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pagan_kitchenSomething I wrote long ago for Signs & Portents, reproduced with kind permission from Matthew Sprange.

Cooking for Mayhem and Profit

Many cultures and races are noteworthy for their devotion to cooking. Their creations are famous, and sought out by those who understand that food concerns more than just eating something digestible. Leaving aside the recipes, much can be learnt from these peoples.

Iron pots, and cooking equipment in general, are usually thought to have only one use. In places where it is considered safe, adventurers drag out these heavy objects to prepare meals. Thoughtful members of the party make provision for this by including a pot since, without it, every meal is spit roast, raw, or bowel punishing dried rations. Before descending into caverns chock-full of monsters, far-sighted adventurers stash these items, along with anything else that would weigh them down and inhibit movement.

While both of these strategies are sensible, they fail to make use of the full range of possibilities of the humble pot.

More Than Just a Five-Pound Inconvenience

If pressed, anyone can pick up a pot and swing it. When used in this way it counts as a simple weapon, doing d6 damage. To have any chance of succeeding in this action, the swinger must have at least four feet above and around them.

Applying a little more thought to the problem, the following actions are also available.

The lid can be thrown like a discus. Again, there has to be room to allow the thrower to get a swing up. But five feet clear feet to one side of the thrower are all that is necessary. In visualising this, imagine the circular pot lid thrown in the Greek military style: palm on top, arm drawn back and then flicked forward in one motion. There is no room to do the Olympic competition multiple rotations before release. Trying to throw it like a Frisbee will only send it a short distance. When used in this way, the Discus-Pot Lid is a Martial Weapon, inflicting d6 bludgeoning damage, with a range increment of 15 feet, and a critical factor of x2.

For the more bloodthirsty, the pot lid can be sharpened, and this changes the damage type to be both bludgeoning and slashing. Caution must be exercised when pursuing that path, however. After all, you don’t want to cut yourself when cooking.

Setting aside the military applications, the bottom, concave, side of a lid can be polished. This is a labour intensive activity, requiring at least five hours the first time, and an hour to bring back the shine after it has been used in cooking. Once a bright sheen has been achieved the lid now forms a focussing mirror. A candle or other source of light held before it can be directed in a beam. As a rule of thumb this concave mirror will magnify the power of the light source by a factor of five.

The top can be polished as well with the same effort. Often there is a handle on the top of a pot lid, and this will interfere with the image, but in general what has been created is a convex mirror. It can now be used to look around corners and gain a false-perspective image of an entire room. Always keep in mind the blind spot in the handle, and the fact that distances will be distorted.

Dor’en Caudron Sai (The Way of the Pot)

Gnomes love to cook. The endless subtlety of combining different flavours, almost to the level of producing a work of art, is sublime to the Gnomish soul. What is less well known is that, along with the other martial arts styles that Gnomes have devised to capitalise on their size, they have evolved a system of combat using iron pots.

The Whirling Pot Dance is one element of this rich martial arts style. In it, the nimble practitioner takes a pot (often one in each hand) and swings it in an oblique circle over his or her head. When two are used they cross in front of the dancer’s body, creating an intimidating meat-tenderiser. This awesome display is often accompanied by a terrifying cry, giving rise to the nickname ‘two-pot screamer’.

In a normal ten-foot wide corridor, any small sized character can use the two-pot Whirling Pot Dance. Medium sized characters can only use a single pot in the same space. Gnomes may take this Feat as a racial benefit. Other adventurers may learn it from an accomplished Gnome practitioner.

Prerequisites: Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Expertise, Con 13+, Dex 13+, Two-weapon Fighting (if the two-pot version is used).

Benefits: You receive a +2 bonus to Initiative when in melee. If two pots are used, then the Combat Reflex Feat may be applied twice (ie., your opportunity attacks are doubled). In addition, the skill Intimidate gains a +2 bonus while dancing.

Cooking Up A Storm

Dwarfs are notorious for their unappetising food. Decades ago one particular Dwarf suffered banishment because of his twin passions for the magical and culinary arts. Determined to prove that Dwarven cuisine could match it with the best, he created a spell. Sadly, the effect was not as he expected, and he was killed in the attempt. His notes survived, however, and from these the spell can be recreated. The effects add nothing to the art of cooking, but much to the art of defence.

The Claymore Crockpot. 


Level: Sor/Wiz 3.

Components: V, M

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Close (25ft. + 5ft./2 levels)

Area: 20-ft. – radius spread

Duration: Instantaneous

Saving Throw: Reflex half

Spell Resistance: No

Take an ordinary cooking pot. Add at least one organic component (potatoes are common, though a leg of rabbit is also traditional). Add various inorganic ingredients such as gravel, nails, glass shards, buttons, and salt to taste, until pot is full to the brim. Cover pot with a layer of mud or wax. Position pot so that the top faces in the desired direction. On saying the command word, the contents detonate, spraying the target area with shrapnel. This deals 1d6 points of damage per caster level (maximum 10d6) to all creatures within the area. The damage is purely physical; there are no attendant magical elements.

This spell can be combined with a Magic Mouth to create a static mine, detonated by a creature setting off the Magic Mouth spell, in turn setting off the Claymore Crockpot. Similarly, the mine can be detonated remotely by using spells such as Ventriloquism.

Infamous Camp Ovens

The Pot O’ Doom: this blackened pot is engraved with the images of bones. For every half-pound of humanoid body parts that are placed inside, noxious black fumes are emitted. These fumes spread out at a rate of 50ft. per round, to a maximum of 250ft. Undead of all descriptions are drawn to the source of the fumes, travelling at their best pace, unless they save against the Control Undead spell. Once within sight, the creatures are under the command of the person feeding the pot, as per the Control Undead spell. This control lasts as long as the pot is fed with body parts. The pot consumes the gristly components at a rate of a half-pound/round. When the pot stops emitting its fumes, the Control Undead spell is immediately broken.

The pot can also be used to prepare food, if non-humanoid ingredients are used. The product of this cooking is poisonous, and in every way conforms to the description for Dark Reaver Powder (DMG pp. 80). Anyone dying from this poison rises in 24 hours as a zombie.

Caster level: 13th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Control Undead; Market Price: 40,000 gp; Weight 5lb.

Pot Portage: this ordinary looking pot is actually a mini transportation device. Non-magical items placed inside it are instantly transported to where the lid was left, up to 100 miles distant. A command word is engraved on the inside of the lid. Transportation is 95% reliable. Magical articles and those that fail the reliability test are lost into ethereal space. Limbs placed in the pot when the command word is spoken are severed.

Ordinary meals can be cooked in the pot, with no ill effects to the consumer.

Caster level: 9th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Teleportation; Market Price: 13,000 gp; Weight 5lb.