Thursday, November 29, 2018

Dangerous Food

(This is a follow up post to Le Restaurant Tranquille. Read that first.)

So, what does all of that nonsense food in the last post taste like? And more importantly, what happens if you sabotage the cooking process? I think I'll take a shenanigans-first approach to Le Restaurant Tranquille.

Like this, but they all die if the dwarf didn't get enough sleep
and cooked the mushrooms without dispelling evil.

For all entries, assume a Save vs. Poison for 'If it ain't cooked right...'

1. Aboleth Soup
The real question is: who thought cooking and eating an aboleth was a good idea in the first place? The vegetables must be brined and de-brined or the aboleth meat will corrode it.

It tastes like... being welcomed home after a year-long voyage at sea. Like the home-cooked stew you never knew you missed.
If it ain't cooked right... skin starts to turn to goop, flesh dissolves into an promethean mess. In the brief moments before you turn into a puddle you start cursing the gods and Everything.

2. Silenced Black Truffle
Shrieking mushrooms are surprisingly tasty once you quiet them down a little. Typically sliced expertly thin and sauted. Any noise during the cooking process initiates screaming.

It tastes like... the peace of autumn - the final stretches of the forest before it rests, the cool breeze on smoking wood, the ecstasy of the snail.
If it ain't cooked right... unsilenced it shall become. Flesh becomes tough and rubbery. That cooked truffle will grow a mouth and start screaming on the plate. Save vs. paralysis or get paralyzed for 10 minutes.

3. Flail Snail with Garlic Butter
A delicacy, even among those places without arcano-gastronomy. A fully grown snail is a feast for a village. A provincial recipe.

It tastes like... the garlic butter really brings out the eternal sadness. But, like, the tasty kind of depression, not the depressing kind. The fleeting pretty kind you see advertised on TV.
If it ain't cooked right... a vile dish which'll make you puke and cry at the same time.

4. Phoenix Omlette
Stealing a phoenix egg, let along eating it, is considered a heinous act universally... except in Wizard City, of course!

It tastes like... being born again, without all the screaming, pain, and cold. Like entering a new world with new eyes, taking in everything with nothing for granted.
If it ain't cooked right... you will catch right on fire. Go up in an immolation. Vaporize right in front of your date. And you won't come back.

5. Quince Fruit in Gelatinous Cube
Getting the gelatinous cube to not digest the eater is a chemical challenge. It turns out quince fruit is instrumental in the formula.

It tastes like... Quince! And a primordial fullness, like being a snake digesting a months-long meal.
If it ain't cooked right... make your save and you vomit it out. Don't, and the acid will eat you from the inside out.

6. Unicorn Flank with Pegasus Sauce
We don't talk about where the Unicorn meat comes from...

It tastes like... an innocence shielded with strength, like a mythical hero stripped of all callousness, as one would find Heracles in a children's book.
If it ain't cooked right... Madness and mutation. Unicorn meat is ravenously addictive, and only a master chef can dispel these traps. The lost innocence becomes a taint on one's soul permanently.

7. Fat Liver from Cockatrice with Shallots and Figs
The hard part is force-feeding the Cockatrice for several days on hearty grains.

It tastes like... strolling through the meadows of Elysium, holding a loved-one's hand.
If it ain't cooked right... 50% chance the eater can now digest stone for a week. 50% chance small rock shards grow in the intestines and eventually cause severe lacerations. Shit blood for days and days before death.

8. Froghemoth Legs
Wizards, so often denying themselves such frivolous pleasures, will clamor head-over-heels for this stuff. Fetches a high price for fresh kills.

It tastes like... falling into meaty marbled love. The married-for-50-years kind.
If it ain't cooked right... try to eat the weakest person around. Whole preferably. Let nothing stop you.

9. Deep One Bisque
Another provincial dish. Best eat in small amounts. Even correctly-prepared it can cause ill effects when eaten in excess.

It tastes like... starring at the sky on a clear warm night and watching the stars, naively and ignorantly thinking about the optimistic wonders of the universe.
If it ain't cooked right... visions of uncaring and unknowable great things. Gain a madness.

