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I have a campaign coming up and one of my players wants to play a druid / barbarian who eats what he kills because he reveres the tarasque as the ultimate devourer and seeks to emulate that. I haven't any qualms about his character concept, other than "ew", but I'd like to come up with some appropriate saving throws, or benefits even, for this behaviour. I'm a new DM, and I couldn't find anything specific in the rules for eating this stuff, so I am looking for advice that could help me template some realistic consequences.

I need help adjudicating what happens when you eat a specific creature type, or monsters with certain aspects.

For example - undead beings, demons...could you even eat an elemental?? Could he be poisoned by eating a creature with a poison gland?

What rules apply to this sort of consumption?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, there's always the nethack corpse FAQ for inspiration. Pro tip: Quantum Mechanics and Tengu.... \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Jun 6 '16 at 16:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast that was a joke, mostly, but here: runc1ble.org/nethack/corpses.html and here: nethackwiki.com/wiki/Corpse \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Jun 6 '16 at 16:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Novak Copied and pasted for later reference. For prospective answerers: answer to this "should" question are dealing with the "good subjective/bad subjective" SE model and should present actual experiences that worked in applying the feature as requested, or actual experiences where "this idea seemed good but here's a bad side effect that we discovered." \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 6 '16 at 17:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't really understand how they want me to edit the question to make it better. Do you want me to list the monsters he'll be facing? \$\endgroup\$ – Faye Jun 6 '16 at 18:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Idea-generation questions don't really work in the Stack Exchange site format. As a rule they result in a list of ideas with no obvious way for voters to tell which answers are better than others. If you can't think of how to revise this to be not asking for ideas, you may just really want a discussion forum instead of a Stack. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 6 '16 at 23:08
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Ignore the numbers

Adding benefits into the game will discourage other players, especially ones with conventional character ideas, because this guy is getting bonuses for nothing. Soon you will have the entire party hunting down basilisks to eat because they give +2 to saves or whatever. The concept of monster-eating barbarian will become less unique because it becomes something the entire party does.

On the other hand, penalizing the player for this character concept will discourage that player from being creative in the future. The best case scenario is that the character stops eating monsters. The worst case is that the party gets tired of the barbarian eating things that make him less effective, and you start getting arguments and "this is what my guy would do" issues.

Rewards for roleplaying should not be mechanical

What are the benefits of eating random creatures in the real world? Fry them up with some onions, and they taste mighty delicious. Or like chicken.

This guy goes around 1) worshipping something that every normal person is terrified of, and 2) killing and eating things ordinary people would balk at. Have NPCs recognize that! Gourmands might seek out the barbarian to share tales of strange foods eaten, and send him on quests to obtain choice delicacies. Priests might lecture him about moderation and temperance. He might discover that certain monsters are incredibly delicious, leading to over-hunting by wannabe cooks, and rapid extinction. Let his concept make an impact on the world around him, not on his character sheet.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In general I like this answer, but it is a mystical setting; the idea of claiming the power of a slain beast or foe is a powerful one the world over. The average dude probably ought not know how, but a prestige class/template sort of deal could be drawn up to fit. \$\endgroup\$ – The Nate Jun 6 '16 at 20:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ A spell that grants powers based on the most powerful forms eaten could fit divine or arcane, and not even need a prestige class. A Predator domain could hold some merit, too. \$\endgroup\$ – The Nate Jun 6 '16 at 20:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Bathing in Dragon blood gives you some dragon-like capabilities (see Half Dragon in MM,) making me think that it is likely possible to drink said blood and also get a benefit. There is the description of the Cockatrice which explains how to do a potion or balm to save someone from petrification. Again this is not ingested, but it is still quite close. Finally, there are the eyes of a Medusa that continue to function even after death. Making me think that some powerful magic does not just disappear with the death of a monster... \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Jun 6 '16 at 22:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AlexisWilke To be fair, cramming random magical stuff into your mouth should probably result in a good few penalties, too. Dragon blood is noted for being deadly poisonous or corrosive in some myths, and for causing spontaneous pregnancy in others. (Myths are weird.) \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jun 6 '16 at 23:49
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General Thoughts

Here are a few thoughts:

  • Certain monsters don't leave bodies, as they moved back to home planes. Demons and Devils for instance.
  • Ichor from demons and devils that is left behind is typically thought of in most mythologies to be acidic, poisonous vile black tar like substance.
  • Eating a monsters with vampirism or lycanthropy might infect the player.
  • Eating the simpler undead (Zombies and Mummies) might bring with it the real world issues that eating rotting meat would have.

Balance

Bonuses to eating monster meat might unbalance the world, or encourage the other party members to do the same. I'd urge you to use effects from eating monsters sparingly. Just have it be story/RP element most of the time.

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The way I would rule it: get the character to roll a Survival check against a DC either set by you (or maybe even 10 + Creature CR) to ensure that they essentially pick out the "good" (read: edible) parts of the creature.

However, I would say obviously you can't eat skeletons, or any kind of undead for that matter, as the rotting flesh will always give you food poisoning (and a whole lot more). If they fail the check, then they can still harvest and eat parts, it just might have undesired effects!

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If the character is set on this as a cultural trait, more power to them. (But yes, ew). I would work with the player to develop some guidelines. He is still nominally human (or whatever) and thus should have an inability to eat certain kinds of remains (undead, elementals, golems, etc.) There is also no way he could devour all of everything he kills. Who can eat a whole umber hulk between long rests?

I'd suggest that he has to eat a token of the creature he kills beyond that which is needed for sustenance. Never mind about poison glands, etc. If his people have this trait, they doubtless know how to prepare just about anything. It's a fantasy world, so don't worry about mundane things like parasites or transmissible diseases.

Ask him to limit actual consumption to organic beings. For something like a golem or an undead, he merely has to consume a token. Usually this can be done by burning the remains and inhaling the smoke or steam, or carving off a small bit (say, of a stone golem) and swallowing that. Anyone can pass a pebble.

If you want to reduce the squeakiness of cannibalism, you might require humanoid forms to be eaten while in Wild Shape.

If the player insists on complete devouring, that will probably require magic. He's a druid, give his circle a unique spell that lets them consume anything that they have killed. Make it quick, easy and magical. Then you don't have to wait around for several hours after every combat for the Otyugh stew to simmer properly. He'll have to dedicate a spell slot to the ability, but anyone who wants to play something so potentially disruptive or difficult to manage should be willing to pay something for the ability.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ There are also Gargoyles and Amimatd Objects... Although there are people eating objects even in the real world. youtube.com/watch?v=5UrG-hY8kUc \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Jun 6 '16 at 22:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, as far as I know, any elemental that you "kill" is sent back to his real plan of existence, so I do not think you could ever eat one of those until you go there and eat it alive... \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Jun 6 '16 at 22:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, that's why I think token consumption is needed in some cases. Killed an earth elemental? Swallow a stone. A spell might allow you in some nebulous way to devour its "essence", whatever that means. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jun 7 '16 at 0:04

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