Hunting - Homebrew
I’m not sure about you, but for me… I get a lot of great ideas while taking a shower, and sometimes at 10pm on Sunday night when I’ve no idea what I am going to write for tomorrow. Luckily, this idea came to me during a shower… But I’m only writing it at 10 pm on Sunday… I blame Gen Con.
I wanted a fun Hunting mini-game that could be quickly implemented while at the table and doesn’t require too much effort or time from the GM. This one page on Hunting creates a fun mini-game where the players get to roll a ton of dice and there isn’t a lot of effort from the GM to create the entire hunt for the player as the pool of dice create the story.
For those that don’t care for the nitty-gritty explanation:
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This idea for hunting came to me while one of my players is off focusing on their career and I am doing a small text-based side quest for them until they get back. They wanted to go hunting for some rabbits, and I wanted something that could be done quickly but would still be pretty fun for them to do.
Sure, I could have just asked for a survival check for them to hunt down the rabbits. But how many do they catch? And what if they only had a limited amount of time to be hunting for? What if they needed a certain amount of rabbit for a recipe for their Cook’s Utensils? How could I introduce something that created suspense and excitement?
My first thought is… everyone loves to roll dice. Let’s do something with dice pools, but how do I decide the size and type of dice for the pool? Which brings us to our hunting rules.
Beginning the Hunt
When a character announces that they wish to hunt, either as part of their downtime days or because they want something besides trail rations for dinner that night, they are going to want to find some rabbit or deer for their dinner that night. Now comes the first part of our hunting rules. They must decide how long they are going to hunt for, I’ve gone ahead and assumed that most hunts are going to be on hours scale, but you could easily say that hunts must last for days to be effective.
After the character decides how long they are hunting for, in this case, we will assume they wish to hunt for their dinner so they’ll be hunting for less than 2 hours, they then must make a Wisdom (Survival) check. Because our example is hunting for such a short period of time, they are going to have disadvantage on the check. If they chose to hunt longer than they could eventually get advantage on their check.
They roll their Wisdom (Survival) check and we get a total of: 4 and a 17 on the die. We’ll assume they have a +5 to their roll which gives us a 9 on our Wisdom (Survival) check. Not too bad for trying to find dinner in a couple of hours.
Now, this check determines the size of our dice pool. Our dice pool will be made up of 9 dice (If we had had advantage on the check, we could have had 22 dice!)
This next part falls on to the GM, what type of dice is our pool going to be made of?
The Dice Pool
The Dice Pool is a fun mechanic that has no real presence in D&D 5e. Sure, the rogue gets all their sneak attack dice and the fireball has a nice pool of d6s, but those don’t determine successes and failures. Instead, we are going to use our Dice Pool to determine how the hunt goes for our players, and we can use the results to help us tell the story of the hunt without having to plan anything out. But first… let’s talk about the dice to roll.
I decided that most hunts are going to default to a d8, and that die size will change based on what is being hunted and where you are. If you happen to be in a fertile forest hunting for rabbits, you can expect to have an easier time on your hunt than if you were in a barren desert hunting for rare lizards. Thus, the dice pool is going to reflect that. For our fertile forest with rabbits everywhere, the d8 is going to jump down two die sizes to a d4, once for being in a fertile forest and another time for the overabundant rabbits.
Of course, if we are in the barren desert looking for a rare lizard, our d8 is going to increase in 2 sizes to a d12, once for the barren desert and once for a rare creature being hunted.
In our original example, I am looking for dinner and I am going to assume I am in a forest so rabbits are about. I’m going to say that the forest is fertile, but there isn’t an overabundance of rabbits. This just decreases my d8 to d6, only one size down. This means I am going to roll 9d6 to determine how successful my hunt was. Here we go:
1, 6, 1, 3, 5, 2, 1, 4, 6
Now, what do we do with these results? Well, we are just looking for the highest value for the die. In this case, I am only concerned about 6s on a d6, if I rolled d8s I’d just be looking for 8s. Each time I roll the highest value on the die, that marks a success in my hunt and means I successfully hunted a creature. Any other number simply represents how close I was to catching a creature or even how noisy I am being in the forest.
Based on my results, I was able to successfully hunt 2 rabbits and my party is going to be eating rabbit stew! Looking at the other dice, I can see that there were a few close calls (the 5 and 4) but a lot of times either I was making too much noise hunting or the forest just doesn’t have as many rabbits about as I would like. By taking those failures, you can create the story of the hunt for your players, or even have your player describe to the table how their hunt went! They may wish to embellish on their failures, or talk about that 5 and how it was such a near thing!
And that is all there is to hunting. You determine how long you are hunting for, roll your survival check and assemble the dice pool. It’s a simple mini-game that can help keep the game moving while still allowing the characters to do things out in the wild and while traveling… Besides, we all know that the best thing to do on the Oregon Trail, besides dying of dysentery, was going out with the gun and hunting for food!
I like to keep my homebrew systems for tools and other mechanics down to one page, I find that constraining how complicated I can make the system means I get far more creative about how to implement the system. Of course… several of my ideas that don’t fit on the first page become variant rules that GMs can easily add on to the system if they are looking for a bit more meat.
I hope you enjoy this system and please let me know what your thoughts are. I’ve used it several times, and I have found it quite fun for my players and even for myself.
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