Barbarian Subclass: Path of the Gourmet

I felt like there wasn’t enough cooking in D&D.

So I homebrewed this up:

Path of The Gourmet

A wild hunter and cook capable of filleting the best dragon sashimi you’ve ever tasted, Barbarians who follow the Path of the Gourmet are not your typical hulking brutes. Gourmet’s love to be on the front lines so they can find the freshest meat, the rarest vegetables, and the best spring water. They are capable of preparing meals fit for royalty and their meals don’t just taste good. When a Gourmet Barbarian cooks a meal for his companions their strength is bolstered, their spirits lifted, and their bodies refreshed.

Some barbarians hail from culinary cultures. Many of these barbarians end up finding places of prominence within towns or cities. Barbarians that follow the Path of the Gourmet sublimate their rage in the pursuits of perfect meals. Wild hunters and cooks capable of filleting the best dragon sashimi you’ve ever tasted, Barbarians who follow the Path of the Gourmet are not your typical hulking brutes. Gourmet’s love to be on the front lines so they can find the freshest meat, the rarest vegetables, and the best spring water. They are capable of preparing meals fit for royalty and their meals don’t just taste good. When a Gourmet Barbarian cooks a meal for his companions their strength is bolstered, their spirits lifted, and their bodies refreshed.

They choose a favored utensil as their forte’, The Fork, The Spoon, or The Knife, and they hone their craft around dishes and battle techniques that aid their companions and surprise their enemies.

Cook

Yours is a path that seeks the ultimate dish, the finest fresh ingredients from the wild, and sharing your delicious meals with others who can appreciate your rare talents. At 3rd level when you adopt this path, you gain the ability to cast the create bonfire and control flames spells. Intelligence is your spell-casting ability for these spells. When you choose this path you also gain proficiency with Cook’s Utensils.

Forte’

At 3rd level, when you adopt this path, you choose a forte’, represented by a favored cooking utensil, and gain its feature. To gain the features of a forte’ you must have a regular size version of the utensil on your person as well as a weapon that mimics the utensil. A Spoon is any bludgeoning weapon. A Fork is any piercing weapon. A Knife is any slashing weapon. Typically these Forte’ Weapons are modified by a gourmet to more closely resemble the utensil they represent.

Spoon.

While raging, attacks with bludgeoning weapons against you have Disadvantage. You can use your Cook’s Utensil’s to make a Soup (with the right ingredients) to grant temporary hit points to a number of creatures equal to your Barbarian Level +1. To make this soup you need 1 hour. Make a Cook’s Utensils Intelligence check. You set the DC for the check. The number of temporary hit points gained is equal to half the DC rounded down. The temporary hit points remain for 1 hour. If you fail the check the food is passable but grants no temporary hit points. You may use this feature the same number of times you may rage. The soup is portable, provided you have containers to keep it in, but spoils after 24 hours.

Fork. 

While raging, attacks with piercing weapons against you have Disadvantage. You can use your Cook’s Utensil’s to make a Salad (with the right ingredients) to grant resistance to a type of damage to a number of creatures equal to your Barbarian Level +1. To make this salad you need 1 hour. Make a Cook’s Utensils Intelligence check. You choose the DC for the check. The salad can grant resistance based on the DC of the check. DC 10: Poison, Psychic, or Force. DC 15: Thunder, Acid, or Radiant. DC 20: Lightning, Cold, or Fire. The salad grants resistance of the chosen damage type for 1 hour. If you fail the check the food is passable but grants no resistance. You may use this feature the same number of times you may rage. The salad is portable, provided you have containers to keep it in, but spoils after 24 hours.

Knife. 

While raging, attacks with slashing weapons against you have Disadvantage. You can use your Cook’s Utensil’s to make a Roast (with the right ingredients) to increase the Armor Class of a number of creatures equal to your Barbarian Level +1. To make this roast you need 1 hour. Make a Cook’s Utensils Intelligence check. You choose the DC for the check. The roast can grant a bonus based on the DC of the check. DC 15: +1 AC. DC 20: +2 AC. This bonus to AC lasts for 1 hour. If you fail the check the food is passable but grants no bonus. You may use this feature the same number of times you may rage. The roast is portable, provided you have containers to keep it in, but spoils after 24 hours.

Second Forte’

At 6th Level you choose a Second Forte’. This can be the same Forte’ you chose at 3rd Level or a different one. If you choose the same Forte’ you gain a +2 bonus to any checks you make for making that Forte’s Meals. If you choose a different Forte’, you can only choose one damage type to have Disadvantage on attacks against you while raging.

Food Poisoning

At 10th Level you learn the contagion spell. Intelligence is your spell-casting ability for this spell. When casting this spell you must use a piece of rotten food as an additional material component. You may cast this spell on the food prior to combat. You must either get a target creature to eat the food or otherwise have the food touch the target creature in order for the spell to take effect. You can cast this spell once per day.

