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Survival mechanics: hunger, thirst, sleep, temperature

MoonHunter

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The Winner for Survival Mechanics is Tri-Tac's Fringeworthy (and other tri-tac games). Simple and easy to follow (for fairly realistic survival rules), full of food points, water points, exposure damage, radiation -realistic, and a great system for simulating medical issues (including foodborne and waterborne pathogens and parasites.)

Why that all sounds cumbersome, it plays through really easily.

In my experience, dying a long, slow, inextricable, realistic death from exposure can be really boring, so I think you'd want to make sure (1) your players realize they're signing up for "Jack London's TO BUILD A FIRE -- THE RPG!" and (2) you center it on the whittling down and the hard choices. Do you want to scavenge food today or purify water? Dehydration will kill you in three days instead of thirty, but if you let hunger go too long, you won't have the wherewithal to do ANYTHING.
I would like to PLUS FIVE this comment. Players need to know that this is a dramatic option in their game. Yes, it makes the game resource management, but it is realistic and dramatic.

A few of my mini- chronicles which centered around plagues and such arranged for Heroic Resistance, where they could be exposed and not die like all those non-heroes. Nobody likes dying of coughing blood and diarrhea. (Thus the first time they hated the game because they could die like everyone else. The second time through with Heroic Resistance (where you could get impaired but not be taken out of play while sick), they liked much better.)
 
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Random Goblin

Esquire
Validated User
I’m reading Forbidden Lands.
There are rules for being hungry, thirsty, cold and sleepless.
By the way, FL rules are pretty adapt for a primitive age game: they are a fantasy adaptation (and refinement) of the rules of Mutant: Year Zero, a post-apoc game.
I dropped in to echo this.
 

Pluvinarch

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Validated User
Mutant: Year Zero has some basic survival mechanics that is interwined with a map mechanic on a post-apocaliptic world. Although you can just change it to an historic map of your group's base location.
Basically you have to keep up with food and water. Mental well being is an issue too. You also may get Rot if you want to add radioactive poisoning.
And the society your group comes from also needs food, water and constant upgrades to survive. The priority of which upgrade is needed has to be decided on group reunions and political drama can be made from that.
 

J.M

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Validated User
I’m finding I’m not fond of emotional and some of the social mechanics stuff, so I’m avoiding those bits. Do I have to have Beliefs in Torchbearer, for example?
I'm pretty sure you can ignore them, unless someone more versed in the system tells us otherwise. I'm generally not a big fan of these types of mechanics myself.
 

Azraele

Registered User
Validated User
Hey LB; let me lead by saying I love your posts. I'm replying in this one because man, this particular post is my jam

I tend to drive my players crazy by doing things like tracking ration spoilage; I even made a custom equipment/carrying sheet for my home OSR games that has tic boxes to count off for things like lantern oil and rations. Venturing into the wilderness with old-school hexcrawling and dungeoncrawling techniques, coupled with that kind of resource tracking, certainly creates a play experience of desperation and careful resource management!

You can go way lighter and still get that vibe though, even going system-agnostic; that's one of the wonderful things about RPGs, they have a fantastic modularity. F'rex, not to toot my own horn, but obvious my post-apocalypse kung-fu game needed similar starvation and "don't stay in the rads too long or you're grow an eyestalk" rules. The biggest revelation? Tracking time and distance (even in the more abstract scene/node way my game does) gives players a sense of time passing, and you just rider-effect consumption of scarce resources to this and there ya go.

"Every time players pass through a content area while traveling, tic off an hour from your time chart. Every X hours they must eat/drink or face (penalty)"

You can put that skeleton in basically any game; the important bit is tracking the progress of players in terms of time passing for characters.

