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I wonder if it could be done, make a scenario in which a group of PCs are forced to life off the land and just survive for a while where nature and starvation are their worst enemies?

I've looked for ideas on the internet and did find some things I liked and I will post them here to give you an idea about what I'm looking for.
So, has anyone ever run a scenario such as this one and what ideas you have to offer?
I'd like to get an idea about how to make tracking an animal interesting, something that requires more than a single roll against a skill check.
Also I found some ideas on how to make a hunt interesting but how does one make foraging more than a roll?
This is an idea about making hunting something more than a roll:

Hunting involves 3 to 4 activities (1) Locating the game, (2) Stalking the game, (3) Bringing it down and possibly (4) Tracking. For the purposes of these rules, game for hunting is always an animal. What follows are rules for hunting animals:

Time Frame: 3d6x10 minutes

Locating Game – The hunter must state what type of animal they are hunting. It is up to the GM to decide if the animal resides within the search area (approximately 1 square mile). If an animal of that type does not reside in the area, the hunter expends 3 hours and fails to locate an animal of that type or any signs of one. If the animal resides within the area, the DC to locate the animal is its CR+10 (for CRs less than 1, treat as a 0). If the roll fails by 1-4, the time frame has passed and the hunter locates signs of the animal’s presence but not the animal and must continue searching. If the roll fails by 5 or more, not even signs are found.

Stalking the Game – Successful stalking of the animal is the hunter’s survival roll opposed by the animal’s perception roll. If there are multiple stalkers, each stalker rolls and the lowest result is used for everyone. If successful, the hunter gets to a range of 2d10x10 feet. To get closer (half the distance) requires another opposed stalking roll at -2 for the hunter. Each halving of the distance increases the difficulty by an additional -2. If any of the rolls fail, the animal is spooked and gets away.
ye opee try this

>BBEG is trying to destroy the world
>u gotta beat him to survive

ur welcome

Basically, that's the secret to making anything interesting.

You just need to start reading survival guides, and travelogues, and all that other madness, and actually go camping a few times.

Hell, take your friends with you.
Playing D&D outdoors in a forest is a blast. Plenty of room for ad-hoc LARPing as well.

Bringing down the Game – Successfully stalking an animal allows the hunter to attempt to bring down the animal with a single ranged attack (or melee attack if they can get that close). Roll a survival roll based on the size category of the animal (Tiny or below: DC 5, Small: DC 10, Medium: DC 15, Large: DC 20, and so on…). If the roll succeeds, the animal is brought down with a single shot. If the roll fails by 1-4, the animal takes normal weapon damage. If the normal weapon damage fails to slay the animal, it either flees or attacks (GM’s discretion). If it flees, it may be tracked. If the roll fails by 5+, the attack was unsuccessful.

Tracking a Bleeding Animal – Use the normal survival rules for tracking and grant the hunter a +2 because the animal is wounded and bleeding. If the tracking roll is successful, the animal is found and the hunter is able to kill it. Add 1d6x10 minutes to the total hunting time. If the tracking roll fails by 1-4, add 1 hour to the hunting time and they must make another tracking roll. If the roll fails by 5+ the tracks are lost and the animal got away.
One of my friends has been really looking into this, particularly porting it from PF/3.x land. If that's where you're starting, make sure that you remove (1) survival skill (2) the 'don't die' spells, like Create Water, Purify Food and Drink, etc

I know that's true but what I'm wondering is if anyone has gone through this process before and would anyone be willing to share the impressions and ideas they got
>I want you to do the work for me

That goes without saying, all the casts spell solve survival problem spells have got to go
I ran into this thing as a description of a possible way how a beast hunting quest could go:

- Hunting ideje:
>Know the beast's behaviour.

Is it territorial?
Does it protect young or leave them to fend for themselves?
Does it kill solely to eat, or anything that invades its territory?
What are its habits?
What trail does it leave?
What makes it a monster as opposed to just a large animal? Does it strike out from its territory to abduct helpless maidens, does it kill prey in especially gruesome and sadistic ways, is its lair on top of a treasure or MacGuffin that the players need?
How can you tempt it and attract its attention?
Is it canny, or just big and violent?

>Consider giving the beast different stats as the fight progresses. If it's a dragon and the PCs crack it's armor, make it more furious but with a lower defense.


>Depending on the complexity of a monster's stat block is, you could have specific abilities that are only "on" at a certain damage threshold, or if a condition is met like damaged armor or an injured limb, if the system allows. This would give the same effect, but would allow the players to have influence over how the hunt plays out. also, it would allow you to sping something new as part of a getaway, instead of having the new abilities only present in the next encounter with the same monster.

