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One of my d&d groups came up against a giant slug (a homebrew monster) today, and one player decreed they were going to toss salt at it (this time, it wasn’t me who suggested it). The GM asked where they got it from, and the player responded that they probably had it in their rations, just loose for seasoning.

The GM was skeptical, and asked me to look it up (I’m a player, but I tend to be the one who looks stuff up). The PHB definition of rations is:

Rations consist of dry foods suitable for extended travel, including jerky, dried fruit, hardtack, and nuts.

The player said that “including” means that that’s not the only stuff that’s in the rations, and that since salt is necessary for human health, it’s probably included in the rations. They also cited Roman armies sending soldiers with a salary, or salt money, just so they could buy salt.

The GM said that the salt would probably be in things such as hardtack or jerky, rather than just loose in the rations packet.

Is loose salt included in rations?

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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, the 1st edition tournament module The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan included a giant slug creature who "dislikes salt on its skin, taking 1-4 damage per round, and will attempt to wash it off." One of the pre-made characters for the module, conveniently enough, had 1 pound of salt in his starting inventory. \$\endgroup\$
    – ktt4d
    Dec 31, 2020 at 23:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ The point isn’t the tactic, the point is whether or not we can get the salt from the rations without having to get to a store that sells salt. Discussing the tactic’s viability is going to happen if we get the salt from somewhere (It’s also the GM’s first time GMing so we’re looking for some kind of guidance on determining whether there is or isn’t salt in the rations because she doesn’t feel comfortable making a ruling on it without some kind of corroboration just yet) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 1, 2021 at 0:06

8 Answers 8

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Theoretically, they could be included, but it's incredibly unlikely that rations would contain any type of additional seasoning for a couple reasons.


As a preface, this answer applies to the standard D&D setting: a medieval fantasy world. If the setting of your game is different, say a steampunk setting, or a futuristic space odyssey, this doesn't apply.


First, it's simply logistically unfeasible. For people today, a packet of salt and pepper packed in with their disposable plastic cutlery is a common convenience. We have mechanized factories that can mass-produce the paper packets that we store them in, and have a cheap means of moving them from place to place for distribution. In the medieval setting that's like the standard for most D&D games, production of such convenience items is unlikely, due to simply lacking the technology required to do so. They simply wouldn't have the resources to mass-produce packets to put with every potion of rations regardless of the material they were made of.

Second, extra salt on the side would be unnecessary. Rations are intended to stay good for a long time, weeks or even months, in a place where refrigeration is virtually non-existent save for the incredibly wealthy who can afford a powerful mage to create a magical ice box, or powerful mages who can do so themselves. This means the rations need to be preserved in some other manner, and resistant to rot and mold. Since salting was the primary (and in most places, often the only) means of preservation, most of the items that would go into a ration are already heavily salted. The cheese and tack might be of a particularly hard type that would be resistant to growing mold, but you generally wouldn't add salt to those. The nuts would likely be roasted, and probably already salted for flavor anyways. Any kind of meat by necessity is already cured, salted, and smoked, because it simply won't last otherwise.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Exactly this. However regarding your end: Just drying without salting is also very effective, as long as the goods are/can be KEPT dry. For the more common folk salting EVERYTHING was just not a financial option, so a lot of the stuff might not even be salted. Or when buying rations for three months, the first month is not-salted stuff, because it doesnt keep that long, and afterwards you eat the salted (expensive) stuff \$\endgroup\$
    – Hobbamok
    Dec 31, 2020 at 15:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Hobbamok Salting everything is absolutely the method that would be used. Salt only costs 5CP/lb in 5e, and there are 2 salting methods: Brining and Dry Curing. Brining requires a 15-20% salt solution that you soak your meats in for 5-10 minutes, then hang them to dry. You can get an entire deer done with only 1 or 2 lbs of salt. Source: have done this personally. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2020 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Except that in medieval reality you don’t have the ability to travel to different plains of existence or perform magic, over the years I have had parties extract large amounts of salt from sea water in magical ways or travel to the plane of salt to gather large amounts of salt. There is a famous DnD campaign where the party became hugely rich and powerful building a salt mine around a portal to the plane of salt. \$\endgroup\$
    – Richard C
    Jan 2, 2021 at 14:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RichardC The quantity of salt available isn't the issue. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 2, 2021 at 19:11
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In this specific instance, I'd think the question is moot. The effect of a handful of salt on an ordinary slug is devastating because the slug is so small. The effect of a handful of salt on anything called "giant" is going to be minuscule. It might be like getting a single drop of acid spilled on you.

