My wife and I went for walk at Attenborough Nature Reserve near Nottingham today and I noticed a feature that I haven’t really thought about using in my fantasy games before. In British nature reserves overlooking water there are “hides” – small wooden structures designed to mask the photographers and bird watchers from the creatures they are observing.
Hides are usually rectangular one-story affairs with small slits or hatched windows and everyone is expected to be quiet and still inside. At Attenborough, I was struck by the stilted hide that rises up like a guard tower from a WWII-era prison camp and immediately thought that’d be a great idea for defending your village from bandits.
Scouts and rangers who regularly patrol trails and roads against bandits would appreciate a fixed observation position as a base camp. It would offer some small protection from the elements and also mask a camp fire nicely. In wooded or long grass terrain, the raised tower would offer good vision over a long range. Archers could dominate approaches while foot patrols scout nearby.
These hides would become useful encounters in exploration games because you could have the adventurers observed at distance from a camouflaged position. Defenders could challenge their arrival, or merely observe them before despatching a rider back to the settlement bearing a warning.
Empty hides could be useful camp sites or even become temporary lairs for wandering monsters. Hunters would know of them and utilise them to seek out prey, as is the case in modern times.
Funny, really, but a walk in the English countryside is not only restorative and pleasant but always seems to feed me new ideas for my adventures.