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Friday, November 11, 2011

Simple Hunting

I've had a couple article ideas on hold for a while, but no energy or time to really write them up, which is why the blog's been a bit quiet lately. But here's a little idea for simplifying hunting in the wilderness.

Rather than use wandering monster rolls, as I've heard some people do, just assume that any hunter will eventually find non-threatening game. The real question is "when?" Roughly divide animals into small, medium and large game; based on the area, decide what animals would fit into each type.
  • Small game is stuff like pigeons, mice, and other tiny animals; they're common, so finding them (or traces of them) takes turns of time.
  • Medium game is a little larger, like rabbits or raccoon; large enough to make a small meal for more than one person. Finding them takes hours.
  • Large game is deer-size and will feed an entire adventuring party, perhaps for more than a day. Finding them takes a number of four-hour hunting periods (really big game takes days.)
Ask the player what kind of game the hunter is looking for, to determine the base time period of the hunt. Some areas like mountains or deserts also shift the time unit up one or two categories. Roll a d6, adjusting up or down based on background and difficulty of hunting in the area. On 5+, the hunter find game or a game trail in the very first time period. If the roll is lower than 5, describe how poorly the first time period of the hunt went, then ask the player how long they wish to continue the hunt. Don't roll again; each extra time period adds +1 to the die result, so eventually the result would be 5+. If the hunter doesn't hunt long enough, no game is found.

Once found, the player can decide how to actually catch the game. Set traps along the game trail? Roll 1d6 per trap every 4 hours, with a 5+ meaning a trap worked. Stalk game and ambush? Might take a while (use the evasion and pursuit rules.) Drive game towards a trap or ambush? Quicker, but takes a lot of manpower and effort.


  1. Hi there! This sounds similar to what was put forth in Raggi's Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG. Both this and Raggi's system are very simple, elegant, and workable. Thanks!

  2. Yeah, this is a fairly simple but still somewhat granular system for hunting. What I get stuck on with Raggi's system is that foraging = hunting. Maybe you also have a system, Tal, for gathering plant foods, so I won't take you to task for that. But in general, you're only foraging (i.e., hunting and gathering) when you're in the wilderness and you've run out of rations. I don't know why anyone would waste a lot of time hunting when you're better off trying to keep moving towards your destination. When I'm doing fieldwork in Belize if I want a snack I can get to enough palm hearts or cohune nuts to stave off hunger in 30 min or so. Then I'd just keep going, because overall the bush is not a safe place.

    Sorry, I don't mean to get ranty, but if PC choose to hunt then it seems like they're risking getting caught in a cycle where they just hunker down and hunt everyday so they can eat, and never get out of the wilderness.

  3. @Spawn: No reason why you couldn't hunt in a direction... Maybe take a small penalty so that you can hunt "North" and not just wherever.

    And not all areas are as lush as Belize. The forests of Central Ontario, where I'm from, have little in the way of edible vegetables, certainly not enough to find a small meal/large snack in 30 minutes... Might find some onions, or rock tripe, but not much really substantial stuff.

  4. I'll have to look at Raggi's rule. But I wanted to give one reason the granularity might be useful to me. My players need blood of different HD levels to scribe scrolls of different levels. They're always trying to snipe seagulls and such. As they rise in level they'll probably want to be able to find bear, or whatever bigger creatures are around. Thanks!

  5. @CA: Yes, you can hunt in direction, that makes sense to me, and then have a travel cost associated with hunting. If you're in the a place that doesn't have a lot of plant foods (like Finland, which I have assumed is why Raggi's system is hunting only), or the PCs don't know what is edible, then all the more reason to keep going and not screw around with energetically costly pursuit of game.

    The way Lab Lord (p.46) handles it is PCs can gather plants foods as they travel, succeeding on a 1 on a d6, and then feeding 1d6 people for the day. Hunting succeeds on a 1-2 on the d6, but the party can't travel. Maybe this approach could be melded in.

  6. @Spawn of Endra: I'd probably use a 1-point penalty on the die roll if a party is hunting on the move, but they would have to stop once they've located game, or devise a hunting method that drives the game in the direction they want to move, taking a slight movement penalty for travel purposes. Foraging would be the same, but you would just take a move penalty immediately, with no need for separate locate and kill actions.

    Also, Charles has a point about different habitats having different foraging prospects. But now that I think about it, I have too much to say about this to fit in the margins of a comment.

  7. I like that it's simple, but I would prefer a system that presents a number of potential animal choices to the hunter and he has to choose which to pursue.

    I wrote a big huge thing that gave good results but it was loong. Honestly we don't care that much, it's hunting for meat, get on with the adventure already. I'd definitely use the Labyrinth Lord system or something like it.

    Roll d6, on 1 you feed 1d6 people. Or you can search for water (enough for everyone). If you don't travel that day you get +1 to the roll. If it's lush or barren you get up to +/-2. Rangers and anyone with appropriate detection spells get +1. Winter gives up to -2.

    This way a party with 6 people in normal terrain can hunt and probably feed everyone all the time. In a desert you need a Ranger or someone with Detect Water and you will have to make stops for water. A Ranger alone can hunt in a normal area and reliably get 1d6 days of food every other day.

    This doesn't include things like pelts, horns, hide, etc. If the players want to load up they can but it's better by weight to carry silver coinage from the dungeon. But a professional trapper / hunter could definitely feed himself and make money.

    The seasonal variance helps make winter outdoor adventures more difficult. There should be a movement penalty and heavy clothes requirement to complete it.