Dungeons & Delvers: You Are What You Eat

In both 2nd and 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, the cost of meals ranged from 1-5 silver pieces per day, which seemed kind of steep, at least in 3rd Edition, due to a typical unskilled laborer only earning the equivalent of a single piece a day.

The cost of rations differed quite a bit: 5 silver pieces per day in 3rd Edition, and something like nearly one-and-a-half gold pieces in 2nd (all I could find in the Player's Handbook was 10 gp for a weeks worth of "dry rations").

In 4th Edition you could buy either a common meal or a feast, for 2 sp or 5 gp respectively. Pretty big price jump for higher end food, though rations remain at effectively 5 sp per day (5 gp per ten days). 5th Edition also retains the 5 silver piece price for rations, but meals are divvied into six categories that range from 3 cp to 2 gp a day.

My problem isn't so much the cost (and I mostly brought up the different qualities to show that there's a precedent), but the fact that there's absolutely no drawback to eating anything but the lowest quality food, and no benefit to eating higher quality food.

For Dungeons & Delvers: Red Book I wanted to provide some mechanical incentive for players to splurge, even a little bit. I figured that eating poor quality food would lead to malnutrition, so that's where I started...and it was about as far as I needed to go. There are around a dozen symptoms, but an increased risk of illness and slower healing stood out as a few that could be easily translated into game mechanics.

I also think its more than enough, so, there we go: if you eat poor-quality food for the day you suffer a -1 penalty to saving throws made to resist diseases (and we're making diseases more prevalent, so it's not some minor, situational benefit), and your Wound Recovery is reduced by 1. Might even set it up so that your Vitality Points gradually decrease over time. Maybe -1 each day after the first, to a minimum of 0.

Standard quality meals don't give you any benefit beyond not starving, but eating good food (as in, good quality) gives you a +1 bonus to resist disease and increases your Wound Recovery by 1.

For adventurers on a budget (or have to make due with what they can find), there are also poor quality rations, which have the same effect as poor quality meals. Standard rations cost and weigh more, but don't have any drawbacks (no bonuses, but no penalties either).

Paying for meals is definitely cheaper than rations by a pretty wide margin, so there's another reason for players to bother going to an inn whenever they can. It'll not only help resist diseases that they'll undoubtedly be exposed to while adventuring, but (especially if you go to a decent inn) get them back on their feet much more quickly.

For 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, you could have it so that eating higher quality food grants a bonus when spending Hit Dice to recover during a short rest. It wouldn't have any effect with a long rest, unless you're using an optional rule that reduces long rest recovery.

For Dungeon World, you'd regain additional hit points after making camp. Either a flat modifier, or a random amount (such as 1d4 or 1d6). The amount would depend on how much it costs, compared to that of a healing item. Though, given you can spam bandages and the like, it would have to be pretty cheap or really beneficial to be worthwhile.

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

The first issue of The Delver, a magazine featuring fungal-themed content for both players and GMs (including an adventure in which myconids find religion), is available!

Our latest Dungeon World class, The Ranger, is now available.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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