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  1. #1
    Gary V. Foss
    Guest

    The Fifth Food Group

    Kenneth Gauck wrote:

    > On Wednesday, October 21, 1998 4:51 PM, Gary V. Foss
    > wrote:
    > >There is also the possibility that elves, like Cerilian dwarves, have a
    > drastically
    > >different diet than we often assume. Dwarves can live on rocks and dirt.
    >
    > I had a fit when I first read the Baruk-Azhik suplement. The point about
    > dwarves eating rocks was one of the things that set me off. After writing a
    > three page polemic against the supliment, I decided to just offer my players
    > caveat. I told them that the information was not neccesarily reliable, but
    > was how the dwarves see their own society, and not how it really was. If
    > anyone wants my specific criticisms of the Dwarven Sup, I'll send it
    > off-list.

    Huh. You know, I really didn't have that much of a problem with it. Probably
    because I bought into the whole Planescape thing in which Tieflings can eat
    ashes and bones and stuff. I actually kind of like that Cerilian dwarves can
    eat dirt. God knows I tried to as a four-year-old.... Besides, it makes the
    dwarves more alien and I kind of like that. It's also a cute explanation for
    their relative density in comparison to other creatures. Besides, I saw a guy
    eat a whole box full of straight pins one time. THAT was weird. Dwarves can
    eat mud pies? No problem.

    > >Elves might be able to live on pine cones or even pine needles, tree
    > >bark, daisies, grass, whatever.
    >
    > This is certainly likely as a supliment to diet, but creatures the size of
    > elves (even with some leeway) would eat enough of this stuff to really harm
    > the eco-system. pine cones are the seed bearers of trees, as are nuts.
    > Often the nutrition we take from these sources is direct competition with
    > the trees. Tree bark is obviously a protection for the tree. Some might be
    > harvested, but one of the great causes of deforestation in Sub-Saharan
    > Africa is the elephant which rubs against trees, and stripps the bark off.
    > Grass has little nutritional value and is hard to digest.

    Well, grass has little nutritional value for humans, but I think the point is
    that elves might be able to process it much more efficiently. Like I said, I
    don't have a problem with dwarves munching down rocks (which I'm pretty sure
    have even less nutritional value to humans than grass) so elves eating
    dandelions is perfectly fine by me. As for stripping the bark off trees, maybe
    elves eat the WHOLE tree. I just said bark as an example....

    Besides, I'm not sure I understand how elves would deforest an area by eating
    naturally growing plants, yet not deforest that same area if they were farming
    it.... There are a lot of elves, I grant you, but it's not like they go mowing
    through the forests devouring the plantlife like weevils on crack....

    > Some of these concerns might seem nit-picky, but when the people in a game
    > session have trouble suspending their disbelief, the whole game suffers.
    > The game should be simple, elegant, and capable of suspending disbelief.

    Well sheesh, Ken, I wasn't having any problem suspending my disbelief before!
    Now I'm all questioning the calorie intake of my characters and stuff. I'm
    starting to think my female bard, Rowena, is anorexic. She's getting to look
    like that chick on Alley McBeal.... And my favorite fighter, Kohvan, has a
    cholesterol count higher than the Silverhead Mountains! That boy needs to lay
    off the red meat....

    Seriously, though. I don't mind at all the idea that elves and dwarves have a
    fifth and sixth food group respectively. Especially since certain foods that
    humans eat are inedible to dwarves (and probably should be for elves if we
    extend the reasoning) so it evens things out.

    Gary

  2. #2
    Galwylin
    Guest

    The Fifth Food Group

    "Gary V. Foss" wrote:
    >
    > Seriously, though. I don't mind at all the idea that elves and dwarves have a
    > fifth and sixth food group respectively. Especially since certain foods that
    > humans eat are inedible to dwarves (and probably should be for elves if we
    > extend the reasoning) so it evens things out.

