Nutrition & the Preparation of Food

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Nutrition and Preparation argues that the food consumed in the game world should vary in kind, so that apart from the amount of food that characters must consume, the taste and quality of the food should also matter. Characters cannot simply live on bread and water. They must eat, at the very least, "palatable food" — and, when possible, "good" food.

This isn't always easy while adventuring. The manner of food that can be obtained, and where it can be prepared, improves considerably in urban settings, where an interior kitchen is available. Food cooked in a camp, which must endure in a character's pack for days, is far less desirable and the value gained from eating such victuals deserve attention within the game's rules.

Food Goodness

A food's versatility and taste depends upon it's general caliber. Ordinary food, while resistant to spoiling, has little to offer as a meal, if not blended with more discerning or quality foods. Thus the "goodness" of a food describes it's capacity to entice the senses. There are five general "types" of goodness: durables, staples, fresh foods, premium foods and delicacies.


These include preserved meats such as jerky, dry sausage, salt-pork, sauerkraut and dried fish; also potable plant products like polished rice and dried pulses; and forage such as dried mushrooms, grains, wild nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Food that is foraged falls into this category. Note that the category includes mainly unprepared foods, whereas "staples," below, include versions of these foods after processing. Durable foods may be edible after months have passed, and even years.


These include processed foodstuffs such as flour, refined salt, honey, cheese, butter and biscuits, root vegetables and tubers, and beverages such as ale, beer, mead, wine and distilled drink. The inclusion of these latter beverages especially raise the quality of the meal. As products, they generally have a lifespan of 2 to 8 months.

Fresh Foods

These include recently picked vegetables and fruits, butchered meats, whole or raw milk and cream, among others. For each there is a short time before the food spoils, before it is processed or cooked — in some cases as little as 2 days, in others as much as 12 days. Meanwhile, the wholeness of the food is in a state of constant decline, but may be "rescued" even after it's begun to go bad. Also included in the category, and having longer lifespans, are herbs such as basil, chamomile, cumin, dill, rosemary, parsley and sage, along with tea leaves and coffee beans. Note that in all cases, very fresh foods are considered "premium."

Premium Foods

These include fresh foods that have been picked or collected in the last 12 hours, including butchered meats. These also must be of the best nature, without bruising, blemishes or discolouration, and with regards to meat, butchered finely and from the choice parts of the animal. Premium foods that are allowed to linger become "fresh" when the 12-hour time period has past.


These include unusual dishes or foods that provide a complex dining experience, such as caviar, foie gras, eels, turtle, cicitt, suckling pig and many others. Unusual distilled spirits or wines also fall into this category. Each has a variable shelf life, though many are pickled or otherwise preserved due to their being transported over long distances.

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There are six "standards" of preparing food, specifying limitations of space, utensils and equipment, the nature of the fire used and complimentary storage of edibles. Though a cook's hands are undoubtably the most important, having room to work in a fully equipped kitchen, where the air is kept fresh while particulates are kept to a minimum, are unquestionably necessary to the preparation of great dishes. Thus the circumstances in which food is prepared subsequently affects the diners' health and mood.

Cold Camp Fare

This describes eating in the outdoors, effectively cooking in one's lap, without the benefit of fire or any other heat source. Methods focus on combining raw or minimally processed ingredients creatively to create dishes. This allows food to be cleaned with water and peeled, through the use of a knife or a scraping rock — and so food that is pounded, mashed or cut up is possible. However, without a fire, food cannot be safely blanched or boiled, nor can it be browned and sweetened.

Durables and staples, along with fresh vegetables, fruits, and bottled beverages, are best for cold camp cooking. Spices can be used but they have only a moderate effect on the food's taste. Meat must be eaten raw, for which fish is best. Some delicacies that have been pickled can be eaten in a cold camp, but without other viands this would be a dreadful waste of expensive foods. Meals in a cold camp can be satisfying, but it takes a clever culinary authority to make them so.

Campfire Fare

This allows the benefit of cooking over an open fire, utilising the heat and flames to sear or bring out the juicier flavour of foods. The practice requires careful management of the fire and cooking tools. Cooks may employ pans or flames to stew and boil foods, making soups, sauces and fried dishes. Meats may also be wrapped in leaves, bark, husks or even mud clay as a means of baking. Most preparation is done on a rock or upon a board set into the ground; tools are cleaned with boiled water and lye.