Another revelation concerning the rads/mutation thing: a mutation is another form of damage. So like a Wyvern Nest, you just put the simmering radioactive wastes in front of players and:
Telegraph the danger: Wyvern's nests and rad fields look dangerous. The players AND characters can tell they're taking a risk going there.
Telegraph the reward: Wyvern's eggs fetch a fair price? What's so important you'll crawl through the rad field for it?
Put an avoidance in there: You've got AC and saves between you and a Wyvern's venomed tail; what's between you and the radioactivity? Special suit? Special kung-fu magic? Your raw toughness through saves?
Create consequences: Get hit with the tail, you swell and your flesh starts sloughing off (HP damage and a poison status effect in 5th ed terms). Roll on the mutations chart for the rad field, I'd say. Maybe some damage too.

Again, that basic skeleton fits in almost any game. Simple and easy to plug in!
 

m111

Active member
Validated User
I'm pretty sure you can ignore them, unless someone more versed in the system tells us otherwise. I'm generally not a big fan of these types of mechanics myself.
It's been a bit, but as I recall playing to your beliefs is pretty important as a vector to gain meta currency, which is pretty important as a means to survive and level up (to be clear spending meta currency on rolls turns them into xp, its not the 7th sea problem)
 

LatinaBunny

Cyberprep Warrior
Validated User
I’m reading Forbidden Lands.
There are rules for being hungry, thirsty, cold and sleepless.
By the way, FL rules are pretty adapt for a primitive age game: they are a fantasy adaptation (and refinement) of the rules of Mutant: Year Zero, a post-apoc game.
I dropped in to echo this.
I remembered in my older thread about asking if it was possible to have some of the survival and Ark elements of Mutant Year 0 without the all of that radiation/mutation stuff. Sounds like Forbbiden Lands could fit the bill? Does it involve having a community like MY0’s ark? I personally want the PCs to be heroes in terms of helping their tribes/communities survive by going out in the world and scavenging and hunting for various resources to help those back home.

Mutant: Year Zero has some basic survival mechanics that is interwined with a map mechanic on a post-apocaliptic world. Although you can just change it to an historic map of your group's base location.

Basically you have to keep up with food and water. Mental well being is an issue too. You also may get Rot if you want to add radioactive poisoning.

And the society your group comes from also needs food, water and constant upgrades to survive. The priority of which upgrade is needed has to be decided on group reunions and political drama can be made from that.
I really love the concepts from Mutant Year 0, and I love how it’s about helping your community survive and such. However, I’m not into the radiation/mutation stuff, so I had wondered in the past if it was possible to strip those elements from the game.

At the time I had asked about that question sometime back in my old thread, Forbidden Lands was was probably not released yet.

I’m not sure if Forbidden Lands has same or similar mechanics, or if it has elements of helping a community like MY0 did...? I would greatly appreciate any input from those who know either or both games, thanks! :)

Hey LB; let me lead by saying I love your posts. I'm replying in this one because man, this particular post is my jam

I tend to drive my players crazy by doing things like tracking ration spoilage; I even made a custom equipment/carrying sheet for my home OSR games that has tic boxes to count off for things like lantern oil and rations. Venturing into the wilderness with old-school hexcrawling and dungeoncrawling techniques, coupled with that kind of resource tracking, certainly creates a play experience of desperation and careful resource management!

You can go way lighter and still get that vibe though, even going system-agnostic; that's one of the wonderful things about RPGs, they have a fantastic modularity. F'rex, not to toot my own horn, but obvious my post-apocalypse kung-fu game needed similar starvation and "don't stay in the rads too long or you're grow an eyestalk" rules. The biggest revelation? Tracking time and distance (even in the more abstract scene/node way my game does) gives players a sense of time passing, and you just rider-effect consumption of scarce resources to this and there ya go.

"Every time players pass through a content area while traveling, tic off an hour from your time chart. Every X hours they must eat/drink or face (penalty)"

You can put that skeleton in basically any game; the important bit is tracking the progress of players in terms of time passing for characters.

