Variant Rule: Food & Health Regeneration

IMPLEMENTATION STILL TENTATIVE

Throughout the day, players “accumulate” health points to be regained at the end-of-day’s long rest by the food choices they make. The amount of health points accumulated is based on a 4-tier nutrition system.

Details
4 tiers of nutrition, each meal providing a certain percentage of the character’s total health pool for the end-of-day rest:

  • Very Good: 20%. This tier is based on a high amount of considerably nutritious food in a meal. After eating a Very Good meal, for the next hour, you have proficiency in Constitution saving throws and advantage on Constitution based checks and saving throws.
  • Good: 15%. This tier is based on a moderate amount of generally nutritious food in a meal. After eating a Good meal, you have advantage on Constitution based checks for 1 hour.
  • Meh: 10%. This tier is based on a low amount of generally nutritious food in a meal.
  • Bad: 5%. This tier is based on a scarce amount of food of any nutritional value, or any amount of very poor quality food (such as rotten or spoiled foods). Eating rotten or spoiled food has a 50% chance of giving you the Poisoned condition (DC 10 Constitution saving throw) for 1 hour.
You can accumulate health points off of a maximum of 3 meals per day.

For example, a character with 23 max health has 1 Very Good meal and 2 Good meals. At the end of the day when they take a long rest, they will regain 55% of their HP (13) [12.65 rounded up].

Using Survival checks, the Ranger’s Natural Explorer, and the Outlander’s Wanderer feature
Keep in mind, the amount of food able to be found is limited by the availability and plentiful nature of the land. The quality and amount of food found are subject to these factors. Very high Survival checks in a land scarce in food could sometimes yield meal results of only a Meh quality, whereas Low Survival checks in a land abundantly plentiful in food can yield meal results of a Good quality for many persons. It is up to the DM to specify what kind of land is being foraged, and to determine the amount and quality of the food found based on Survival checks and the land’s type.

Here are some general guidelines for land that is of average quality for food foraging:

  • Low Survival checks [1-5] are intended to provide food of a Bad quality for a singular person.
  • Average Survival checks [6-11] are intended to provide food of a Meh quality for a singular person.
  • Higher Survival checks [12-17] are intended to provide food of a Good quality for a singular person.
  • Very high Survival checks [18 and higher] are intended to provide food of a Very Good quality for a singular person.
Splitting the food found by these means with another person will reduce the quality of the meal by 1 tier. (Finding Meh food and splitting it between two people makes it a Bad meal because of the low amount of food for each person.) A Ranger with Natural Explorer can find food of a certain quality and split it with another person without reducing the meal's nutrition tier.

Characters of the Outlander background who have the “Wanderer” Feature, upon use of the Feature for a particular meal, can find food of a Meh quality for 6 characters total. The nutritional tier of this meal will increase to Good if there is excess food for a smaller amount of characters (3 or less) or if additional food is supplemented. If used in conjunction with a successful Survival check of at least 18, the nutritional tier of the meal (for 3 characters or less) will increase to Very Good.
A Ranger with Natural Explorer can find double the amount of food when they have the Wanderer Featuer as well. This doubling also applies to the amount of characters that a meal’s nutrition tier can be increased for.

Not eating any meals (Starvation)
At the end of the day, if you have not eaten any meals of at least Meh quality and you do NOT have the Starving condition, you regain 10% of your total health pool but then gain the Starving condition.

If you have the Starving condition at the beginning of a day, you temporarily lose 2 Constitution points (to a minimum of 1) and gain a level of exhaustion; these penalties can stack. If you have a negative Con mod, you begin to lose HP equal to your negative Con mod at the end of each day while Starving. Finishing a long rest after eating a meal of at least Good quality will remove the Starving status effect, restores the proper amount of health points you have accumulated throughout the day, and you regain all the Constitution points you have lost as a result of Starving.

Dehydration
Going a full day without drinking water will place the Dehydrated condition on a character. Being Dehydrated causes a player to gain a level of exhaustion, have disadvantage on Perception checks and Constitution saves, and have a 25% chance to fall prone due to light headedness during each round of combat or when performing athletic feats or stunts. The Dehydrated condition is removed when a character has drank at least a quart of water.

