Any good experiences with starving / exhaustion / encumbrance?

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  • edited August 2018
    yep, and in this type of gritty realism game, I would probably tie it into wounds/health to make it both integral and easy to calculate. I mean, if tracking this is important to the game, then make it fully integrated into the game. Too often these types of mechanics feel like an easily ignorable bolt-on, which indicates to me that the designer is kinda just throwing it in there for no real reason, so why should the players care either?

    Theoretical - usually in these games magic users have a limit on the spells they cast 'slots' and/or MPs and physical types effectively have combat 'magic' called 'feats' or some such, usually in addition to HPs. Simplify that.

    So lets say your character sheet has slots in it according to your stats that afford you a certain amount of effort before needing to be replenished. You put a token on each slot and every time you get a wound, cast a spell, or use a feat, you take a token off. Maybe two tokens if it is an awesome thing, or a grievous wound. If you run out of tokens your character is exhausted and limited to feeble narrative activity. Effectively out of the contest. Encumbrance, wounds and sickness effects your max slots, even if fully 'rested'. Whereas fatigue comes and goes - if you rest, you get back 2 slots an hour or something. Without healing magic, you get back 1 slot per week as you recover from wounds and sickness.

    I can imagine 'Encubrance tokens' 'wound tokens' and sickness tokens'. When you place one of these on your sheet, you place them from the 'max' end, removing any unspent energy token underneat that spot. Stuff like big weapons and heavy armour, and packs of food become a big deal. 'rangers' who can hunt their own food and travel light become useful for more than "I can shoot a bow!'.

    um - taking time to recover is only a useful mechanic if time is important in the context of what the players are doing. Perhaps they have to achieve a goal by a certain amount of time, which may include a certain amount of travel?
  • I'm not really into those specific implementations, but cool thoughts!

    Re: recovery, I was thinking that, when it's time to roll the dice to do something, if you want your +1, you have to answer 4 of these 5 questions in the affirmative:

    - Have you eaten enough recently that you're not at all weakened?
    - Have you drunk enough recently that you're not at all weakened?
    - Have you slept enough recently that you're not at all weakened?
    - Have you recovered from any great exertions such that you're not exhausted?
    - Are you carrying an amount of stuff that allows you to move about normally?

    As for time spent incurring costs, that's a separate issue. That's more about "how far can we afford to trek through the foodless wastes given the amount of food we can preemptively buy and then carry" and the like.
  • In a survival game these slots could be the center of the mechanics. Like:
    1. Thirst
    2. Hunger
    3. Rest
    4. Sickness
    5. Injuries
    6. Equipment

    They could give you the base of your dice pool like in Otherkind (Psi*Run) or in ORE (Reign), or they could be separate scales from -2 to +1 adding up for a DC based d20 system. So when you are in full shape, everything rocks, but mostly you are olin the middle, trying to manage your needs.
  • This thread has the most peculiar title.
  • (I also really like "Dread Techniques", because I always read that as referring to some dreaded techniques that make people shudder at a mere mention.)
  • But if the players are playing very methodical ignorant peasants, then never mind. Hmm.
    I disagree with this statement. I don't care how "methodical" they are, if they don't know that there are poison herbs that look just like clover, they're going to step in them. Also, this leads to people ALWAYS playing Very Methodical Peasants, even though it doesn't make any sense, because it's better to play Very Methodical Peasant #6 than it is to play Dead Peasant #108 (or even #6). Also also, I feel like this intrudes into the "I'm going to make gunpowder!" space -- where the Player knows how to do it, and there's no reason the Character couldn't, if they were following directions from the Player. But it's disruptive and generally un-fun.

    They can be as methodical as they want about avoiding the dangers once they know what they are, but no amount of care should help them against unknown dangers.
  • @Airk totally agreed! I just meant "very methodical" about stuff that is knowable, just that most people wouldn't think of, like calculating necessary food and travel times and budgeting for bad weather etc.
  • yep, and in this type of gritty realism game, I would probably tie it into wounds/health to make it both integral and easy to calculate. I mean, if tracking this is important to the game, then make it fully integrated into the game. Too often these types of mechanics feel like an easily ignorable bolt-on
    I agree and wonder if one could just reduce a character's maximum hit points by 1 for carrying a medium load (for at least a turn or whatever) and by 2 for a heavy load (visually calculated by using a slightly modified version of LotFP's excellent encumbrance system in my homebrew).

