Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Taking a Bite out of the Dungeon

World traveler, bon vivant – the gourmand is both, traipsing across the globe to experience everything it has to offer. Even dungeons cannot escape the curiosity of the gourmand – after all, how are you to know what fresh shrieker or violet fungus tastes like if you don’t crawl into the underworld and harvest it yourself!

The gourmand is a strange class, though there some method to this madness. I got it in my head to produce an article about random fantasy cookery – i.e. random recipe with random ingredients – and then thought that a gourmand might be a good accompaniment to the concept. My inspiration comes from two sources. The first are traveling eaters like Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern – Zimmern especially for his iron stomach and nearly infinite courage in putting exotic things into his mouth. My second inspiration was the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Volstagg, heftiest of the warriors three and proof that one can survive the dangers of a fantasy realm without being built like Conan (the Barbarian, not O’Brien).

The Basics 
Hit Dice: 1d8 per level, +2 hp per level after 10th.

Prime Requisite: Constitution, +5% bonus to earned XP if 13+. A gourmand needs a strong stomach to tread where their palette takes them.

Armor: Gourmands can wear any armor but plate – it’s too restrictive. They can use shields.

Weapons: Gourmands have traveled all over and gotten into plenty of trouble, so they’re capable of using most weapons. They are barred only from those that take more intense training – swords and bows.

Special Abilities 
Gourmands specialize in eating – in quantity and variety. A gourmand’s goal is to taste everything that is edible and non-poisonous at least once. They aren’t fools or cannibals – they aren’t going to nibble a zombie or give green slime a try – but they are intrigued by owlbear steaks or a tossed salad of assassin vine leaves and treant nuts (okay – that last ingredient doesn’t sound right – but come on – they’re flora, not fauna). Gourmands must have iron stomachs, and their training grants them a +2 bonus on saving throws against poison. Their enhanced search for caloric satisfaction, however, requires them to consume double the normal amount of food for members of their species (i.e. double rations).

Gourmands are driven to try exotic foods. They must consume something new (a new spice, a new meat, a new fruit, etc) once per week or fall into a terrible black mood and suffer a -5% penalty to earned experience. This penalty is cumulative, up to a maximum -20% penalty. Each new food consumed, however, is worth a 100 XP bonus to the gourmand.

Where magic-users keep spellbooks and leech’s leechbooks, gourmands keep cookery books, collecting and inventing all manner of recipes, and recording their culinary experiences. These books must be kept, but they do not offer a gourmand any special abilities or impose on them any special restrictions if lost.

Gourmands are, of course, expert chefs. They can cook almost anything and make it palatable to others, and can take quality ingredients and make dishes so exquisite that they act a balm to body, mind and spirit. A gourmand with a pound of grain (processed, preferably), a pound of meat, a pound of fruit or sweetener (honey, for example), a bottle of spirits (or beer, wine, etc) and a pinch of salt or spice, can prepare a meal for up to six people that can have healing qualities. The gourmand must decide how magnificent his dish will be and then make a percentile roll to see if he succeeds. Failure means he concocts an awful mess with no benefits other than food in the belly and various gastric complaints for the remainder of the night.

Restore Vigor: Restores 1d8 hit points plus one hit point per gourmand level.

Cure What Ails You: Removes any disease afflicting the eater, but does not remove any damage already done by the disease.

Soothe Mind: Frees the eater’s mind from any curse or enchantment.

Revitalize: Restores 3d8 hit points plus one hit point per gourmand level and removes all damage from one ability score.

Restore Spirit: Restores all hit point damage, ability score damage and one lost level.

This fantastic feast can be stretched to feed more than six people, at a -5% penalty to the gourmand’s roll per extra person. Each exotic ingredient added (i.e. owlbear in place of beef) either gives the gourmand a +15% or -5% to his roll. The Referee should determine which (bonus or penalty) with a flip of a coin (or equivalent) without informing the gourmand of the result. The meal takes one hour to prepare and requires basic cooking equipment (pot, pan, knife and fire).

A gourmand’s fame often precedes her, and can be a curse as well as a blessing. Gourmands of first to fourth level never have trouble finding an invitation to dinner in their home town, and have a 1 in 10 chance of an invitation by a local aristocrat. Gourmands of fifth to eighth level enjoy such invitations within their home kingdom or country, gourmands from ninth to tenth level in their home region and gourmands of eleventh to twelfth level throughout the world and gourmands of thirteenth level or higher anywhere in the cosmos.

These invitations come with a price, of course, for the host expects the impress the gourmand and receive a hearty endorsement of their table. The gourmand, however, becomes increasingly picky as they grow older, and their dedication to their art and philosophy require them to render an honest verdict of the sampled fare. A gourmand that has dined must roll 1d20 and beat his own level to find the fare satisfying. Every 100 gp spent on the feast by the host grants a +1 bonus to the roll, up to a maximum bonus of +5. However it goes, the gourmand must give a monologue on the quality and creativity of the prepared feast and then suffer a reaction roll from his host. If he praises the feast, the reaction roll is made at a +3 bonus. If he derides it, the reaction roll is made at a -3 penalty. Naturally, the companions of a gourmand are also invited to these repasts, and they must suffer the same consequences as the gourmand.

The final challenge of the gourmand is one of weight. Each week the gourmand does not spend in vigorous exercise (i.e. fighting monsters or at least running away from them) results in a gain of one pound. Pound gained in excess of what would be considered “standard” or “average” for their species and gender, are treated as weight from equipment and can thus slow them down.

Image by Frans Hals


  1. AS I started reading this I thought "Like Volstagg" and then you go and mention him. Maybe Porthos was dual classed.

  2. First - Warriors Three = Three Musketeers! Damn - how slow am I? Never picked up on it!

    Second - Good call on Porthos. In fact, when I publish this article, I'll probably change Volstagg out for Porthos to keep things in the public domain arena. Thanks sir!

  3. Sounds like the Dos Equis guy, too... Stay thirsty, my friends! :-)


  4. Awesome. I played this guy in my NY Red Box days, and didn't even know it. He was a fighter with an "iron stomach" ability, and was based in no small part on good ol' Volstagg. Of course, he died at 2nd level and came back as (what else?) a ghoul...

  5. This made me hungry... ;)Mmmmmmm, owlbear!


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