Travelling rations

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cuthalion
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Travelling rations

Post by cuthalion » Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:28 pm

Posted this on the house rules, but got 0 responses :cry: :geek:, so posting here in the hopes of a little feedback. I haven't really gamed enough to get things like balance etc. when fiddling with mechanics, so this is really what I was looking for, and maybe it didn't belong in house rules.

If the original post is too complicated/fiddly (which I know I'm prone to--sorry :roll: ), my main question is probably #2 -- I've heard that twice baked honey cakes ends up being a little overpowered/one of the best virtues in the game, but would limiting preparation of the cakes (and therefore their bonuses to travel) to APs when the characters have set out from Beorningland be too harsh?

General comments/anecdotes/tips about how you have handled the special rations in fun/creative/Tolkien-y ways would be most appreciated tho.
I was double checking what was written up on cram, and then, out of curiosity, decided to compare all of the different rations we have so far in the various sourcebooks. Ignoring Erestor's miruvor (which players can't just choose to bring at any point), I think we have cram (LT p.12), twice-baked honey cakes (TOR 2E p.106), and lembas (AC p.50).

I'm marvelling that C7 had the presence of mind to make these all a little different (my initial reaction was, wow, they all really ought to be based on a similar mechanic, but on reflection, I think their interpretation makes much more sense, and reflects the differences in the cultures and the rations themselves better).

So we have:
  • cram being the least effective, and only offering a small bonus to travel rolls
  • twice-baked honey cakes offering an improvement to the fellowship rating (essentially 1FP) and an improved bonus to travel rolls
  • lembas offering a number of FPs, but only as can be applied to rolls made during journeys
I just had a couple of quick questions. Would you have any reservations in:
  1. Allowing cram to be bought when in Laketown using regular SoL rules (i.e. I don't think it's particularly rare or expensive), BUT only applied to one journey (vs. (or, I suppose, in addition to) the Market Pool mechanic, which grants the bonus until the Travel skill is upgraded)
  2. In order to makes things a little more consistent re: the twice baked honey cakes: (a) making the bonus a FP that can only be spent during journeys (like lembas) vs a permanent change to the fellowship rating; (b) limiting preparation to when the character returns to their home culture in the fellowship phase (makes more sense re: access to the honey! and so that they don't get over used).
  3. Only allowing the bonuses from cram and twice-baked honey cakes to apply as long as the rations last--around one-week according to the main book. This one obviously depends on how up for micro-managing journey supplies etc. you are, but would seem to reinforce part of what C7 seem to have been going for with the lembas in emphasizing their longevity by tieing them to FPs. It's possible that cram and the cakes could last, say, twice as long as regular rations, but not sure whether to go down that road or not.
Also--a question re: cram in particular. Does the bonus from cram really only apply to the character who bought it?

Thanks in advance for any opinions. Would be interested to hear how others have incorporated these into their games.

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Majestic
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Re: Travelling rations

Post by Majestic » Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:26 pm

I've not used any of them in my games, I'm afraid. I've had two Beorning PCs (neither were regulars, though), and neither of them chose Honey Cakes! :o
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Falenthal
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Re: Travelling rations

Post by Falenthal » Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:09 pm

I'm not really sure about my answer, but here it goes... ;)

1) I'd tie buying cram to some limited resource, like Treasure or a Fellowship Undertaking. Gathering herbs at the Long Marshes, IIRC, also grants some benefits that only last for one Adventure phase or similar. I wouldn't allow to buy cram "at will", specially since SoL is not a finite resource.

2) Option a) seems ok. b) is harsher, and probably depends on how powerful you deem TBHC are. What I do is that I make TBHC reduce all Fatigue tests by -2, not by the Beorning's Wisdom. It is enough a benefit, along with the FP point, I think.

3) Relating benefits to time implies you (or the players) should keep a record of it. I wouldn't do it, but some people like to, and the Journey's game rules allow to do it without much effort. On the other hand, what if a Journey takes two weeks? For how many of the Fatigue tests will the benefits last? Personally, I don't find interesting to stop the adventure to make those kind of calculations. Again, tying the benefit to a limited resource (like FP) seems like a good option. Or something like "get X benefit for as many Fatigue tests as your Valour" (or variants thereof).

