Monday, May 8, 2017

OED Wilderness Rules Draft: Food and Water

In the last year, I've spent some tweaking wilderness adventuring rules to make myself happy. Although OD&D's rules were based partly on Outdoor Survival it has numerous blind spots; like having no mechanics for running out of food or water, reduced movement rates, weather, etc. (things that were at the very core of Outdoor Survival play). Partly what I'm doing here is bringing in some more parts of O.S., looking in places to real-world research on certain effects (re: last week's post), and shaving off the hard edges to make it more streamlined and easier to run in play. For your consideration and comment:



Food and Water

In standard terrain, only food for men needs to be tracked. Cost is 5 and weight is 1 stone per man/week. Otherwise assume that water is generally available in small ponds and streams (each man with a waterskin; half-gallon, 1/3 stone), and horses may graze daily.

Severe terrain requires that food and water be tracked for both men and horses. Such areas include: desert, open ocean, deep caves, mountain peaks, arctic locations, and winter season. Total cost and encumbrance per week of supplies is shown in the table to the right. Note that weight will be prohibitive in some cases.

If a PC party in the wilderness runs out of food, then they can supply themselves by taking down sufficiently large random encounters (e.g., giant animals, dragons; say 1 HD will feed 6 men for a week, but won’t last beyond that time).

Lack of Food or Water: Living creatures suffer 1d6 damage at the end of each week without food or each day without water. This damage cannot be healed until proper food and/or water is procured, at which point they regain 1 hp/level for each like time period. If under half hit points for this reason, then assume the creature’s movement is halved.

Standard Rations Only: Only standard rations are generally available. Iron rations may be available in exceptional circumstances (dwarven or magical construction, etc.; one-third weight).


Notes and References


32 comments:

  1. Looks good, one question pops up. What if I am in standard terrain but lose my waterskin? Some sort of mechanic or penalty to "drink my fill" in the morning?
    Only other thing is some accounting for creatures with unusual consumption rates, but thats a corner case.

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    1. I think I'd assume that you could borrow someone else's or jury-rig a bladder or something.

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    2. Or on second thought: Maybe this point argues for just getting the comment on waterskins out of the rule altogether. That's how I'd rule it, and the test would get shorter.

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  2. As you acknowledge, the rules for lacking food/water are extremely harsh on normal men and/or 1st-level characters.

    Maybe as an alternative that would make it more fair and realistic for the mundanes but still a threat for mid-levels would be to have a save vs. death after every day without water or week without food. The first failure means your maximum hit points and movement speed drop by half; the second failure totally incapacitates you, and the third failure is death. Still a three strikes rule, scales with increasing hit points, and has a period at the end where you're too weak to help yourself but someone else could still rescue you.

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    1. I like the saving throw idea rather than hp loss. Maybe one failed throw gives 1/3 reduction to movement, a second reduces move to half with a -2 penalty on attacks and saves, etc?

      And maybe if the character fails the first save, allow no healing until they are able to find nourishment? Just throwing ideas out, haven't thought them thru.

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    2. I considered something like that, but I think it would be too lenient for high-level characters with great saves.

      And personally I kind of wanted to wrap the mechanic into the existing hit points and not create new status conditions to start tracking. Maybe I've been burnt by 3E-style proliferation of that sort of thing.

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    3. The way I saw it, you already had created a new status condition, in essence. These special hit point losses that can't be healed would have to be tracked separately from normal injuries, as would the movement reduction. My thought was that making it a save would simplify things to a set of discrete 'condition' states. As for very high level characters, I wasn't as worried about them since they have so manyou ways to trivialize the issue in the first place. I imagine some kind of guaranteed failure chance or cumulative penalties could make them care, though

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    4. That's not a bad point about the special-case hit points. Keep in mind in that in my games with no clerics the create food/water isn't there, so I do want/need to dial in the threat to higher levels as a challenge.

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  3. ==Lack of Food or Water: ... suffer 1d6 damage

    I think going without water should be independent of hps, suffering should just be based on time and impairment perhaps influenced by con.

    It is much like the problem with the logic of falling damage. If you *actually* fell from a great height then the damage to *luck* hps can't help you, you fell, you're dead. But you could deduct luck hps and say the character did *not* fall.

    So I suppose you could deduct luck hps from a high hp character and say he found a flask of water, (which he may have to share) or an unlikely well. But just removing hps makes a maockery of hps and the concept of thirst.

    ====

    Also I would have two tiers as in dungeon exploration movement rates for 'familiar' or 'unexplored' territory. 'Familiar' can mean the party has first hand knowledge or have guides/rangers and they know where to move along game trails and how to move along and between streams/rivers. As in a dungeon (but for a different reason) 'unknown' would drastically effect movement rate as means of sustenance are located.

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    1. I should also add (rather than merely criticizing) that these kind of efficient spare tallies which add realism and must be honed to undistracting simplicity are solid core A/OD&D ideas, and in fact are essential. The trick, or balance to achieve, is to introduce ideas simple enough to be unobtrusive without dragging in a boardgame mentality.

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    2. I'm glad you're comparing to falling damage, because that's very much on my mind. But I do differ about the reasonability of it: D&D characters above 3rd level or so are simply superhuman; that's the nature of the game and I think we need to respect that throughout. Even in real life some people really do get lucky and survive falls from hundreds or even thousands of feet (link). Similarly, some people have survived for many weeks or months with no food, and I think that high-level D&D PCs are the kind of people who can expect to do that.

      Thank you for the thoughtful comments!