>When it comes down to actual fighting, make the monster interesting - and remember that "more damage" is not interesting. Have it take advantage of features of it's home - The bulette will charge through walls to ambush squishy-looking individuals, and prefers hit and run attacks. Spiders fight in three dimensions, and will try to grapple and seperate party members. Anything is better than the monster whose idea of combat is "Pounce -> Full Attack, repeat"

>Suggestion: give the monster abilities that will let it totally fuck up whoever it catches with them, but let them be very telegraphed - that way, players feel
like they're outwitting a monster who could easily kill them.
>The fire-serpent is drawing in breath and bracing itself to shoot fire - the players have one round to take cover, distract it, or get out of the line of fire
>The giant spiders are laying a circle of web around the party - if they don't escape or burn it before it finishes, they'll be able to attack the party from all sides simultaneously
>The Shadows phase down into the ground around the parties feet - next round, they'll be able to attack with impunity, unless the players climb up on objects or somehow break open the floor to reveal them
>The beholder holds the party in its antimagic field while it hovers above the ground, carving away at the ceiling with Disintegrate to trigger a cave-in on them


>I thought OP was talking about an actual old school "Hunt" where twenty or thirty people went out hunting a specific creature for sport (and possibly because it is dangerous to peasants or something, but that's a minor concern).
You'd have to have, like, survival checks to find its tracks and maybe to throw the competition off its trail by altering them or something.
And of course have a guy trying to get the party killed by setting up an ambush for the beast and maybe buffing it subtly.

>Make it hard to find. Let them find evidence of its recent kills. Have to track it.
If they have a ranger? Let them realize that the tracks they are following have doubled back onto their own tracks from earlier in the day, and that the Night Terror or whatever is now tracking THEM.

>The creature needs to be found. Don't just let the ranger roll Tracking, have him perform reconnaissance, map out the beasts territory. Does it have a den? Does it prowl the banks of the river?
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Kingdom Death will be kinda related, though it is a board game. 1-6 players playing survivors, start out with hunting a very deadly monster, survive if you are lucky and gather resources from the monsters body, build up a settlement and create gear with those resources.
Someone pointed out that radnom encounters need not be combat.

When traveling the wilderness not all random encounters need be monsters and combat. To get along in the wilderness, you need food, water, and gear. If you’re not familiar with the land, you will end up having to backtrack around (or walk into if you’re really dense) rivers, waterfalls, rapids, ravines, animal/monster lairs… More esoteric threats like quicksand also dot the landscape. Disease is always a threat as well. Insects plague people (and bring more disease) in many different terrains and seasons.
This is a great opportunity for those Survival and relevant skills to come into use. I prepare lists of “random encounters” that are more mundane than monster stuff and make them (and monster encounters) dependent on Survival checks. Skilled woodsmen don’t walk into an owlbear’s territory or drink too much from water in a cave. Rather than use flat “8% chance of random encounter,” I use a table with mundane and animal and monster stuff and use the PCs’ wilderness survival abilities to see how much they run afoul of it.
Often on long journeys I’ll mix the two – maybe there’s a 1 in 20 chance something bad will happen to a given character per day, but they can bypass it with a relevant check – often Survival, sometimes something else (e.g. one guy rolls a 1, off a list I roll or select “step in gopher hole and wrench leg, 5 foot penalty to movement, Survival DC 10 avoids”).
Have it so that the players work there way up. They start out with some basic gear as one of many peasnt jobs as classes. You have the farmer, the merchant, the trapper. They must then survive using the abilities of a regular person. The hunter must go out and collect pelts while hiding from in the poaching laws of the land.

The farmer must spend turns harvesting food hiring workers, and selling food. If his farm is attacked by monsters and bandits he has to hire adventures to solve the problem.

The players can eventually buy or build a house but these come with problems of there own. If you buy a house in a city, your taxes are much higher, and the chance of contracting a disease raise slightly. But if you build one in the forest, the trek to town to buy and sell goods lengthens and the chance of being attacked by animals raises.
The key is to take all those rules about encumbrance, weather effects, fatigue, food/water needs, injuries and infections, terrain costs, etc... that 99% of people always ignore and use ALL OF THEM!

The wilderness is far more deadly than a dragon if you're freezing, starving, and have a broken leg.
Even a minor injury can kill you if you don't have enough food stockpiled and constant vigilance and planning are required to even stand a chance of survival.

Like the ideas and you've certainly gave a couple more things to consider but what I'm really worried about is how to make the things you stated interesting themselves ?

If you skip over the acts of hunting and farming what you described is more of a tabletop farmville.

Feels like you should be entitled to a Knowledge (Nature) check to not waste time looking for something that likely isn't there. Player knowledge vs. Character knowledge and all that. The Stalking the Game bit kinda treads on Move Silently and Hide's toes, but it works if it's specifically for use against wild animals.

Otherwise, it seems interesting enough to try out once in a while, though it sounds like it could get pretty tedious pretty quickly.

Oh absolutely if you set the whole thing in a frozen wasteland with these rules you can totally fuck with the players without them ever running into a serious enemy.

If they re in a blizzard and you keep telling them how their stats keep falling(as they re slowly freezing to death) they will be damn motivated to take weather seriously and look for shelter(and even if they find a cave there might be another creature that had a similar idea that they have to deal with in their weakened state).