Another revelation concerning the rads/mutation thing: a mutation is another form of damage. So like a Wyvern Nest, you just put the simmering radioactive wastes in front of players and:
Telegraph the danger: Wyvern's nests and rad fields look dangerous. The players AND characters can tell they're taking a risk going there.
Telegraph the reward: Wyvern's eggs fetch a fair price? What's so important you'll crawl through the rad field for it?
Put an avoidance in there: You've got AC and saves between you and a Wyvern's venomed tail; what's between you and the radioactivity? Special suit? Special kung-fu magic? Your raw toughness through saves?
Create consequences: Get hit with the tail, you swell and your flesh starts sloughing off (HP damage and a poison status effect in 5th ed terms). Roll on the mutations chart for the rad field, I'd say. Maybe some damage too.

Again, that basic skeleton fits in almost any game. Simple and easy to plug in!
Some good tips there, Azraele Azraele ! :)
While I may not be as extreme as that, I do like keeping some track of some important resources in various games, whether it’s video games or board games and card games, etc.

I wonder if my loving some simulation and resource management video games like The Sims, Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons, Rune Factory 4, Creatures, Startopia, Odin Sphere, various computer rpgs, etc, is what is influencing my tastes in wanting to deal with resource management, lol?

I like hunger and stamina/fatigue playing a part in some games or for food and bedding (and maybe clothing?) to serve a purpose. I mean, I even downloaded a Hunger and Sleep mod to one or two of the Elder Scrolls video games, for example. In Odin Sphere, food was there to heal and level you up. In Harvest Moon-like games, food healed your stamina and allowed you to keep working throughout the day. Same goes for Inazuma Eleven soccer games (for getting enough stamina to do certain special soccer moves and to stay fast on the field, etc). That kind of stuff. :)

I remembered an early experience of playing a mapping game called A Quiet Year, and I have tried playing it like a simulation resource management game like Sim City rather than like a story like my co-player did, and getting somewhat frustrated at times when co-player just wanted to purposely cause disasters or do contrary things in to order make things interesting.

(He was more about story telling drama and risktaking, and I was perhaps more focused on the problem solving and the game-y simulation aspects, lol. I liked story, but I never liked purposely penalizing or hampering my characters to make a story happen. I like to somewhat optimize or try to figure out how to help my character survive or do action-y stuffs in a power fantasy way. We found out later that our playstyles did sometimes seem to clash at times, haha.)

So, yeah, I’m still figuring out how my playstyle works, but I do enjoy some resource management (and optimizing and doing power/heroic fantasies) of some sort.

I’m still figuring out how crunchy or complex I want a system to be. I hate math and crunchy/complex rules, so I tend to lean towards lighter games. However, I’m not sure if narrative is the way to go for me.
 
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Azraele

Registered User
Validated User
Some good tips there, Azraele Azraele ! :)
Bows

While I may not be as extreme as that, I do like keeping some track of some important resources in various games, whether it’s video games or board games and card games, etc.

I wonder if my loving some simulation and resource management video games like The Sims, Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons, Rune Factory 4, Creatures, Startopia, Odin Sphere, various computer rpgs, etc, is what is influencing my tastes in wanting to deal with resource management, lol?

I like hunger and stamina/fatigue playing a part in some games or for food and bedding (and maybe clothing?) to serve a purpose. I mean, I even downloaded a Hunger and Sleep mod to one or two of the Elder Scrolls video games, for example. In Odin Sphere, food was there to heal and level you up. In Harvest Moon-like games, food healed your stamina and allowed you to keep working throughout the day. Same goes for Inazuma Eleven soccer games (for getting enough stamina to do certain special soccer moves and to stay fast on the field, etc). That kind of stuff. :)
Its a more granular resource in those cases, seems: eating isn't just there to avoid a penalty, it's there to motivate you to explore the game world. You can (and I do) get that when the players forge far enough afield, because then their sole source of food becomes whatever they can hunt or scrounge. Sometimes this leads to hilarious results, like the time they were stranded in a collapsed mine and had to eat the (almost certainly human) "Ogre rations" they were able to scrounge from vanquished foes.


