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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Simple Foraging

People liked the simple hunting article, but Spawn of Endra raised a question about foraging for edible plants (and bugs, I suppose.) I think the system can be adapted, but first I need to talk some more about hunting.

The hunting system is simple because really it's just the standardized form of the situation roll, as I've developed it: roll 1d6 anytime you want to see if the situation changes, and on a 5+, it changes. In this case, the change is "locate game". All I added to this was a rule about only rolling once, modifying that initial result over time, and a classification scheme linking size of game sought to time needed to find it. After locating the game, there is a separate process to actually catch it.

For foraging, the d6 roll stays the same; what changes is the classification scheme. Size is no longer important, but the biome is. How "fecund" the area is affects how quickly one person can find enough edible material to stave off hunger. If foraging is exceptionally successful, you can find enough for several people. The categories are:

  • Lush: Jungle, river banks. Takes turns to locate food for one person, does not slow movement unless you forage a lot (four attempts or more. ) Some lush biomes will slow movement in other ways...
  • Average: Light forest, fields or hills with occasional trees or shrubs. Takes hours to forage, reduces movement one hex for every two full hours.
  • Sparse: Dense forest with little undergrowth, mountains near treeline, marginal scrublands. Takes four-hour periods to forage, reduces movement by two hexes.
  • Barren: Glacier, high mountain, extreme desert. Takes days to forage, reduces movement to one hex.

Again, the roll determines whether you find food on the first attempt. If player announce they continue to forage, ask for how long... Add +1 to the original roll per time period, with the foragers finding food when the modified result reaches 5+. They can try again after gathering the first batch of food. Reduce movement 1 hex per two hours of foraging.

Foraging doesn't require a separate action to kill or prepare what you've found, but if a forager is outside their normal environment, roll a d6 to see if they find something that isn't safe to eat. On a 5, the consequences are at least mildly annoying, and on a 7+, the food is poisonous.

Edit: Also, see Spawn of Endra's post about the relative "cost" (effort versus calories) of foraging versus hunting. In general, I figure hunting is going to occur when you're camped out at the dungeon entrance, waiting for daybreak before entering or hanging around a few days while you make short trips in to retrieve treasure you've already located. If the dungeon is only a few days' travel from a town and the area is lush or average, you forage on the way to and from the dungeon, to conserve on supplies.


  1. Nice work on this, another elegant mechanic. I'm a bit confused the the last part: 'on a 7+, the food is poisonous'. What modifiers would get the roll to 7 or higher?

  2. Arbitrary modifiers, per GM's decision. For example, a cursed or blighted area, or a particularly incompetent forager, might get a +1 to the danger check. If the forager has both Int and Wisdom below 9, I'd suggest a +1 for that, too; or, to put it another way, modify the target numbers by the highest Int or Wisdom modifier.

    Also, individual characters could be more sensitive to strange new foods, if the GM wants to be cruel. This would mean a Con modifier for that person only. I suggest only applying this once per food; once you know something's safe to eat, there's no need to roll again.

  3. I really like these systems. Once again you've solved a problem I've tried to tackle in a much more elegant manor then anything I've come up with. bravo.