In this example I'm actually interested how would I rules wise make the act of looking for shelter by following animal tracks hoping they will lead to a cave or something be intersting in itself.

Maybe modify a WoD splat - have hunger be like the blood pool from one of the vampire games and make rolls relating to social interactions dependent on it, and once it hits below half your points you start to get penalties to mental and physical rolls.
I didn't write this myself and I don't think this is be something you should use every time your characters look for food in the wild, its just something that might work in a specific survival scenario.
Also i agree that characters knowledgeable about a certain biome should have such an advantage, maybe you knowledge could give you an ability to lower on increase the chance of encounters so you would have an easier time finding animals to eat and less of a chance to run into a bear or step into gopher hole and break your leg.
I ran into guy who made a system for starvation mechanic, it might be too much but i think the guy had the right idea.
A character’s Max Calories are equal to four times their Constitution score. This represents both bulkier characters being able to store more food energy, and those with higher endurance who can keep pushing even when the fuel gage hits “E”. If you want starvation to present a larger problem to the players, you can have Max Calories start at three times their Constitution score, and conversely, you could use five times Constitution score for a game with less focus on the starvation aspects. Season to taste.

When a character is at Max Calories, they are fully energized. As a character goes about the day, some activities deplete the character’s Calories. Each activity is categorized into one of four types- High Energy, Medium Energy, Low Energy, or (Virtually) No Energy. High Energy activities are those that consume lots of calories (like running for extended periods of time, or chopping down a large tree). Low Energy represents less intense activities, like a few hours of foot travel or lifting a moderately heavy object only a few times. Medium Energy represents those activities in between. Some activities, like eating, require such a minor amount of calories that they are counted as No Energy. Each category of activity has a set number of d4’s that they reduce a player’s Calories by, which are given in the table below.




Calorie Reduction

High Energy

Extended runs, mountain climbing, combat for heavily equipped characters
Medium Energy

Jogging, swimming, combat for most characters
Low Energy

Extended walking, hunting,
(Virtually) No Energy 0
Characters also spend energy maintaining their internal bodily functions. At the end of each day, a character loses 2d4 Calories. This number increases to 3d4 Calories in cold environments, as the body burns more energy to keep warm.
A person can go for a while before a lack of food begins to catch up with them, and the same applies for our characters. A character takes no ill effects from calorie loss until they hit 16 or fewer calories. Any character with between 16 and 1 calories is considered Hungry, and takes a -1 on all physical rolls (from a lack of energy) and social rolls (people’s tempers shorten when they’re on an empty stomach).
Once a character a character hits zero, things really begin to go from bad to worse. A character at zero or less calories is considered Starving. Starving doesn’t immediately kill a character; rather, their Calories continue to drop into the negatives. Instead of rolling using the table above to determine Calories lost, a Starving character will only ever lose one Calorie at a time. If they hit -20, then the character has starved to death.
In addition, The penalties from being Hungry double to -2 to all physical and social rolls. Also, for every day a character spends at zero, they take a penalty from the Starving table below, rolling 1d6 and adding the number of consecutive days spent at Starving to get your result.




1 Hunger begins to take its toll; take 2d6 nonlethal damage

2 Lose 1d4 Wisdom and Intelligence until the character gets above zero Calories

3 Permanently lose 1 Strength

4 Permanently lose 1 Dexterity

5 Permanently lose 1 Constitution

6 Character begins to hallucinate for 1d6 hours, and is unable to do anything but interact with the hallucinations

7 Permanently lose 1 Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution

8 Character hallucinates for 3d6 hours, and is unable to do anything but interact with the hallucinations

9 Character loses 1d4 from each physical stat

10 A character’s organs begin to fail; character takes 1d6 damage per hour, +1d6 for every previous hour

11 The character’s body begins to shut down. They enter into a coma for 1d6 days.

12 The character’s body has met its limit, and has nothing left to cannibalize. The character dies.

Optional Rule: Thirst
Of course, if your characters are fighting for food, it makes sense that they’d be fighting for water as well. Thirst could be handled by another system, but it can be easily added into the Calorie system as well. For each day that a character passes without drinking at least a half gallon of fluids, roll on the table above, using a d6 and adding the number of consecutive days without water and consecutive days at zero Calories. In a hot environment, like a desert, you might require the character roll twice per day.
Like I said maybe a bit too much but the guy did give a serious thought to how a characters starvation would look like.
Has anyone actually have a character track someone or something across the wilderness and make it more then "roll track"
An example of something that i would like to see is the situation of the cave from the blizzard example.

When the characters reach it they have to start a fire if they don't want to die, since they don't have much to get it started so that gives them a serious minus to their roll so the rummage through cave looking for anything they could use as kindling which wastes valuable time, then they try to start the fire with flint and steel and have a significant minus to that too because their hands are half frozen and get even more so as time passes making tha minus even greater making it ever more likely that the half frozen adventurers will in fact die and making the simple act of starting a fire a race against odds to survive.
Does anyone know what would a real tracking entail?
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May I make a suggestion?