Galley Fare

This describes victuals that can be prepared in a cramped space, which creates a challenging but vastly improved experience over a campfire. The practice necessitates careful organisation and adaptability, to avoid injury in close quarters with the fire while successfully producing a meal. Situations include cooking in a rolling cookwagon or vardo, or a ship galley, with compact appliances and utensils.

Fires are kept in a raised, open brick or stone box, with some sort of opening above, or attached to the outside of vehicle or dwelling. A flue is employed in special circumstances. Aboard ship, arrangements are made to allow the fire to be dumped quickly, through a port in the ship's hull, should a battle arise — in which case, until the fire can again be allowed, the crew must be limited to effectively cold camp fare. Fresh and premium foodstuffs are rare aboard ship during voyages.

Scullery Fare

This describes meals that can be cooked in a simple kitchen that would occur in a common home cottage. Such features basic tools and equipment necessary for preparing food during the game's era, reflecting a rustic and practical modest space. Included would be a small fireplace and chimney, counters, a large washbasin, bins for various staples and durables, bottles, a cold storage and space for more than one large pot. A cook's knife and a few other objects might be all a farmer could afford, but these could be augmented by a wealthier character.

A "scullery," or place for washing dishes, might be attached to the exterior of the hours or simply count as a corner of the cottage kitchen. In any case, the cooking and cleaning spaces allow for a considerable number of dishes to be made, but limitations on truly elaborate methods such as deglazing, braising, curing & smoking, large-scale marination and so on would be difficult.

Guestkitchen Fare

This describes a truly spacious arrangement in which a wide variety of sinks, pots and pans, cooking tools and cutting spaces are available, as well as a wide hearth with spit, gridiron and cauldrons. Rustic wooden tables each have a specialised use. A separate but attached scullery is definitely present. Provided with excellent ventilation, a guestkitchen is designed to cook multiple meals at once, for scores of people at a time, and thus is typical in the best public houses.

Room for multiple cooks and preparers is available, creating a bustling and sometimes cluttered space due to the persons available and amount of rush to produce food. The atmosphere is characterised by warmth, aromas and the clatter of pots and pans. Bundles of dried herbs are hung from the walls, while various foods are stuffed into pantries or cold storage. Water and other beverages can be accessed from barrels, which take up much space.

Noble's Kitchen

This describes food produced for up to hundreds of persons at a time in an enormous, spacious and enormous kitchen, featuring high ceilings and multiple large fireplaces, hearths and baking kilns. Extensive racks, shelves and hooks feature an assortment of cookware made of iron, copper and wood, while storage nooks store a rich assortment of ingredients, spices, herbs and places where essentials like cheese, beer and preservatives are created. A butcher's quarter is also provided.

As such, no dish cannot be created on the premises, of the most elegant, profound variety. The most prestigious of chefs are engaged to oversee the kitchen's numerous operations taking place at any one time, as well as purchase of foodstuffs and discipline of the general staff.

Eater's Perception of Food
of Cooking
Type of Goodness
Durables Staples Fresh Foods Premium Foods Delicacies
Cold camp grub grub chow nosh savoury
Campfire chow nosh savoury tasty flavourful
Galley nosh savoury tasty flavourful delicious
Scullery nosh tasty flavourful delicious piquant
Guestkitchen savoury tasty delicious piquant mouthwatering
Noble's Kitchen flavourful delicious piquant mouthwatering ambrosia

Food Sensation

By combining the nature of the food available with the space and tools available, we can produce a wide variety of food sensations for the diner. In each case, the DM must judge the primary food content of the dish being prepared, according to how much of it's "goodness" conforms to the standards of durables, staples and so on. Naturally, any dish will be made of a composite of multiple types ... so as a rule of thumb, count the food's goodness according to the best one-quarter of the ingredient's mass. For example, if a dish is made of 50% staple, 30% fresh food and 20% premium food, the goodness would count as "fresh food." If the balance was such that 25% or more premium food made up the dish's mass, then it would count as "premium food."

