Friday, September 13, 2013

Dehydration and Starvation

Sometimes, throughout the course of an adventure, characters find themselves without a decent supply of food or water. Since the average human being can only survive for about three weeks without the prior, and for about three days without the latter, this can present a whole new kind of danger unlike that presented by gunfights, brawls or natural hazards.

The following rules are intended to better reflect the amount of supplies that characters may need to carry aboard ship for long voyages.

How Much Water and Food Does a Character Need?

The amount of water that a character must consume to remain healthy depends largely upon two factors--one's level of activity and the average temperature. Increases in either of these factors means that she must drink more water to stay healthy. The amount of food that a character needs works a little bit differently. While this amount increases with a character’s level of activity, it also increases when the air temperature is colder.

Amount of Water Needed, in Pints
Weather/Temperature Low Activity Medium Activity High Activity
Cool/Cold (49º or lower) 4 6 8
Mild (50º-79º) 6 8 10
Warm (80º-99º) 8 10 12
Hot (100º+) 10 12 14

Amount of Food Needed, in Pounds
Weather/Temperature Low Activity Medium Activity High Activity
Cold (29º or lower) 2 2.5 3
Cool (30º-49º) 1.5 2 2.5
Mild/Warm/Hot (50º+) 1 1.5 2

Should a character be forced to make do with an inadequate supply of food or water, she begins to suffer damage as detailed in the Core Rulebook. Note also that, should a character be suffering from a lack of food while also trying to resist damage from cold weather, he suffers a –2 circumstance penalty to the Fortitude save made to resist that damage.

Using These Rules in a Skull & Bones Campaign
The threat of death via dehydration or starvation can arise in a number of different situations during a quasi-historical, pirate-themed campaign; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.

A voyage by ship is probably the best example. This is especially the case if a vessel is caught in the doldrums, unable to make progress while supplies are slowly dwindling. The situation could also arise while traveling in a remote and barren wilderness environment, where sources of freshwater and foodstuffs simply cannot be found. Finally, a pirate vessel in enemy territory, where attempts to land parties for refilling water casks, foraging or hunting might receive a hostile reception, could also present such a difficulty. Of course, these situations also provide a good opportunity for characters to use their skills and abilities outside of combat.

In these instances, it becomes necessary for the players and GM to keep track of the food supply that a vessel is carrying. This works much like determining how much cargo it's carrying, except that the total is reduced every day based on the number of crew members multiplied by the amount of food needed. Once the supply runs short, refer to the Dungeon Master's Guide to find rules for how this affects characters. Additionally, running on short rations--anything less than the necessary amount--has a cumulative negative effect. For example, every two days subsisting on half rations count as one day of going without food.

Such hardships also present opportunities for heroic action, however. For one thing, characters can make Survival checks to gather food for themselves or others, as detailed in the core rulebook. At the GM's discretion, there could also be some encounters with potential food sources such as wild animals. This could also create a need for some good interaction or roleplaying, such as visiting a previously unknown native tribe or even the settlement of an enemy nation while seeking sustenance. Finally, crew members who take exception to the decisions of the vessel's leadership could also begin causing trouble.

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