Very well, but why this game?
Not only is it actually a lot of fun, has very interesting world building and can be extremely immersive, the idea of survival being entertaining is part of the basic idea of the game- helping communities at the mercy of the elements survive.

OK sounds interesting but how does it go about doing that is it just a matter of the game and source material painting a setting where such adventures are the ones you are most likely to have or does the game support that focus through game mechanics focused on such things (such as most games very complex combat mechanics setting you up for a game that is about combat)

Roll track should just gives you clues if you want to make it a major part of your game, "you see grassed bent down here" or "you find a patch of fur caught on a bush here".
Survival is it's own entire game genre, OP. Maybe a good place to start is, what do you find boring about survival that "making it interesting" is a thing to you?

I am assuming you are not an outdoorsman of any kind, OP, or else you would not need help with this. What kinds of mechanics do you find interesting? Because you won't find the reality of hunting and trapping interesting on the face of it; you have to invent a fantasy of survival that works for your particular brand of personality.

Well I'm definitely not an outdoor type but if you are looking for some kind of an example what i posted upthread, 3 posts about hunting mechanic I've found elsewhere is something I would consider interesting.

I'm basically looking for ideas to make for example tracking or foraging for plants something that can be small encounter or game into themselves. If Its just gonna be roll survival you get or you don't it is pretty pointless. For me it should be something that entails a certain amount of choices and decisions on the behalf of the player which influence the outcome. I know that combat in any RPG is abstract to a certain degree but it still somewhat feels like you are participating in a combat(in both the case of combat and survival it might actually help if you don't know much about it in real life because I guess it could kind of kill the illusion)

OK not a bad idea and then what? Maybe you need a certain number of clues(or even a certain type of clue) to give you the general direction in which the animal is travelling?

Also i could agree that this could be a genre of game by itself but I can't seem to find a game which focuses on it, at least not beyond making a setting post-apocalyptic or otherwise technically about survival but then not supporting it in any way and making everything about combat for example.
Depending on the nature of the game itself, survival can entail a whole lot more than just tracking food (though what anon posted at the beginning of the thread for tracking seems pretty solid.)

Whatever the case, I think you need to ground your setting a bit more. Are the PCs frontiersman, or is this a post-apoc setting? If it's the latter, survival encompasses thwarting looters and surviving against other threats (zombies, etc.)

If it's the former, you've still got a bunch of stuff to worry about. Say you kill that deer, but you track it to just outside a bear cave where it finally dies. Are you going to risk combat with the mother bear over the food you just delivered to her doorstep?

Ore you could take a more well defined route. The point of the game is to survive until a certain point. Your plane crashes in the arctic, the ship sinks in the middle of the ocean and you're stranded on an island. PCs need to get back to civilization, or survive until, rescue. Having the goal of the game be "just survive" is likely too vague and open ended for some players. You need to give them a larger goal.

Adding a time element will help as well. Different seasons will mean different things for potential predators, and food sources, as well as exposure dangers.
How about this:

When tracking something or someone through the wilderness there are ways to complicate things beyond a simple "Roll your tracking skill against a set DC". Roll track should just gives you clues if you want to make it a major part of your game, "you see grassed bent down here" or "you find a patch of fur caught on a bush here".
A certain type of clue might just give you a certain type of information about he thing you are tracking for example bent grass might indicate just that something was there not giving you just the knowledge that a certain type of creature(you can guess its size by the size of the imprint) was there but not in what direction it was heading so you would need to find another type of clue(broken twigs maybe) or maybe a certain number of them in order to determine the general direction in which an animal is headed so you don't have to make random checks in various directions bu can focus on one making the whole thing go faster which is necessary because the animal keeps moving away from you as the time elapses, also, maybe the clues have certain duration after which they can no longer be found.
On top of this maybe there could be various modifiers to rolls according to the type of terrain and weather and in a case of tracking a human being trying to cover his tracks you might have to roll against his roll and beat it in order to find clues in the first place.
What do you think of this, anyone have any ideas or observations?
Well what I was going for was not apocalyptic at least not in the sense of Mad Max gangs of marauders killing and looting everything, the players more of just a straight survive in the wilderness situation maybe they got stranded there maybe they have to stay in the wilderness for a while because of reasons(they are hiding or something)
Their goal would be to move across the wilderness whole staying alive to a certain destination or just lay low until something happens that enables them to return to civilization.
The whole situation would be structured so that setting up a shelter for a longer time period is pointless(so no making a shack and sticking to it and maybe bringing what you need to start farming and secure your food to a certain degree).

I appreciate the seasons idea and I already found some ideas about that in other places as well as adding an element of weather with weather tables and possible effects on the characters.

I also already posted the idea of random encounters more mundane then combat such as the character slipping on a slope, avalanche, finding or not finding a shallow place on a river to cross it...
This is something I've been mulling over for a one as well. Part of my focus has been recreating the Alchemy from skyrim for D&D for greater immersion, and a similar system for Shadowrun 4e to benefit mages, herbalists, and survivalists. Then I found this book called "Potions, portions, and poisons" which is basically a field guide to North American plants used by natives and settlers for natural medicine, food sources, and poisons. Each plant is visually represented, and catalogued by usage, environment, and altitude.

