Food is rare in the Veins. Deserts hold more life than the womb of the Earth, and with all the solid matter there is so little space to start with. Still, the explorers (I do not dare to say “heroes”) will have to eat from time to time. Here are eight ideas for food and provisions in the Veins of Earth. The estimated nutrion value has been determined with the help of The Meat Lover´s Guide To The Post Apocalypse (and a LOT of gut decisions). Some information gleanable by Bushcraft has been added, too.
#1: Black Soup: this soup is made of blood, salt and a few scraps of meat. It will be available in cities or settlements with a butchery, and outsiders known as traders may even be welcomed with a free bowl of Black Soup once they passed the gate (or ever visitor, if the ruler wants to show his or her grandeur). While it fills the rumbling stomach and quenches the thirst, a bowl only counts as 10-30 sp worth of food.
#2: Cave Fish: the blind things that swim in the waters below aren´t carp. Often, they are bony and/or rich in gristle. Still, they make for one of the best and easiest meals one may hope for, especially when roasted, salted or dried proper. A BIG fish may be equal to 45 – 200 sp worth of food (but costs a little more when cured). The bigger ones count as one item each (half of the mass is inedible, no matter how hungry you are).
#3: Cave Crickets: It takes a a few dozen of them (30 to 50 individual crickets, depending on size) to make even for a meager meal (50 sp worth of food), and they are everything but easy to capture without a net, blanket or other large piece of cloth. Still, they one of the more frequent edible, non-dangerous things found in the Veins. The fact that non-smart predators have an even harder time to prey on them make them more available as well. An encountered “swarm” will usually count 5d20 insects.
Bushcraft: the presence of Cave Crickets either indicates that some fungus or lichen is nearby, or that some nearby fungus or lichen is no more…
#4: Albino Lobster: these are rare in the Veins, even in places where water is plenty. In regard to food, they are really just worth 14 to 15 sp, but the upper class of established Veins society may pay twice or thrice that much, just for its rarity and (comparable) delicious taste.
#5: Cave Rats: they are either blind and have an exceptional sense of smell, or they developed a form of infrared vision. The latter appear to be blind as well, but the dark, sunken in patches of skin where eyes would be expected may give their true meaning of sight away. Cave rats are more hunters than scavengers, as there are not many leftovers in the Veins. Predators guard their kills, and the rats survive by quickly or quietly stealing some scraps. Unless they have grown to giant size, they are no threat to a grown up human, even when cornered. The bigger ones make for a nice meal (25 sp worth of Veins food per animal).
Bushcraft: solitary rats may be found in many places. When a larger number is encountered, there must be a large predator in the area as well that the rats do follow. Only those kind of beasts may provide enough carcass for a group of rats to survive. That, or there is a carcass nearby large enough to make the rats gather. The latter does not exclude the former.
#6: Mussels: Mussels are more common than Lobster, but still not common in the rivers and lakes of the veins. They are a lot more salty and bitter then their above ground equivalent, and depending on the water they are found in, they may even be unwholesome or downright poisonous when eaten. 20 or 30 usually make for 40sp of Veins food, and it is a rare thing to find more than d200 (d100 +d100) in one spot.
Bushcraft: when there are mussels, it is worth checking their condition. If some of them are cracked, there may be a lobster as well. Nearby groups or settlements usually plunder edible mussels colonies quickly. Finding a large one thereby means that one is far away from the next intelligent being or that they are not edible.
#7: Cave Salamander: Underground streams and lakes that are not completely dead are usually inhabited by cave salamanders. These look very much like worms, but with short pairs of limbs at the front and the rear of the body. The number of digits vary, but the front paws usually have only four to three while the hind paws almost always have less digits than the front paws. Webbing is common, and all cave salamander have a long tail that flattens laterally. Often, cave salamanders have fins near the end of the head, the back and/or the tail. They are usually blind and without eyes, their skin is without pigmentation and of pinkish-yellow color. Their heads are elongated: some look like a blunted lance tip, others like a thick toe or thumb. Most of them are to small to make a proper meal (about 1d6 sp worth of Veins food), but once in a while a truly fat salamander may be encountered, up to 10 or 50 lbs in weight. These make for a good meal, once butchered. (175 to 800 sp in Veins Food).
#8: Cave Lichen: these are not mushrooms. They are a stringy slime that sticks to the surface of caves when there is water and mineral or organic residue that allows them to thrive. Scratching of the lichen from the walls hardly counts as work, but it takes a lot of time to fill the own belly this way. Going about it for about three hours yields 2d6 x10 sp worth of Veins Food. Doing it for about five hours will yield 2d6 x20 sp and doing so all day long means 2d6 x50. This makes for a good way of resting while sustaining oneself, but most lichen infested caves hold no more than 1d20 x 100 in Veins Food, and it takes weeks and month for the harvested lichen to recover.
Bushcraft: a skilled spelunker will identify a “scraped” lichen patch (even if it has been completely harvested), and can tell if it had been scraped within the last 1d4 days.