DESIGNER’S DIARY 6: MECHANICS OF CONFLICT – THE UNCANNY GRUB
The Uncanny Grub was a concept we occasionally discussed regarding Brutal Races. We often talked about how these races lived in much harsher conditions compared to others, struggling to find resources, especially food. Furthermore, in adventure modules and novels, we witnessed these races eating many things they found.
So, why wouldn’t they have discovered the different properties of what they eat? A regular elf, dwarf, halfling, or other race certainly wouldn’t eat the larvae in a dead creature’s skull. But Brutal Races would. Additionally, they would try different cooking and preparation methods to enhance flavor or reduce harmful properties.
That was the idea. However, we needed to think extensively about the mechanics. Yes, it wasn’t just about eating and satisfying hunger. After all, except in very exceptional cases, players don’t have problems with feeding themselves. They can easily find food with low-level spells or easy skill checks. So, these properties had to offer more than just satisfying hunger. But these properties shouldn’t be the same as a regular buff spell, or else why would you bother with research and preparation if you could gain the same effect with a single spell?
The topic headings were clear now. These things should be hard to find, unwanted by others, and provide different properties when properly prepared. But something was missing. That was the absence of certain risks associated with consuming such disgusting things. It would be wise to think twice before eating them.
Therefore, we frequently added defects to the recipes. Additionally, to make it challenging from a mechanical perspective, we included skill checks, especially in Medicine. However, we still wanted to further develop this idea. At this point, the first step was to create a unique feat for Uncanny Grub. With this feat, they would be able to make some simple recipes stronger and have a chance to access powerful recipes. But to enhance the feat’s appeal, we added other bonuses to it (Brutal Cook).
As a final touch, we categorized the recipes into various difficulty levels. The easiest ones could be easily prepared on a daily basis, while the hardest ones could take months and serve as a standalone quest. Of course, the benefits gained from them would be temporary but could be game-changers, making it worth your time.
Ultimately, Uncanny Grub can fill a significant gap in a low-level survival-focused game, especially if certain party roles are lacking. At higher levels, it can be an incredible support to overcome the toughest enemies or challenges. The mechanics leave plenty of room for the imagination of both the DM and players, perfectly complementing the theme of Brutal Races.
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