My whole plan was to create some supplemental material within either system for greater interaction with nature.

So Roll Survival to find natural food sources, success=roll a percentile (once or more depending on degree of success). Percentile dice define what plants you found on a table I haven't made yet based on your position and altitude. Some might be simply food, or possibly used for various medical ailments, and might even be poisonous if not prepared properly.

To extend the concept, say someone has contracted rheumatism or any given respiratory disease. Go forage for two or three plants and make some campfire Vick's Vaporub before they die. Or similar troubles. And maybe roll versus unforeseen allergies.

Glad to see interest but I'm curious about how you envisioned the act of looking for the plants themselves. I've run into a couple of books such as the one you describe so i have decent list of plants they could find but I would like to make the process itself be a bit more then "roll to succeed, roll on the table to see what you get"
Same anon. While looking over the discussion here, it also occurs to me that in basic survival you don't always have to hunt large game or even rodents for food sources. There's always "easy mode" of lifting up a log and surviving on grubs and various insects for protein. It won't be wonderful but you'll live, and it's not just a Hakuna Matata thing. As I understand it, it's a survivalist's rule. "Anything that swims, flies, walks, or crawls can be eaten." And usually with very specific things to leave out, but by and large this is true as I understand it. Just don't eat a bear's liver.
Depends on how crazily detailed you want to get.

If you have a relatively detailed map of the surrounding area, and you know what types of locations the plants are likely to be found (nearby water, in a cool dark place, in a field with lots of sun), if the PCs have "discovered" a corresponding area, and know the knowledge, then they can roll to see if they find it there.

That is exactly why I considered how to make a sort of an adventure by itself, I found an idea about making hunting a somewhat interesting process but for the most part characters won't be hunting games they will be looking for plants(at least thats the impression I got while reading things) because that is energy and time wise more productive.

OK that is a start, but what if the characters and looking for a specific plant but simply for something to eat?

I think then you need to consider other factors. What if it's the winter and nothing has leaves on it?

Sure, occasionally the PCs can just eat grubs or whatever, but there's a reason we hunt and developed farming techniques, certain things can be stored easier during months where food is scarce. If all they're doing is looking for immediate substance in the short term, then you complicate things by giving that a drawback in the long term.
>I'm curious about how you envisioned the act of looking for the plants themselves.
That would come more to a narrative aspect, most likely, as I have a hard time imagining that sort of journey being easily represented by a game mechanic. It would have to start with rich, colorful descriptions of what plant life is where like
>You walk into a clearing in the woods. Bright green, rounded leaves hang off the low boughs, covering creeping plants with bright blue flowers and various other undergrowth. There are larger plants growing up to three feet tall where the sun evades the trees, and each is topped with a bright yellow cluster of pods.
>I roll Survival
>you identify the trees as cherry trees, but there is no fruit this part of the season. In the undergrowth are some blueberries but not many, coupled with bluebells, and wild ginger. The Goldenrod in the midst of the clearing can be brewed and changed to a poultice to reduce eye inflammation.
>Okay, I mark this spot on my map to return later in the season for cherry collection, and I gather some blueberries and goldenrod for flavor and medical usage, respectively.
>then later, having left the wild ginger, someone contracts the flu and needs respiratory medical attention as well as additional food supplies. Additional survival knowledge rolls tells the PC that ginger can be used to aid in breathing when applied to the chest, as well as baked and candied for transportable foodstuffs. Despite cherries still not being grown, they return to the clearing to gather ginger and, having gathered more than strictly necessary, now have a medical solution to one problem, and a nutritional solution to another.

This is pretty tightly packed, and/or represents a more extensive PCs knowledge on herbalism, but this is kind of a sample of what such interactions might look like. Just the knowledge or rolls alone will save no one.

Additionally, plants do take a while to grow back. if they're just eating all the edible plants in their section of the forest, there is a good chance they'll run out of food at some point. They'll either need to figure out a better long term solution or move somewhere else.
You could also group plants by general region of growth, like forest/vines, forest/undergrowth, forest/edge, high/low sunlight, prairie, moist, dry, etc. If a PC flubs a knowledge and has no clue where a plant might be, they might spend all day searching in the woods under rocks and trees when it actually grows near rotting logs and water sources in high grass prairie.


They would be forced to hunt and forage on the move(either avoiding someone or trying to get to a certain location) so there would be no possibility of farming.

Taking seasons into consideration while looking for food is a very good idea thank you.

They might be able to conserve some food if they succeed in knowledge checks, that seems to be a good idea which would take away some game time but might save their lives during periods when food is scarce or enable them to move quicker for a while using previously accumulated resources. Is there even a way to do this in such a situation?


I'm not much of a narrativist I'd prefer gamey rolls and decisions but the other suggestion is very good so maybe you give them the possibility for looking for a certain type of enviroment and then looking at various elements of that place according to what their knowledge checks tell them abou their surroundings.