10. Cheese from Catoblepas Milk
You need righteous paladins to churn the evil from the milk and curds! Those who perform this elaborately blessed task really like doing it, for some bizarre reason.

It tastes like... delightfully creamy and airy. Sensations of flying over a clear sky.
If it ain't cooked right... petrification and extreme abdominal pain.

11. Hydra Steak
Eating a properly cooked medium-rare hydra steak (any less cooked and you'll get a whole hydra growing) will keep the eater full for weeks on end as it slowly digests and regenerates in the stomach.

It tastes like... chewy, complex, and calm. Like taking pain relief after an extraordinary amount of pain.
If it ain't cooked right... you will have a hydra head growing right up your esophagus and out of your mouth. Pretty bad way to go.

12. Mortuary Songbird
They carry the souls of the departed to visit loved ones at memorials and funerals. Eating them is considered a capital sin. Preparation involves drowning them in brandy.

It tastes like... shame. Scrumptious, naughty gleeful shame. It's like breaking into the cosmic cookie jar without any consequences.
If it ain't cooked right... There aren't any repercussions for cooking it incorrectly - the dish will just taste bad. The real danger is in the eating. Failure to hide yourself from heaven while eating will open a portal directly and immediately to hell, taking you (no save) and everyone nearby (save vs. petrification).

13. Kraken Calamari
Best used with young Kraken, as older members of the species will typically be infested with parasites, not to mention the difficulty of acquiring fresh older Kraken.

It tastes like... triumphantly conquering fear. Best with lemon!
If it ain't cooked right... gain an intense phobia of deep water (any water in which you can't see the bottom).

The guts are in the cooking pan!

14. Mimic Souffle
It's a real mimic. The top portion, the "souffle", can be safely eaten provided the mimic remains tricked into thinking that it's actually food.

It tastes like... cheese and mushrooms, or whatever else you can trick it into thinking it should taste like. It feels like getting away clean-handed with a white lie.
If it ain't cooked right... in Wizard City, souffle eat you!

15. Stewed Gibber Eyes
It turns out there are enough spices to make a gibbering horrors edible. The eyes are typically sliced thin enough to be indistinguishable. Nobody wants to eat whole gawping eyes.

It tastes like... eating a calm heartfelt conversation of intense understanding and mutual respect.
If it ain't cooked right... you'll quickly find out if the soup starts babbling.

16. Were-Wolf Tart
Take some were-wolves, constrict them into smaller and smaller concentric magic circles, distill their essence with cream cheese and sugar, and slather it on a tart.

It tastes like... a very good tart, but with a little something extra indescribable, un-quantifiable. You'll be thinking about that tart for days and weeks. What was in that tart?
If it ain't cooked right... were-wolf in your tart. Not a fun day.

17. Dragon Milk
A bit of a misnomer, as dragons don't produce milk; however, they do produce tears. Deliciously salty tears. Many a dragon have been slain to collect their precious eye fluid. A far more sustainable and profitable approach, though, is to make non-hostile dragons laugh or cry hard enough to siphon off that liquid gold. The tears are then mixed with cow's milk and sugar to make a kind of thick milkshake.

It tastes like... depending on color, like an artist completing their magnum opus, a conquering general returning home to a triumph, or holding a newborn baby.
If it ain't cooked right... the salts produce an acute salinity in the blood. Acquire gout.

18. Peryton Tongue ("Perytongue")
Served on a blessed bed of rice in a very bright-lit room. Must be bitten off by the peryton's own jaws in acquisition, else it will turn to ash when cooked.

It tastes like... salvation. Redemption. Like ecstatic deliverance to a benevolent deity, if but for a second.
If it ain't cooked right... it writhes and spews curses, calling for its shadow. The shadow of an evil man will stalk and murder your own within a week.

