Eating Good in the Dungeonhood

If you want to download the free PDF version of this article, you can find it here. I highly suggest it, as the layout is better than what you'd find in this blog and I've updated it slightly.

A tall, slim human in black leather shouts at a squat dwarven figure wearing a jaunty hat. Dust floats in the stale air of the dungeon corridor. The only way out is blocked by a collapsed ceiling. After a heated argument, the two re-light their candle lamp and delve deeper into the old ruins. The pair of adventurers carry little in the way of provisions and do not know of any exit to the underground necropolis.

The fire grows dim. Some of the stew bubbles over the edge of its cook-pot and elicits a greedy sizzle from the flames. As the broth is ladled into bowls, chunks of cave pheasant meat, diced potato, and sprigs of ashroot are plainly visible. It will nourish the haggard adventurers as they rest for the night and gather their strength.

Without sustenance, death is quick to follow. The following are a set of house rules that are designed with Swords & Wizardry (White Box) healing in mind:

In addition to the various magical means of restoring HP, a character will recover 1 full Hit point per day of uninterrupted rest. Four weeks of rest will restore all of a character's HP - regardless of how many the character lost.

Binding Wounds
Referees can allow characters to bind 1d4 HP worth of wounds following a battle. This is of particular use in low-magic campaigns or in adventures where none of the Players has chosen to run a Cleric.
Note that the character can only recover HP lost during this particular battle. Recovered HP cannot cause a character to have more hit points than normal.

These rules can be particularly difficult for a party that is dedicated to a long dungeon crawl - or worse, trapped in a dungeon. As such, this set of rules adds another flavor of healing to the game; restoring hit points via food.

Dungeon food is cooked using ingredients primarily scavenged from deep caves, lost ruins, or deadly temples; the exception to this being the spices that some gourmands bring with them into dungeons. Such additives are often lightweight and provide much-needed flavor in bleak times.

Food Preparation
Dungeon food prep is successful on a throw of 1 in 6. Failing this throw ruins all ingredients used.

Each of the following increases success chance by an additional 1 in 6 up to 6 in 6.
  1. Fire
  2. Water
  3. Utensils
  4. Pots & Pans
  5. Spices
The Feast Proper
The benefit of dungeon food is that when consumed, it allows adventurers to restore their hitpoints by non-magical means and without spending multiple weeks of downtime in a place that could be exceptionally dangerous in a dungeon. The requirements to regain health in this manner are as follows:

- Rule the First -
The dish must be prepared and immediately consumed

- Rule the Second -
The dish must contain at least two unique ingredients

- Rule the Third -
The dish must contain at least one portion per gourmand

The amount of time it takes to prepare a dish might vary, but a general rule of thumb is that it will take two hours to prep, cook, and eat a hearty meal in a dungeon. Under certain circumstances it might be prudent to shorten or lengthen this arbitrary limit. Remember to check out encounters unless the party has taken precautions.

The healing provided by dungeon food depends on the number of unique ingredients used, and is as follows:

  •  2 ingredients - 1d6
  •  3 ingredients - 2d6
  •  4 ingredients - 3d6
  •  5 ingredients - 2d6 + 6
  •  6 ingredients - 3d6 + 6
  •  7 ingredients - 2d6 + 12
  •  8 ingredients - 3d6 + 12
The adventurers have cast their lines deep in an underground pond. They pull out a large, silver-scaled fish laden with fatty meat. It elicits a tantalizing scent as they fry the fillets over an open fire. Two hours later, the entire group is doubled over while they vomit profusely, and the halfling appears to have started convulsing as foam pours from his mouth.

Toxins. Entirely avoidable, if one can spot them. It might happen that either part or all of a creature is harmful to eat. Let us assume that none of the adventurers found the poison ahead of time by way of Detect Poison spells or more mundane methods. In all other cases the toxicity of certain ingredients can be detected in one of two ways:

- Method the First -
When the throw to prepare a dish that contains toxic ingredients results in a 1, the adventurers have detected the poison and learned from which ingredient it stems.

- Method the Second -
If a dish is prepared with certain rare spices or magical ingredients, the poison might be revealed regardless of whether or not the attempt succeeded.

The consequences of eating toxic food varies depending on the particular strain. These can range from reduced healing, outright damage, or permanently crippling side effects.

Magic Food
Magic food is strange. Weird. Bizarre. Unpredictable. It most often tastes of lavender and burnt ozone. Those who have innate magical abilities are not often at risk, but those who possess no penchant for spell-casting might find the surge of magic harmful.

A furry creature darts across the broken cobblestones and slips into its burrow that is made of collapsed sections of the worked stone that once formed the dungeon's main corridor. Catfish swim lazily in a pitch-black underground reservoir. A dungeon cow lazily devours lichen from the wall while a few goblins keep an eye on the creature. Who knew that gelatinous cubes tasted so good?

Finding food in a dungeon isn't as hard as it sounds. After all, things live down there. Monsters flourish. There's an entire ecosystem to every dungeon, though most adventurers are too clumsy and imperceptive to ever notice the nuances of such life. Some delvers know to strip the meat from certain animals, but only the most seasoned folks know all the different source of fine dining in a dungeoncrawl.

It is vital to track the number of edible portions that the adventuring party harvests. A portion should be equivalent to one day's worth of rations. A small animal such as a cave rabbit might yield one portion, whereas a dungeon cow might yield enough meat to serve a meal to eight adventurers.

Remember that the minimum number of portions to make a Meal is equal to the number of people eating said meal. Thus, a party of 3 would require 3 portions of food while a single adventurer only requires a single portion. Still, remember that a single variety of food does not make a balanced meal. At least two unique ingredients are required - either one portion of two different ingredients or a single type of ingredient and spices to make it tasty.


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