Thats pretty nice, thank you.

Anything further to suggest, I know next to nothing on the subject you seem to have given this some thought, only ideas i could find so far were various books detailing lists of usable/edible plants.
Meat salted and dried on slate into jerky significantly reduces the weight and preserves. Jarred and pickled foods takes some additional equipment and can be risky to transport but completely doable. Potatoes and other food-safe tubers can be dried and shredded or powdered ala instant mashed potatoes, but remember there are more unsafe tubers than safe ones. Or were you talking more about methods that affect a person's metabolism, reducing their need for food?

Meditations and breathing methods to slow metabolism and maintain body heat are commonly used by people in survival situations involving extreme cold, as one example. Alternately one abundant but low-nutrition food source might be used to pad and extend the supply of a far more essential good source. Ie, potatoes or other starches cooked with something such as kale, which has ridiculous amounts of trace minerals required by any living human, will stretch such a supply far enough that maybe five people can receive enough nutrition to survive off the same amount that would be a salad for one. Is that sort of what you were talking about?
You could let them choose where they look and then either you roll on a table for what plants are growing there or they roll to see what plants they find/identify. Do one of those for basic necessity, or both for greater immersion.

Come up with some basics about what absolutely shouldn't be combined, some foods easily mistaken for poisons and vice-versa. This will give PCs a sensation of gaining knowledge directly as they make mistakes that might kill them or important NPCs which also adds the oh-so-important tension to sessions. Such as an edible vine easily mistaken for poison oak. A flub on a knowledge check says it's benign. A pass mistakes it for poisonous. High success shows it as a foodstuff as well as giving the distinctions apart from poison oak. Or failure means a PC might wipe their ass with actual poison oak and suffer movement penalties for up to a week. (I know someone who did this IRL) Success means someone might attempt to synthesize a poison from this innocuous plant which ends up doing precisely nothing. Just spitballing here.
It just got funded, but Ryuutama is a good example of this, though it's more of a feel-good system and may not have the grit you're looking for.
>The majority of XP is given for difficult travels, not for killing monsters. Though combat is certainly a part of the game, and even “total party kills” are a potential result against strong enemies (not all sessions have to be fuzzy and feelgood!), you get far more XP for climbing a mountain in a snowstorm than for fighting a demon. Having said that, though, travel is potentially much more hazardous: On the roll of the dice, daily, your character can be immediately reduce their hit points by 50% or even 75% (fumble) by making a mistake while traveling!

That being said, it's baked into the game rules that you can do a much darker (yet still noble) setting:
>I was gaming one night late at Cafe Daydream with Okada-san: I had been thinking about the seeming discrepancy for a while, and voiced my confusion: I asked him incredulously if he ever *actually* ran a Black Ryuujin campaign.
>Okada: "Yes, I have. In fact, we played it over several months, the players going from level one all the way up to level ten."
>Me: "Yeah, but... how is that even possible with an ostensibly 'feelgood' game?"
>Okada: "The world was ending. The planet was crumbling into darkness around them. Nothing could save the world. So the characters decided to take one last journey together to visit faraway places before the end of the world, the very last humans to set foot at ancient cities and landscapes before they would vanish for history forever, with the rest of the human race."

If you want a copy, there's still a chance (they're putting up a paypal option for just a week to catch people who got snagged on Amazon pay services).


Very helpful, thank you.
So if a character knows what they are looking for have them look for places that contain such plants and then look at specific locations within those sites right? All combined by descriptions of plants so they can choose what exactly to look for?
Is this basically what you were going for?

Also lets say that you have a character that has survival skills but not of a particular biome that he finds himself in(which i believe would fit this situation), how would he behave, how would he go about finding food?

I actually heard about Ryuutama but while inquiring about it i got the impression that it is tailored mostly around emulating a specific setting and a particular gameplay and that it isn't something that could be looted for system or ideas about running survival campaigns.
Watch a season or two of survivorman. It's a fun show, and it's reasonably authentic (unlike Man vs Wild). It is a bit dramatized, but so are RPGs.

Beyond that, I'd either abstract it as one of the million skill challenge games from any system (describing actions as they fall), or just roleplay it explicitly.
Well, you can start with the basic premise that survival should have proportionally a more significant impact than combat. That being said, Ryuutama focuses on the consequences of actions, so it keeps modifiers relatively simple and lets the conditions reveal themselves from the result, not the roll.

The more you place conditional modifiers on the roll itself, the more you incentivize optimized play. This can quickly lead to murder hoboism if you aren't bringing societal factors into your modifiers.