19. Wisp Spongecake
Goes well with basil soups. Requires a wisp to be baked live into the cake.

It tastes like... being tucked in a warm blanket by a fireplace on a cold night, while cuddling someone cute.
If it ain't cooked right... the wisp is normally supposed to die in the mouth. It doesn't. Wisp will suck the life right out of the eater.

20. Ghoul Sausage
Is eating a ghoul cannibalism? Wizards say: no. Traditionally only the sausage casing is from ghoul.

It tastes like... how you kinda think people would taste like, if it tasted good. Pork, maybe?
If it ain't cooked right... if you're lucky, you just become a zombie... Unlucky and you'll ghoul-ify in 48 hours.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Le Restaurant Tranquille

There's a restaurant in Wizard City that Archmages like to frequent. Not only is it the only four-star restaurant in the world, but it's the only place they can go without being constantly bombarded by loud distractions and fretting aides. It is a quiet place.

Because, in the ruthlessly exclusive Le Restaurant Tranquille, nobody is allowed to talk, and even the most dampened of noises will get you forcibly thrown out and blacklisted for life.

Noisy clothing will get you removed. Whispering will get you banned. Even scratching a message on paper carries noise too far. The employees come trained in sign language and calligraphy. Guests are given ink and parchment sets to transmute their requests. Everything is soft and muted - even in the kitchen section you could hear a pin fall from across the restaurant. Table etiquette is enforced and exquisite. Loud chewers are thrown right out.

You get exactly one silent warning, ever. After that you're gone.

(The Titanic, if you're curious)

The restaurant is the home and work place of the great wizard Geoffroy Laffaile, The Silent Chef, greatest patissier to ever exist. He and his restaurant team work in a deathly quiet to produce the most delicious and euphoric dishes in all the world. They source their ingredients from exotic travelers and monster hunters, planar adventurers and star farmers. They pay their sources well. Nobody in their right (or wrong) mind would even consider trying to prepare these most perilous of dishes. None except The Silent Chef.

Today’s Menu at Le Restaurant Tranquille (d10)

           1. Fleau escargot de Bourgogne
   (Flail Snail with garlic butter)
2. Omelette phenix
   (Phoenix omelette)
3. Quience Jelee
   (Quience fruit in gelatinous cube)
4. Flanc de licorne avec jus de pegase
   (Unicorn flank with pegasus juice)
5. Foi gras de cockatrice avec echalotes et figues
   (Fat liver from cockatrice with shallots and figs)
6. Tres grandes cuisses de grenouilles
   (Froghemoth legs)
7. Bisque de profondeur habitant
   (Deep One bisque)
8. Fromage au lait Catoblepas
   (Cheese from Catoblepas milk)
9. Soupe de poisson haine
   (Aboleth soup)
10. Truffe noire reduite au silence
   (Silenced black truffle)

The restaurant is also a prison for some of the most dangerous menaces alive or dead - things which could not be killed and so must be trapped. Geoffroy, wizard and culinary genius that he is, had them baked into delicate pastries and desserts of unfathomable abjuration. To disturb any of them would surely unleash a horrid plague upon the world. To taste them, though, is to experience elation known only to Heaven.

In the depths of the restaurant, past the kitchens and the pantries, among the silent-tiled halls is a monastery for two men - monks of unbreakable vows of silence.

They live their days fretting over every movement, every breath, so that the Dread Souffle won't crumble into a bitter heap. They have been here for years, nibbling away at the margins of the souffle, approaching it as one would approach a priceless painting with a fine brush. Every movement is thoroughly studied, every bite planned.

Should they disturb the architecture of the souffle, the Arch-Devil Archeon will be released into the world. He tempts them ceaselessly from within the souffle, knowing that the slightest mistake on their part will set him free. The monks are men of iron will, though. If they manage to eat the entire thing, Archeon will be destroyed forever.

This is what your client wants, and will pay out the ears to get: just one taste of Geoffroy's famous Dread Souffle. The Silent Chef is to be away for months, starting up a new restaurant. Now is the time.

Forty-thousand gold for just one bite. Five times that for the whole thing.
Ten-thousand gold for each and any of his other famous dishes.
Four-thousand gold apiece for any of the Silent Chef's cookbooks.