But, of course, that's up to your DM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a perfectly valid frame challenge. It's an upvote from me. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2020 at 12:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi and welcome to RPG Stackexchange, if you haven't already please take the tour, and have a look at frame challenges, which seems like a good example of. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2020 at 13:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's realistic, but it is a tradition in fantasy RPGs that creatures have such vulnerabilities. If I Google for D&D Giant Slug it tells me: "A handful of salt burns a giant slug as if it were a flask of acid, causing 1d6 points of damage per use." \$\endgroup\$
    – user56480
    Dec 31, 2020 at 19:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user56480 A handful of salt is probably way less than you would get if you were to open up 30 MRE packets of salt and combine them. (Typical salt packet .75g x20 = ~15g. A handful of salt is about 100-150g so if you took the salt from 6 adventures's who each had a months worth of rations it might be enough. Of course, you aren't going to manage that in a single aciton.) \$\endgroup\$
    – aslum
    Dec 31, 2020 at 20:15
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This is up to the GM

The whole and entire extent of what we know about rations is as follows:

Rations consist of dry foods suitable for extended travel, including jerky, dried fruit, hardtack, and nuts.

Anything outside of this is the GM's decision.
Whether "including" means "including but not limited to" or "including only" is effectively part of the world-building left to the GM. Perhaps they'll decide to leave this to the player characters and have them design/create their own rations, but this would similarly be outside of the base rules and be something the GM would have to implement.

Notably, rations are not alone in being a barely-defined item:


Notably, loose salt does exist within the rules

It is listed as a trade good:

[...] 5 cp 1 lb. of salt [...]

It also appears during the Curse of Strahd adventure in Rictavio's Carnival Wagon as a jar of salt. Thus we know that loose salt certainly exists within the rules, but whether it comes with rations is not described in those same rules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is exactly the right answer. However, as a GM I would rule that they certainly do. For one thing, this use is awesome, and for another it makes sense that they would. Notably, modern MREs and many other survival rations have small packets of salt. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2020 at 3:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would play it depending on what the rations are, if the players bought a barrel of fish or salt pork, they would have a lot of salt, salt filled the barrels like packing peanuts. If they bought individual rations, then there won't be enough salt to bother even a normal sized slug. I do make it a point to always describe what the players get when they buy rations. \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Dec 31, 2020 at 4:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the definition of 'food' is important. The rations 'consist of dry foods' which would mean that is all and there is nothing else, while the 'including' section only gives examples of dry foods that may or may not be a complete list. There most certainly are not things like silverware, napkins, and extra seasoning included in 'rations'. Salt is not a food. Food must provide energy and keep someone from starving. No amount of salt would prevent starvation. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 31, 2020 at 17:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Salt could prevent starvation in the wilderness if you used it to preserve food acquired through hunting or fishing. \$\endgroup\$
    – user56480
    Dec 31, 2020 at 19:22
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Whether a Player Character has Salt on their Person if it is not specifically listed as gear on their sheet is Up To The GM.

Some GMs require that anything you have be explicitly listed on your inventory (which can lead to some very long inventories listed on separate pieces of paper at times). Including like, twine, or a sewing needle, or a tin fork. Other GMs allow characters to have items that it would make sense for that character to have, and that aren't especially valuable or heavy. Some other GMs will roll for whether or not a character has an item, whether a pure luck roll or something based on a skill or ability check.

DnD 5e has no explicit rules that I know of that enforce any of this in any way. Even if they did, the GM could houserule that (and may without even knowing such a rule exists, as I don't).

The only real limiting factor on the GM here is what the table considers reasonable. If you for example start saying that the rogue can't place a thread over a doorjamb because a 'Traveling Outfit' doesn't explicitly say it's made out of cloth rather than say, purely leather (ugh), many players will find that dissatisfying or unverisimilitudinous and may become less interested in the game as a result.

As for the different but related question is it reasonable for a dnd character to have some salt for cooking on their person? i'd say it could go either way. Most travellers in historical times would start fires and cook food even if it was dried or salted or otherwise preserved, as cooked food is tastier than preserved food generally, especially given the specific ingredients available at the time. Living on 'dry rations' alone was considered to be bad or even torturous, and there are countless tales of soldiers cooking or brewing tea in their helmets for lack of pots, techniques that have survived to the modern day for cooking with almost no utensils over an open flame (spit roasting, 'rock pots' with heated stones, cooking inside animal skin bags), and so on.

