It's -hard- I think...to roleplay some grit and harshness that we could do better. I struggle with the question of...if my character can survive better...isn't in -his- best intrest to acheive the best that he can? Although the example of the rinther foraging for salt is on the extreme...along more minor lines...I want it enforced on me.
Why wouldn't a 'rinther forage for salts? Why is that extreme? I've always thought that foraging for salts is the sort of thing the lowest of the low would do to make a living in the south. You follow the salt road, it takes you directly to the salt flats, then you scratch around looking for interesting lumps of salt. The road is broad and easy to follow, and even a non-elf can easily make the trip on foot. It is unpleasant and dangerous, while at the same time requiring no particular skill and profit is uncertain -- in other words the perfect sort of work for untouchables. A 'rinther on foot might be able to make 100 sid in a day from salt, which isn't as good as it sounds because he'll spend at least half of that on the water he lost out there, but at least he gets to eat that day. I don't see the problem, even people from the 'rinth can become rangers (as long as they aren't c-elves).
I struggle with the question of...if my character can survive better...isn't in -his- best intrest to acheive the best that he can?
That one is easy. Isn't it in everyone's best interests to achieve the best that they can, even in the real world? Yes? Ok, then why are any of us "wasting time" here? If you have some spare time, why aren't you out selling encyclopedias door to door, making hand-made jewelry to sell a swap-meets, collecting discarded cans and other items that can be sold to recyclers, sewing your own clothes or growing your own food? There are a virtually unlimited number of things you could be doing _right_now_ that would either make money or save you money. You could work 18 hours a day, all day, every day, for the rest of your life . . . but you probably won't unless you absolutely have to, you won't do it unless your very survival or the survival of the people you love depends on it. Why not?
People like leisure time. People like procrastinating until the last minute. People like wasting money. Fictional people probably like doing those things too.