This could very well be the end of civilization.

This will not be easy. The restaurant has many guards and perils.

There are, of course, the restaurant staff. The waitstaff are but minor wizards, but the Hostess Anne-Sophie can expel anyone with a great silent force. Their training make them excellent at reading people, so you must be guarded in the dining area.


The Chefs are powerful wizards in their own right, each having personal possession of one of Geoffroy's cookbooks. They're capable of casting spells and cooking in utter silence - Geoffrey only took the most iron-disciplined for apprentices. They include:

Sous Chef (Jacqueline Beaux) - a famed necromancer, and excellent foil to Geoffroy's pastry and baking expertise with her knowledge of meats and flesh. The kitchen belongs to her and her Meat Men spies.

Her claim to fame was creating a dish so sinful that eating it sent one directly and immediately to Hell, unless you could hide the act from Heaven, of course.

Saucier (Adam Southern) - The most talented and reserved of the lesser chefs, surpassed only by Jacqueline and Geoffroy. His innovative and intuitive style helped create many of the dishes currently served in the restaurant, and his sauces are renowned for their potency and balance.

He has published three scientific papers on arcanogastronomy, and is considered a leading alchemist with regard to spell infusion.

Entremetier (Ottavio Di Gennaro) - The most good-looking and celebrity of the lesser chefs. Ottavio enjoys talking up a good storm and performing magic tricks with bourgeois admirers at fancy parties outside the restaurant. All the other chefs hate him.

He says he has enlightening conversations with the vegetables as they cook, but this is a lie... They do talk, but he can't understand them.

Rotisseur (Guy Philippon) - Known popularly as "The Grease Wizard". Nobody handles fat like Guy does. He tames the most exquisite and savage of exotic meats, making even the most legendarily gamey flesh delicious and tender.

Some has speculated that he got so big and tall by experimenting on his muscle and bones, but that's just a rumor.

Poissonier (Frieda Fischbacher) - There is a very fine line between aboleth meat that is edible and aboleth meat which will turn your flesh to salty goo. Frieda knows the difference. Every dish she makes is would make a Fugu chef sweat with anxiety.

It's said that if you meet her eyes your skin will start to peel off like old wallpaper.

Garde Manger (Sokkolf Kotkelsson) - The quietest of the Silent Chef apprentices, and that's saying quite a lot. Sokkolf's grandmother was the Queen of Ice, making him approximately one-eighth ice elemental.

It's said his heart was iced solid when his daughter died and his wife left him, and now his eyes are frozen and he floats an inch off the ground like a chillwight. Responsible for managing the pantry, the decapitated refrigerating head of the ice giant Hlodvir, and salads.


But down deathly quiet corridors, away from the restaurant, and into the warmed vaults where hearts beat loud like drums, there are true guards: things from The Far of incomparable grace and beauty. They hang from the ceiling draped like a summer breeze, or stand perfectly still, perched like statued ballerinas upon minute points. The staff call them Silk Golems, though that is certainly not their name. Even the faintest shuffle or whisper will draw their mute wrath. They will strangle you from the ceiling in a death-cocoon of silks, killing without a mere utterance or sound, ensuring that even your corpse lowered down will have a reverent silence.

(From Dark Souls 3)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Milestone Advancement for Tidelock

This is largely for the players of my home campaign Tidelock, in order to clarify what sort of achievements are required for a level up of the party. Milestone Advancement is the idea that certain player-character accomplishments or steady participation in a campaign will level up the party, in contrast to an XP system which rewards certain behaviors with incremental fractions of levels.

I use Milestone Advancement largely because I'm lazy. I could put in the work for an XP system, but it's not of my interest.

We use 5e D&D for our home campaign. For levels 1-8 the party levels up frequently and at a steady rate, provided they are doing something interesting (no leveling up for staying at home). Beyond that the party needs to impress me with their accomplishments to justify a level up. Here are some categorical examples:

Discovering a Lost Magic
Uncovering a method of  Invisibility, non-transformative Flight, Resurrection, or Teleportation is an automatic level up for the party. These magics are hidden throughout the world, usually somewhere remote and dangerous.

