By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Adamant Entertainment is 41 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 38 pages of content for…cooking. In fantasy roleplaying games. Yep….soooo, what do we exactly get?
Of all the books I reviewed, this one was not one I thought I’d ever see, as the topic, indeed, is cooking. As befitting of such a supplement, the first chapter is entitled "Starters" and serves as an introduction complete with easily accessible sources for you to research. The really interesting bits, though, begin with the next chapter, where the basic classes of food in a fantasy setting as well as the general availability, breads etc. are discussed. Beyond basic food classes, the special role of spices as trade goods and their origins are also given a detailed discussion. Interspread throughout the narrative, we get a plethora of cool adventure hooks that range from rather grim (preventing a famine due to fungal infection) to goofy and yet cool (Attack of the flesh-eating killer tomatoes) – thankfully, the latter are not the only instance of humour in this little pdf, but rather only one of the instances – from puns, humorous footnotes to said adventure hooks, the book walks the fine line between usability and tongue-in-cheek attitude. Food preservation, different cooking styles, etiquette and even taverns of inns are covered. The adventure hook for the latter begins with the words "You’re kidding, right? Does the world really need another adventure hook involving an inn? Oh, very well …" and goes on to actually provide a good idea after that. 7 poisons are also covered herein, mostly mundane ingested ones, though I really liked the subtle metal-poisonings. We also get an easy-to-use table of food aligned by general regions/cultures.
In the next chapter, we get 2 new skills, Profession (Chef), which is used to make food look awesome and Craft (Cooking) which accounts for the plain, but incredibly tasty food e.g. a commoner housewife might serve. That out of the way, we get the 5-level PrC Adamantine Chef (5 levels, d10, 4+Int skills, full BAB, good fort and ref saves, no spell progression) who seeks to cook monster and discover the most extreme of ingredients and recipes. The Synergist Chef on the other hand (3 levels, d8, 2+Int skills, medium BAB, good fort and will saves) can heal via his cooking, while the Toxicant (3 levels, d8, 4+Int skills, good fort save) does the opposite and provides for rather unhealthy meals. We also get 4 new feats, among them the hilarious Culinary Critic that lets you get discounts when eating and successfully intimidating the chef.
Thankfully, the new magic items (including cooling coffers and collapsible kitchens) are rather smart and come with restrictions that, while ensuring their usability, also mean they don’t break your average fantasy setting’s logic. (And if you’ve followed my reviews, you know that I’m rather careful with regards to that.) The 5 magical beverages we are introduced to, range from ale that lets you perfectly recall a single memory to the legendary ambrosia. There are also 4 new spells, enabling you to instantly dry or rehydrate food, for example.
The next chapter goes on to provide us with sample menus of different inns and taverns as well as proprietors that range from a rail-thin elven sorceress turned cook, gnomish bakers seeking to create cookie golems to a sociopathic, but brilliant mistress of a brewery. Each character gets a photorealistic mugshot, which is quite nice and nothing I would have expected here.
Finally, there are new critters: Rotlings are CR 1 ratlike fey who could be considered he anathema of Heinzelmännchen/Wee folk, The CR 8 Flan Swarm, a swarm of dread flan-spaed oozes (oozes happen to be very sought-after ingredients, as you will know after reading this book – hence black _Pudding_ for example…), the delightfully creepy CR 12, Ptai Tree who enslaves his victims and the all-consuming CR 18 Locomnivore, a tentacled horror consuming all in its path make for nice creatures – all feature some kind of signature ability and I can see myself using them all – especially the cutesy-deadly flan swarm will provide amusement galore for my black DM-heart as in Sovjet PFRPG, Flan consumes YOU! (Apologies if I’ve insulted anyone from the former Sovjet states, not my intention.)
The pdf closes by providing 4 sample menus you can print out to show as hand-outs to your PCs and a map of a tavern you might already know from Peril in Freeport.
Editing and formatting are good – while I did notice glitches, there were less than 10 and none impeded my reading experience or enjoyment of the file. Layout adheres to a two-page standard and is b/w, the background of the individual pages stained in a way that hearkens to papers left too long in the kitchen – a nice detail that serves to enforce the overall feel of the book. Unfortunately, this pdf has no bookmarks, which at this size would have been nice indeed to facilitate navigation. Author Jason Wallace actually managed to craft an enjoyable read around a rather strange topic and made it palatable for me. However, there’s also a hair in the proverbial soup, namely the PrCs and feats – while they are in line with not taking themselves too seriously and I think they do have some uses, I don’t consider them particularly appealing and more fitting for strange/quirky NPCs than for players, as for the latter, these PrCs and feats might feel a tad bit weak. On the other hand, the magic items and beverages are top quality, as are the monsters. More importantly, this book made me smile a lot, marrying amusing little quips with usable content, I was rather pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing and overall content. Due to the problems with the PrCs and the editing glitches, lack of food price tables and missing bookmarks, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3.
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