possibly the mini grill lighter. Clean socks and underwear. Duct tape and string/twine. A needle stuck in a spool of thread. A flashlight, maybe candles. Granola bars, apples, dried fruit, chocolate, water in bottles or a thermos. Most of the medicine cabinet: not just bandages and disinfectant and wraps and gauze, but also aspirin for sure. Maybe allergy medicine and anti-diarrheal, depending on what kind of 16-year-old I was. There’s still plenty of room in there.

  2. An extra pair of glasses.

    Unless I don’t need glasses in this fantasy world.

    Suggestions from “Relentlessly Mundane“: “water, antibiotics, painkillers, Swiss army knife, needles, her favourite books and an encyclopaedia on CD-ROM, a solar powered reader, a plastic coat, a flashlight, string, a few other oddments.”

    Kam would have suggestions on what to include in an emergency kit (here’s a commercial list from a company that sells the stuff; another list comes from the Princeton University Outdoor Action First Aid Kit), which might have a lot of overlap with what you’re looking for (though as with Jo’s above list, might be hard to find some stuff around the house unless the family’s into camping, or unless the family has an emergency kit already that your protagonist could raid). One cute trick: Maxi pads are useful both for menstruating women and for making compression bandages (is that the right term?); good compact absorbent material.

  3. Sixteen, huh?

    My Walkman. Cassettes. (If I were sixteen, but now, rather than in 1989, replace this with “My Discman. CDs.”) Batteries. Chocolate. Band-Aids. Cans of soda. Maybe a few sets of underwear. A few good books.

    I think that’d pretty much fill up the backpack…

  4. And I’m sixteen? The kitchen knife. Fishing line and some hooks. Twine. Matches. Band-aids. Some good books. Underwear. If I were really on the ball, I might think of tampons and aspirin. I might swipe a container full of my mother’s dried-fruits-soaking-in-overproof-rum concoction that she keeps for making Xmas cake with. So, I’d pretty much be in trouble before I even started.

  5. One or more of my father’s old Boy Scout manuals, the type that have a couple of page solution to nearly any outdoor problem (and then some).

    The survival kit I had as a boy scout (little small pouch with mirror and lots of other useful stuff).

    Water sling from a ren faire/sca.

    If I was really thinking, one or two of my father’s (or mine, depending on my classes) science reference books – especially the chemistry ones with specific formulas for lots of seemingly “magical” effects (assuming I didn’t think magic worked but thought science might make a good show).

    If I had one, re above, much of the content of my chemistry set.

    The gold and silver coins given to me as presents for my collection. Any other gold/silver items that I had personally (I wouldn’t steal from the house, but might take something like an old silver placeset buried in the dust of the attic or basement)

    Glasses repair kit, and any extra pairs I had.

    Hiking boots and extra pair of shoes.

    Swimming gear (and googles).

    Ala Douglas Adams – my towel (don’t leave home without it, I’d bring a big beach type).

    Lightweight camping gear and kit – cooking implements, utensils, bedroll/sleeping bag, if I had a good one – tent, etc.

    Basically – survival gear, science kits, and some comfort items (glasses, a few of my favorite books, etc). I would assume that avoiding fighting was my best choice, so I would want to have items with me that would let me appear to be more powerful than I am – hence the chemistry kit, and whatever else I could think of (flashlight, firecrackers/noicemakers) as well as whatever I could scrounge up that I thought might be valuable (gold, silver, gems, etc).

    Also, many pens, pencils, and a good notebook.

  6. C.J.’s suggestion of guns and ammunition is smart but potentially very unbalancing to the story. . . do you really want your level 1 character to have that flaming vorpal sword +4?

    Stick with swiping that can of pepper spray from Mom’s purse. . . much better potential for useful plot points.

    Looking past immediate personal survival, what will help her live and thrive in the days and weeks ahead? Wealth.

    Gold and silver coins (if available in the house) are a no-brainer, but a little too easy and predictable.

    Have her swipe every needle and spool of thread in the house, and every knife from the kitchen. . . stainless steel is cutting-edge technology (sorry!)

    And grab those cheap walkie-talkies from the closet (and plenty of spare batteries). They may convince the locals she’s a wizard to be honored.

    Or a witch to be burned.

  7. More tampons than is even remotely reasonable. (Think of the consequences!) Some 16 year olds might bring a mirror and brush, and possibly makeup, toothbrush and paste. She’d probably forget the Q-tips and regret it later. 😉 A diary and a few pens. A picture of her family and/or pets. A camera and extra film. (It’s another world, and she’ll want proof.) Underwear, socks, scarf, gloves, sneakers, a comfy sweatshirt from one of her parent’s alma maters. Stuffed animal. (Hell, I still travel with my leopard Zen.) A lighter, pocketknife, and flashlight.

  8. OK, one backpack, soap, clothes, hiking boots(I’d wear those, so not packed), a shotgun and shells with a reloading kit, that old copy of ‘The Anarchist’s Cookbook’ (lots of good stuff in that one), jerky/dried food, the Boy Scout’s Handbook, whatever edged weapons/knives are around the house, and a copy of The Complete Works of Wm. Shakespear.

  9. Actually, the formulae in The Anarchist’s Cookbook are rather more volatile than an individual needs — it assumes an underground existence where field expediency is valorized over “friendly” casualties, if you catch my drift.

    This has led some to suggest that TAC was written by a provacateur looking for a way to get the armed underground to eliminate itself.

  10. Thanks, everyone — this was really helpful. I don’t think my protagonist would think of most of this stuff, but it’s good to have my own memory jogged; she isn’t me, and there’s stuff she would think of that I didn’t (tampons, duh!). The most useful was the gold suggestion; she has good gold jewelry of course, since she’s South Asian. I think she’s going to sneak into her parents’ bedroom (where it’s kept hidden in a closet) and take hers — and then it’ll be promptly stolen once she gets to the other world, giving her several thousand dollars worth of consequence in our world to freak out about in addition to all the other freaking out she’ll be doing…

    I’m a little surprised that no one suggested trying to bring along a laptop (though I guess Jed mentioned an encyclopedia on CD-ROM and a solar-powered reader — who has a solar-powered reader lying around the house? not me!). If it were me, I think I’d download a massive encyclopedia and a bunch of other reference materials onto my iBook, pack my spare battery and both of Kevin’s, and have about twenty hours of computer access in the other world. I’d have to ration it out carefully, of course, but the option would be invaluable, I think. (How do you make gunpowder again? 🙂

    Of course, I don’t want my protagonist to have nearly that much information, so *she* doesn’t get to own a laptop or have the means of buying one before she gets yanked back into the other world…

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