Game Jump
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Basic Information

A game jump is a terrain feature consisting primarily of a cliff over which herd animals can be driven to their deaths to allow large numbers of them to be killed at once. This was a particular technique of the North American Amerindian cultures, but appears in many places around the world at some point. Apparently, in at least one method of jumping game, a hunter disguised as one of the quarry species would lead the stampeding animals, attempting to ensure that they bolted in the right direction - doing this well could lead to great distinction, getting it wrong could lead to embarrassment or, indeed, being trampled to death.

Although a fairly primitive way of hunting, the large pile of dead animals that results requires a significant input of labour and technology to be processed before it rots. Potentially a tribe may camp close to the bottom of the fall and eat as much of the meat as they can whilst it remains fresh and then working the skins, bone etc. over a longer time … and of course food preservation technologies can allow more of the meat to be saved for longer.

For those with wild herd animals to hand and a lot of mouths to feed (such as an army or wagon train), this could be an efficient hunting method into the modern era.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • In a stone age game, a PC might win considerable prestige by successfully decoying a herd into a jump.
  • Allegedly pre-sapient pack carnivores might demonstrate a worrying level of intelligence by jumping a herd on their own account.
  • The period after a jump is likely to be a significant festival for the tribe in question - given that they have a lot of meat to get through before it goes off. This might also be a cue for gift-giving to other tribes (perhaps expecting a share in return when the receiving tribe organises their own jump) or a good time to discuss trade or other treaties.
    • It might also be a time where the tribe simply makes a formidable heap of pemmican - especially in autumn when there are plenty of berries for the mix and food is about to become scarcer over the winter.
  • Equally it might be a wary time with the tribe on edge to guard the rich resource stockpile whilst it remains usable.
    • There may even be conflict ahead of time for control of the jump … and if mishandled, the herd which they were planning to jump might move on or be scared off as a result.
  • Possibly a jump may be performed to coincide with some kind of festival where all the local tribes gather to trade, marry and conduct business between themselves - PCs wanting to deal with the locals might well find this a good time to approach them, but might need to track down the gathering as the exact location might depend on who can make a successful jump first, the other tribes the converging on the site.
    • This may also be where would be uniters of the tribes make their pitch
  • This sort of place might accumulate some very grumpy animal spirits - a tribe is liable to need a good shaman to placate them.
  • They are also good sources of archaeological data given the amount of activity that occurs at the bottom of them.
  • Based on much of the above, disrupting a game jump is likely to be a bad idea unless you are actively trying to upset the locals - doing so accidentally seems a great way to get killed, but you can also imagine some variation on the US Cavalry deliberately disrupting jumps in order to make life difficult for the natives. Or, indeed, waiting on the processing festival to begin and then swooping in for a massacre when everyone is distracted.
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