Third Forte’

At 14th Level you choose a Third Forte’. This can be the same Forte’ you chose previously or a different one. If you choose the same Forte’ you gain a +2 bonus to any checks you make for making that Forte’s Meal. If you choose a different Forte’, you can only choose one damage type to have Disadvantage on attacks against you while raging.

NetHack Inspired D&D 5e Hunger Mechanics

So my regular group is in the middle of the final chapter of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and we’re on a brief hiatus as one of our players is unavailable this month.

So I’m running two of my players through a random dungeon crawl on Roll20.

Because I needs my TTRPG fix. I needs it.

And since I became obsessed with the insanely hard rouge-like that is NetHack I was inspired to find fun ways to convert a NetHack inspired mentality into a playable D&D 5e dungeon crawl.

One thing I’ve always struggled with as a DM is a good way to track time in a dungeon. I’ve tried keeping track of turns and having players move one turn at a time. I’ve tried tracking time in terms of Travel Pace (300 ft per minute for a normal pace, 200 ft for slow pace, 400 ft for a fast pace). I’ve tried hand-waving it and simply summarizing (“Ok it takes you a minute or two to walk down the long corridor.” or “It takes you about 30 minutes to carefully search every nook and cranny of this room.”) But no matter how I try to track time it always seems unsatisfying. Now I only care about tracking time if a trap or a spell effect requires me to do so. But this is also unsatisfying to me because most of the time I want to run a gritty game that has a sense of danger and urgency.

NetHack, and many survival games since NetHack, have fixed this problem with an elegant solution. Hunger. You can’t just wander around a dungeon aimlessly because you will fucking starve to death. You need food on your person so you don’t have yet another stupid death. Every step and every action in NetHack requires you to keep in the back of your mind “I’m going to need to eat soon. It’s been a while.” I love these types of mechanics in games because everything feels more urgent when you always need to keep an eye on a continually depleting resource.

Running  D&D 5e, my players rarely ever bother mentioning they’e eating. Of course I’m partly to blame, but the system is also at fault. D&D 5e (and I believe any edition) lacks any real mechanical reasons to eat. Sure short rests and Long rests are always on players minds because that’s how they get back all their cool abilities. Outside of sleeping or just sitting for an hour nobody gives a fuck about food and water because there’s no tangible mechanical benefits for keeping track of that shit or real mechanical consequences for not eating or drinking. Sure the rules says any character needs a gallon of water and a pound of food every day but it turns into “ok just assume I’m doing that every long rest.” It ends up feeling like Skyrim where you run around punching dragons to death and your health just magically refills and you never need to eat or sleep or worry about any of the things mortal creatures need to do to just not fucking die.

Here’s what 5e has to say about Food & Water:

Characters who don’t eat or drink suffer the effects of exhaustion. Exhaustion caused by lack of food or water can’t be removed until the character eats and drinks the full required amount.

Food

A character needs one pound of food per day and can make food last longer by subsisting on half rations. Eating half a pound of food in a day counts as half a day without food.

A character can go without food for a number of days equal to 3 + his or her Constitution modifier (minimum 1). At the end of each day beyond that limit, a character automatically suffers one level of exhaustion.

A normal day of eating resets the count of days without food to zero.

Water

A character needs one gallon of water per day, or two gallons per day if the weather is hot. A character who drinks only half that much water must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or suffer one level of exhaustion at the end of the day. A character with access to even less water automatically suffers one level of exhaustion at the end of the day.

If the character already has one or more levels of exhaustion, the character takes two levels in either case.

It’s simple rules that are easy to remember but I think they’re too simple. It ends up being forgotten and hand-waved constantly. A PC with 10 Constitution (+0 Modifier) can adventure for 3 days without eating with no problems whatsoever. What the fuck is that shit? Have you ever tried not eating for a whole 24 hours? Have you ever not eaten for 24 hours and then also carried 20lbs of coin, 30lbs of armor, a longsword, and ran around fighting goblinoids? That’s gotta fucking suck. Sure I want heroism. Sure I want a group of badasses kicking ass and chewing bubblegum. But if they’re immune to worrying about basic survival what’s the point? Where’s the drama? Where’s the suspense? Why the fuck should anyone care about a Ranger foraging food or the spell Create Food & Water? The rules presented in 5e are suitable if you want to Skyrim level worries, but I want to run a game with NetHack level worries.

So I designed Hunger Die Mechanics to sate my appetite for something more substantial.

The Hunger Die

Your Hunger Die is an indicator of how hungry you are and if you don’t eat when you’re low you will become Exhausted and eventually starve to death.

Your Hunger Die is equal to your Hit Die. It starts out at as the highest number and incrementally goes down with strenuous activity. Your Hunger Die increases when you eat, drink, or quaff a health potion. Below is a list of activities that will affect your Hunger Die. If your Hunger Die would ever go negative as the result of your actions or lack of actions you die. No Death Saves. You’re fucking dead.

