[RPG] How exactly would one use the Profession (Cook) skill


For one of the campaigns I'm going to be starting soon, most of our time will be spent out of 'civilization,' so our GM ruled that we would have to either acquire our own food from the wilderness (through uses of the Survival skill), or we would have to buy enough food to sustain us as we travel.

After hearing this, I ask our GM if it would be helpful for me to take ranks in Profession (Cook) to prepare food while we were out (because it might be possible that we could buy some ingredients and then make a lower DC Survival check to find enough food to supplement the ingredients we had already bought). He said that this would be a great idea, I just had to find reasonable rules for buying ingredients.

So I pored over Ultimate Equipment trying to find ingredients, and I found these "ingredients:" Bread, Caviar, Cheese, Chocolate, Fortune cookie, Honey, Ice cream, Maple syrup, Meat, Travel cake mix, and Yogurt, within the "food and drink" section; and Allspice, Basil, Beans, Cardamom, Chicken, Chilies, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cloves, Coffee beans, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Flour, Garlic, Ginger, Mint, Mustard, Nutmeg, Nuts, Oregano, Pepper, Potatoes, Rosemary, Saffron, Salt, Sugar, Tobacco, Turnips, Vanilla, Wheat in the "trade goods" section.

This is a decent amount of ingredients yes, but there arises a different question, how much of what is needed to make a given meal? Then, how could it be edited to fit the survivalists helping supplement?

Best Answer

If the results are to be sold later, create food from raw materials using the Craft skill; if the results are to be eaten now, prepare a meal using the Profession skill

It's up to the GM to draw the line where a Profession skill ends and a Craft skill begins, but this GM tends to go with the Profession skill not allowing a creature to create anything; instead, this GM usually limits the Profession skill so that it allows a creature only to change, improve, and worsen existing things. A creature that uses the Profession skill is paid for his service; a creature that uses the Craft skill is paid for his product.

For example, in this GM's campaigns, a creature uses the Profession (cook) skill not to make a cheese or bake a loaf of bread but, instead, to put together the proper cheese with the proper bread (and the proper wine, obviously) so as to arrange an appropriate and satisfying meal. Further, the Profession (cook) skill may allow supervising kitchen staff or knowing that a meal's ingredients have subtly spoiled.

Likewise, to create from raw materials a cheese that's to be sold, this GM would have a creature use the skill Craft, setting the DC for the food's difficulty and having the craftsman pay 1/3 the finished food's price for raw materials. These "raw materials" are what this GM would recommend a creature purchase if it planned to employ in the wilderness a skill like Craft (baking) or Craft (dairy).

The skill Survival really is sufficient to get grub in the wilderness

One of the basic Survival skill uses is Survive in the Wilderness, which has as part of its description the following check:

Get along in the wild. Move up to half your overland speed while hunting and foraging (no food or water supplies needed). You can provide food and water for one other person for every 2 points by which your check result exceeds 10.

The Survival skill DC for that check? A mere DC 10. So, unless a creature has a Wisdom penalty, because the skill Survival can be used untrained almost any creature can provide itself drink and food by taking 10 on the check unless circumstances forbid it (e.g. being hunted, inclement weather), and the (ahem) seasoned guide by himself can provide grub for a whole group of city-slickers.

Thus, in this GM's campaigns, combining the Survival skill's results of foraging with the Profession (cook) skill means the meals will look and taste better, but the only actual change made to the foraged foodstuffs is in preparation and presentation. The skill Profession (cook) may make a squirrel into a really tasty squirrel stew that's ready to eat right now and won't kill the eater right after, but if the goal is a squirrel pie that's to be sold for real money, this GM would require the chef to use some kind of Craft skill.