    I rather like the idea myself, too. It apparently needs to be pointed
    out every time you're dealing with elves or dwarves (or halflings if
    they ever develope their own culture) that these are alien to
    humankind. They shouldn't be living off nice juicey steaks just because
    that's what humans enjoy (though I like mine rather dry ;)

    - --
    This has been a Galwylin® Production

    galwylin@airnet.net
    http://www.airnet.net/galwylin/

  3. #3
    Kenneth Gauck
    Guest

    The Fifth Food Group

    - ----Original Message-----
    From: Gary V. Foss
    To: birthright@MPGN.COM
    Date: Thursday, October 22, 1998 5:32 PM
    Subject: [BIRTHRIGHT] - The Fifth Food Group


    >I actually kind of like that Cerilian dwarves can eat dirt. God knows I
    tried to as a
    >four-year-old.... Besides, it makes the dwarves more alien and I kind of
    like that.
    >It's also a cute explanation for their relative density in comparison to
    other
    >creatures. Besides, I saw a guy eat a whole box full of straight pins one
    time.
    >THAT was weird. Dwarves can eat mud pies? No problem.
    >
    Humans can and do eat dirt. Its very nutritious. You'll find the practice
    in West Africa and the American South. Rocks are another matter. Even
    granted that dwarves do eat rocks and dirt (and I permit it in my campaign),
    its not a long term solution. It may be high in minerals, but lacks
    calories. Furthermore digestion should require very large amounts of water,
    making it a deydration risk. The game suggests the dwarves locked
    themselves underground for centuries and continue to live there without
    venturing to the surface. I could allow fantastic food sources all under
    ground, but I don't know how other game actions would effect them.
    Vulnerablities? Possible sources of contamination? Ultimatly that's the
    problem with the fantastic. If you are asked to encounter it on a month to
    month basis, you need answers to these questions. If I told my players that
    the Gorgon harmed my player's realm's food supply, they would want to know
    in what way, to what extent, and how could the prevent it in the future. As
    a DM I need answers to these questions, even if I will only divulge it
    through divinations, consultations with sages, alchemists, and bardic lore
    masters. I can certainly see how a mountain dwarf whose plane went down in
    the Andes might survive eating rocks and snow for a few days while he
    marched down the mountain. But locked up underground for years?

    >Besides, I'm not sure I understand how elves would deforest an area by
    eating
    >naturally growing plants, yet not deforest that same area if they were
    farming
    >it.... There are a lot of elves, I grant you, but it's not like they go
    mowing
    >through the forests devouring the plantlife like weevils on crack....
    >
    I'll explain how elves could deforest an area by eating naturally growing
    plants, yet not do so if they were farming. Intentionally planting food
    produces more food per sq foot of land than the wilderness does. Compare a
    Birch tree and a vegetable garden occupying the same area on the ground.
    The garden will feed you longer. Since you would run out of food faster
    collecting nuts and selecting edible bark (and getting an inferior diet) you
    would end up ranging over a wider area of forest to obtain your food.
    While killing trees along the way.

    Kenneth Gauck
    c558382@earthlink.net

  4. #4
    Kenneth Gauck
    Guest

    The Fifth Food Group

    There is a difference between physiology and culture. We have not been
    talking about culture. If you have invented a fantastic nutrition system
    for alternate races. By all means, share it.

    - -----Original Message-----
    From: Galwylin
    To: birthright@MPGN.COM
    Date: Thursday, October 22, 1998 6:24 PM
    Subject: Re: [BIRTHRIGHT] - The Fifth Food Group


    >It apparently needs to be pointed out every time you're dealing with elves
    or
    >dwarves (or halflings if they ever develope their own culture) that these
    are
    >alien to humankind. They shouldn't be living off nice juicey steaks just
    because
    >that's what humans enjoy (though I like mine rather dry ;)

  5. #5
    Galwylin
    Guest

    The Fifth Food Group

    Kenneth Gauck wrote:
    >
    > I'll explain how elves could deforest an area by eating naturally growing
    > plants, yet not do so if they were farming. Intentionally planting food
    > produces more food per sq foot of land than the wilderness does. Compare a
    > Birch tree and a vegetable garden occupying the same area on the ground.
    > The garden will feed you longer. Since you would run out of food faster
    > collecting nuts and selecting edible bark (and getting an inferior diet) you
    > would end up ranging over a wider area of forest to obtain your food.
    > While killing trees along the way.

    Maybe elves have such a place in the natural order of things that
    without them, forests would find survival difficult. Like insects and
    plants have become dependent on each other. I don't mean to be crass
    but what if Cerilia's trees need the elves digestive tract to reproduce?

