Gold Prospector Naida

Gold Prospector Naida

Siberian CossackMateusz Przeklasa

All of a sudden and without any warning the door of the hut swung wide open and the steam of the heated room rolled out in a great cloud, out of which seemed to rise like a genie, as the steam settled, the figure of a tall, gaunt peasant impressively crowned with the high Astrakhan cap and wrapped in the great sheepskin overcoat that added to the massiveness of his figure.

He stood with his rifle ready to fire. Under his girdle lay the sharp ax without which the Siberian peasant cannot exist. Eyes, quick and glimmering like those of a wild beast, fixed themselves alternately on each of us. In a moment he took off his cap, made the sign of the cross on his breast and asked of us: "Who is the master here?"

This is taken from Beasts, Men and Gods by Ferdynand Ossendowski.

The detail about the ax, pointing it's an existential / survival tool (and also probably a weapon), a class definer, sets a strong point in the description of the personage.

Ivan will guide the author away from the Bolsheviki and teach him a survival technique.

I like this transmission of a technique from one character to an other. I wonder how I can use this as a referee, avoiding handwaving the survival, making the effort to increase the flavour of the setting.

Ivan dragged in two tree trunks, squared them on one side with his ax, laid one on the other with the squared faces together and then drove in a big wedge at the butt ends which separated them three or four inches. Then we placed live coals in this opening and watched the fire run rapidly the whole length of the squared faces vis-à-vis.

"Now there will be a fire in the morning," he announced. "This is the ‘naida’ of the gold prospectors. We prospectors wandering in the woods summer and winter always sleep beside this ‘naida.’ Fine! You shall see for yourself," he continued.

He cut fir branches and made a sloping roof out of them, resting it on two uprights toward the naida. Above our roof of boughs and our naida spread the branches of protecting fir. More branches were brought and spread on the snow under the roof, on these were placed the saddle cloths and together they made a seat for Ivan to rest on and to take off his outer garments down to his blouse. Soon I noticed his forehead was wet with perspiration and that he was wiping it and his necks on this sleeves.

"Now it is good and warm!" he exclaimed.

In a short time I was also forced to take off my overcoat and soon lay down to sleep without any covering at all, while through the branches of the fir trees and our roof glimmered the cold bright stars and just beyond the naida raged a stinging cold, from which we were cosily defended.

As a referee, I see two ways of using the vignette to teach the naida technique to my characters. First, I could kill or render sick one or two characters while the ones included in the naida range enjoy a cosy siberian winter night. Or I could, like for Ossendowski, simply directly let the NPC teach the characters. (They can ignore the technique/advice later on, and suffer consequences).


Now for the technique itself, googling around for naida doesn't yield much, but I found this video that shows a technique that might well be it. It's labelled "long log fire". The video author doesn't build any shelter above the fire.

The whole channel looks full of amazing survival techniques, or simply flavour for outdoors adventures. I spotted a few videos about shelters, maybe the whole naida, fire plus shelter, appears somewhere in there.


The charm of Where the Wheat Grows Tall impressed me. I wonder if I could build something with naida embers, an eastern escape beyond the tall wheat.


Now there will be fire in the morning!