Changing the World Unalterably
The whole point of the campaign was to more or less give the players the tools and opportunities to smash the system in ways they saw fit. Any purposeful acts with monumental social or political shifts will grant a level up.

Getting Rich/Finding Treasure
Finding a significant (upwards of 10000gp in value) treasure from somewhere dangerous will merit a level up. Acquiring an Artifact of significant power has the same effect.

The general rule is: if it's in doubt that what you did it significant, then it wasn't significant enough. Also, if it's a partial success or spectacular fail, if it did so interestingly it still gets a pass.

Some Impressive Things:

  • Pulling off a coup
  • Capturing a legendary monster
  • Discovering, recording, and mapping a place that has been undiscovered since the apocalypse.
  • Gaining additional Senate seats in Twilight City
  • Putting a player on the Archmage council of Chronulus
  • Going back in time and significantly changing history
  • Leading an army to victory
  • Steal the powers of the Dread Sorcerers of the Seventh Door (maybe 4 out of 12 or so?)
  • Corral the powers of some Saints (again, 4 or so)
  • Steal the power of the Sorcerer King
  • Blackmail a country's leader
  • Kill someone immortal
  • Found a city or country
  • Pacifying a known wilderness region (explore, map, conquer)
  • Publish a famous scientific article in a Chronulean journal
  • Publish a famous book
  • Stop/Unleash (intentionally) a deadly plague
  • Legendary Martyrdom
  • Become a Saint
  • Pull off an elaborate heist
  • Start/End/Prevent a major war
  • Form an Army
  • Marry someone very important (relations aren't enough, you gotta join bank accounts!)
  • Patent some discovered spells (2-3 probably, patenting invented spells only gets you gold)
  • Find a complex of The Oppression Engine
  • Find a route to the Silver Palace
  • Bring back a lost language from Leviathan
  • Found and cement the position of a criminal gang
  • Bust the dragon Volectra out of her comfort-prison by putting on the World's Best Play
  • Assassinate or otherwise forcefully retire an integral political figure (An Archmage, a Fury, the Solar Emperor, one of the 3 chief Drow Matriarchs, the Diamond Orc, the Dragon-King of Kobara.)
  • Learn how to regularly do Astral Projection (Thank you Emmy Allen for this one!)

Monday, November 5, 2018

Secret Police Tables

Continuation of this post here.


The Anti-Wizard SWAT teams. This table probably loses some cohesion when each column is rolled independantly. Recommend rolling d10 then reading left to right.

Squad is led by...
And Their Thing Is...
A talking armored crocodile with a lisp.
Coming up out of solid ground like they’re a bunch of god-damned land sharks.
A grinning madman to whom nobody should have granted any authority. Teeth like unkempt gravestones.
Marty McDoom
Blasting open every single door they run into. At first sign of trouble they lob in explosives and keep doing so until resistance ceases.
A Mo-RON in a Kraken-class exosuit. A dozen razor-sharp prehensile tentacles and an intense hatred for “meatsuits”.
Logan III
Regeneration. Limbs cut off will spawn combat-ready copies within minutes. No physical injury is permanent. They attack reckless and self-destructively.
A woman wearing a tank’s worth of gleaming armor and a combined polehammer / cannon. Eyes ice cold.
Mother’s Maiden Name
Professionalism, discipline, and hammers. Corner and gang up, then beat their ass into pulp, one foe at a time.
This man looks like a potato that’s spawning more potatoes.
“Go Fuck Yourself”
Collapse the building first, ask questions later. Interrogate the bodies. Rock to Mud spells galore!
Holy shit is that a sprinting refrigerator?!
Smashing through walls like the Kool-Aid Man. Charging, tackling, and wrestling those wizard nerds.
A giant floating fetus with telekinetic powers riding in a hovering placenta-chair. Prenatal celestial child.
Illusions out the wazoo. Hallucinatory terrains, fake walls, fake traps, disguised selves.
A cackling skeleton who addresses your bones directly. She calls them out like teasing snails from their shells.
Luna Belfry
Being undead, with all immunities implied. No minds to charm, no flesh to burn. They live on until every single rune-carved bone is turned to dust.
A sentient blimp that serves as the team’s base of operations and commanding officer. Shark decals.
The Overlord
Dropping in from the sky, landing on the roof, bursting through windows like a bunch of badasses. Occasionally, dropping bombs from half a mile up.
Nobody is really sure, but they have surprisingly soft hands.
Permanent Invisibility. They wait until an opportune time, then stab vital places with knives. Multiple simultaneous throat-slit.