    It's very harsh to low-level characters (though viable in my homebrew as I have slightly increased starting hp -- not just a straight 1d6) and still provides a sting for high-level characters (who have plenty of hit points but care about each one because it's such a deadly game).

    I think this would work nicely with D&D 3e onwards, too, because of hit point inflaction. In OD&D, it's a tad too harsh and limited (due to 1d6 hp).

    What do you think?
  • @Airk totally agreed! I just meant "very methodical" about stuff that is knowable, just that most people wouldn't think of, like calculating necessary food and travel times and budgeting for bad weather etc.
    Ah, cool, I guess I misunderstood since this was in the context of "stuff they don't know about."
  • yep, and in this type of gritty realism game, I would probably tie it into wounds/health to make it both integral and easy to calculate. I mean, if tracking this is important to the game, then make it fully integrated into the game. Too often these types of mechanics feel like an easily ignorable bolt-on
    I agree and wonder if one could just reduce a character's maximum hit points by 1 for carrying a medium load (for at least a turn or whatever) and by 2 for a heavy load (visually calculated by using a slightly modified version of LotFP's excellent encumbrance system in my homebrew).

    It's very harsh to low-level characters (though viable in my homebrew as I have slightly increased starting hp -- not just a straight 1d6) and still provides a sting for high-level characters (who have plenty of hit points but care about each one because it's such a deadly game).

    I think this would work nicely with D&D 3e onwards, too, because of hit point inflaction. In OD&D, it's a tad too harsh and limited (due to 1d6 hp).

    What do you think?
    Makes some kind of sense as hit points are an abstraction of survivability, but its still counting on the players to police their own penalty, which I think is a bit of a doomed task.
  • Given low HP numbers, a +1 HP for being lightly encumbered, and +2 HP for being unencumbered could work well.

    The only question becomes how to make it important for high-level characters...
  • I like the implication that if you are badly injured you cant pick up a heavy load or you will die :D
  • That said I've nerfed the spells Goodberry, Light and Dancing Light
    Tell me that you renamed Goodberry to "Just Okay Berry."
    It's still good. I only added a little bit of material components. Here is what I wrote on our internal house rules forum:
    A sprig of mistletoe worth 5sp and is a small item.

    Half the weight compared to a day's ration and feeds ten people instead of one? A good deal for one slot.
  • Back when we were playing Torchbearer, encumbrance was a big part of the game -- even if it didn't produce awesome moments in itself, it molded how folks acted.
    Can you offer one good example?

    The situation where you as the player have to worry about stuff that your character would have to worry about, and that feeds into your decisions -- all else being equal, I'm definitely a fan of that.
    I bringing this thread back because I had meant to comment at the time. I play more Torchbearer than anything else. It has (imo) the best inventory system for games where equipment (and the surrounding logistics) are an important part of play.

    For one thing, items must be in a specific place (in your hands, on your belt, in your backpack). This adds some handling time, as you find yourself erasing 'dagger' from your belt and writing 'dagger' in your hand slot perhaps several times a session. I think it's worth it because twists (the consequences for failing a roll) can interact with the inventory rules. If you lose your pack, then it suddenly matters what items you kept in your belt pouches; they are all you have left. If your character loses a hand, then one of your most useful inventory slots is gone for good.

    image

    The other thing I like about the Torchbearer inventory is that there are never enough slots. With a full pack, belt, and hands you can only carry 10 things. You obviously need your torches, rations, and weapon. If you're a magician, your spellbook takes up two more slots. And you hopefully have some supplies for your preferred skills. That does not leave a lot of room for treasure.

    I think this works because in games with large inventories, you can ignore it for a long time and just pick up everything. Then when you hit the limit, you have a large bookkeeping task of remembering what everything is and figuring out what you can toss. Since Torchbearer gives you so few slots, you only ever have stuff you care about and you are triage-ing gear more incrementally.