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    3. I see what you mean, and someone mentioned Beowulf's spectaculars below. This might be the most interesting or fundamental distinction between OD&D and AD&D, the former having an easy, relaxed, unrestrained attitude to mounting character heroism, more fantasy less realism. I am quite far down the realism path as I really like incorporating what I learn from history into the game. I could have gone down the other path just as easily.

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    4. I'll say that I've done the same thing in the past. For example: years ago my take was to use Gygax's reputed geometric-damage for falling (Unearthed Arcana) and apply it to all environmental conditions. E.g.: 1d6 first unit, 2d6 second, etc., to make sure high-level PCs expire in realistic times. In practice that wound up feeling inconsistent with the rest of the system and I embraced the linear system of falling and what you see here.

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  4. Not a chance a single steer is feeding 1400 people for a day. A meat heavy diet easily has people eating 2 or 3 lbsof meat at a sitting. If in the field with no real means to preserve food that means as much as possible gets eaten as fast as possible.

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    1. If you look at his source, it says 1400 people if everyone eats a half-pound serving. Hence why Delta has converted and reduced that, so that a 3 HD steer would feed 18 people for a week.

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    2. I have to admit that source had me skeptical; it did seem excessive. (I grew up raising beef cattle myself.) If there's a better source for that I'd appreciate seeing it.

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    3. To my knowledge, it is reasonable to assume a 700 to 750 pound carcass from a 1200+ pound steer. About a third of that won't be commercially viable as named cuts (steaks, ribs, etc.) though.

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    4. Meat heavy diets tend to be in the range of 6-8 pounds a day when the meat is in ready supply. People hunting to survive aren't getting calories from elesewhere so it's going to be a lot of meat eaten before it goes rotten. Do some. Searching on "Mountain Man diet" which covers the almost all meat diet of early 19th entury fur trappers and that gives a good view on what advneturers hunting and eating could look like.

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    5. Yeah, those numbers in the last two posts do roughly match my rule above. 2 HD steer producing 700 pounds of meat ÷ 7 pounds eaten per day/man ÷ 7 days per week ÷ 2 HD = 7 men fed per HD per week.

      Assuming it lasts the week of course, which is a broad assumption I'm making to keep the time scale in week-long units for feed.

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  5. I'm all for simplicity, but using HD to determine rations extruded from a creature seems wrong. Herbivores get the shaft and I'd sure prefer an elephant over a pair of owlbears. Nice series on O.S., though!

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    1. Maybe "non-real" world animals count for half nutritional value? (Got to eat around those poison/gas bladders etc.)
      Herbivores/Domesticated or other "prey" animals count for double?

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  6. I'd be inclined to make it damage against Con; that way level and class don't enter into it, and they can survive an average of 3 periods which seems pretty reasonable.

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    1. That's a design decision I've considered in the past, but these days I do think we need to respect the superhuman nature of high-level D&D PCs (as indicated by hit points).

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  7. To piggy back on some other comments:
    I think the ideas of HP damage, or Saves/ Scale with level or flat consequences is partially an issue of what "level" means in ones game.
    Is there a level at which you are no longer a mundane human, and surviving a week without water or month without food is "OK"? Beowulf swam for 5 days and held his breath for hours. Plus, depending on the spells allowed, checks would be moot for high level parties anyway as food and water are readily conjurable.
    I guess to sum up, it is a "mundane" obstacle and to me it makes sense to balance if for "mundane/low level" people.
    Or maybe put in a "death save" for half damage with an increasing penalty (as a compromise system)

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    1. I considered that, but it actually biases it even more for high-levels (low level almost sure to fail, high-level almost sure to pass for some extended period of time). I'd prefer to put in a delay, like (as in the notes) give a grace 1 period to start with.

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    2. Perhaps more importantly: I totally agree that at high levels a D&D character is effectively superhuman like Beowulf! As far as I'm concerned, you could even say that about any level past 3rd.

      Interestingly in Dragon #85 there was article with 3 different D&D stat "interpretations" of him. They variously pegged him as a 12th, 15th, or 20th level Fighter (in almost each case with Str, Dex, and Con all 18+).

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  8. Patrick Stuart have made some nice rules about Hunger in its Veins of the Earth book. It may have a different premise than yours but I find this reasoning interesting.

    The characters are assumed to be always Hungry as they are exploring a foreign enviroment but keep foraging while doing so. Not a decent meal but keeps the starvation at bay for a while.

    Every three days, they need a decent meal spending X amount per character.

    If without a proper meal for three days, then the party is Starving.

    Starving character loses a level if they are presented with the opportunity to eat a decent meal but does not eat. Veins is a bit harsh on this as it counts dying henchmen and stealing as opportunities.

    After three days at Starving the character goes to Dying and loses a level every day without eating. To go back to Hungry and recover level loss they need a proper meal costing 2*X amount.

    If they do not eat in three days of Starving, they are Dying. They need a decent meal spending 3*X amount per character to go back to Hungry mode.

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    1. Geez, that seems complicated to me. Gotta track which beat of the "3 days" you're on. Also: Level loss mechanics, tricky to adjudicate. I intentionally wanted to wrap it into hit points so as to not proliferate status conditions, was my thinking.

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    2. I dont like level loss mechanic too but you will have to track how many days the characters can go without eating/drinking. The constant 3 days of Hungry/Starving is simple enough.

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    3. Regarding the OED rules proposed, I would let the damage from starvation be 'healable' as you don't have clerics to spam Cure Wounds as long as the damage from starvation is higher than the natural healing.

      I don't know how you handle healing potions but I'm not to lenient on giving potions to a point where players would think about the possibility of living on healing potions instead of a proper meal...

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    4. Hmmm, well that's an interesting thought.

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    5. That might actually simplify the issue of the special case hit point track mentioned above.

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