I remembered an early experience of playing a mapping game called A Quiet Year, and I have tried playing it like a simulation resource management game like Sim City rather than like a story like my co-player did, and getting somewhat frustrated at times when co-player just wanted to purposely cause disasters or do contrary things in to order make things interesting.

(He was more about story telling drama and risktaking, and I was perhaps more focused on the problem solving and the game-y simulation aspects, lol. I liked story, but I never liked purposely penalizing or hampering my characters to make a story happen. I like to somewhat optimize or try to figure out how to help my character survive or do action-y stuffs in a power fantasy way. We found out later that our playstyles did sometimes seem to clash at times, haha.)
I've had disconnects like that with folks too. I... Guess his style is as valid an approach as any? There's a conceit I've seen that players should "generate drama" but man, I way prefer games where the danger to the characters drives drama. I've seen a LOT of great roleplaying and drama in the belly of an old-school dungeon, no added drama required.

I don't get playing a game as something other than that: a game. I want to get the gold, kill the monster, grab the XP! Really great games embrace that while they encourage the exploration of the meaty dramatic stuff; take the Amber Diceless system. You're encouraged to be competitive and cooperative by turns with other players as you edge toward an ultimately zero-sum conclusion. This gives it a lot of DNA from older board games like diplomacy or risk and encourages a playstyle both dramatic and calculated.

It makes me purr, I love it so.


So, yeah, I’m still figuring out how my playstyle works, but I do enjoy some resource management (and optimizing and doing power/heroic fantasies) of some sort.

I’m still figuring out how crunchy or complex I want a system to be. I hate math and crunchy/complex rules, so I tend to lean towards lighter games. However, I’m not sure if narrative is the way to go for me.
If you'll indulge the plug, I made Tian Shang with this in mind and it's 100% free if you want to try it out. Just click that link in my signature and see if it doesn't hit that sweet spot between detail, elegance and non-narrative rules.
 

LatinaBunny

Cyberprep Warrior
Validated User
I've had disconnects like that with folks too. I... Guess his style is as valid an approach as any?
Oh, his playstyle is totally valid! :) He’s pretty cool. I was just pointing out that our playstyles seemed to be at opposite ends at times, is all. He loves experimental rpgs and having flawed characters that get into trouble in fun ways, and he doesn’t mind if his characters die or whatever, as long as it’s a cool story event, etc. He’s more willing to do risky outrageous stuff for sake of telling a good story.

I’m... the opposite, maybe? Not sure how to explain it. I do love and care about my characters, but I’m protective of them and I’m somewhat power-game-y, lol.
 

Azraele

Registered User
Validated User
Oh, his playstyle is totally valid! :) He’s pretty cool. I was just pointing out that our playstyles seemed to be at opposite ends at times, is all. He loves experimental rpgs and having flawed characters that get into trouble in fun ways, and he doesn’t mind if his characters die or whatever, as long as it’s a cool story event, etc. He’s more willing to do risky outrageous stuff for sake of telling a good story.

I’m... the opposite, maybe? Not sure how to explain it. I do love and care about my characters, but I’m protective of them and I’m somewhat power-game-y, lol.
I try not to judge; I'm just an old man with strong preferences at this point. He's probably a blast to play with, but if I don't yell at clouds, who will?

I get attached to my character real quickly: I like to see them kick [Butt? Can we still swear in this forum? I'm old] and succeed at stuff. I guess it's a little power game-y, but I mean, it's essentially in-character for a hero to want to succeed at being a hero. I'm not one to shy away from tragic and flawed characters (used to be a huge Exalted fanboy, after all) but like, I want to play the game well when I'm playing it, still. I'm not angling for the flaw, there's a mechanic bludgeoning me with it occasionally; this I like.
 
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