TLD "Abandoned Highway" Scenarios

Bill Tarling

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"Here’s a sneak peek at some concept art that Trudi’s been working on. What do you think? What potential scenarios for The Long Dark do you imagine after seeing this? We want to hear your thoughts, so let us know in the forums!"


There are just so many potential scenarios for the Abandoned Highway section... you could have to watch out for potential avalanche slides from the mountain edge (or perhaps need to set off a charge to clear the ridge for safer future passing).

There could be starving packs of wildlife scavenging... there are vehicles to search (some would need to break in), or even parts of the vehicles to scavenge (e.g. wiring from under the hood or supplies in the frozen trunks).

But here's one that I think would require some serious decision making:

The lone abandoned highway makes you realize how alone you are -- and you're also not the only one affected by the strange phenomenon that brought you crashing down...

This road was once the main travel route for people going about their daily lives. Towns and neighbours were often miles apart, but this lone highway was the connecting lifeblood which served as the only access to each other.

Now, like the vast unforgiving terrain you've already crossed, these lanes rest silently cold, dead... empty...

It feels like the entire population has just vanished.

A swift gust of wind, and suddenly a huge chunk of ice crashes down, barely missing me!

Sprawled on the ground, I look up and see the gigantic lines of ice swaying wildly on the overhead lines -- this isn't a safe place to rest.

The wind is picking up, and the bitter windchill is burning at my face... do I dare to find a vehicle to wait it out, or do I make use of the light to push ahead down the long empty road? Surely, where there's a road, I'm bound to find a town somewhere -- but how far away...

Checking the vehicles as I walk along, I find a few things that might help me ahead - even some rope from the back of an old beater pickup... but vehicles along here are getting scarcer, and I don't know how much longer I can go without rest.

As I work my way closer to one of the few remaining vehicles ahead, I notice it's pretty banged up and almost sideways off the road. Poor guy must have spun out in the storm, and hit something -- the front end looks crumpled.

The door's ajar, so I check the car out further, but just like the rest of the traffic, there's no sign of the occupants. I decide to move on.

I only get little more than 20 or 30 steps away when something starts nagging at the back of my mind -- if the poor bastard did crash with another vehicle, where is it?

The wind howls around me, but I have to turn back... something's just not right...

I work my way back to the front of the vehicle, and notice the drift at the edge of the road is a little lower near the tower lines. I edge myself closer, looking over the embankment edge. It's a bit treacherous going, especially with the brisk winds that keep trying to slide me closer over the edge -- but I spot it...

An old station wagon is braced around some boulders about 30 feet down the embankment. There not much I can do, even if anyone did survive the fall, so I'm about to move on when suddenly some movement inside the vehicle catches my eye. I see it through the broken rear window.

Someone's in there, and they're still alive!

I can try finding some way down to help them, but it'll be really dangerous -- and even if I get to them, how can I even carry them back up if they're hurt?

Do I just leave, wishing them a prayer for a peaceful death, or do I risk trying to rescue them? There's a good chance I could just fall crashing down the icy walls and killing myself as well...

[spoil]There are bodies inside (a mother and newborn child in the back seat)... a man lies just a bit further down the embankment (tossed through the front windshield during the crash) -- they're all dead.

Note: since I'm assuming the highway isn't close to our starting point, the mother and baby in the car would have frozen to death even if they had survived the crash. The man was also dead on impact, and frozen.

The movement was actually from some small wildlife (e.g. raccoon or bird) that had made its way through the broken windshield.

They were rushing to reach a hospital or safety when the mother was in labour. With the storm and sudden power outage, they lost control when they were struck by the other vehicle late in the dark night.

Items that could be found (if searching the bodies) could be some identification, an inscribed locket, a blanket (for the mother while she was giving birth), etc.

This information might be usable later with another character (e.g. grandfather) -- giving them closure as he/she/they had waited, but the couple never showed up.

Maybe finally knowing what happened, or receiving the item (e.g. locket or picture), or even the baby itself (if anyone thinks to carry it for whatever reason) -- might be enough to earn their thanks with some help in return...

Or may lead the person(s) to just say thanks and wander off to pass away (the sadness and emptiness from the loss killing their own will to live any longer) -- that way there are repercussions for even trying to help by telling them the truth.[/spoil]

Add your own "Abandoned Highway" scenarios to this thread...

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I take one look at that road, and I already know its nowhere I want to be, not alone especially. No cover, poor concealment, and wide, long fields of fire down onto to. Not to mention the natural hazards, and the fact that its going to be a wind tunnel just for being mostly clear. I would have to need supplies pretty badly, supplies I thought might be left in a car when the driver abandoned it. Not really sure what that would be. Gasoline? Do I need it for something?

Only reasons I can see to go down there, would be if I was needing a place to get out of the wind and weather badly, cars block the wind well. Similarly, it would be a good place to get away from wolves, if I thought they were hunting me. Hide in a nice, air sealed car for a bit, wait and watch. Of course, if they don't give up I'm trapped in the car, which isn't so good, but it might be the best of a bad lot. Auto glass is remarkably tough stuff after all, especially if the edges are encased in the metal frame. Try beating on a car window with a hammer some time. I'm not convinced that a wolf could break it, unless it was flawed already. The windshield or back glass would be the weak point... Would they even try? That's a question for people who know wolves a lot better than I.

I know its probably not the sort of scenario you're hunting for, but the highway, unlike the lakeshore, it doesn't scream mystery and potential to me, it screams danger, and last resort. Stay away, stay alive.

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I think a broken down car would make a great temporary shelter except for the fact that having a fire inside probably isn't going to happen, I guess you could break out the floor board and build a fire somehow that would allow the smoke to escape yet retain the heat without catching yourself on fire. Cars are insulation against wind and protection against wildlife and they also may offer surprises that were left behind by their previous owners, perhaps even an owners manual in the glove compartment that can be used for TP.

You could use old tires to start a fire and melt away asphalt to lay traps for passers by if you find yourself becoming some sort of beyond the thunder dome raider, or even to make a signal fire if you think people may be close by.

In my abandoned road scenario, I see the cars as presents waiting to be opened that may contain useful items and gifts.

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