    - --
    This has been a Galwylin® Production

    galwylin@airnet.net
    http://www.airnet.net/galwylin/

  6. #6
    Kenneth Gauck
    Guest

    The Fifth Food Group

    - -----Original Message-----
    From: Galwylin
    Date: Thursday, October 22, 1998 10:17 PM


    >Maybe elves have such a place in the natural order of things that
    >without them, forests would find survival difficult. Like insects and
    >plants have become dependent on each other. I don't mean to be crass
    >but what if Cerilia's trees need the elves digestive tract to reproduce?
    >
    That's an excellent idea. However its only likely to effect a few related
    species of trees, esp since elves are not about in several of the forests.
    I especially like the idea, though.

    Kenneth Gauck
    c558382@earthlink.net

  7. #7
    MANTA
    Guest

    The Fifth Food Group

    Gary V. Foss Gary V. Foss
    > > wrote:
    > Huh. You know, I really didn't have that much of a problem with it.
    Probably
    > because I bought into the whole Planescape thing in which Tieflings can
    eat
    > ashes and bones and stuff. I actually kind of like that Cerilian dwarves
    can
    > eat dirt. God knows I tried to as a four-year-old.... Besides, it makes
    the
    > dwarves more alien and I kind of like that. It's also a cute explanation
    for
    > their relative density in comparison to other creatures. Besides, I saw
    a guy
    > eat a whole box full of straight pins one time. THAT was weird. Dwarves
    can
    > eat mud pies? No problem.

    Even though they CAN eat dirt , rocks, mud , whatever it doesn┬┤t mean they
    actually do it and like doing it. Maybe it┬┤s a last resourse. Maybe they
    can do it but prefer other more pleasent diets. Maybe surviving off rocks
    is the dwarven equivalent of garbage-dump scavenging - most humans survive
    by doing it and God knows they don┬┤t like it.

    "Hey guys! An earth elemental! Draw the cutlery!"
    Rhokka, Mur-Khilad veteran

    MANTA
    ip209007@ip.pt
    ICQ: 17080887scout

  8. #8
    Gary V. Foss
    Guest

    The Fifth Food Group

    Kenneth Gauck wrote:

    > Humans can and do eat dirt. Its very nutritious. You'll find the practice
    > in West Africa and the American South. Rocks are another matter. Even
    > granted that dwarves do eat rocks and dirt (and I permit it in my campaign),
    > its not a long term solution. It may be high in minerals, but lacks
    > calories. Furthermore digestion should require very large amounts of water,
    > making it a deydration risk. The game suggests the dwarves locked
    > themselves underground for centuries and continue to live there without
    > venturing to the surface. I could allow fantastic food sources all under
    > ground, but I don't know how other game actions would effect them.
    > Vulnerablities? Possible sources of contamination?

    Well, I think this kind of thing is where the "fantasy" in the fantasy
    role-playing game comes in. I know the "realism" debate is even older and more
    tired than the Gheallie Sidhe Alignment issue, so I won't bore anyone by
    bringing up that I think the REALISM IS FOR THE BIRDS! and THE GHEALLIE SIDHE
    ARE EVIL!!! Oops. Sorry. Didn't mean to rehash old issues there....

    > Ultimatly that's the
    > problem with the fantastic. If you are asked to encounter it on a month to
    > month basis, you need answers to these questions. If I told my players that
    > the Gorgon harmed my player's realm's food supply, they would want to know
    > in what way, to what extent, and how could the prevent it in the future. As
    > a DM I need answers to these questions, even if I will only divulge it
    > through divinations, consultations with sages, alchemists, and bardic lore
    > masters.

    Ah, I see. You're a realistic kind of guy. I guess we're going to have to put
    this down to different role-playing styles. I would have the exact opposite
    problem with my players. If I tried to explain realistically how the food
    supply problem in Baruk Azhik was solved so that dwarves could maintain an
    adequate calorie intake to support themselves given the size of the population,
    lack of access to sunlight or just about any other biological issue, they would
    look at me like I was wearing a purple tutu and speaking Mandarin.

    For some people suspension of disbelief happens just after sitting down and
    picking up a book that says "Dungeons and Dragons" on it. For others it takes
    place far later. To me, "realistic dwarves" is close to an oxymoron, because
    dwarves are a fantastic invention. Could they exist in real life? Maybe.
    Well, sure, why not? But the point is that they don't, so I have no problem
    with explaining the diet of a fantastic species in a fantastic, unrealistic,
    maybe even silly way.

