D&D Chronicles: in which we almost starve to death

It turns out that food is terribly important when it comes to Dungeons and Dragons. And I’m not (for once) talking about the pizza, wine, popcorn, coffee, port and raspberry licorice we consumed as players — although that was all quite fabulous.

The characters have to eat too, it appears, whether ‘trail rations’, meals purchased in inns, food foraged from the forest etc. If they don’t eat, they grow weak and ineffectual until they starve to death.

This — and the knee-trembling pressure of being ‘The Ranger’ — was my main lesson from D&D session number 5.

Almost the first thing we discussed last night was the state of our rations. We’d previously set off from the town with 10 days of rations each. Sounded like plenty, but we didn’t really know where we were going or how far, and we’d already consumed a few days’ worth before embarking upon a journey of seven days…

No problems. We’ll go hunting along the way! Foraging for berries, nuts and mushrooms! Right?

Sure.

Even though our non-playing guide did a spot of hunting and foraging along the way, by day 11 we were out of food.

Actually, it was more pitiful than that. We were three days’ climb up the ‘Giants’ Staircase’ — carved out of a sheer cliff face — when we rounded a corner and saw we were only a third of the way up… With zero hunting or gathering prospects and six days of climbing ahead, we decided to go back down and regroup.

Clearly, we needed to plan our journey better. We decided to hunt and forage and stockpile food for our ascent.

Only it turns out you do of course need to roll a ‘survival’ throw to see how successful you are at this. Of course. And when you’re ‘The Ranger’, you’re supposed to have the best survival modifier, and so naturally you’re expected to do the hunting and the gathering and rolling of dice. Naturally.

I am it seems an incompetent ranger.

When we arrive at the bottom of the stairs, we are very hungry. So I go hunting, but I roll something like a 3. We stay hungry. The next day I roll something like a 6, which brings me 6 mushrooms. I declare them to be dinner-plate sized mushrooms (take that, game master!) so we do not starve.

But I am supposed to be accumulating food for a 10+ day journey! This is not going well. I start panicking. The pressure is getting to me. What if I stuff up the next day as well? Are we just going to hang around here waiting to be attacked? (For there have been several attacks by various beasts, including a vine, and I have already been unconscious …)

I do stuff up the next day. I roll badly there is no food to be found. We now have -3 on all our dice rolls, because we are staaaaarving.

I abdicate survival responsibility to our cleric, who it turns out has a bigger survival modifier than me anyway. She rolls a 16 and finds us a herd of mountain goats. We slay eight of them and suddenly have 22 days rations. Each.

Yay. Wasn’t looking forward to death by starvation. Although this does make me/my ranger feel terribly incompetent. Lucky my fighting skills are more effective.

By the end of the session, alas, we did lose a member of our party — our rogue — to evil prairie chimps. It was a random attack, but I had two critical hits inflicted on me and went down unconscious for the second time, and those left doing the fighting… have other skills. I would have died as well, but was lucky enough to be in closer proximity to our cleric who managed to heal me in time. The rogue was not so lucky.

Vale Tessla. At least it wasn’t a Total Party Kill by starvation.

Anyone else nearly starve while playing D&D? What happened? And, fellow writers — how obsessed are you with feeding your characters?

4 comments

  1. I don’t remember food being much of a problem when I used to play D&D, but then we mostly did dungeon adventures where the characters weren’t underground long enough to starve. Now having enough torches and lantern oil to last long enough to get and and get out with the loot, that was the tricky part for us…not to mention finding a “safe” to rest long enough for the casters to recover their spells 🙂

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  2. Hey Ellen, now tell ’em about the following week where we killed a bear. Boy, was that heart-stopping gaming…but hey, at least we’re all alive again.

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