So there's every reason for a medieval or dnd character to have some salt about their person, from cooking to its efficacy in dealing with parasites or wounds. But whether some specific adventurer does or not is largely up to the GM.

My advice in general though would be that GMs should have a consistent policy on inventory vs 'assumed' goods, and that players should endeavour to discover this (amongst the various other common GM differences and 'table rules' that change from group to group) so as to create a believable narrative for their character (which mostly just means writing down a big list of items or.. not needing to, in this case).

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Yes in a fantasy setting it is completely reasonable to assume salt and other seasonings are part of an adventurers travelling pack, and there are instances throughout high fantasy to back this up.

In Lord of the Rings Sam has salt in his pack which he uses to season a rabbit in Mordor. This is a hobbit who is not a natural adventurer. There are similar examples of this kind of thing throughout literature, adventurers having seasonings and similar items. In fact if you consider that most adventurers have a higher then average disposable income and are used to catching, killing and preparing there own meat out in the wilderness you can assume that they will keep on there person some seasonings such as salt to allow them to make food more palatable.

In addition some answers here have suggested that the idea of salt being readily available as it is in a modern civilisation is unlikely. However you cannot apply the like for like approach, medieval vs high fantasy. In the DnD setting, depending on your DM's approach to the planes, there may well be an entire plane of salt, which some merchants may use magic to mine and gather salt from. In addition the technology to gather salt from sea water is available, most fantasy settings have hard liquor and alchemists who are able to distill and create all manor of potions and powders from liquid form. Finally you have the added factor of Magic, an artificer looking for a good stable form of income may well create a method to magically draw salt from seawater with little manual intervention needed. Finally Salt can be a common component for magic spells which suggests is is a common item that can be fairly easily acquired in most settlements. In fact in the common items price list 1lb of salt is listed as costing just 5cp

With all this in consideration it is perfectly acceptable to consider that herbs and spices, including salt can be part of an adventures pack, probably stored in a wooden or metal box.

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Since 'salt' is the sort of equipment item that is too trivial for most players to even consider buying, I would suggest in this case rolling a Wisdom (Survival) check. If the player rolls high, they have a small bag of salt with them (for culinary or preservation purposes).

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Salt in a Roman or medieval context was a medical supply, too valuable to be wasted on food particularly since water supplies in those eras were far from demineralised.

A man "worth his salt" wasn't so much worth his salary (which in a feudal context wouldn't really exist), as worth whatever it took to keep him alive and functional.

Similarly, vassals seated "below the salt" had best look after their own welfare, since their liege wouldn't unless they could prove their worth.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG stack exchange! It is unclear to me how this answers the question. The sayings specifically seem completely unrelated to the subject. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anagkai
    Jan 2, 2021 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Anagkai simple: food rations would not contain salt. Medical provisions might. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 2, 2021 at 18:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your answer would benefit from discussing how this applies to D&D and from citing sources / experience. Also this does still not explain why you have a second and third paragraph. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anagkai
    Jan 2, 2021 at 18:34
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Rations consist of dry foods

The rest of the description clarifies what kinds of foods might be involved, but there is nothing to suggest that "rations" include anything beyond "foods". No cutlery, no picnic rug, no drinks, nor any other food-related accessories. Just "foods".

So, is loose table salt a "food"?

This isn't clear-cut, because word meanings rarely are. But for what it's worth, the first definition offered by Merriam-Webster is:

material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy

also : such food together with supplementary substances (such as minerals, vitamins, and condiments)

Table salt contains zero protein, zero carbs, zero fat; it does not "furnish energy". It certainly can be found in food, as one of those "supplementary substances", but on its own it doesn't seem to fit the definition.

There are other, broader definitions for "food", and loose salt might be argued to fit under some of those. But it isn't automatically implied, especially when many of the options will already contain salt incorporated into other food-foods e.g. salted meat.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The definition says that food can also mean the first part together with supplementary substances. That's what the also means. And the salt should be dry. I'm not convinced. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anagkai
    Jan 1, 2021 at 9:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Anagkai "Together with" can be interpreted either as "packaged alongside" or "combined with as an ingredient". The "as an ingredient" interpretation makes more sense here - if I gave you a hamburger and a bottle of vitamin pills, I don't think anybody would suggest that "food" adequately describes the whole package, which is what the "packaged alongside" interpretation would imply. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 1, 2021 at 11:48

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