Your character needs to eat in order to survive. It is easy for a new player to starve to death if their energy goes below 2000%. If you want your character to stay alive keep him/her well fed until you learn how quickly stamina drain your hunger bar.
Your attributes are based on the food you eat. You gain strength, charisma, dexterity and your other skills from your choice of food. This means that if you rely on only one or two foods your attributes will get out of balance. If you eat only chanterelles and blueberries you will get high dexterity and high intelligence but all your other stats will lag. You need to eat fep equal to the number of your highest attribute to gain in any attribute. So if your dexterity is 20 and you need to gain strength because it is still only 10, you will have to eat 20 fep to go up to an 11 in strength. If your attributes get badly out of balance it is extremely hard to raise the trailing stats.
You will probably eat a variety of different foods so your fep bar will show several different colours. If your fep bar shows 2 fep of strength, 4 fep of psyche, 3 fep of dex and 1 fep of charisma and you need to eat 10 fep to gain any attribute you have a 20% chance of gaining strength, a 40% chance of gaining psyche and so on, proportionate to what you have eaten.
Each unique fep lowers the total required for the next point. To get the best bang for your buck, try eating a small amount of each fep, and a lot of the one you want. For example, eat a blueberry, a blackberry and then rabbit.
Every new player can do this:
Look for bushes, Apple or Hazelnut, found in broad-leaf forests. If you find one, right-click it to pick a fruit, which will then appear in your inventory. You must have at least one empty tile in your inventory to do this.
Once acquired, right click on the fruit for the option to eat it. If you eat an apple, you will have to drop the apple core to empty space in your inventory (or on the ground). Each tree produces only a certain amount of fruit at a time, and fruit doesn't help in increasing your attributes, so try not to rely on them for too long. Once you decide to venture outwards, though, make sure to have some surplus food in your inventory.
You also might be able to scavenge fox kills. Foxes kill rabbits. The most common place to find a dead one is at the edge of the water, where rabbits often become trapped. Foxes also kill chickens. Chickens are found in grasslands and moors. When a fox attacks them, they scatter; so if you see chickens running around, there is a good chance a fox has been hunting them, and you might be able to find one or more dead. Fox-killed rabbits and chickens are just the same as the ones that you kill yourself, except that you don't need to have the hunting skill to make use of them.
If you get the foraging skill:
Raid Ant Hills. You also need the hunting skill for this. Just right-click on the red mound near ant swarms. The option "Raid" will pop up. Once you begin the ants will attack you, but fret not, they aren't very strong. Simply stop raiding it and run off, leading them away. When you think they are sufficiently far, run back and Raid the hill before they have enough time to return.
All items found when you raid an ants' nest are food, or curiousities. Not all ant hills will have items in them. Sometimes, an ant hill will have several items in it.
- Chantrelles - these are pale orange speckles found in forests on the ground
- Spindly Taproots - these are dark brown roots that grow in forests on the ground; eating them might be a waste though
- Blueberries - these are plants that grow in forest or moor.
If you have the hunting skill:
Look for rabbits. You need at least four empty tiles in your inventory in a 2x2 square. They will run when you get too close, but if you are on a Grassland or somewhere else where you can Sprint, you might be able to catch it.
You will need to right-click on the rabbit in inventory to wring its neck, and then right-click again to butcher it.
In some terrains, you can look for chickens, too. They are caught and killed the same way as rabbits, but are easier to catch.
If you have a bow:
You can attack and try to kill larger game, such as foxes and deer. Most people hunt from a boat, though luring an animal to a large cliff also works. With no crafting menus open, hit 't' and right click the animal to initiate combat. Run to your boat or cliff, and wait for it to stop moving. press 'h' and click the animals portrait in the top-right corner. When the aim meter is sufficiently full, click the portrait again to shoot.
After one or several shots, you will either kill the animal or it will run away. If you can chase after it, punch it to death! Do note that bears will enter a enraged state after taking damage while fleeing, and return to fight you. If the animal is too fast to chase, try blocking it in with another boat or stockpiles. Another option is to feed wild horses a piece of clover to ride it. This lets you kit many animals easily. Just make sure you don't lose all your Pony Power, shown up near your stats. If you lose it all, the horse will get mad and buck you off, dealing half your health in SHP damage, easily knocking you out and giving a nasty concussion, as well as letting whatever you were fighting get free smacks in, potentially killing you.
If you have the farming skill:
Sometimes you can find Wild Windsown Weed which can be dried to different seeds. Carrot seeds can be planted for Carrot that can be eaten (or planted again) raw. Some plants, like Grapes require a trellis and the winemaking skill to plant them.
If you have the fishing skill:
Fishing is a difficult but extremely rewarding first option. You will need to have fishing line (string), hooks, a fishing pole and bait or lures. Hooks require bones, which usually require hunting or scavenging animals. Spindly Taproot and other plants function as string, so foraging is required. Unless you can find leeches or entrails, you will need to dig in the dirt to get earthworms for bait; this uses a lot of stamina, and thus may make you hungrier than whatever fish you catch.
Fishing is done in waters where fish can be seen. If you don't see fish jumping out of the water every few seconds, there are no fish there.
While fishing is not the easiest option for a single player, it is probably the best starting skill for a group of players located close to a lake or a river. Dividing the necessary tasks (1 hunter, 1 forager, 1 stoneworker, 1 lumberjack-carpenter) allows for the steadiest income of food possible without relying on luck to find prey or edible plants.
Fish also give very good FEPs especially once spitroasted making it a very good option if you have the time and some energy to spare.