Cyclopaedia 20: Survival

Welcome to Cyclopaedia 20: SurvivalCyclopaedia is a monthly article on the InnRoads Ministries website as part of the Resources series. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe was one the first books my grandfather loaned to me from his library. He was an avid reader of the classics and when I showed interests in reading more serious books, that was the first book he offered to me. I still remember being engrossed quickly into the story of this single man’s plight against the elements and the world around him. I was so used to heroic and adventurous books, that this solo story of survival was so different. I was a Boy Scout at the time as well so the elements of woodcraft and survival really intrigued me. The survival genre hooked me and I have enjoyed other tales of survival in fiction and cinema since, especially those with war or post-apocalypse as their backdrops. Would you survive or perish in these situations? “Oh no, not I, I will survive.”

If you have questions about this article or topics you would like me to consider researching for future Cyclopaedia articles, please leave a comment below.


Survivalism and survivalist themes in fiction vary from tales of hardship in the uncivilized wilderness to the dread of post-apocalyptic urban landscapes. Some survival tales have been created to teach readers to live off the land while others delve into the human condition and the emotional strain of the ordeal. Early on, it was the fear of the unknown and risks of travel across unexplored areas, especially from shipwrecks or plane crashes. Later, as the Cold War strengthened, the fear of invasion or nuclear war spawned survival tales of a post-war urban environment. Today, fiction has delved into alien and zombie invasions, forcing individuals or communities to fight for their survival.

Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe follows the plight and trials of its titular hero as he survives being a castaway on a deserted island. For many, this novel founded the survival genre and has spawned books, movies, and games following the exploits and extremes taken to survive this harsh environment.

Survival encompasses many aspects of other Cyclopaedia articles, but its specific focus as a genre on detailed aspects of the environment and elements and actions of staying alive make it unique.

Various Types of Survival Stories

So many things can force an individual or small group to be in a fight for their lives, seeking shelter, living off the land, and trying to stay sane in the face of horrible odds. Some of the most common focus for survivor stories include…

  • Lost
  • Natural Disaster
  • Plague
  • Post-Apocalyptic
  • Prepper
  • Vehicle Crash
  • War
  • Zombie

Following are sources of information pertaining to Survival to assist prospective game masters, game designers, writers, and storytellers in knowing where to start their research.



Disaster prepper : health, identity, and American survivalist culture.
By Kabel, Allison and Chmidling, Catherine
Source: Human organization. v. 73, no. 3 (2014), p. 258-266

Falling Skies: A Modern Baroque Drama in Survivalist Chic
By Wright, J Talmadge
Source: Humanity & society. 40, no. 2, (2016): 209-211

By Wills-Brandon, C.



Alas, Babylon
By Frank, Pat

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
By Frank, Anne

Brian’s Winter
By Paulsen, Gary

The Call of the Wild
By London, Jack

Concrete Island
By Ballard, JG

By Dickey, James

Dies the Fire
By Stirling, S.M.

Distant Eden
By Tackitt, Lloyd

The Flight of the Phoenix
By Trevor, Elleston

By Niven, Larry

By Paulsen, Gary

I Am Legend
By Matheson, Richard

Island of the Blue Dolphins
By O’Dell, Scott

Julie of the Wolves
By George, Jean Craighead

Last of the Breed
By L’Amour, Louis

Life As We Knew It
By Pfeffer, Susan Beth

Life of Pi
By Martel, Yann

Lord of the Flies
By Goldin, William

Lost in the Barrens
By Mowat, Farley

Lucifer’s Hammer
By Pournelle, Jerry and Niven, Larry

The Martian
By Weir, Andy

The Mysterious Island
By Verne, Jules

The Odyssey
By Homer

One Second After
By Forstchen, William

By Rawles, James Wesley

Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide
By Cobb, Jim

The Raft
By Bodeen, S.A.

The Revenant
By Punke, Micahael

The Road
By McCarthy Cormac

Robinson Crusoe
By Defoe, Daniel

The Swiss Family Robinson
By Wyss, Johann

Under the Dome
By King, Stephen

When I Fell From the Sky
By Koepcke, Juliane

White Fang
By London, Jack

Wildwood Wisdom
By Jaeger, Ellsworth

Z for Zachariah
By O’Brien, Robert C.



AD&D Wilderness Survival Guide – RPG
Dead of Winter – Tabletop Game
The End of the World (Alien Invasion, Revolt of the Machines, Zombie Apocalypse, Wrath of the Gods) – RPG
First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet – Tabletop Game
Forbidden Desert – Tabletop Game
Forbidden Island – Tabletop Game
Friday – Tabletop Game
The Grizzled – Tabletop Game
Lifeboat – Tabletop Game
The Long Dark – Computer Game
Lost Expedition – Tabletop Game
Oregon Trail – Computer Game
Outdoor Survival – Tabletop Game
The Price of Freedom – RPG
The Refuge: A Race for Survival – Tabletop Game
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island – Tabletop Game
Survive: Escape from Atlantis – Tabletop Game
This War of Mine: The Board Game – Tabletop Game
This War Of Mine – Computer Game
Twilight 2000 – RPG
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Game – Tabletop Game
Zombie Panic – Tabletop Game



127 Hours
Against the Sun
Apollo 13
Cast Away
A Cry in the Wild
Damnation Alley
The Day After Tomorrow
The Donner Party
The Edge
Eight Below
Enemy Mine
Falling Skies – TV
Flight of the Phoenix
Gilligan’s Island – TV
The Grey
Hell in the Pacific
I am Legend
The Impossible
Into the Wild
Jeremiah Johnson
Jericho – TV
The Last Man On Earth
Life of Pi
Lord of the Flies
Lost – TV
Man in the Wilderness
Man vs. Wild – TV
The Martian
The Naked Prey
The Omega Man
Open Water
The Poseidon Adventure
Red Dawn
Rescue Dawn
The Revenant
The Road
Robinson Crusoe
Running Wild with Bear Grylls – TV
Sands of the Kalahari
Seven Alone
Stranded: I’ve Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains
Survivor – TV
The Survivors
Survivorman – TV
Swiss Family Robinson
Touching the Void
Under the Dome – TV
The Walking Dead – TV
The Way Back
White Fang



Anne Frank House

Desert Island Experiences

Donner Memorial State Park

Survival Preppers Expo

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Woodsmoke Bushcraft & Wilderness Survival



David Canterbury
John Colter
Davy Crockett
Lisa Fenton
Anne Frank
Bear Grylls
Mykel Hawke
Les Hiddins
Mors Kochanski
Cody Lundin
Ricky McGee
Ray Mears
John Muir
Killie Nightlinger
Larry Olsen
Richard Proenneke
Ernest Shackleton
EJ Snyder
Les Stroud
John Wiseman

I hope you find these resources informative and inspiring for your adventures, storytelling, or game design.

Stay Creative!

T.R. Knight

( If you would like to save this list of resources as a convenient PDF for later reference, you can find that HERE )


He is a freelance editor, proofreader, and writer in the game industry. He is also a Husband and Caregiver to his wife Angie, Father of Twins Emily and Rachel, Foodie and Hobby Chef, and Director of Academic Technology/Associate CIO at Taylor University. You can learn more about T.R. at his blog

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