I like wilderness adventures. My earliest games as a player (in AD&D 2e) featured wilderness adventures, and I really enjoyed them. I try to use them in my games (We're playing Pathfinder right now), but they turn into "roll a survival/balance/whatever" check (boring to me, and to the players too I think), instead of the actual decision making that would happen in a real wilderness situation.
Two real life examples:
We see the trail is blocked ahead (landslide pushed a lot of trees into the path). As far as we can tell, there isn't a trail through this, and we're in a bit of a gorge nere, so there's no easy climbing up and around. Do we climb through them or take the safe way around (though that means a long hike in a mountain in the dark ). We chose the stupid option, to climb through the trees. When we were just about through we noticed someone had carved a path along one side with a chainsaw
On a different trip, we were about ¾ up a mountain when it started to rain. The particular point we were at required a creek fording. Not too difficult a thing to do under normal conditions, but the waters quickly begin to swell. We're about a quarter mile north of falls high enough to ruin your day. About half the group is across when this happens. Does one of the halves cross back? Does the group split up?
With that in mind, how can I develop and frame wilderness adventure decisions in such a way that:
- The focus is more on the choices players make than on rolling dice (though risky actions carry risk of failure), and
- I can present this as a actual choice, instead of "Here's something to make your life hard you have to do it this way"