    As a concrete example: Orrin, my level 2 magician has:
    - An Elven dagger
    - A bundle of torches (4)
    - A cloak
    - A backpack
    - 3 preserved rations
    - A full skin of water
    - Thieves tools
    - A spellbook
    - Rope
    - An elixir that removes fear
    - Shoes

    I can carry nothing else. My inventory is totally full going into my next adventure. That means I can't carry any treasure. But when I get back to town, I will almost certainly have bills to pay. So I am entering this dungeon knowing that I must lose some of these things, so there is no point in getting attached to them. My only hope is that I get some use out of them first.
  • Torchbearer inventory is also a hard timer on the game. Every four turns (rolls) you must eat or drink or you gain a condition. Water and rations take up precious inventory slots. So unless he finds water or food out in the wild (which is far from guaranteed) Orrin here has 16 turns before he starts to starve to death. If he had more cash (he doesn't) he could have bought more food in town, but he'd have to toss something else.
  • I too agree the inventory system and the turn system in torchbearer are among the best I've run a GM, as they truly enforce scarcity and force players to make meaningful choices. Also, characters (especially casters) don't usually have spells or resources that let them circumvent this part of the game, unlike for example most editions of d&d, where level 0 or 1 spells render think resource management unnecessary.

    I remember reading other dust (postapoc stars without number) and hoping to find a good survival postapoc, only to find the hunger and thirst rules too cumbersome for play. I'd rather just port torchbearer to postapoc, it seems like a better fit.
  • Yeah, Torchbearer was an influence on the system I made that has given us so much fun and so many deaths. The "death clock" nature of it is definitely intended. The dungeon is the deep dark ocean; your inventory is the last gasp of air you took before you went under.

    That's why Light and Goodberry is limited by components.

    Here are our rules for starving:
    You need to eat one pound per day. Eating half a pound counts as half a day without food which can be a good way to stretch out your resources. A preserved ration counts as one pound of food even though it takes up more space in your bag than one pound of fresh food.

    The first three+Con days without food, you are fine. Every day after that you gain one exhaustion level. There's no save.

    Eating one pound neither resets or advances your starvation track. Eating three pounds of food, or eating at least one pound of humanoid meat (such as kobold, human or elf) resets it to zero.

    Once you have any exhaustion levels caused by starvation, you gain one extra exhaustion level every time you pass up such an opportunity to reset. For example if your best friend breaks their leg and you don't eat them.
    For thirsting we use the 5e RAW, those rules are already brutal AF.
  • Why such a focus on cannibalism? It seems oddly specific...
  • Awesome experiences with Exhaustion = Don't Rest Your Head for me.
  • Why such a focus on cannibalism? It seems oddly specific...
    That came from Veins of the Earth. I'm guessing that for Patrick, the appeal was both the mëtäl ëdge [while for me, the gruesome aspect of it is a big con rather than a pro] and the ease of not tracking food inventories if you could just eat the enemies. For me it's the drama potential; does the needs of the many outweigh the need of the few, will anyone sacrifice themselves, will there be PvP etc.
  • I see. But the way humanoid meat is a much more efficient source of food is... odd. Why would eating your companion be more filling than hunting down a deer, for example?

    It struck me because it’s odd, sure, but also because, based on what I know about you, it isn’t something you’d feel positively about, so I’m curious why you left it in there.
  • I can rationalize it story wise in that it kinda makes you stop desiring food pretty effectively.

    I liked the whole [in hindsight kinda… ablist?] "ewww they're watching me through butcher's eyes" vibe, the whole drama/pvp vibe.

    Also as a vegetarian it's kind of a Naked Lunch moment; a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.
  • Inventory & encumbrance has been the center mechanic of my play the last year. Ran a session with a new group today and the party died from not being able to outrun some moss golems because they were carrying too much stuff. #unwanted
    One of them had gotten his leg chopped off just hours before, maybe that was the bigger problem
  • Wow! Remarkable.

    Thanks.
  • So not to derail, but before I realized the context, the title of this thread made me laugh so hard.
  • @EmmatheExcrucian Me too! I think I might have mentioned it up thread. Everytime I see thread title, I chuckle.
  • رمضان مبارك story games!♥♥♥♥
    be safe & .ikoko kurji
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