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Re: Travelling rations

Post by Otaku-sempai » Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:23 pm

Well, there's nothing special about cram. It's just a local form of what we used to call iron rations in D&D (and still do, for all I know). It's got no special properties except that it stores well for a long time. Purchasing cram should be no more difficult than laying in a supply of jerky or preserved fish. Cram will keep you alive, but after a couple of weeks of the stuff, you'll get awfully tired of it. As Tolkien wrote:
If you want to know what cram is, I can only say that I don't know the recipe; but it is biscuitish, keeps good indefinitely, is supposed to be sustaining, and it is certainly not entertaining, being in fact very uninteresting except as a chewing exercise. It was made by the Lake-men for long journeys.
Cram would be similar to (if not the same thing as) the foodstuff historically known as hardtack (among other names).
Last edited by Otaku-sempai on Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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cuthalion
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Re: Travelling rations

Post by cuthalion » Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:05 am

Otaku-sempai wrote:
Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:23 pm
Well, there's nothing special about cram. It's just a local form of what we used to call iron rations in D&D (and still do, for all I know). It's got no special properties except that it stores well for a long time. Purchasing cram should be no more difficult than laying in a supply of jerky or preserved fish. Cram will keep you alive, but after a couple of weeks of the stuff, you'll get awfully tired of it. As Tolkien wrote:
If you want to know what cram is, I can only say that I don't know the recipe; but it is biscuitish, keeps good indefinitely, is supposed to be sustaining, and it is certainly not entertaining, being in fact very uninteresting except as a chewing exercise. It was made by the Lake-men for long journeys.
Good point--so, if I get your meaning, what you're saying is, the +1 on travel rolls already simulates the long-lasting nature of cram, and it's unnecessary to say that rations last longer or anything like that.

That makes sense to me.

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cuthalion
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Re: Travelling rations

Post by cuthalion » Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:11 am

Falenthal wrote:
Wed Aug 30, 2017 9:09 pm
I'm not really sure about my answer, but here it goes... ;)

1) I'd tie buying cram to some limited resource, like Treasure or a Fellowship Undertaking. Gathering herbs at the Long Marshes, IIRC, also grants some benefits that only last for one Adventure phase or similar. I wouldn't allow to buy cram "at will", specially since SoL is not a finite resource.

2) Option a) seems ok. b) is harsher, and probably depends on how powerful you deem TBHC are. What I do is that I make TBHC reduce all Fatigue tests by -2, not by the Beorning's Wisdom. It is enough a benefit, along with the FP point, I think.

3) Relating benefits to time implies you (or the players) should keep a record of it. I wouldn't do it, but some people like to, and the Journey's game rules allow to do it without much effort. On the other hand, what if a Journey takes two weeks? For how many of the Fatigue tests will the benefits last? Personally, I don't find interesting to stop the adventure to make those kind of calculations. Again, tying the benefit to a limited resource (like FP) seems like a good option. Or something like "get X benefit for as many Fatigue tests as your Valour" (or variants thereof).
Good feedback--thanks. I think I agree with you on 2 and 3. Especially since I'm realising that the bonuses to travel roles are maybe meant to account for longevity of special rations already.

On 1, the idea was to only allow players to purchase it in Laketown, and limit it that way, which I still like the idea of. It really ought not to cost Treasure, as it does in the Market Pool FP undertaking.

Thanks for the reply!

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Re: Travelling rations

Post by Otaku-sempai » Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:49 am

cuthalion wrote:
Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:05 am
Good point--so, if I get your meaning, what you're saying is, the +1 on travel rolls already simulates the long-lasting nature of cram, and it's unnecessary to say that rations last longer or anything like that.

That makes sense to me.
New Fellowship Phase Undertaking: Go to the Market-pool
  • Buy robust rope, walking staves, comfortable sleeping
    cots and a regular supply of cram from a baker (biscuits
    the Lake-men prepare for long journeys). Gain a bonus
    to Travel.
My reading is that this includes all of the above collectively. One need not take this undertaking merely to make a one-time purchase of a supply of cram, though that would also not provide any bonus to Travel. It does seem reasonable, though, to limit the availability of cram to Lake-town and the immediate vicinity (unless a Hero acquires the recipe, which could conceivably be an undertaking in its own right).
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cuthalion
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Re: Travelling rations

Post by cuthalion » Thu Aug 31, 2017 4:06 am

You're right--now I'm reading it again, I see what you mean. Some of the other market pool examples contain alternatives, which maybe threw me off. Your reading makes much more sense.

Then I suppose we're back to the only benefit of cram really being it's longevity. I'm tempted to allow characters to manage a little longer without hunting, as I/my players do like to track provisions etc. Though perhaps at some kind of slight disadvantage (exercise in chewing and all). Hmmm . . .

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Re: Travelling rations

Post by Enevhar Aldarion » Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:35 am

Hardtack AKA Cram:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardtack

One thing you could consider for any traveling ration, since we are talking about a fantasy setting, is maybe having some that have been made with medicinal or recovery-type herbs mixed into the recipe. Then those could give an added benefit on journeys. Maybe a sort of poor-man's Lembas.

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