After Combat                                  DC 15 Con Save

Athletics/Acrobatics                      DC 10 Con Save

Half or Less HP                              DC 15 Con Save

(Con Saves: Success=No change, Failure= -1 Hunger, Natural 1= -2 Hunger)

0 HP                                                 -2 Hunger

Short Rest                                       -1 Hunger

Long Rest                                        -2 Hunger

Eating & Drinking                         +2 Hunger

Eating/Drinking                             +1 Hunger

Eating/Drinking Poor Quality     Roll 1d6. 4-6: +1, 1-3: No Change

Eating raw corpse                         Roll 1d6. 5 or 6: +1 Hunger, 2-4: No change, 1: -1 Hunger

Eating cooked corpse                   Roll 1d6. 4-6: +1 Hunger, 2 or 3 No Change, 1: -1 Hunger

Magical Bland Food                      Roll 1d6. 4-6: +1 Hunger, 1-3: No Change

Magical Good Food                       +2 Hunger

Potion of…                                       Healing:+2, Greater:+4, Superior: +8, Supreme:+12

(If your HP Maximum is halved as a result of Exhaustion from hunger you do not make another Half HP Con Save)

Hunger Die Exhaustion Effects
D6 –          1    0    -1
Exh. Lv.  3    5    Death
D8 –           2    1    0    -1
Exh. Lv.   3    4    5    Death
D10 –         3    2    1    0    -1
Exh. Lv.   2    3    4    5    Death
D12 –        4    3    2    1    0    -1
Exh. Lv.  1    2    3    4    5    Death

With these additional mechanics I feel it maintains an heroic feel while also adding a sense of gritty realism. When you’re just exploring a dungeon and searching through ruins you still don’t need to worry about hunger. But every time you end combat, you might be a little more hungry. Every time you lose half your health you get a little hungrier. And if you go through 3 combat encounters, take a short rest, and heave open a door with brute strength, you’re probably going to need to start to worry about those dry rations sitting in your backpack. And, of course, if you ignore the consequences of your heroic actions completely, you WILL fucking starve to death. Yet another stupid death.

Spelljammer for 5th Edition D&D

First, I have to give credit where credit is due. I was bored one evening and strolling through Youtube when I stumbled upon a video by one of my favorite Youtube channels Web DM:

If you have never heard of Spelljammer and you love D&D, you owe it to yourself to at least watch this video.

Spelljammer was a setting published by TSR for AD&D back in 1989. It was originally conceived of as a way to intertwine their already published settings (Dragonlance, Faerun, and Greyhawk) into one cohesive multiverse.

Spelljammer borrowed ideas from the cosmology of ancient and medieval scholars and presented a world where every planetary system is surrounded by Crystal Spheres. These spheres are impenetrable (except by certain magicks) and float within a rainbow ocean called The Phlogiston (I’ve heard it pronounced Flog-is-tahn as well as Flo-gest-on).

The area within a Crystal Sphere (inside a planetary system) is called Wildspace, and outside the Sphere is the seemingly endless Phlogiston (also called The Flow). The Crystal Sphere’s primary purpose appears to be to keep the Plogiston out and Wildspace in, and within Wildspace gods and divine powers can function as normal. In The Flow though, dimensional magics as well as divine magic fail. The gods are seemingly prohibited from entering The Phlogiston.

Now these cosmological and metaphysical flavorings caught my attention, but what interested me more was how this simple framework blew my mind in terms of what it implied I could do with world-building as a DM.

Anything.

I could do ANYTHING.

Fit it all in the same physical reality, and make it possible to jump from one strange world to another.

After watching Web DM’s Spelljammer video I became obsessed.

I searched the internet and could not find a satisfactory Spelljammer for 5th Edition. The only file I found was poorly written and the file was corrupted so you couldn’t even read the whole thing and it appeared as if the writer had given up halfway through.

Then one day, on a whim, I went to a Half Priced Books to see if maybe they happened to have some Spelljammer books.

Rolled a Nat 20 on my Investigation Check.

IMG_7802

I found the two main Boxsets for Spelljammer in near mint condition.

And I commenced to devouring their contents like a starved Mindflayer discovering a vintage wizard’s brain.

I was immediately disappointed. In their video, Johnathan Pruitt made it sound like you could pick up these old rulebooks and run Spelljammer for 5e with little to no conversion. I vehemently disagree. So many aspects of the original Spelljammer are simply not suited for the 5th Edition design philosophy and style. Who the fuck wants saving throw matrices anymore?

Well, I don’t do anything half-assed, so I set off working on a careful and considerate conversion of these old rules and bringing them into the new and glorious age of 5th edition.

1 year later.

I have done the hard work for all you lovely internet people. I condensed down 49 pages of The Lorebook of The Void and 71 pages of The Concordance of Arcane Space and I give you two simple and easy to use PDFs for free. (because I found out after doing all this work that I cannot post either of these PDFs on DMsGuild or DriveThruRPG due to copyright issues.)

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8Zz8olFKHfJLVptbGF6Z0pZZG8

One PDF is all the rules you could possibly need to run Spelljammer in 8 pages, and the other is 23 Spelljamming Ships and 7 Spelljamming Helms for use in your Spelljammer campaign.

Enjoy!