With this, our inaugural edition of Pudding Prompts, you’ll find several encounter hooks following the theme of “feast.” They might assume many different forms, but they’ll undoubtedly serve any game master in need of options for encounters focused on eating or getting eaten.
The Crying Blossoms
It is said that if one can sit and enjoy a meal with the powerful Lady Morrin, an immortal mage of unknown caliber, then she’ll bestow upon you the answer to any single question. But to find her table is to travel to the center of the Eldeen Forest and most return from it completely mad, having either forgotten their answer or never reaching her table at all.
But in the few coherent moments of their fevered rambling, clear descriptions of the lady’s feast have been cobbled together: an immaculate table of gold, fruits with juices bordering on ecstasy, delicacies from civilizations that vanished hundreds of years ago. Some even claimed that Fae chained with iron served silver wine. It is a place of majesty, if one can only survive long enough to reach it.
No one can agree if the horrors of that forest are meant to be a prison for Lady Morrin or if they are made by her hand, but all know that The Eldeen Forest is a true labyrinth teeming with horrors. Some say its cherry blossoms weep endlessly with tears gathered from inconsolable mothers. The dirt beneath your feet moans in pain, three-eyed birds let fly your darkest secrets, and bright blue vines fill you with nightmares at the slightest touch.
The party know all this and choose to brave it anyway. For they have questions that no library or scholar has been able to answer. The Lady Morrin and her decadent feast guarded by a forest of tribulations awaits them…
The Drought of Fallglower
by Mike Ellis
When the party finally arrives in the town of Fallglower, gone are the trees aflame with the resplendent colors of fall, for which it is known. In their place is only drought and decay. Those who remain in the town—hope long since lost—tell the story of waking up one morning six months past to find all of the life and energy had drained from the land and crops. The nearby forests, normally abundant, were withered and barren.
All except for a faint little path through town, ringed with daisies and leading through the woods to a previously non-existent cavern. Those who followed the trail were never seen again.
When the party find themselves concerned with the plight of Fallglower they can delve into this mysterious cave at the end of the gilded path of flowers. Fighting their way through swathes of fey and plant monsters they will find at the end of the cave, a manmade door with a knocker shaped like the face of a Boggle. Upon opening the door, the party see a banquet hall, a massive table on which sits a lush bouquet of flavors: sweets, meats, and everything between; all vibrantly delicious in sight and smell.
As is often the case with mystical doors that defy all logic and promise rewards far too desirous to be true, it’s of course a trap. But the solution to Fallgower’s plight rests within. The door snaps closed behind the party, and upon the place settings, they are notified that the key to both the door and Fallglower’s downfall lie somewhere within the buffet, and they must eat themselves exhausted to find it.
by C.T. Kinkaid
It started with a nibble, the tentative bite of a bored noble. Her teeth gripped the protruding piece of flesh — the blemish that marred her manicured hand — and tore the hangnail free. A rivulet of blood drained from the Marchioness’ throbbing thumb, and her tongue was quick to lap it up. The sting of painted pigment and natural copper wasn’t to be savored, but a hunger had awakened within Emilie Concasser and demanded to be sated.
When Duc Henri Dariole arrived in his betrothed’s bedchamber, the Marchioness peeled back the duvet and the silken sheets to welcome him. The Duc did not notice the glistening ivory of her fingers, too transfixed by how Emilie’s mouth worked down her arm. Her eyes, urgent and yearning, caught his a moment before her hands did. Raw bone, stripped clean, ensnared his jowls and drew him near. His lips were gone before he could cry to his guards for help. Blood filled Henri’s mouth as his tongue left it. He gulped back fear and cruor in equal measure. Vital humor filled his stomach and curdled into something ravenous.
The chambermaid was accustomed to finding the royals entwined in the early hours of the morning. Sounds of moaning and slurping would have hardly given the stoic Matilda pause, had the stench not been so pungent. She had barely stepped foot in the room before she was retreating down the hall, calling upon the cleric.
The priest was well in his cups, his bald pate barely hovering over a half-painted manuscript, when the chambermaid barged into his study. Shaking him to his senses, she recounted the grisly scene within the Marchioness’ chambers. Wobbly yet unmoved, the clergyman dismissed the servant with a flailed wrist. “Find a questing party at the tavern — the adventurous sort, y’know,” he slurred. “Tell ‘em The Feasting Famine has set upon the court, an’ we’ll need the milk of The Shaggy Beast to clarify into a soup for the cursed. Tell ‘em we’ll pay the Duc’s weight in silver.”
And so it is that Matilda enters The Weeping Rose in search of the daring and courageous to take up this task. With the spoken promise of silver and the unspoken promise of fame, the party must journey to the River Huisne — prone, as it is, to flooding — to face the haired dragon, Le Velue. Even if they survive The Shaggy Beast’s serpent head, massive quills, striking tail, and breath of fire, will they be able to retrieve her life-saving elixir before The Feasting Famine consumes the Court of Marchioness Concasser?
One thing we set out to do with BLACKPUDDING was go beyond simply providing content. Instead, we wanted to offer resources that ultimately cut down on the barrier to entry for tabletop roleplaying games on both ends of the proverbial “table.”
We understand that this hobby of ours—while fantastic because it’s so unlike anything else—can seem daunting and inaccessible for that very same reason. Whether as a player, game master, or content creator, there are certainly elements of the hobby that feel like “barriers to entry” well before you even get to the table.
From a game master standpoint, one of the constant elements that prove a crippling challenge for a lot of new and even seasoned game masters can be the construction of encounters. It’s because of that, that one of our core tenets—if you will—is to invest in “prompts” or “hooks” for encounters. That’s why for our Halloween poisons and potions post, we didn’t just dump a bunch of items, but provided a potential encounter built around those very items. We didn’t build an entire encounter—because that wasn’t ultimately the goal—but walked you right up to that encounter, sometimes quite literally. Whether it’s having freed a ravenous demon from an ancient mystical prison, and swapped places, needing to escape, or walking up to the lair of a medusa, the encounters that could come from those situations are very palpable, easy to grasp.
All of this is a long winded way to explain the purpose of Pudding Prompts. It’s not a new concept, that of prompts and story hooks to feed encounters, but it is an important one, and one we believe in. So, while we’re committed to using prompts and story hooks as framing devices for content dumps, we also want to provide them standalone, and that is Pudding Prompts. Monthly editions of potential hooks based around a singular theme, that could jumpstart an encounter in just about any campaign.