To provide a general description of the table's results, grub describes food that is hardly palatable but is choked down because it keeps us alive; chow is hardly better, but the diner can remain indifferent to the taste, enough that eating isn’t a chore; nosh is agreeable, encouraging the diner to scrape the remains from the plate; savoury has a sharper taste gives a feeling of being content and wholesomely satisfied; tasty is distinctly pleasurable and almost always calls for seconds; flavourful causes the diner to cease conversation and actively enjoy the taste of the food; delicious urges for the diner to share aloud the eating experience, declaring its noteworthiness; piquant is distinct and memorable, the sort of meal that one would certainly recall weeks later; mouth-watering cries for the food to be gobbled, even protected from others, as the diner cannot get enough; and ambrosia is simply ecstasy, eaten with eyes closed and at one with the sheer pleasure of being alive.

Quantifiable Effects of Eating

Once the sensation is known, each imbiber of the meal must roll 3 six-sided dice to determine the effects on the character's system. As any day consists of generally two meals, the effects below take effect for the character for eight hours (or more, in some cases) after the "morning" or "evening" meal. The description of each effect is as follows:

Sensation 3d6 Roll (3-18) Sensation
17 to 18 11 to 16 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3
grub no effect grumpy tired miserable vomiting diarrhea affliction grub
chow no effect grumpy tired miserable vomiting diarrhea affliction chow
nosh no effect grumpy tired miserable vomiting diarrhea nosh
savoury no effect grumpy tired miserable vomiting savoury
tasty no effect grumpy tired miserable tasty
flavourful no effect grumpy tired flavourful
delicious sated no effect grumpy delicious
piquant sated no effect piquant
mouthwatering happy sated no effect mouthwatering
ambrosia elated happy sated no effect ambrosia
  • Affliction: the character acquires an acute, mild form of stomach disease, resulting in pain, forced bed rest and a 10% chance of the disease turning severe. Otherwise, the character is affected for one week and cannot travel, while suffering from diarrhea. Carrying the character without a litter will cause 2-8 hit points damage per day. Strength and constitution suffer a -3 penalty.
  • Diarrhea: at first, this will have similar characteristics to "affliction," above, but the condition improves considerably after the first four hours. Carrying the character without a litter only causes 1-4 damage, and after eight hours the character will be weakened, but otherwise restored. The initial loss of 3 strength/constitution improves to only -2 after four hours, and -1 afterwards, until a full 24 hours has passed (the character will have no appetite for the next meal following that which produced the diarrhea).
  • Elated: the character is in such a fine frame of mind that they feel an uncommon bravery or capability that they have not possessed since they were of a younger age category. Thus, for the space of a full day (24 hours), a mature character's ability stats should be adjusted as though they were a young adult; the middle aged are adjusted as though they were mature; the old should be adjusted as though they were middle aged and so on. Moreover, any death check made that day automatically succeeds. They also automatically heal 2 hit points of damage.
  • Grumpy: the character feels disturbed and unsatisfied by the meal, and suffers a -1 penalty to his or her charisma. The effect dissipates after 6 hours.
  • Happy: the character in such good spirits that he or she gains a +1 saving throw against any situation, and +2 vs. charm. They too automatically heal 1 hit point of damage, and increase their strength by 1 point with respect to encumbrance (but not to any other effect).
  • Miserable: the meal rumbles in the character's stomach unpleasantly, with a moderate effect of -1 to strength and dexterity. Because of this, the character is bad-tempered and moody, and should be treated as uninterested in communicating with strangers or attempting to parley with them. Should they try to do so, a -4 penalty to charisma checks is applied. The effect dissipates after 8 hours.
  • Sated: the character feels wonderfully stuffed and pleasant, such that travel seems unusually interesting and pleasant, or else they spend the night in a deep and comfortable slumber. Any healing that's done that day through rest receives a +1 hit point bonus per level of the character; while travelling, the character receives an intelligence check against the use of the malady table.
  • Tired: the character feels dull and sluggish, making it difficult to feel enthusiasm or think properly. This produces a -1 penalty to intelligence and wisdom. The effect dissipates after 8 hours.
  • Vomiting: between 2-5 hours after eating, the character will throw up a good portion of the dinner they ate. This brings a -1 penalty to both strength and constitution for 1-4 hours after vomiting, whereupon the character is fully restored.

See also,
Cooking (sage ability)
Sour (cantrip)
The Adventure