The Good Doctor Maps the Rufiji River!

May 9, 2011

After departure in canoes from Port Kilwa, Dr. Roger Smalley proceeded to map all navigable branches of the Rufiji River.  Along the way he encountered six native tribes, befriending five of them via his indefatigable goodwill and generous offering of gifts.  Much of the Rufiji drainage basin flows through veldt terrain, but other terrain was also found:  The river forked within a curious desert region, and river sources were found in jungle and mountain areas.

After experiencing a relatively quiet first half of the expedition, the second half offered much excitement for Dr Smalley.  Some of the things that turned the journey into an adventure:

  • Bearers refusing to move ahead for several weeks due to bad omens.
  • A guide leading them astray for several weeks.
  • The Good Doctor defusing tensions between neighboring tribes, avoiding an all out war.  The tribes held celebrations in his honor for several weeks, which he was obligated to attend.
  • Diverting from the desired path by following the fanciful claims of a (new) guide regarding the presence of an Elephant’s Graveyard nearby.  It was never found.

Conveniently, Dr. Smalley discovered the final source of the Rufiji in a mountain range not far from Port Kilwa.  An overland portage was employed, and the doctor returned to Kilwa quickly and safely.

I’m using the “Game 1” rules in the Avalon Hill edition of Source of the Nile, but as a solo campaign and with the following house rules:

  • When trading with natives, there is a 1 in 36 chance that the explorer is poisoned by a witch doctor.  The rulebook gives 1 in 6 chance of this happening, which is too frequent for my preference.
  • Journalists do not receive points for other explorers’ battles with natives, only their own. However they do receive points for any disasters that affect their own expedition. For each disaster in which men and/or animals are killed, fall sick, are attacked either by natives or wildlife or in which a natural disaster is suffered the journalist receives 2 VP (victory points).
  • 1 VP for discovering a spectacular mountain or waterfall.
  • 4 VP for mapping a complete river system, fulfilling basin requirements shown on map.  8 VP for mapping the complete Congo or Nile River.

See all Cairo Confidential posts.

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