Other Worlds Than These - The Suffocake
“Hey guys, let’s start a fresh game!”
“Sure, what are we doing about character creation?”
“Whatever you feel like? I’m an easygoing DM!”
“Okay. What’s the setting going to be like?”
And that’s where most of us hit our first roadblock. You’ve got a starting town with a tavern. Some wooded trails in a temperate climate. A cave here. A keep there. Or maybe you’ve got a half-way decent premise set up. Hopefully you took some pride in your work and spent some time on a really killer session zero and opening story arc. Maybe all of your character’s background stories fit together neatly and there’s a clear and motivational reason they band together and start adventuring. Unfortunately, at some point you’re going to hit a wall, and the extent of your original high fantasy setting is at risk for becoming sparse and uninteresting.
In an effort to help you avoid this, I’m going to offer up a few different pieces of lore that I have used and will continue to use with great success in my own personal home game, which has been running for over two years now. Feel free to adapt these submissions as you see fit or knock them off directly. They’re there to help you make your games more fun for you and your players.
For my seminal entry, I’ll start simple, with a personal favorite.
The suffocake is a cursed object. It is, for all intents and purposes, a skillfully made and beautifully decorated chocolate cake. The as-yet-unclear properties of the suffocake have prevented anyone from figuring out exactly where they come from or how they end up where they always seem to be found – where it’s easy for unsuspecting humanoids to find them.
What’s even more disturbing is the fact that somewhere out there, somebody is making these things and sending them out into the world for some unknown purpose. If you wanted your players to dive into that element of the suffocake, the psychotic cursed baker responsible for these things could be a truly terrifying villain.
Regardless of how you choose to flavor the origin story of the suffocake, their function remains the same. Any creature within 30 FT that can see the suffocake must make a DC 15 wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is compelled to approach the suffocake and bury its face into the cake with the intention of consuming it. The suffocake, being a cursed item, cannot successfully be consumed. If the creature is not restrained by others, making contested strength checks, it must succeed one of three successive wisdom saving throws, which increase in difficulty by 1 each time. If the creature fails all three saves, the creature suffocates and its HP drops to zero. At such a time, the Suffocake’s curse expires and it becomes a mundane, harmless ruin of a freshly baked chocolate cake.
A successfully suffocated creature may, at the DM’s discretion, begin making death saves, or expire outright in the case of a commoner or other weak NPC. Characters examining a creature killed by a suffocake will find that its stomach, lungs, and esophagus are full of cake.
A creature who passes the saving throw and breaks the enthralling grip of the suffocake is aware of what has just happened, and will likely be compelled to destroy the cake. Doing so breaks the curse and renders the cake harmless.
Regarding how you use this thing? That depends on you. It can be anything from an occasional humor hook – my players encounter one of these every three or four sessions, and nothing but comedy ever comes from it – or an entire story arc ending in the sacking of the foul baker. Either way, you’ll get anywhere from five minutes to several hours of game play out of this, and your players will revere you as a mad genius. The utilization of such a profane facsimile of a beautiful and pure thing is ultimately up to you.