Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Gourmand: A New Character Class for the Pathfinder Game

So, in game after game that I've played or GM'd over the last ten years or so, there is always at least one player who ends up running a character for whom gluttony is a problem (or an asset, or a way of life). Needless to say, this got me thinking about Quina Quen from Final Fantasy IX. The idea of a character who not only eats excessively, but who eats his enemies to gain their powers is quite appealing. Now, this has been explored in a variety of formats in D&D games and their offshoots to a minor extent--feats, traits, a spell or two (especially in the Book of Vile Darkness), but I wanted to take it further. Not just a spell or a feat that grants a minor or temporary increase in abilities, but something that actually made eating a core mechanic of the class.

So, I present to you, the Gourmand.

The flavor is highly influenced by the character Quina, and my thanks goes out to the creators of FFIX for a truly amusing game. The mechanics draw heavily on the Illithid Savant from Savage Species). The first draft of this class was used in a campaign about four years ago. At this point, the class has gone through several iterations, and about 6 PCs worth of play-testing (the most recent, and the first time I've played it myself, being Fa-Kseen from my currently ongoing Reins of Darkness campaign).

One important note to any GM thinking about allowing this class into their campaign. It can be equally a well-balanced class or a highly abusive one. As written there are no limits on the powers they can learn, other than what they encounter and kill. If you let a 4th level Gourmand eat a 20th level wizard, its your own fault, not your player's. Likewise, players, don't count on this being a way to build the ├╝ber-class of your dreams with the perfect selection of powers--its easy for a GM to curb your enthusiasm by not sending the encounters you would want. Personally I love the class because it lets the players be flexible and adds another level of player engagement and reward to combat encounters. Regardless, it should be fun to play.

So, without further ado, I present to you, for real this time, the Gourmand.

In the remote reaches of the world, hidden in swamps and underground enclaves, can be found schools of the Way of Gourmand. Here secluded master chefs teach their students to pursue one goal, the search for that which most pleases their tastes. Gourmands are paragons of gluttony, masters of a strange magic whose power is drawn from eating.

Adventures: A gourmand that does not adventure is indistinguishable from a master chef who samples his own cooking too often — vastly skilled and vastly corpulent. Many believe the world would be better off if all gourmands were of this ilk.
Gourmands adventure in pursuit of the Way of Gourmand. The Way, pursued almost religiously by its practitioners, teaches the gourmands that the purpose of life is the satisfaction of one’s appetites, especially the physical hunger of the body. The Way also teaches that for each person there is somewhere a thing that will truly fulfill those appetites, and thus encourages the gourmands to travel and try every edible substance they come across. Further, the Way teaches that by fulfilling one’s appetites, one grows in knowledge and power.
Thus gourmands adventure to eat. Unfortunately for their enemies, for a gourmand, nearly everything is considered edible — most especially their defeated foes.

Characteristics: Gourmands have a reputation as savage combatants, often wielding large spears or tridents reminiscent of forks in battle and viciously biting at their enemies. Gourmands adhere to a belief that by eating their fallen foes they gain their knowledge, experience, and power, and as such, a gourmand almost never takes prisoners. As they draw on the powers of the creatures and enemies they defeat, each gourmand develops a unique understanding of the Way and unique combinations of abilities and tactics.

Alignment: The Way of Gourmand encourages its followers to pursue their appetites and desires foremost, leading the majority of gourmands to have an “I do what I want,” attitude. As such, almost all gourmands are chaotic, or at best neutral, in alignment. However, this simply reflects the norm, rather than any rule of the Way. A gourmand with a hunger for justice and taste for order is free to pursue a lawful alignment, though he may chafe under the law’s restrictions on his choice of meals.

Background: Gourmands can come from any walk of life, though most come from circumstances where they have ample opportunity to experience new foods. Despite their savage combat tactics, many gourmands come from metropolitan areas, where they grow up exposed to foods from a variety of cultures and develop a desire to try more and more. Many gourmands are drawn to the study of the Way from work in more traditional food service, such as bakers, chefs, or vintners.
Removed from civilization, many barbaric cultures keep long traditions of gourmands in their ranks, with even warriors not entirely steeped in the Way eating the heart of a kill for strength.