Why implement this variant rule?
This rule adds an element of how the players feed their characters throughout the day, and to place more consideration what foods are collected and consumed.
Actually having an in-session dinnertime for characters opens up time for roleplay and discussing the current events as well, and provides a distinct mechanical benefit to a character’s day-to-day survival.

What campaigns are being considered to use this variant rule?
Currently, the Adventuring campaign is being considered for this variant rule, but is still tentative.

EDIT1: Made changes to the system to remove burden of knowledge of nutrition on the behalf of the players and the DMs, as well as to accommodate low level characters who would have very little amounts of Hit Die to work with.

EDIT2: Added bonuses to certain meal types and expanded the Outlander’s options for food collection.

EDIT3: Added some guidelines and specifications for Survival checks and the Ranger’s Natural Explorer class feature. Clarified some terminology.

Also: look at Gram’s rules for smoking, eating, etc. A similar idea could be placed with this to provide more incentive to consider how to roleplay
[December 9, 2015 at 2:35 pm]

I searched via the Navigation Pane in the GRAM handbook and found nothing related to smoking or eating, and couldn’t deduce via the Navigation pane’s “bookmarks” where these things would be. Do you have a page number for me to jump to?
[December 9, 2015 at 4:25 pm]

No page number. They are an item, so look in that area for hearty meal and other such things. They provide temporary buffs. Sort of like a potion almost or a WoW food buff
[December 9, 2015 at 8:06 pm]

Thoughts on the changes?
[December 10, 2015 at 12:45 am]

Needs something specified for folks with just Survival.

Needs something specified for Ranger.

Need to specify combining Ranger Outland, and Survival.

Good meals is strong. Very strong, granting Proficiency in Constitution. I think this should be temporary to encourage adventuring afterward or some other way of a less permanent buff. If not, it will just become a standard thing players do to make themselves powerful and thus the new standard.

I like that it has purpose besides mechanics (role play time). The penalties are harsh enough to want to eat.

I’m not sure about the hp regen mechanic; could it play better with the rolling of hit die?

Perhaps, for comedic relief, different foods could give different bonuses (spicy adds +5 feet of movement). This could add reason to get different food. Perhaps instead of constitution Proficiency, players gain a temporary max hp increase (not temp hp, but max hp temp increase).

I like this as it expands the reasons for outlander, Survival, ranger and makes their kit even more useful.
[December 10, 2015 at 3:23 am]

Needs something specified for folks with just Survival.
@thwright

Added some guidelines for Survival.

Needs something specified for Ranger
@thwright

Added some guidelines for the Ranger (with Natural Explorer, right?). Keep in mind, Survival, Range, and Outlander all should be limited by the availability of foods in the land. Scarce lands cannot accommodate very high Survival checks.

Good meals is strong. Very strong, granting Proficiency in Constitution. I think this should be temporary to encourage adventuring afterward or some other way of a less permanent buff. If not, it will just become a standard thing players do to make themselves powerful and thus the new standard.
@thwright

The benefits of eating Very Good and Good meals are already listed as lasting for only 1 hour after eating. They are not permanent.

I’m not sure about the hp regen mechanic; could it play better with the rolling of hit die?Arkhepo

TL;DR: Making this system ‘play nice’ with Hit Die rolls would add:

  • Unnecessary complexity
  • A set of special conditions for lower level characters
  • Complicated fractions [if 3 meals of a certain quality could equate to rolling 1/2 of your total Hit Die, then does eating one meal of that type equate to rolling 1/6 of your total Hit Die? That then becomes a booger to deal with]
  • A random factor that can make a player’s extra efforts feel unrewarding at higher levels [rolling 1/2 total Hit Die vs. 3/4 total Hit Die can have overlapping or skewed values. Sometimes the player’s 3/4 total Hit Die roll can be less than if they rolled 1/2 total Hit Die roll, so what was the point of their extra effort?]

Using nutrition tiers (meal classifications) plays very poorly with low hit die characters, while the math involved, in tandem with the randomness of the rolls, can feel too “math-y” and unrewarding.

