28 January 2013

Table: Calamitous Concoctions

One reason adventurers don't quit adventuring and just sell magic items on the black market is that those who are capable of making them cannot be compelled to do so. To quote Mr. Gygax on page 118 of the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide:

It is absolutely necessary that you take note that any sort of charmed, magically persuaded, or otherwise enslaved magic-user will be totally unable to function in such a manner as to allow the fabrication of any sort of magic item — scroll, potion, or otherwise. The discipline and concentration demanded by such activity absolutely precludes individuals of this sort from manufacturing magic items.

Ah, but enterprising adventurers and other cunning villains will note that certain unusual concoctions such as soups of power (q.v.) are not produced by magic-users or other spellcasters (as far as anyone knows). They are reportedly concocted by ordinary folk using secret family recipes. Surely these mundane mortals can be coerced into manufacturing their legendary concoctions at daggerpoint. Alas, they can indeed be coerced, but the results may not be quite as expected (nor desired). If at any a time a person with knowledge of such a recipe is forced to cook such a concoction by means of magical or nonmagical coercion, the stressfulness of the situation may have a detrimental effect as determined by rolling on the following table:

Calamitous Concoctions

Roll 1d10

  1. Desired effect, but putrid odor (attracts wandering monsters).
  2. Desired effect, but vile flavor (causes 1d4 rounds of helpless coughing).
  3. Inert. Flavorless.
  4. Inert, but nauseating (causes 1d4 turns of vomiting).
  5. Inert, but vengeful (causes 1d4 turns of inconvenience).
  6. Reduced effect (benefit lasts no more than 1d4 rounds).
  7. Reversed effect (the exact opposite of the desired effect occurs).
  8. Toxic (save vs. poison or be incapacitated for 1d4 days).
  9. Toxic (save vs. poison or die).
  10. Unstable (explodes, causing 2d6 hit points of damage in a 6 cubit radius.)*
That's what happens when one coerces a cook, but what happens if one obtains the recipe and cooks it oneself? The problem with many secret family recipes, like guild secrets, is that they are never committed to writing. They are handed down from parent to child the way folktales are: orally. To get such a recipe, one would have to use the same methods as those used in coercing them to cook, in which case the recipe will be inaccurate and a roll on the table above will be necessary. If, however, one were to obtain a physical copy of the recipe that was not written under duress, and one were able to obtain all of the necessary ingredients (many of which have very particular requirements in the place, time, and manner of their gathering), one could then attempt to cook it, but one's lack of familiarity with the recipe would still necessitate a roll on the table above (professional cooks may roll 1d6; all others may roll 1d8).

* 9 feet or 3 m.

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