In essence, you can do it this way:
>"I'm going to forage some berries" (intent)
>I'm good at foraging, so I roll 1d8 (preparation)
>Result of 1, botch (randomization)
>While I was foraging, I came across a bear. I freaked out and it charged at me. That's all I remember. (result)

Or you can do it this way:
>"I'm going to forage some berries" (intent)
>I know bears are common in the area; I'm going to apply bear repellent (or something) (preparation)
>Roll 1d8 (min 2) (randomization)
>I did it. (result)

While on the subject of Bear Grylls I remember what a guy who knows a thing or two about wilderness once said about him.
He said approximately "OK, he knows a thing or two about survival I'll give him that, but one thing I don't understand is why is he always running? In nature you never run unless something is chasing you."

Yes, but i got the impression that the game itself is tightly tailroed to the setting and various aspects of it such as something to do with the dragons and how your disposition makes you more or less alligned with some of them for example.
Air, warmth, water, food, and sleep. In that order. These are what your players need to find and what you need to make hard for them to get.

Have a "survival hit points" for each player describing how they're doing on each need, as well as a party resources card. Write out some rules for how the survival hp decay and what the consequences of going too low on each are, and let the players decide from there. Some notes:

- 15 minutes to death without oxygen, much shorter for permanent brain damage.
- Exposure kills in a few hours, but is also an easy problem to solve unless you're wet. Sleep is when it's most deadly otherwise.
- 10 days without water max, 9 days at 80* Fahrenheit, -1 day for each 5* Fahrenheit past that.
- 3-4 weeks without food, though most people die of disease before that due to weakened immune system.
- After 4 days without sleep, cognition is heavily impaired. After 5, hallucinations start happening. I haven't heard of anyone dying directly from sleep deprivation, but chances are you're not hitting the other marks if you've gone batshit.

I found some systems detailing these things. I posted one detailing hunger and starvation which details effects and penalties of being deprived of nutrition.
Oh, I meant to take the concepts of the system and utilize those in whatever system you end up using/creating.

Though I do have to say, the choice of dragon is basically something the GM and players talk over before the start of a campaign (and it really is just a guardian angel/instigator role). It is a more flexible system than you're giving credit for.

Thanks a lot for your input. You've given me a slight idea about how to make foraging a part of my game.

It would seem that the key to this would be to structure various with relatively detailed maps, basically make an area to be something akin to room in a dungeon with predetermined knowledge of what plants can be found there and where exactly they can be found, then give decription of the scene before and have the players choose where to look and then roll on appropriate tables and use modifiers while allowing the players to use their preexisting knowledge if they have it(if they've seen a particular plant before) to determine what they find and do they identify their find correctly.

Add to that the fact that over longer periods of time the players might have to consider other things such as low probabilities of finding food during certain periods and prepare for such eventualities. Also take into account the passage of time so that how they spend such time(hunting, foraging, preserving food etc.) becomes important in the long run.

Is this what you are basically saying?

I've never actually had a chance to read it I'm just stating what i was told and what kind of an impression it gave me.
If that's where you are mentally you should think about what feels you are trying to create. What should failing FEEL like? Succeeding? How close is starvation? How much weaker do you become with each attempt? How much off track? What is the danger of going after bigger game? What are the rewards? Is it difficult to defend a large kill while you deconstruct it? Also incorporate the need to "think like your prey" in order to track and kill them. This reminds you to make each animal and thus each tracking experience distinctly different, giving you some complexity to work with, and also helps immersion. These are some of the starting points for designing your game about survival.
Also I don't know if you have any interest in this but I've compiled two lists one containing a list of various animal parts used as spell components that Ive found a various places and another of herbs and their usage I'm gonna upload them here in case they can help you or anyone else interested in such things.

They are not exactly presentable but here they are:

Guide to Herbs

Spell Components

If you ever get around to making that supplement please share.
Yup. You got it.

Fine points, my idea would basically be that the ability scores and other such modifiers that the characters roll up would be their peak condition which they would rarely be able to maintain in the wilderness.
Most of the time they would have a small minus to relevant stats (think along the lines of -2 on a d&d characters) but that is when they are pretty much doing well. In order to do that they would have to be successful hunter gatherers otherwise the minuses get bigger and bigger making it perpetually harder to find more sustenance and surmount obstacles they encounter(player wound find it hard to keep up with their prey or for example swim over a river that he accidentally fell into botching a roll when encountering this obstacle).
When a certain amount of time elapses I'm not prepared to give a specific number but it would be at least a week penalty would go to slowly killing them.

As for reward/punisment it wold go something like this. For the most part you could get along on plant matter(this is what I was led to believe the right course to take in looking for food in the wild time/calories wise) but that would keep him at these constant low penalties and he would still need to eat meat every once in a while or the penalties would increase a bit(as I believe we do need a certain amount of meat).
So hunting for animals would be akin to looking for a Power-up most of the time and would be necessary only sometimes. The players would have to weigh the time spent on hunting(which would take more time then foraging) and the chance of wasting a lot of time while cathcing nothing versus the reward of increased stats and the possibilty of supplementing their diet with some meat over a longer period of time to make a moderately strong character for a period of time.


Also what did you mean by

>Also incorporate the need to "think like your prey" in order to track and kill them. This reminds you to make each animal and thus each tracking experience distinctly different, giving you some complexity to work with, and also helps immersion.