If using the hit die roll system, we’d have to add different parameters for different levels of character die. Such as:
If you have between 3 and 5 Hit Die [if players are planning to eat 3 meals a day, how do we divide the nutrition tiers beyond just 1 Hit Die accumulated per Good meal eaten? Make a player roll 1 Hit Die and divide it in 1/2?]
If you have between 1 and 2 Hit Die [again, if players are planning to eat 3 meals a day, do we then limit how many meals it takes for a character to accumulate 1 Hit Die to roll at the end of the day?]

As for unrewarding, suppose we are using your guys’ Level 9 characters. Eating 3 Good meals in a day could restore 1/2 of your total Hit Die at the end of the day, and eating 3 Very Good meals in a day could restore 3/4 of your total Hit Die at the end of the day [neglecting diversity in quality of the meals throughout the day]. 1/2 of 9 Hit Die = 5 [4.5 rounded up], and 3/4 of 9 Hit Die = 7 [6.75 rounded up]. With this amount of Hit Die being rolled, some days of rolling 3/4 Hit Die will result in less health regained than 1/2 Hit Die being rolled, and so the effort of the players can feel unrewarded.

Using flat, accumulating percentages fixes the complicating nature of strange fractions, removes the random factor, and accommodates all character levels.

Perhaps, for comedic relief, different foods could give different bonuses (spicy adds +5 feet of movement). This could add reason to get different food. Perhaps instead of constitution Proficiency, players gain a temporary max hp increase (not temp hp, but max hp temp increase).
@thwright

I like this. Need to brainstorm some ideas for different food types.
[December 10, 2015 at 5:29 pm]

Okay. I like seeing your thought process here. What if the overall percentage of hp was lessened? (that’s the part I don’t like since normally the natural regeneration of hp is limited by number of HD).

In regards to food checks in barren lands, a higher DC of survival check would reflect that. I think outlander can be overpowered in barren lands, though I think a ranger should always be better than an outlander. (ranger>outlander>expertise in survival>survival>no survival) Somehow then making them all play nicely. Outlander provides a specific number of characters food. I think ranger doubles this right? Survival determines how well you do at foraging and hunting. Not sure how all that would be reflected, but something to chew on.
[December 11, 2015 at 1:03 am]

What if the overall percentage of hp was lessened?
@thwright

What would be your suggestions on this?

I think outlander can be overpowered in barren lands
@thwright

Despite what the Outlander’s Wanderer Feature provides, when it comes to barren lands, my personal verdict would probably require apt Survival checks, increase the amount of time it takes to actually scavenge the appropriate amount of food, OR to just say “given the nature of the lands, you are not able to find an ample amount of food for 6 people. Instead, you find enough for ‘x’ people”. It all depends.

I think a ranger should always be better than an outlander. (ranger>outlander>expertise in survival>survival>no survival)
@thwright

Why should, and how would, a ranger’s Natural Explorer be better than the outlander’s Wanderer? What would be the mechanics of making it better?
[December 11, 2015 at 8:45 am]

@thwright
What if the overall percentage of hp was lessened?
What would be your suggestions on this?

@thwright
I think outlander can be overpowered in barren lands

@lordnewb
Despite what the Outlander’s Wanderer Feature provides, when it comes to barren lands, my personal verdict would probably require apt Survival checks, increase the amount of time it takes to actually scavenge the appropriate amount of food, OR to just say “given the nature of the lands, you are not able to find an ample amount of food for 6 people. Instead, you find enough for ‘x’ people”. It all depends.

@thwright
I think a ranger should always be better than an outlander. (ranger>outlander>expertise in survival>survival>no survival)
Why should, and how would, a ranger’s Natural Explorer be better than the outlander’s Wanderer? What would be the mechanics of making it better?