Races: While rare among the so-called civilized humanoid races, the Way of Gourmand does have its adherents. Numerous halflings, with their love of food of all kinds, follow the path of the gourmand. Half-orcs also find the monstrous tactics of the gourmand appealing. Elves and half-elves almost never become gourmands, their tastes being too refined to delve into the eating of flesh, and few gnomes can get past the smell. Gourmands find greater acceptance among more monstrous races, for whom eating sentient creatures is commonplace, particularly among lizardfolk, who eat “softskins” indiscriminately, and illithids, who uphold the gourmands as savants of the brain-eating arts.

Other Classes: Gourmands get along best with those classes that share their somewhat savage tendencies or which also seek to use the talents of various creatures against them, particularly barbarians. They also get along reasonably well with druids and rangers, so long as they are selective in their hunting, as well as more open-minded wizards who respect their inquisitiveness.
Gourmands do not get along well with those who keep to more traditional moral codes, paladins in particular have no love of their at best gluttonous ways and at worst open cannibalism. Likewise, bards, courtiers, nobles, and others with refined tastes seldom desire to keep company with the ravenous gourmands — save on those occasions when a gourmand can be pulled away from pursuit of the way and diverted to more traditional culinary delights.

Game Rule Information:
Gourmands have the following game statistics.
Alignment: Any.
Hit Die: d8.
Base Attack Bonus: Average (as cleric).
Base Fortitude Saves: Good.
Base Reflex Saves: Poor.
Base Will Saves: Poor.
Starting Wealth: 4d4 x10gp
Starting Age: Self-taught.

Level Special
1 Bite (1d6), Epicurean, Gourmand’s Gluttony
2 Consume, Acquire Skill
3 Acquire Feat
4 Acquire Class Feature
5 Acquire Skill
6 Acquire Feat
7 Acquire Special Quality
8 Bite (1d8), Acquire Skill, Acquire Class Feature
9 Swallow Whole, Acquire Feat
10 Acquire Special Quality
11 Acquire Skill
12 Acquire Feat, Acquire Class Feature
13 Acquire Special Quality
14 Acquire Skill
15 Acquire Feat
16 Bite (2d6), Acquire Class Feature, Acquire Special Quality
17 Acquire Skill
18 Acquire Feat
19 Acquire Special Quality
20 Acquire Skill, Acquire Class Feature

Class Skills:
A gourmand’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are: Appraise (Int), Craft (Int), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Survival (Wis).
Skill Points per Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Class Features:
The following are class features of the gourmand.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Gourmands are proficient with all simple weapons and tridents, and with light and medium armor, and shields (not including tower shields).

Bite (Ex): At 1st level, a gourmand gains a bite attack as a primary natural weapon. This bite attack deals 1d6 + your Str modifier damage (if Medium sized) and threatens a critical hit on a 20. If you attack with a weapon in a round, you can also make a bite attack as part of a full-attack action.

The damage from your bite attack increases by 1 die type at 8th level and again at 16th level. For a medium-sized creature, these increases are to 1d8 at 8th level and 2d6 at 16th.

Epicurean (Ex): At 1st level, the gourmand gains a +4 competence bonus on all Craft (cooking) skill checks and on Perception (taste) checks, due to her broad palate and appreciation for cuisine.

Gourmand’s Gluttony (Ex): Through regular gorging and general gluttony, all gourmands tend to be larger and stockier than most characters. At 1st level, the gourmand gains a permanent +2 bonus on Constitution and a -2 penalty on Dexterity at 1st level. In addition, her immense size grants her a +2 bonus on saving throws against ingested poisons and on all Intimidate skill checks.

Consume (Su): At 2nd level, a gourmand gains the ability to draw on the knowledge, experience, and powers of their defeated foes by consuming some portion of them. At 2nd level and each level thereafter, the gourmand can learn a limited number of specific abilities from his defeated enemies (see below). In order to gain any such abilities, the gourmand must have participated in the defeat of the target (have dealt at least 1 point of hit point or ability damage to the target) and must eat some portion of the target’s anatomy which the gourmand feel’s is representative of his foe’s power — typically the brain or heart. Using consume takes 1 hour to prepare and eat the fallen target.

