When a character eats the corpse of a monster, what side-effects await him? Will poison or magical effect make the attempt more trouble than it’s worth? Or, might he gain some strange and wonderful power?
Below are effects for several iconic monsters in D&D fourth edition. You are encouraged to invent your own. I’ll try and post a third edition conversion of this article on Friday if there’s interest.
As a general rule, monsters must be eaten promptly when slain to have any effect. Preserved corpses (frozen, pickled, etc) may provide nutrition, but lose their special efficacy when stored. A Medium creature provides enough vital body parts to feed two characters, plus one for every size class above Medium.
Orc or gnoll
According to the human barbarians tribes of the cold north, eating the liver of savage humanoids is a way to gain their courage. However, it’s not without risks.
Risk: Character risks acquiring blood parasites. Treat the parasites as a disease. (Savage Bloodflukes, level 8 disease. Attack: +11 vs Fortitude. Endurance: improve DC 25, maintain DC 21, worsen DC 20 or lower. Initial effect: Target suffers -1 to all attacks and gains +1 to damage with melee weapons. Worsens: Target’s powers treat all allies as enemies, and target automatically makes opportunity attacks against allies. Final state: target loses free will, enters a frenzy and fights until slain.)
Effect: The next time the target spends an action point in battle, he may use a healing surge.
Dragon meat is tough to eat and difficult to prepare. Cooking red dragon meat is impossible without magical fire.
Risk: Dragon flesh is toxic. Roll an attack with the bonus of the Dragon’s breath weapon vs the character’s Fortitude. On failure, character takes 1d6 poison damage for every four levels the dragon has (minimum 1d6).
Effect: Gain energy resistance to the dragon’s breath weapon type, equivalent to half the dragon’s level. The effect lasts until the character takes a full rest.
Ghosts leave behind a small amount of residual ectoplasm which can be swallowed. It otherwise evaporates after a minute, and cannot be stored as a potion.
Risk: One of the character’s ‘s hands comes to life and begins to attack with any weapon it can grasp. The hand has the same AC and defences as the character, and 10% of the character’s hit points. Any damage dealt to the hand is also dealt to the character. The hand ceases on its own after two minutes or twenty combat rounds.
Effect: The next attack you make against an incorporeal creature ignores the target’s incorporeal nature. This benefit wears off if not used within five days.
The bones of an undead bone creature, such as a skeleton, skull lord or dracolich, can be ground to dust and swallowed in a mixture with holy water.
Risk: The character loses a healing surge.
Effect: The character gains resist 5 necrotic until he takes a full rest.
Dwarven legends speak of a hero who gained his strength by eating the hearts of slain hill giants.
Risk: The amount of the heart which much be eaten in one sitting to gain the benefit is immense. Make an attack against the character versus Fortitude, with the bonus of the giant’s basic melee attack. On a hit, the character vomits, loses a healing surge and gains no benefit. Otherwise, the character gains the benefit.
Effect: The character adds +2 damage to his next melee attack, and a +2 bonus to all Strength based skills until he takes a full rest.
The blood of this creature is tainted with residue of antimagic. Its effect on human physiology is potent.
Risk: The character’s eyes become bloodshot, clouding his vision. He suffers -2 to all melee and ranged attacks until the next time he expends a healing surge. Repeated consumption of beholder blood can cause unpredictable mutations and is considered dangerous.
Effect: As long as the character has not expended a healing surge since drinking beholder blood, he can use Evil Eye as an encounter power. (Evil Eye: minor; encounter. Psychic keyword. Ranged 10; Int vs Will; target is dazed until the end of the character’s next turn.) Character cannot use use Evil Eye again without drinking fresh beholder blood.
Mind flayer, githzerai or githyanki
According to certain lorekeepers among the githyanki, their race first gained power by eating the brain of the mind flayers who once kept the gith as slaves. The githyanki, however, hold this as heresy.
Risk: You project an uncontrolled psychic aura, which lasts until the next time you level up. Any creature within 10 squares with an attack with the Psychic keyword gains a +10 bonus to Perception and Intuition regarding you.
Effect: At any time while you project the uncontrolled aura, you may, once only, add +2 attack and damage to one Intelligence-based attack. Alternatively, one creature you successfully hit with any attack is dazed until the end of your next turn. You may only use this once.
Spider or poisonous insect
Eating the venom-producing gland of a giant spider is dangerous, but is guaranteed to work as a potent antivenom.
Risk: You suffer the effect of one of the creature’s attacks with the Poison keyword. Make an attack roll as normal, except versus Fortitude.
Effect: You gain a +2 bonus to saving throws against poison effects until you take a full rest.
Elemental creature (fire)
Elemental fire creatures include hell hounds, efreeti and magma hurlers.
Risk: Character takes 10 fire damage.
Effect: Character gains +5 to Endurance checks against heat effects (such as moving in a desert) until he makes a full rest.