@ Lordnewb

HP % and HD

I’m not sure. So… my current method allows a player a chance to heal anywhere from Roll of HD + Con Mod per day, meaning they could heal anywhere from 1 + Con Mod x HD to Max Value of HD + Con Mod x HD per day. A flat 75% means they would get that full amount of healing in short rests +75% during sleepy time.
The normal is always healing 100% when sleeping; I’m using the “grittier” version where you don’t heal all your HP just because your head hits a pillow. I would argue what I am using and the food system are two separate ways of healing, and somehow short rest HD healing would need to be fixed.
It would be my thinking that on average during an adventure, players would roughly short rest twice per day (if not, they should). They could rest more, but that would be 1/2 HD in the first rest, 1/2 in the second, or 1/3 in first, 1/3 in second, and 1/3 in the long rest at night.
I would either lower the value of a good meal to say… 10% of Max HP (so three full nights would make a full HP restore on super food), or make the values 10%/5%/1 HP/0, negative, disease, poison, exhaustion; something like this. Though: for a campaign expecting to beat the players up more, the ability to fully heal at night time could be critical. This would depend on the campaign style for the DM.
My thought was food earned you a percentage of your HD to spend each night, or perhaps bonus HD to spend each night; so it would still be the HD system, but determining how many you get, etc. This would work simpler as a high level mechanic rather than a low level one. Low level ones could still benefit from the boons of food, rather than the HD.

Outlander and the Barrens

DM Rule overrules game mechanics, but shouldn’t belittle player decisions (such as background selection). I think it would be best left up to the DM, but he should let players know how something will work in a session. Long story short, I agree.

Ranger vs Outlander

While anyone can class can be an outlander, only the ranger can be the ranger? That’d be my thinking. I think a level in a class is more of a commitment than a background. While a background can only be taken once and you have 20 levels of character, not many players would burn a level for gathering food, but a background… Though the Ranger does give more than just food… I suppose my main point is not to let one character choice overshadow others that could be just as viable. Someone who knocks out a 30 survival check because they took expertise in survival, I would think, would kill it in the forest and bring back more than 6 characters worth of food. Armor Classes don’t go above 30 in D&D 5e (as far as I am aware) and nor do ability scores. The unbelievable would be achieved at a 30, and I think that should count for something. I don’t think a background selection should always overrule an awesome roll. Building on that, I don’t think a background selection should outweigh a player whose character’s class is the explorer, forager, hunter. I think he should be able to do awesome things, too. I like that outlander provides food in the current draft based on what’s available, whereas survival has the potential to either flop or reward. As is, the ranger just doubles whatever is present. I suppose that could just mean the Ranger modifies outlander/survival. On top of this, there are spells which create food and can really make these three features seem silly. I think these should be able to hold their own versus low-level spells like Good Berry. Stream of thoughts-ing here.
[December 12, 2015 at 3:50 am]

HP % and HD

Though: for a campaign expecting to beat the players up more, the ability to fully heal at night time could be critical.

I did do the numbers tuning in the context of the Adventuring campaign. You guys are up against some not only harsh, but also smart, enemies. And I think given what’s in store for the future of the campaign, being healthy at any moment would be important.

I didn’t really think to implement this into the Dungeoneering campaign, because you guys are less likely to encounter dangerous situations outside of the dungeons. That, and I just kinda have the mindset of “Okay, new dungeon for you guys, you have full hp and full resources. Have at it!”

Ranger vs. Outlander

As is, the ranger just doubles whatever is present. I suppose that could just mean the Ranger modifies outlander/survival.

That’s honestly what I was going for, since Ranger is multiplicative, I wanted to base the guidelines around outlander/survival and just state how the Ranger’s benefit multiplied them.

I think the Ranger’s Natural Explorer, the Outlander’s Wanderer, and putting the effort forth into proficiency (or expertise) in Survival checks, all have their own merits.
I’d definitely say that the Ranger is supposed to work in tandem with Survival for food scavenging prowess, rather than just isolating Natural Explorer and saying there needs to be more power in that alone than say the Outlander’s Wanderer.
Food scavenging is just one thing that the Ranger can do, and I don’t see too much problem in others having the ability to scavenge for food proficiently in a manner similar to a Ranger.

If a character is opting in for only 1 level in Ranger for the sake of food scavenging, rather than taking the Outlander background, I’d say they are looking into Ranger for the wrong reasons: a moderate solution for the food issue, but at the expense of a whole character level that could have helped them in other ways.

And on the other hand, Outlander is great for feeding a party, but for feeding oneself? Perhaps then the player is looking at Outlander for the wrong reasons: an easy-out for the food issue at the expense of possibly better thematic cohesion and other mechanical benefits.

