Tonight we played Follow by Ben Robbins. The cities were getting too crowded for us. It was no longer possible to live a good life there. So we left the civilization we knew behind and found our way into a wild forest filled with tall, ancient trees. We are a settlement of over a hundred people and this place is our new colony, that we call The Arboretum.
We are lucky that upon reaching this area, Zack Granite, a survivalist that came to this area earlier, is actually eager to share his knowledge of the area and the know-how needed to survive without the comforts of civilization we left behind. The rest of us, are a little over our heads, but we are all excited for a new beginning. Leslie, the herbalist, is hoping to discover new healing techniques using the local plants and herbs. Shine, is very excited that we have left the issues of the capitalist run society behind and now we will be able to live in harmony with nature and one another. Edgar hopes that in this new environment he will have a strong connection to the land and will be able to spend a lot more time working an living with his family as he wants to setup a homestead.
After a couple of days of being in the forest, we decide that the first task at hand is to clear the land of the thick vines that grow in the areas where we want to build our shelters. Unfortunately, these vines are very tough and we do not have many tools with us. The night before we start the work, we gather by a firepit as we discuss our hopes of living here… and the logistics of the next day. We agree to divide the camp into two, one half will be in vine clearing duty while the other is in trench digging duty as we want to have easier access to water.
Edgar is working with his neighbor Jeane, who also left the city recently. They are trying to clear the vines in their plots and are surprised by how little help they are getting from the rest of the camp. Where is everyone? Edgar’s hands are all blistered and bloody from pulling the vines out of the ground. Yet, he is happy that his whole body is working and he is breathing fresh air all day and he has never slept so well,. Meanwhile Jeane, is regretting her decision of living the city and cannot stop complaining about all the hardships they are facing.
Meanwhile, Leslie is not digging an irrigation trench or helping the rest of the camp pull vines out. Instead, she is setting up her cave with a clay oven so she can create ceramics to sell to rest of the camp. While she is doing that, Landor, a photographer that has been taking photos of the area and the settlers, appears at her cave. He is excited to take photos of her and asks her to pose. Leslie is not amused and wonders how photography can be done in a sustainable fashion without the rest of the equipment that is needed. Landor confesses that he did bring with him chemicals to develop photos and he has a simple setup in a neighboring cave. Leslie warns him to be careful with that and to be aware of Shine as she will not tolerate having those dangerous substances at The Arboretum.
After six weeks of attempting to clear the land of vines, the land is still not clear. Many people in the camp kept on getting distracted by their personal projects and the sustained effort needed to pull the vines out of the ground instead of simply cutting them was never done. Exhausted and miserable, Jeane leaves the camp.
It is about this time that several people in the camp catch an unknown disease. At first they have a mild rash, but it is soon followed by blisters, swelling of the limbs and a light fever. But with limited access to water and the physical exertion needed to maintain ourselves fed in our rough camp, this is quite dangerous.
While at Leslie’s cave, Zach mentions that Shine has just started showing symptoms and brings her over so Leslie can get a better understanding of what the source of this disease might be. Shine explains she had been setting up a grey water system, had been weaving baskets with the vines, and had delivered food to the other side of the camp with twelve other camp members earlier that week. As Zach had had considerable contact with this group, he volunteers to round up all those that have the disease and be the quarantine leader while Leslie figures out the source and treatment of the disease.
Leslie then walks around camp interviewing people. She runs into Edgar who is fully covered in mud. He explains that he has rashes all over his body, but found out that the itchiness and pain goes away when covered in wet mud. Leslie is very worried as having all the skin and rashes covered in mud are likely to cause infections, so she brings Edgar to her cave to treat him.
Back at her cave, she is using different salves and herbs on different parts of Edgar’s body to see if any of them work on the blisters. And this is when Landor barges in into her cave again to show off the new woven baskets he has. He explains that he has kept on taking pictures of the camp… and noticed that the vines do not grow back in areas where he dropped the photograph developing chemicals.
After several trials, Leslie eventually finds a combination of honey and herbs that does cure the rashes and proceeds to apply it to the rest of those that are sick that have been under Zach’s care. The rest of the camp is now healed and The Arboretum starts to thrive… except Zach who received the treatment too late passes away.