On choking to death and, uh, not.

side note: It seems that the new android wordpress doesn’t draft things properly. I’ve only tried to write this three times. Bright side, you (gentle reader) benefit from the unseen drafts!

The non-heroic deaths are a little all-over-the-place in D&D. We can make them a little more concise.


You starve, or drown, or dehydrate, or whatever, on a specific periodic schedule:

  • Without air: 1 minute
  • Extreme temperature: 1 hour
  • Without water: 1 day
  • Without food: 1 week

At the end of each listed period, you acquire 2 levels of exhaustion (DC 15 Constitution saving throw for half). You cannot remove these levels of exhaustion until you go for the listed period satisfying the need.

Suffocation is a special case of these rules: the levels of exhaustion it inflicts are temporary, and fade after a minute spent breathing normally.

Avoiding deprivation:

Eat, drink, be merry! The cost of your upkeep is covered by your lifestyle expenses, but you might have to carry things with you:

  • Air: Not much you can do with a medieval level of technology. But if there were:
    • Air: 2 lb of fresh air for 1 person for 1 day, per NASA.
  • Temperature:
    • Each hour in the cold, to heat 5 people requires one of:
      • 5 lbs firewood (5cp)
      • 2lbs peat/coal/dung (4sp)
  • Water:
    • 8 lbs of water sustains 1 person for 1 day in a temperate climate.
    • 16 lbs of water sustains 1 person for 1 day in a hot climate.
  • Food:
    • Each day, each person needs to consume one of:
      • 1 lb of iron rations, 5 gp each
      • 2 lb of standard (“trail”) rations, 1 gp each
      • 5 lb of unpreserved food (requires 1 hour fire), 2 sp each

Missing the amount you need for a period — but getting at least half the amount you need — doubles the deprivation period. Rationing, that’s the ticket.

Overindulgence and Profession: Gastro Gnome:

There are a few skills that interact with the food thing: hunting and cooking. I would guess that a hunter can name a number of pounds of food and then make a Wisdom (Survival) check against that value as a DC. Miss it and get no food. Hit it and get that amount of food (unpreserved). Once per day as a travel activity. Rangers (“provide food for yourself and others”)

I would guess that a chef can glean more out of food (and make it tastier besides): while rationing food,because they optimize for satiety, triple the period instead of doubling it.


About lackhand

I was born in 1984 and am still playing games, programming computers, and living in New York City. View all posts by lackhand

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