Do you have any examples about how to go about that.

Good, thank you once gain.
It isn't the survival game I'd design, but that's ok. You might want to think a bit about separating morale vs physical penalties, and making half of the attribute range bonuses rather than penalties. You also don't mention the concept of "fresh" food vs others. Generally speaking, looks like you are well on your way to a functioning survival system.

Hunting a wildebeest is different from hunting puma, or armadillos. Some animals are difficult to catch in a trap, others are just about impossible to spear. Do you have to separate them from a herd or pack? Do you camp out a watering hole, track them with a spear, or set up a spike pit or a snare? Do you watch their prey from a distance so you can catch them sneaking? Do you find their lair or favorite sunbathing rock and wait for them to return? Do you have to flush them out with a fire, or a stampede? Do they tend to stand their ground and fight, hide, outrun, or hunt you in return? There are a thousand ways to hunt a creature and be hunted, and you need to make this experience as engaging and rewarding as possible to prevent it from feeling "samey". Otherwise, all you've done is make it a one-trick pony mechanic, as boring as a single roll-vs-DC check, but will a whole lot of extra work.
At some point, make food really scarce for some time.
Like begin with them getting enough to stay alive, then to eat rather healthy for a while. Then prey starts to dwindle, crops go bad. Once the players have spent a few days without food and starting to get attribute penalties they find a rat or something, and you make it clear to them that it would be enough to keep one of them healthy (avoiding further penalties) for a day or two but not enough to be of any use to the whole group.

Repeat it over the duration of a week. See how the players reacts, will they keep one member healthy enough to be an efficient hunter? Will they demand their own shares? Make a system that involves permanent losses after enough time. Perhaps time it so that they'll have to choose between one or more players getting a permanent penalty just so one of them can go hunt a dangerous predator that have strayed into the area, or will they think about themselves and demand food so they'll avoid the loss?

Then if they have someone they've put all their hopes on, give him a nasty illness or break a leg or something, see if that makes them change their priorities.

But there must be a balance in team, like if you have a strong hunter you should have a good farmer, a good repairman, stuff like that. If everyone is good at the same things it will make it less interesting.

If you don't mind what would you do differently I'm interested to hear a different approach.

On the other point thanks I haven't considered that, it could be another thing for characters to consider when hunting, it could also add significance to tracking(if they know what kind of prey they area after they can adapt their hunting method), very good idea, thanks. This exactly something I was looking for a way to make hunting in itself an interesting experience an potentially as varied as any thing you could do.
Hey, >>28923948 here, had to step out for a little while but I'm back.

Basically I was looking at it from more a beginner's perspective. You as the DM would know what plants are where and this preparation we're talking about will give you a model of what information is available to the player/character. If a PC has existing survival knowledge, then you'd be able to give them some broad knowledge based on how well they rolled and what area of a given ecosystem they are viewing. Descriptions of plants can be given in a narrative at view or per rolls and by foraging as needed, but I wouldn't focus on those too much past their relevance to the player, lest you spend large amounts of time preparing materials that won't be touched.

As to survival skills of a person outside of their biome of expertise, I'm not entirely sure as I'm no survivalist but I'll take an educated guess since you're asking.

I imagine the first thing a survivalist would do is find a means to create shelter, preferably near a water source, and/or create means of gathering water, whether it be precipitated or gathered from a hole dug below the line of the local water table. Then creating a source of fire for heat, cooking, and sanitizing of water supply via boiling.

The general survival rule of thumb is that animals are safer to eat than plants, especially unfamiliar ones, so after a shelter and water source is supplied then I'd go about setting small snares and traps. The best approach to that in my limited knowledge would be to seek out samples of animal feces for distinct traits of what food is favored by the local wildlife so there's some idea of what plants or insects to use as bait for said traps.

After setting and baiting traps, natural modes of defense are next. Marking of territory in the natural fashion of urinating on trees will have one effect on both desirable and undesirable forms of wildlife: making them aware of your presence. Cont'd...
This will either deter or provoke larger animals who smell human/invading animal, and attack or vacate, but smaller animals that might otherwise respond to traps will be likewise deterred, ergo smaller good supply.

As said, I'm no survivalist but these are just my best guesses. I'd recommend maybe asking /k/, they seem to be relatively populated with survivalists who know more than I on this subject. Also, the US Army 21-76 Survival Manual is a goldmine of information; buy it and call it your new bible for reference on this topic. Also for narrative at purposes, go read Hatchet and/or Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen. It's an old book for pre-teens, yeah, but it still does a great job of describing the sensations of surviving without any real viable knowledge of how to do so.
>using D&D for anything other than a linear dungeon crawl
>doing it right

Pick one and only one, OP.
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38 KB
Kinda reminds me of Robinson's requiem.

what if the PCs are space explorers looking for habitable planets and only have bare minimum supplies?
>engines are for cars and nothing else
My approach is different because my vision is different. Good luck with your project, but I feel that you have plenty to work with here, from me and from others. You should tend to your own goals now.

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