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I'm running a D&D5e campaign for some young adults (13-15 years old). While some of those have some specific ideas to what they want their characters to be (sometime even 'grandiose' ideas... "no, you can't tame a dragon, and no, that's not because you're only 2nd level"), one has a different idea.

He's a halfling thief, and wants his character to become a cook. Not only that, but a renowned cook (he's thinking of later having an inn as a good spy network base). He already took the "cook's utensil" proficiency, spent a bit of gold having "correct" components for the party to eat and is generally trying to roleplay his character well.

Now I'm beginning to ask myself how I can indulge him :

  • a home-brew feat to become a good cook? But this will limit him against the others players.
  • an XP penalty, as his character is spending less time to learn others skills?
  • a dual class thief/cook (this will also severely limit him)?
  • a requirement to have charisma and dexterity at a given level to be considered as "renowned" (both in terms of what he can do and how it is perceived)?

Any other ideas?

Edit : wow... lot of ideas here.
I'm all for simplicity, and would prefer not go into homebrew support class.

Simply write "good cook" on its character sheet would have been OK for me, since he is roleplaying the fact, and is willing to lose a little (gold, time) on it. My main problem was the "famous / renowmed" part. I think I did not want to give him something that could be thought as a second hight-level profession (how many of your warriors are also highly thought metalworker ?)

After reading your responses I think i'll go the pure RP way. If he's becoming a famed adventurer with its party, its reputation as a cook will go up with it, if the character is well played and if I give him some opportunities to show off.

thanks for the answers

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closed as too broad by Purple Monkey, Miniman, Ruut, mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Feb 17 '16 at 13:44

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a reason to believe that he would be helped more by mechanical things instead of indulging him by providing him lots of roleplay opportunities related to cooking? He might be helped most simply by letting him roleplay a cook and having the world respond favorably to the idea. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Feb 17 '16 at 10:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think we need a bit more info before this can be answered. Are you trying to create a cook class? Is there any reason you can't just call him a cook as part of his backstory, weave it into the adventure and be done with it? Do you know what Downtime Activities are? Is there any reason why being a cook should require a feat or XP penalty? Is he planning on not spending as much time adventuring and defeating foes as the rest of the party and thus wouldn't gain as much XP? We're not a site built to throw around ideas, we need questions to be focused and precise about what they're asking. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Feb 17 '16 at 10:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ While we know that at least one player's PC is aiming high, are the majority of the other players' PCs' goals equally mundane? (Like, I want to own a farm! and I want to work in a trading post! and I want to make barrels!) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 17 '16 at 11:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Escoce Actually, that's "unclear" not "too broad." :-) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 17 '16 at 15:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Escoce which is exactly what makes it too broad. Questions need to be able to conceivably have a single "best" answer, not just several "good" answers. Given that the OP is just fishing for ideas with no specific idea of what they're looking for, there isn't a conceivably best answer to be had. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Feb 17 '16 at 21:10
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This is what Backgrounds are for.

First of all, character class, levels, feats, and proficiencies largely define a character's abilities in the context of epic fantasy action, because that's the focus of the game. That doesn't mean that they can't do other things, perhaps even very well; it also doesn't mean that NPCs who are very good at non-adventuring skills need to have an equivalent suite of game statistics.

The easiest way to make a character who is an excellent cook is to write "Excellent cook" somewhere on their character sheet, and to support it with appropriate roleplay. If they describe the extra lengths they go to to forage for herbs, or to "spice up" the party's rations in the middle of a dungeon, go ahead and let them impress NPCs with their cooking and reputation.

If you want a bit more mechanical meat, look at Backgrounds (PHB, p.126) ; they each provide proficiency with skills and (usually) a tool, and some other fringe benefit. You could compose a background for this character using Guild Artisan as a base, but with a variant of the Entertainer's By Popular Demand feature to represent their reputation as a cook. Or just make a new background using the abilities of the existing ones as a guide; there are guidelines for this on p. 289 of the DMG.

If you want to encourage this kind of variety in characters -- and I think you should -- then it's better if you don't do so at the expense of other abilities, while at the same time not providing benefits that overshadow the other characters in the party.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The only RP downside of the background solution, is that the background is supposed to be something that the PC did before going on adventures. In OP's case, the PC isn't a cook yet, but wants to be one. But yes, background is also IMHO the best way to support this player's desires. EDIT: I made a cook background a while ago for a contest (forum.aidedd.org/…). It's in French, but a good online translator should be able to translate it :) \$\endgroup\$ – Yotus Feb 17 '16 at 12:06
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In addition to what the other said, if you want to homebrew a little, let's think what a Cook can do. I'm going to spew out some options/skills that you may agree with him, while trying to keep them balanced.

First of all, food is good for morale. So anything that is oriented towards buffing the party as a support character may suit well in the category. Here are some options, in random order, with a suggested level indication:

  • [high level] Provided he pays a reasonable amount of money (100 gp per person?) for the ingredients, he can prepare a banquet (1h cast time?) that is equivalent to the Heroes' Feast spell .

  • [low level] Provided that he prepared the last meal for a character in reasonable conditions (i.e. with good ingredients), that character gets a bonus (not adv, say +2 or +f(level)) on Wisdom Saving throws that represent willpower (something like: "DESPAIR!" "Na brah, I'm good, just had the most delicious pie, life can't be too bad").

  • [medium level, if specialized] He could be able to mix the food with poisons in the foods to reduce detection or enhance their powers, or even know how to extract animal poisons (think about the Fugu fish specialized chefs). Also nice if he's rogue.

I think that if you really wanted to give mechanical aspects to the thing, these are your best bet. Possibly unlock them at certain levels of rogue. But this is all homebrew territory and not playtested, so be careful!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Always nice to comment with an explanation on your downvote... \$\endgroup\$ – Diego Martinoia Feb 18 '16 at 11:28

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