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dulcamara

Anyone keep close track of in-game food & water supplies?

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I've never played a campaign in any system where players' food & water rations had any great impact. Maybe a couple times the GM halfheartedly encouraged the players to keep track, but as soon as players expressed that it was a meaningless chore it fell by the wayside. And I tend to agree, in many cases that sort of thing is just prosaic bookkeeping that doesn't add much to the narrative - especially in any heroic scale fantasy or sci-fi.

My nascent campaign is going to be fantasy with some post-apocalyptic elements though, i.e. a once flourishing world medieval world in the aftermath of catastrophe. I'm considering using food/water supplies as a point of emphasis, and force the players to actively hunt & forage or at least plan ahead for travels in the more desolate areas. Occasionally use the threat of dehydration or starvation as a plot device. To make things easier I was even going to add a Rations section to my character sheets with handy checkboxes so players could quickly visualize and record their supplies.

Sounds good 'on paper' so to speak, but I could see despite my best efforts the players still being kind of bored by it. Then again, it could work great. Any of you guys actually pulled this off?

PS - I should mention several of these players will be coming from our AD&D campaign, where I'm probably the only PC who even keeps track of things like arrow or lamp oil (purely for igniting and throwing on monsters of course) supplies.

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I ignore this stuff unless it is an important element in the game. Example: when Matt and I wrote the Sands of Timehttp://www.stormbringerrpg.com/?page_id=86 for Stormbringer we provided some rules for water consumption in the Sighing Desert because making the characters a little thirsty and desperate helped push them towards the adventure.

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In my current desert-oriented campaign, we're keeping loose track of such things. This amounts to the PCs purchasing x number of days worth of food/water before leaving a town, and then counting down the days in the wilderness. If it looks like things in the wilderness will cause them to take more days than planned, or to adopt some NPCs into the party, then I warn them about supplies, and they modify their plans accordingly. We've never actually roleplayed thirst or starvation, but it might happen. It's present enough to affect play and add flavour, but loose enough not to become a significant book-keeping item.

In a relatively rich environment, I would just assume PCs had the hunting abilities to fend for themselves, but might (rarely) have them keep track of food for their mounts.

Edited by Thalaba

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Only in a unfamiliar area like a desert to add drama or a post-apocalyptic world where scarcity of EVERYTHING is a common theme.

And you are right about the paperwork chore. We did this one in a game I was playing in, it was fun tracking the food the first day, and bloody annoying every day afterwards.

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Sounds good 'on paper' so to speak, but I could see despite my best efforts the players still being kind of bored by it. Then again, it could work great. Any of you guys actually pulled this off?

I usually only require keeping track of expendables like ammunition, food, etc. when the lack of those items will add something to the narrative. In any world or environment where clean water and uncontaminated food are scarce they become valuable commodities. A person can go a very long time without any arrows to fire from their bow, but aren't likely to live too long without food and water for sustenance. People are also less picky about what they eat in a setting where the alternative is starvation. If you treat clean water and uncontaminated food as valuables (like money) then all you need to do is assign some value to them based on how clean the water is and what type of food. The value can range from low (Fried Beetles) to high (T-Bone Steak). To keep things from getting stale (no pun intended) make sure the group starts out at the low end e.g. after fending off a bandit attack the group searches the bodies and finds enough Rat-Jerky and dirty (but drinkable) water to keep them alive for a few more days. Have them find a trove of food that may have been delicious once, but is now rotten and spoiled. Have them encounter merchants selling/trading food & water of a questionable nature.

Ticking off expendables by itself IS quite boring if the narrative doesn't show why its important.

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It depends on the specific situation. For example, if the characters plan a longer expedition

into uninhabited territory, I expect the players to decide what their characters will take with

them, from the food and water to the ammunition, and how they intend to transport it. Du-

ring the expedition I will make notes about all material that is running low, especially food and

water, and remind the players of any shortage their characters might have to deal with. But

under more normal circumstances, for example in inhabited territory where supplies are avail-

able, I just expect the characters to pay their usual monthly life support bill, which then in-

cludes all the minor stuff they will normally use.

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I only keep track when it is important.

So, wandering through a desert or through the wastes, water is important. Our party was in the desert when a vampire shot out all their water skins from cover - they thought he kept missing them and started to take the mickey, until they realised what was happening. It gave them a bit of a fright at the time. I think they had enough water left to allow them to reach the next oasis before it became a problem, though.

For normal adventuring, I assume that people will live of the land, to a certain extent, or can buy things in towns. I subtract a certain amount of money each week from their money, which deals with food and drink. In the wilderness they hunt, so the cost of living is halved.

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It rarely adds to the fun of the game, so we usually skip it. When it's an important element of the game, the gm can usually remind the party when supplies are half-gone, 3/4 gone, etc.

As a player, that tracking is annoying at best, and sometimes much worse (we had a StarWars game where we couldn't get off a planet because the GM miscalculated how much fuel different maneuvers took -- and it was only an issue because he was making us track our fuel usage in detail).

Steve

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I've never played a campaign in any system where players' food & water rations had any great impact.

For most campaigns, I think it is boring. However, if it is an important plot element, then it is worthwhile. I played a lot of Twilight2000 and some Twilight2013, which have a strong survivalist bent. Keeping your armored personnel carrier running was a constant chore and often the motivator for adventure.

I've also played fantasy games where food and water became important. One involved chasing an enemy group through the wilderness to recover something. How quickly you traveled was important, so not taking too much was a good idea. Of course if you didn't take enough, you had to stop to hunt etc. Catching the bad guys involved as much resource management as tracking and fighting skill.

For a dungeon crawl...no one cares...as far as I can tell.

NT

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We had one campaign where the GM insisted, and we had to keep track of food. Inevitably, we forgot once or twice, and it didn't add to the fun in any appreciable way - "Hey guys, it's a new day, tick off one of your food rations", "What? Oh yeah, whatever".

If I'm GMing, anyone with a hunting/fishing/gathering skill is assumed to succeed in an familiar environment (following the "don't roll the simple stuff" rule of thumb). When the party is about to head into territory where they don't have normal access to food or an unusual environment, they must either get supplies before departing - in which case they have ample food for the journey - or they must make skill checks or start to get hungry.

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Appreciate the feedback, sounds like a resounding rejection of ration tracking! Nice to be saved the trouble.

FWIW, I was thinking about this whilst reading Lonesome Dove... if I recall, the troupe was heading across Wyoming and ran out of water and the narrative became a desperate quest to find some before succumbing. Just made me think it could make for a pretty taut RPG session, but maybe only in special circumstances...

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Theonly time I really bother to track stuff like that is when the group is going to be isolated enough for it to mater. In most cases, here are soruces of food and water nearby so it isn't an issue.

I think it is fine to keep a strict acounting of supplies if and when it would beimportant. Andthen as Gm I'd probably make it significant to the adventure smehow, with supplies running low and he heroes forced to find ways or restocking. As long as itis a chanllenge in the game.

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Just made me think it could make for a pretty taut RPG session, but maybe only in special circumstances...

Yes, indeed. Most of my settings are science fiction, which offers a lot of opportunities to use

more or less hostile environments. Not long ago the characters were on a survey mission on Sa-

mar, a somewhat Mars like planet, when an accident damaged their vehicle beyond immediate

repair, far from the colony's only habitat, and with hardly enough air, water and food to make

it there ... >:>

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I'll add another redundant post:

Just the same as most everyone else in this thread, I only do in very specific situations that are engineered to focus on resource management. Otherwise it's too much detail.

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