    I'm going to paraphrase a conversation with one of my players to illustrate my
    point.

    Player: Hey, Gary. I was wondering. How can creatures as big as dragons be
    supported by the ecosystem of your campaign world. I mean, dragons would eat a
    lot! Wouldn't they wipe out all the wildlife in any area they lived in and make
    it unable to support any other creatures?

    Me: Uh, well.... It rains more.

    Player: Huh?

    Me: You know. It rains more. It rains a lot, so more plants grow and more
    animals can feed off them, and more predators exist and right on up the food
    chain.

    Player: Oh.... OK.

    > I can certainly see how a mountain dwarf whose plane went down in
    > the Andes might survive eating rocks and snow for a few days while he
    > marched down the mountain. But locked up underground for years?

    What a heart warming tale of survival! We should make a movie! Heh. Cute
    analogy. Though I don't really think the Baruk Azhik even have a soccer team,
    do they?

    I suppose if you need a rationale you could have the BA dwarves farming
    underground taking advantage of geothermal energy rather than sunlight. I
    remember reading a few years ago that scientists had found a cave plant or
    something that did so. There are also examples of those undersea hotspot
    geothermal tube thingies that certain scientists are speculating might have been
    where life really originated on Earth due to their proximity to the primordial
    soup and all.

    > I'll explain how elves could deforest an area by eating naturally growing
    > plants, yet not do so if they were farming. Intentionally planting food
    > produces more food per sq foot of land than the wilderness does. Compare a
    > Birch tree and a vegetable garden occupying the same area on the ground.
    > The garden will feed you longer. Since you would run out of food faster
    > collecting nuts and selecting edible bark (and getting an inferior diet) you
    > would end up ranging over a wider area of forest to obtain your food.
    > While killing trees along the way.

    Well, I think that makes a few assumptions about the relative edibility of
    plants. If elves can eat the mulberry bush and not just the mulberries it kind
    of changes matters. When humans look at a forest they see trees, but when an
    elf looks at a forest maybe he sees a vast, lip-smacking salad of delicacies and
    treats! Elves would have no need to farm anything because it's all gravy to
    them. (Or the vegan equivalent of gravy, that is.) They may not have to worry
    about just eating the roots of one plant, just the leaves of another or just the
    fruit from a third because it's all good, so farming is a waste of time to
    them. To elves, the term "farming" could be just making sure you don't eat too
    much of a plant to kill it, leaving an endless, sustainable food supply.

    Gary

  9. #9
    Galwylin
    Guest

    The Fifth Food Group

    Kenneth Gauck wrote:
    >
    > That's an excellent idea. However its only likely to effect a few related
    > species of trees, esp since elves are not about in several of the forests.
    > I especially like the idea, though.

    I was thinking there some plants that thrive after their seeds have gone
    through a mammal's digestive system in the real world. I'm not
    completely knowledgeable about this but I was thinking that those plants
    can still reproduce without this. Its just harder for them. Maybe
    forests with elves grow much faster and thicker which is why men can't
    just 'grow' their own forests. They never would grow fast enough to be
    a fuel source for humans. Human need will continually force them to
    seek out forest where elves make their home destroying the elves food
    source. Nice little vicious circle :)

    On a side note, I've also thought about something else. Maybe the smell
    of wood smoke causes elves to go into a frenzy or agitated state. Aroma
    therapy type thing.

    - --
    This has been a Galwylin® Production

    galwylin@airnet.net
    http://www.airnet.net/galwylin/

  10. #10
    DKEvermore@aol.co
    Guest

    The Fifth Food Group

    In a message dated 10-22-1998 5:36:03 PM Central Daylight Time,
    GeeMan@linkline.com writes:

    >
    > Well, grass has little nutritional value for humans, but I think the point
    > is
    > that elves might be able to process it much more efficiently. Like I said,
    > I
    > don't have a problem with dwarves munching down rocks (which I'm pretty
    sure
    > have even less nutritional value to humans than grass) so elves eating
    > dandelions is perfectly fine by me. As for stripping the bark off trees,
    > maybe
    > elves eat the WHOLE tree. I just said bark as an example....
    >
    Hey, these are cool ideas! And I say that Gobbos eat insects as a dietary
    supplement. Especially spiders!! Yum!

    :)
    Dustin Evermore

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