The way I see it, in terms of food scavenging:
Ranger helps a player live out the thematic of the outdoorsman with particular mechanical class benefits, and can fend for their own food out in the wild if they so choose.
Outlander helps give a character more depth (as all the other backgrounds do), and can be a food solution for a party if they plan on spending time out in the wild a lot, and not around in local towns and communities where restaurants and farms are likely to be.
[December 12, 2015 at 5:34 am]

Current Food and Water Rules

Food and Water

Characters who don’t eat or drink suffer the effects of exhaustion (see appendix A). Exhaustion caused by lack of food or water can’t be removed until the character eats and drinks the full required amount.

Food

A character needs one pound of food per day and can make food last longer by subsisting on half rations.
Eating half a pound of food in a day counts as half a day without food. A character can go without food for a number of days equal to 3 + his or her Constitution modifier (minimum 1). At the end of each day beyond that limit, a character automatically suffers one level of exhaustion. A normal day of eating resets the count of days without food to zero.

Water

A character needs one gallon of water per day, or two gallons per day if the weather is hot. A character who drinks only half that much water must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or suffer one level of exhaustion at the end of the day. A character with access to even less water automatically suffers one level of exhaustion at the end of the day. If the character already has one or more levels of exhaustion, the character takes two levels in either case.

Current Rest Rules w/ House Rules

Breather

5 or more minutes. Gain the benefits of a Short Rest but suffer one level of exhaustion.

Short Rest

1 or more hours. Restore abilities refreshed on short rest. May spend Hit Die to regain Hit Points.

Long Rest

8 or more hours. Restore abilities refreshed on long rest. Regain 1/4 of Total Spent Hit Die. May spend Hit Die to regain Hit Points. Reduce Exhaustion by one level if Rest can reduce Exhaustion. (Some effects which cause Exhaustion have restrictions on what removes them, such as food.)

Wilderness, Weather, and Natural Hazards

WILDERNESS SURVIVAL

Adventuring in the wilderness presents a host of perils beyond the threats of monstrous predators and savage raiders.

WEATHER

You can pick weather to fit your campaign or roll on the Weather table to determine the weather for a given day, adjusting for the terrain and season as appropriate.

EXTREME COLD

Whenever the temperature is at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, a creature exposed to the cold must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw at the end of each hour or gain one level of exhaustion. Creatures with resistance or immunity to cold damage automatically succeed on the saving throw, as do creatures wearing cold weather gear (thick coats, gloves, and the like) and creatures naturally adapted to cold climates.

EXTREME HEAT

When the temperature is at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, a creature exposed to the heat and without access to drinkable water must succeed on a Constitution saving throw at the end of each hour or gain one level of exhaustion. The DC is 5 for the first hour and increases by 1 for each additional hour. Creatures wearing medium or heavy armor, or who are clad in heavy clothing, have disadvantage on the saving throw. Creatures with resistance or immunity to fire damage automatically succeed on the saving throw, as do creatures naturally adapted to hot climates.

STRONG WIND

A strong wind imposes disadvantage on ranged weapon attack rolls and Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing. A strong wind also extinguishes open flames , disperses fog, and makes flying by nonmagical means nearly impossible. A flying creature in a strong wind must land at the end of its turn or fall. A strong wind in a desert can create a sandstorm that imposes disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

HEAVY PRECIPITATION

Everything within an area of heavy rain or heavy snowfall is lightly obscured, and creatures in the area have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight. Heavy rain also extinguishes open flames and imposes disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing.

HIGH ALTITUDE

Traveling at altitudes of 10,000 feet or higher above sea level is taxing for a creature that needs to breathe, because of the reduced amount of oxygen in the air. Each hour such a creature spends traveling at high altitude counts as 2 hours for the purpose of determining how long that creature can travel. Breathing creatures can become acclimated to a high altitude by spending 30 days or more at this elevation. Breathing creatures can’t become acclimated to elevations above 20,000 feet unless they are native to such environments.

