Monday, July 25, 2016

Rules: Survival And Food Gathering Applied

Let's Making Food.
Yesterday, I wrote about scrounging or foraging for special food that gives bonuses and the like, and today, I decided to test this system, and eat my own dog food. Let's see if the random numbers I pulled out of "feel's ok to me," produce satisfying results.

Case Study

My players are on an island, and they have noticed some megafauna. Giant flies, birds, etc. So  thinking about my modifiers from yesterday, when I think of a fly, I think of insanely evasive. So let's see, a steak made from giant fly flesh (yum?) would probably be something that gives an evasion bonus. I consider +1 dodge a -3 penalty because Enhanced Dodge is a 15 point advantage that I considered, for better or for worse, somewhat mundane. To make it last a reasonable time, maybe a half an hour, is -4 for 10x duration. So the total penalty for finding a giant fly that has muscles that exude this wondrous property is -7, or -4 (half rounded down) in their natural habitat. Let's see if we can include some modifiers though to make it a bit cheaper. First off, eating flies is fr*aking gross, or maybe it isn't in your culture, so let's say that the activation requires an HT roll to not throw up immediately, that's a 10% discount. Let's also say that it has the Biological modifier for another 10% discount, that means it costs an FP to swallow it. Finally, cashing in on the gross factor, let's extrapolate that a Nauseated disadvantage is -30 points from the fact that it is a +30% modifier to Affliction. So a temporary nausea is a -30% limitation, but let's put a limitation on the limitation, and make it resistable, by an HT+4 roll, which is a -50% limitation, reducing it to -15%. So, altogether, this fly steak now gives us
Enhanced Dodge 1 (-35%)[10] (Biological, -10%; Requires HT Roll, -10%; Temporary Disadvantage, Nauseated, Resistable by HT+4, -15%, Fixed Duration, 3 Minutes, +0%)
I was quibbling over whether it made sense to put in the extended duration here, which would make the overall penalty to Survival smaller, which might be good in some places, but I don't like it, so not this time! This reduces the penalty to find the monster to -6 in strange places, and -3 in native locations. Let's see what this comes out to:

Fly Steak (-6/-3)

This steak horrifies you and you don't know if you can will yourself to eat it at all, but you heard the people talking say that if you can force it down, it can temporarily give you the agility of a fly. Make an HT roll to not instantly vomit, and then an HT+4 roll to resist nausea. If you succeed at the first, you have Enhanced Dodge 1 for half an hour. If you succeed at the second, you stave off nausea, otherwise, you become sick as well for the duration. Consuming counts as a meal for starvation purposes, but consumes 1 FP for physical exertion. If you have a Cultural Familiarity for a culture that normally eats insects or you have Cast Iron Stomach, you get a +2 bonus to both HT rolls, if you have Squeamishness, you get a -4 to both HT rolls.

Other Thoughts and Conclusion

I think, for food that comes from a beast that you have to fight, if you found the beast just as a random encounter, maybe you automatically get the penalty for trying to find the food cut in half... it's right there in front of you. In this case study, that would make the penalties -3 and -2 respectively. You still need to roll Survival, Naturalist, Surgery, etc. to butcher the thing, so that's what we can apply this penalty to. I think Techniques would be ok to buy down the penalty for hunting particularly favored ingredients, I think I'd go with making them Average difficulty just as a cost consideration. In this case, I feel like the penalty is about fair, but the time limit might need some adjusting because a half hour almost makes it not feel worth it. Maybe I should associate it with the granted advantage instead of handling it specially which will lower the penalty in turn? Ah well, flies are gross.


  1. I'm all for weird concoctions provoking Nausea and Vomiting; it's something I invoked in my Hyborian Age game (and writing about it was actually my very first Blog post, over on Tumblr!)

  2. How much extra time did all this take? I worry that I already spend plenty of time ticking off rations and having everyone make foraging rolls.

    1. That is definitely a good thought. I intend for it to be more offline, but leave it open ended because although I can't think of a good way to do this in-game without being a total show stopper, a lot of people find Sorcery's improvisation mechanic usable, which to me also sounds too finicky for an in-game move.

      Really, my thought is that one decides on a few key resources for a given geographical region ahead of time, and then allows the player to discover them as they play through, and I figured this system ends up giving a somewhat simple way to "objectively" mete out penalties to search rolls if you are like me and worry about giving players something too awesome without trying.

      My other thought was "how do I make awesome levels of Survival (foo) something awesome to have?" Sometimes I like thinking about the boring skills or the "we are required to take this because the GM told us to have 5 points in Background" skills and trying to think of ways to make it beneficial.

    2. If you want to see high levels of Survival, watch Les Stroud on Survivorman. :P


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