The Stewards

The politically-minded Secret Police of the Archmages. Now this table you can go crazy with. Read 'em by row or scramble up with independent columns, your call.

Dressed Like...
Accompanied By...
A pin-striped lawyer with a giraffe neck.
A PhD in Torture Studies. Dissertation on Subliminal Brainfuckery.
You are 40% certain that that’s a dog...
Someone you trust. Zipper going down the back. Full-body skin suit.
A sociopathic ease of use with Charm and Suggestion spells.
A crow that caws whenever it detects bullshit.
Michelangelo’s David, but made of solid gold.
Perfect hair.
A small boy ludicrously overburdened with all of the Stewards things.
They were a canvas for Jackson Pollock.
A disturbingly sunny disposition.
A spellbook with a yellow-toothed mouth on the cover that repeats threats and blasphemies.
A really corny tenured college professor: ugly plaid, off-color khakis, sneakers.
Enough dirt on important people to make them untouchable.
A throng of coo-ing sycophants, hissing and snarling at their enemies.
They’re attending a secret masked cult gathering. Different mask every time.
An intense and creepy obsession with trashy romance novels.
An ambulatory animated throne. Why is it shaped like a gaping mouth?
A cosmonaut. Opaque bubble helmet and a baggy reflective suit. Do they even have a face?
A crackling cattle prod that shoots ranged Shocking Grasp at liars.
Whatever it is, it has more teeth than anything else!
They’re at a wedding for serial killers who kill at weddings.
Bright blue latex gloves...
An exactly copy of themselves. They can talk simultaneously.
The Secretary at the Ministry of Many Hats. Headwear stacked to the ceiling.
So much debt that even death won’t let them escape it.
A personal court reporter who furiously transcribes every single word said.
You. Wearing exactly what you’re wearing.
Eyes containing the writhing trapped bodies of miscreants just like yourselves.
Some very, very beautiful people. 10/10s, terrifyingly so. You think they must be assassins?


Agents of the Bureau of Spatial and Temporal Matters. With this table you can go crazy. Roll multiple times for each agent if you feel like it.
This Asshole...
What Space-Time Fuckery Is Going On Around Them?
Has their head constantly slowly rotating 360-degrees like a rotisserie chicken.
All their sentences and words are spoken backwards.
Can’t stop twitching, like an invisible demon is poking them in the face with a needle.
Every 10 seconds the final second repeats itself.
Went back in time and screwed his mom. This is his sentence.
They are simultaneously standing exactly next to every single person.
Won’t stop commenting about “How we’re all fucked anyways, so might as well…”
They are always in your peripheral vision, no matter how quickly you turn.
Is literally on fire. They don’t mind.
Everything is slow like molasses around them.
Doesn’t breathe, doesn’t move. Not a millimeter. They just are, and then are not.
They exist only in reflective surfaces (mirrors, watery eyes, puddles, etc.)
Smells like acetone, looks literally like a fuzzy stick figure - all black and grainy. No face. Just grain.
They are always really really far away, but communicate like they’re right next to you.
Has eyes like a mouse’s, blacked-out and without life.
Clocks whirl around madly in their presence.
Has so many wrinkles you’d think an elephant's butt was talking.
After the conversation is finished a week has passed.
Seems completely normal and unremarkable...
They walk on ceilings or walls. Gravity is different for them. They act like this is no big deal.