Many rations are commonly wrapped in corn or squash leaves, and clams can be pickled in the shell for easy transportation. Both corn and rice may be included so that you can “pop” on a hot surface and have something to eat while you’re waiting for your rations to cook up. Where a nutritive supplement is needed, rations will usually include algae or seaweed cakes, which can be eaten as-is or dissolved in water for broth.
Additional food info, plus hunger rules, below the cut.
- Fatcakes. Patties of dried and beaten meat, berries, and rendered fat. Especially in the West, some fatcakes use corn flour in addition to, or instead of, meat. They may be eaten raw, boiled, or fried. Lasts for several months, or up to a year if kept cool.
- Grot grub. This is a popular (or at least widespread…) ration found underground. It is composed of strips of meat (bats, mice, or crab and fish from underground lakes) that have been salted, smoked, and pickled in cave slime. Where available, it may instead be preserved in honey, which, in the Veins, is less often the sort of bee with which surface-dwellers are familiar with, but rather a “vulture bee” which makes its honey from the stuff of corpses.
- Gutpowder. Meat and fruit can be dried and ground into a long-lasting powder that can be eaten as-is or mixed with water to make soup. Squash blossoms may be included to thicken the soup.
- Hot pot: Butter beans and climbing beans, meat, and pomatoes, usually dried and meant to be rehydrated as a soup. Its name comes from the customary inclusion of pickled chilis or pepper berries, whose initial sweetness leads to a short but intense heat.
- Journeycake. Corn meal, fruit (usually berries), nut butter, and mashed squash, mashed and mixed together and pressed into a bar or “cake.”
- Soup glew. A little something from the Empires Beyond the Sea: “scrap meat” is boiled, strained, and boiled some more until you get a pasty jelly residue, which is air dried, cut, and powdered with flour. Stonebread crumbles and dried, diced vegetables are commonly added at some point in the process, because they’ll be reconstituted when the soup glew is boiled in water and, well, made into soup.
- Stewdle. Take one eel or snake, salt thoroughly, and then stuff it with cornmeal, squash, and a bit of seaweed before hot-smoking it. Most travelers prefer to eat them in the pot, but they lend themselves to being roasted over the fire just as easily.
- Trotters mix: Nuts, dried fruit, and small pieces of cheese that have been pressed, dried, cut, and dried again over a fire. The cheese has a very tough consistency, similar to stonebread, and, like stonebread, must be moistened before it can be chewed (because of their size, a piece of stonecheese can be moistened in the mouth while one walks).
- Waybread. Basically a handheld pie: bread filled with fat, fruit, and meat, all chopped and dried and sometimes pickled in cider brine.
- Whitepaste. Cured roe, rendered fat, berries, and the bulbs and stems of plants, ground and packed together to form, well, a white paste that is usually eaten raw. Also called white fatcakes.
Together, corn, squash, and climbing beans form the cornerstone of cuisine in the Lake Countries and many other places in Thaumerica. Squash can baked or boiled, added to cornmeal, or cut into rings or strips and dried so that they last for months.
Most bread is made from a combination of corn flour (whose potential colors include light blue, white, and yellow) and pot ash, which is produced by soaking vegetable ashes in a pot. Sour milk may also be added. Flatbread may omit both the pot ash and sour milk. Corn noodles are an adaptation of a dish from the Oblique Peninsula. In any case, the corn must first be cured in limewater before it is fully nutritious.
Rice is rice, and is both farmed and foraged. Across the sea, it is often called Thaumerican rice or Magican rice, to contrast with those varieties of rice which come from the Far West. It is rarely milled.
Most milk comes from bison, whose cheese is initially sweet but soon turns sour (bison yogurt is popular in settlements, but does not keep well enough for rations). Llamas and alpakas give a rich, salty cheese. Some countries also raise moose and reindeer, whose milk is high in fat and protein.
In the Lake Countries, common fish include perch, pike (including the muskellunge, or “ugly pike”), sturgeon, trout, walleye, and whitefish.
Common nuts: acorns, butternut, chestnuts, hazelnuts, hickory nuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts. Dehydrated fruit tends to be sweeter. Cranberries are very popular, as are blackberries, grapes, raspberries.
Chilis spread from Azland, in Middle Thaumerica. Alpakas, llamas, and pomatoes come from the mountainous country of Punt, in Lower Thaumerica, and both the fruit and the root are good to eat. Reindeer are well-known to the northern parts of Thaumerica, as the qalipu, but they were not herded until the practice was introduced by traders from Krone, across the Atlantean Sea. In the Lake Countries, the animals are “qalipu” when wild and “reindeer” when you are herding them, just as many Lakers make no distinction between alpakas and llamas and call both of them “spitting deer.”
Fatigue, Hunger, & Starvation
Sometimes your Inventory will hold things which aren’t actually items. For example, you might get a level of fatigue or a level of hunger, each of which takes up a separate Inventory slot. At some point, those fatigue levels will produce Encumbrance.
You get a level of fatigue if you fail to get at least six hours of sleep at night. It doesn’t have to be good sleep. It just has to be sleep. If you sleep for eight hours, or avoid getting more fatigue for two nights in a row, then lose a level of fatigue.
You get a level of hunger if you miss two meals in a row. You don’t have to spend an hour eating for it to count, you just have to get that food in your belly. If you eat an extra ration, or eat your next two meals on schedule, then lose a level of hunger.
If you have three levels of hunger, then hunger turns to starving. Eating rations doesn’t heal you anymore. Sleeping doesn’t heal you anymore. You get disadvantage on any action that doesn’t bring you closer to eating. You must eat one ration to turn starving to hunger, and if you don’t eat another ration soon then it’ll revert and you’ll be back where you were.
If you spend three days like this, then starving turns to dying. Each day you spend in this state, you lose a character level as your ability to perform begins to decay. If you lose all your levels, you’re just dead. You must eat one ration to turn dying to starving, or two rations to turn dying to hunger.
Fatcakes are pemmican. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out a pithy name from the etymology, but nothing quite worked. Borts, soup glew, and several other rations are also just historical dishes under a new name. The “smoked snakes” thing is just a joke about smoked asps, which in the context of smoked foods is actually a kind of fish. Vulture bees are a real thing, though .
My starvation rules are an attempt to streamline the preexisting rules into something which makes use of the preexisting mechanic established by fatigue levels. I initially considered referring to hunger as just fatigue, but this way you don’t have to keep track of where each level of fatigue came from.
I also considered something like “without sufficient nutrition, you get one level of fatigue each week,” but that just adds more moving parts to a mechanic which probably doesn’t need that many moving parts. It would need to get a different name than fatigue (get one level of malnutrition?), which just feels like Another Thing to Remember, and I very much doubt that my players are going to be surviving on nutrient-incomplete rations for weeks at a time.
Part of me is bothered by the fact that the rules talk about eating lunch and dinner, but not about breakfast, but whatever. We can abstract that away with the assumption that, if you’ve been eating lunch and dinner, you’ve also been eating breakfast (so I guess each ration actually = 1.5 rations, in that sense), just like everyone abstracts away the issue of finding a good place to piss in a dungeon that’s filled with giant spiders.
My modifications haven’t been playtested.