Food in the desert

Here in Denmark we have exactly one desert - which I have never visited, and the climate is generally very little athasian. So I am curious, what food and how much a day should one bring for traveling in the Athasian desert?


I think a general rule for a medium sized creature is a pound of food and gallon of water per day.


A gallon is only if you’re not doing anything. Its 2 gallons if you’re travelling, fighting, etc.


I was looking at DS revised. Though I have seen other variations.


Yes, if you’re going by the book for 2e.
5e is 2 gallons in hot conditions and so is real life.


Yeah 1 gal does seam on the low end for a burning desert with all the activity expected in a day. Maybe the original authors were thinking DS chars were a bit more evolved to use water more efficiently. I dunno.

What do you do for half-giants. x8? Or 16 gallons a day?

Which always leads me thinking about the economics of being a half-giant. They have to be some of the poorest humanoids in all of Tyr. It costs a HG 8 times the amount of food and water. Just to live. And extra costs for clothing, armor, weapons. and they probably don’t make 8 times the wages of a mul doing a similar job. Sure there are probably things an HG can do a mul can’t. And if adventuring in a party of 5 They only get 1/5 the loot.


Most half giants seem to be working for the SK so pycheck or not, their food and water needs are taken care of. For the rest, that is a problem, then again being big does mean slower metabolism and greater reserves, so maybe they can go longer without but needs alot more to refill when conditions allow, much like desert going elephant


I was doing some calculations with ChatGPT (so take it with a grain of salt), but I asked it how much area for clothes and water a half-giant would need assuming they were more or less like a human but larger. So, the 4x is pretty accurate if you assume they’re 12’. OG HGs were 10-12’ and stated to weight about 1,600lbs

Height (ft) Estimated Weight (lbs) Daily Water Needs (gallons) Cloth Needed (%)
6 220 1 100%
8 521.5 1.78(2) 177.78% (175)
10 1018.5 2.78(3) 277.78% (275)
12 1760 4 400%

This is their base needs, so double them for activity in a hot environment.


I always though it was calculated as a measurement of volume of the humanoid compared to a human.

If a humanoid is x2 taller. He is also x2 wider and x2 deeper

Using the 6 ft 220 lb example as a standard human, a HG height is x2, Which give us the 12 ft tall HG

But his volume and mass are all x8 total
And 220 x 8 = 1760 which jives with ChatGPT weight.

Which is why I was thinking x8 more just for basic water need or 8 gal.

Perhaps a good comparison would be another large creature like a horse which can weigh in the same range of a HG 1,500-2,200 lbs

Most websites say horses need on average 5-10 gallons a day.


Thanks for all the replies. Its been an interesting read.
Anybody been hiking or similar in real life deserts? Would love to go one day, but never had the chance.

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I live in Utah and have been desert hiking plenty of times, but never in the summer. I’m soft, it’s hot, and I enjoy air conditioning. I drink a lot of water when hiking in dry 70 to 80 degree weather. Every hour, I’ll drink a 20 oz bottle of water, or more. That’s a gallon after 6 and a half hours. That’s just hiking in moderate weather. Increase the temperature, add some fights, and I’d easily drink twice as much, or more.


Oh, a neighbor, nice.

I was raised in a sea level very humid environment, so I suffer a bit in Utah. I avoid the desert entirely, and prefer to run a humidifier whenever I can get away with it.


I live in Bakersfield, CA, near the Mojave desert. I’ve lived most of my life in southern California, so I’ve lived and camped in scrub plains, stony barrens, rocky badlands, and sandy wastes at different points in time.

While 2e doesn’t specify the weight of a day of rations, the adventure Black Flames pegs one day of dried rations at one pound of food.

2e DS boxed set core specifies using one gallon of water per day, doubled if you’re in scorching temperatures.

This is all game abstraction and it does keep things simple: Just track how many pounds of food and how many gallons of water your party has, then remove some amount each day based on how many party members you have, who made or failed their Survival, Water Find, and Heat Protection checks, and how hot the weather is.

In the “real world” your big problem in deserts is water. You need a gallon or more of water depending on the heat level and your activity level. Also, if you are eating dense, high-calorie foods like jerked meat and flour crackers, you need a lot of water for your body to digest them without getting kidney damage. Historically, desert peoples have eaten insects, cactus fruits and fronds, ground-up nuts (such as pinyon nuts), acorns (ground into flour and then washed multiple times to remove toxins), scorpions, spiders, honey, and of course any meat animals that they can catch and kill.


I’ve been in Athasian-heat, in Arizona in last August; 120F, and like, 30-seconds of rain a day, just enough to make it really humid. When jet-skiing, I burn a lot of calories, so, at the Laughlin Buffets, two to three plates for breakfast and two for dinner.

In Mecca-Hills/Salton-Sea, the heat did cause me to lose my appetite, and perhaps booze; the lake was 105F, humid, but, the canyons only a few miles away, were 115F, but more tolerable.

Mojave, in the winter; cold. Less water. Food, was fast-food (Paleontology-dig).

At an oasis a little water near Joshua-Tree; oh, the male-tarantulas come out at sunset looking for a mate.

As for Dark Sun and terrain:

All of California, Mojave and Arizona are Scrub-Plains

Any small mountain ranges, (there are many in the California-desert as the Pacific-plate is crushing CA), are Badlands.

The Sierra-Nevadas and the Andes are the Ringing Mountains.

Kelso-Dunes are Sand-Dunes.

The Salton-Sea is lake Malaka

The farmlands in the central-valley are Verdant-Belts.

San Carlos Bariloche is the Forest-Ridge.