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To start as a new DM, I choose the first adventure of "Tales from the Yawning Portal", "The Sunless Citadel". During the adventure, the players ran into a store room (Goblin Pantry) filled with food & water of "poor quality", as well as "Elf Pudding" made previously by goblins.

I was wondering if eating such food could cause some indigestion, or poison-like damage ? Is there a rule existing for that kind of action ?

(And by the way, what is "Elf Pudding" ?)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure you want to know what's in Elf Pudding? \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Apr 9, 2020 at 13:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Haha, eum, out of curiosity yes ! (doesn't sound like something good though) \$\endgroup\$
    – Orlyyn
    Apr 9, 2020 at 13:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Jell-O Pudding doesn't seem to me to have much Jell-O in it. (Do they even sell that stuff anymore? Yes they do.) In other words, it might just be a brand name. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 9, 2020 at 14:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Jell-o is clearly a take on gelatin. Which it definitely has in it. But we digress :) \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Apr 9, 2020 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch But Jell-O pudding isn't :-) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 9, 2020 at 14:45

2 Answers 2

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Poor quality refers to the lifestyle descriptions on page 158 of the D&D 5e Player's Handbook. The food isn't spoiled or poisonous, so the food in the storeroom isn't dangerous, just of low quality.

A poor lifestyle means going without the comforts available in a stable community. Simple food and lodgings, threadbare clothing, and unpredictable conditions result in a sufficient, though probably unpleasant, experience.

The squalid and wretched lifestyle descriptions both refer to disease, so it might be reasonable to introduce disease mechanics if the food was described as of squalid or wretched quality instead of poor.

The full list of lifestyle quality levels, in ascending order of is: wretched, squalid, poor, modest, comfortable, wealthy and aristocratic. Any time you see "[thing] quality" for one of those, it likely refers to these lifestyle levels, and the full descriptions will give an idea of what exactly that means.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I bring up squalid and wretched to try and make clear where the line is - sure I could just say "no, the food's fine," but it's more educational to also explain when it would be reasonable to use disease mechanics. \$\endgroup\$
    – LizWeir
    Apr 9, 2020 at 13:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't have enough context for anything I say about elf pudding to be anything other than speculation, so I just left it out - for one thing, I've not actually read the adventure, so I don't know if there's a more specific hint than just the name! \$\endgroup\$
    – LizWeir
    Apr 9, 2020 at 13:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice answer overall! Thank you for the explanations :) \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Apr 9, 2020 at 13:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ My unfounded speculation would be that the writer meant meat pudding where the meat is elf, but I'm not sure - to make a more confident assertion I'd really need to read the adventure to get an idea of how these goblins are presented. \$\endgroup\$
    – LizWeir
    Apr 9, 2020 at 13:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ As far as I can tell, there is no context given to the Elf Pudding within Sunless Citadel, and no other hints given to possible elf-eating. (I also found its mention quite strange and just left it out when describing the room to my group.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcosa
    Apr 9, 2020 at 16:16
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While most of the different races in most DnD scenarios are pretty similar when it comes to their biochemistry, it is not unreasonable to assume that food which is fit for goblin consumption might not be fit for human, elven, dwarfen, etc. consumption.

If a character is careless enough to eat food from a questionable source, then it is not unreasonable for them to get inflicted with food poisoning which can be modeled after one of the existing example poisons. Ingesting poison usually means making a Constitution saving throw or suffering from a couple die of poison damage and from the poisoned condition for a while (disadvantage on all attack rolls and ability checks). How severe you want this poison to be is up to you, but my personal recommendation would be to be merciful, because this event would likely be one of the more comedic parts of the session.

Regarding the nature of "Elf Pudding" - this could be interpreted as:

  • Pudding made for elves (but why would goblins stockpile that?)
  • Pudding made by elves or in the style of elves

  • Pudding made from elves

I would assume that the author deliberately left that to your imagination so you as the DM can make up this world detail in whichever way best fits your playstyle. If you are a DM with a more lighthearted style, then the goblins might really like the way elves make pudding. If you have a darker style, then the goblins might enjoy turning elves into pudding and eating them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You could also render the name brand "Elf" as "Elf Pudding" just as you have different brand names for gasoline: Esso, Shell, BP, Gulf, etc. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 9, 2020 at 15:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Pudding made for elves (but why would goblins stockpile that?)" IIRC the goblins in question were bandits, so it's entirely possible that they just stole it. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Apr 14, 2020 at 3:13

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