WILDERNESS HAZARDS

This section describes a few examples of hazards that adventurers might encounter in the wilderness. Some hazards, such as slippery ice and razorvine, require no ability check to spot. Others, such as defiled ground, are undetectable by normal senses. The other hazards presented here can be identified with a successful Intelligence (Nature) check. Use the guidelines in chapter 8 to set an appropriate DC for any check made to spot or recognize a hazard.

DESECRATED GROUND

Some cemeteries and catacombs are imbued with the unseen traces of ancient evil. An area of desecrated ground can be any size, and a detect evil and good spell cast within range reveals its presence. Undead standing on desecrated ground have advantage on all saving throws. A vial of holy water purifies a 10-foot-square area of desecrated ground when sprinkled on it, and a hallow spell purifies desecrated ground within its area.

FRIGID WATER

A creature can be immersed in frigid water for a number of minutes equal to its Constitution score before suffering any ill effects. Each additional minute spent in frigid water requires the creature to succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or gain one level of exhaustion. Creatures with resistance or immunity to cold damage automatically succeed on the saving throw as do creatures that are naturally adapted to living in ice-cold water.

QUICKSAND

A quicksand pit covers the ground in roughly a 10-foot-square area and is usually 10 feet deep. When a creature enters the area, it sinks ld4 + 1 feet into the quicksand and becomes restrained. At the start of each of the creature’s turns, it sinks another 1d4 feet. As long as the creature isn’t completely submerged in quicksand, it can escape by using its action and succeeding on a Strength check. The DC is 10 plus the number of feet the creature has sunk into the quicksand. A creature that is completely submerged in quicksand can’t breathe (see the suffocation rules in the Player’s Handbook). A creature can pull another creature within its reach out of a quicksand pit by using its action and succeeding
on a Strength check. The DC is 5 plus the number of feet the target creature has sunk into the quicksand.

RAZORVINE

Razorvine is a plant that grows in wild tangles and hedges. It also clings to the sides of buildings and other surfaces as ivy does. A 10-foot-high, 10-foot-wide, 5-foot-thick wall or hedge of razorvine has AC 11, 25 hit points, and immunity to bludgeoning, piercing, and psychic damage. When a creature comes into direct contact with razorvine for the first time on a turn, the creature must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw or take 5 (1d10) slashing damage from the razorvine’s bladelike thorns.

SLIPPERY ICE

Slippery ice is difficult terrain. When a creature moves onto slippery ice for the first time on a turn, it must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check or fall prone.

THIN ICE

Thin ice has a weight tolerance of 3d10 x 10 pounds per 10-foot-square area. Whenever the total weight on an area of thin ice exceeds its tolerance, the ice in that area breaks. All creatures on broken ice fall through.

I want to revisit food and rest, partially because I didn’t realize a rule for Food and Water was in the book. (Oopsies!) I like that they utilize Exhaustion and are very simple.

What I like about the current rules are that they utilize existing game mechanics and limits (i.e. Spending Hit Die in particular). I think that that allows some very simple control over the flow of character/party vitality and resources.

With food causing Exhaustion, that allows for some really good focus on what characters needs to focus on, since six levels of Exhaustion causes death; that could add up quickly. Throw in weather effects and you have a nasty enemy made out of the environment, much more so than I realized. Combining just food, water, and weather (say desert) and you have a killer force without ample food available.

Given that, I think a rework of Food should do something like add a static bonus or penalty (+/- 1?) to the amount of HD restored after resting. This would encourage eating to receive more Hit Die to keep adventuring faster. Enough penalties could either limit the benefit to 1 HD regained, or, for scariness, cause a max HP penalty; rather than just cause HP damage, reduce a player’s max HP until they become fed; this penalty could be -1 Max HP/HD the character possesses in order to make it scale with level.

We could make certain foods grant different buffs (+5ft speed for 1 hour, +1 on certain checks, etc.) which would further encourage creativity in what foods/diets are used. This could further encourage interesting adventures by offering spices or particular ingredients for special effects, buffs, and such.

Between these two things, I think you could have enough benefits for eating rather than solely penalties. The HD bonus/penalty is far more ramifying on high level players.

Apart from this, these rules make Food, Water, and Environment scary; surviving a day in D&D 5e should be an adventure and worth experience by itself!
[February 12, 2016 at 2:53 am]