On consuming a foe, the gourmand immediately becomes aware of all abilities that can be acquired through any of his unused acquire powers. If the gourmand has no available acquire abilities, he does not learn anything about his foe’s abilities.

In addition, the gourmand gains some small flash of additional insight into the creature’s existence. He gains one of the following pieces of information about the consumed creature. He can learn one piece of information, plus one per three gourmand levels after 2nd. The information is always gained in the indicated order, if a given piece is already known, then the gourmand skips to the next.
1. Creature’s race and type.
2. Creature’s name (if none, then skip).
3. Creature’s class (if none, then skip).
4. Creature’s most recent, basic goal (obtain food, carry out the orders of its superior, get some sleep, etc.).
5. Creature that this creature interacted with most recently (other than you).
6. Creature’s most valuable possession, if any.
7. Location of the creature’s home or lair, if any.
8. Creature’s dying thoughts.

Acquire Skill (Su): At 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter (2nd, 5th, 8th, and so on), the gourmand can acquire one skill known by a creature he has consumed, chosen at the time of consumption. He permanently gains all of the creature’s ranks in that skill (but not racial or ability score bonuses, or other skill modifiers) even if his new total is more ranks than the gourmand’s current character level would normally allow. This skill becomes a class skill for the character’s gourmand class, and he may buy more ranks in the skill if the new ranks do not cause him to exceed his maximum ranks in the skill.

This ability can be used once each time it is gained, and once a skill is acquired, it cannot be unlearned in favor of a new one. Thus, a 2nd level gourmand can only learn skills from a single kill, regardless of how many other defeated foes she may eat.

Acquire Feat (Su): At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter (3rd, 6th, 9th, and so on), the gourmand permanently acquires one of the feats of a consumed creature, provided he meets that feat’s prerequisites (excluding racial prerequisites).

This ability can be used once each time it is gained, and once a feat is acquired, it cannot be unlearned in favor of a new one.

Acquire Class Feature (Su): At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter (4th, 8th, 12th, and so on), the gourmand permanently gains one class feature of a consumed creature, as a character of that creature’s level in that class.

If the former character was a spellcaster, the gourmand may select spellcasting as the acquired class feature. The gourmand able to cast one spell of each level available to the character (if the victim was a wizard, the gourmand must still consult a spellbook or learn from scrolls), as well as any bonus spells provided by the gourmand’s ability scores (using the casting stat of the consumed target's class). These spells are cast at the consumed creature's caster level, and that caster level does not increase with the gourmand's level. If the gourmand already has spellcasting levels, these spells are in addition to those granted by the gourmand’s spellcasting class levels.

This ability can be used once each time it is gained, and once an ability is acquired, it cannot be unlearned in favor of a new one.

Acquire Special Quality (Su): At 7th level and every 3 levels thereafter (7th, 10th, 13th, and so on), the gourmand permanently gains one special attack or special quality of a consumed creature. The chosen ability must not rely on a physical feature of the consumed creature not possessed by the gourmand (such as wings, additional limbs, poisonous fangs, a tail, or the like). If the ability allows a saving throw, the gourmand uses his own ability score modifier to determine the DC.

This ability can be used once each time it is gained, and once an ability is acquired, it cannot be unlearned in favor of a new one.

Swallow Whole (Ex): At 9th level, a gourmand becomes able to unhinge his jaw, swallowing creatures up to one size category smaller than himself. If the gourmand grapples an opponent at least one size smaller than himself, and begins his turn with the opponent grappled, he can attempt a new Combat Maneuver check to swallow your opponent. You can hold a single creature one size smaller than you in your gullet at a time, four creatures two sizes smaller than your, up to sixteen creatures three sizes smaller, and so on.

A swallowed opponent is considered grappled (you are not) and takes double normal bite damage automatically every round. A swallowed creature can try to cut its way free by using any light slashing or piercing weapon to deal 2 points of damage per gourmand level, or it can attempt to escape the grapple normally. The interior of a gourmand has an AC of 10 + the gourmand’s class level, with no modifiers for Dexterity, armor, or magic items. If the swallowed creature escapes the grapple, it crawls out through your mouth, taking automatic bite damage and depositing it in an adjacent space. A creature that dies from being swallowed whole is considered automatically consumed, as a free action, on the round that it dies.