This installment of the Letters from the Flaming Crab series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 3/4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 8 1/4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
As in the first installment, we begin with a missive from captain Kelly Shell, captain of the planes- and worlds-jumping eponymous Flaming Crab, conveniently translated and compiled for us by J Gray. This page also consolidates Craft (cooking) and Craft (baking) into Craft (culinary), which is a sensible step.
So, how does culinary magic work? Well, each dish has a name, a difficulty for Craft (culinary) to make the dish, a description, list of ingredients, how many servings the dish yields, how long it takes to make the dish, actual directions for making the dish…and, obviously, magical benefits for consuming the dish. It should be noted that the cost for the dishes has been left open – since e.g. availability of owlbear eggs etc. fluctuates widely. While this does leave quite a bit of control in the hands of the GM, it ultimately does feel like a bit of a cop-out: At least a guideline for pricing (perhaps akin to how 5e classifies its items by scarcity?) would imho have been appreciated.
Now here is a cool benefit for all of us who are inclined to actually try recipes from books like this – one can actually create these dishes – sure, IRL I don’t have manticore meat for the respective chilli – but I can substitute other meat for it! The relatively detailed step-by-step cooking directions make this component rather interesting, particularly if you’re like me and enjoy making food. Benefits-wise, we can find coin-like cookies that enhance one’s Appraise-checks, tacos that provide temporary hit points or fire resistance providing curry – though that requires a Fort-save to consume. Also irl. Why? It includes a naga jolokia – a ghost pepper, one of the hottest ingredients known to man. As a dedicated chilli head, I urge caution in this one regard – ghost peppers are ONLY for the dedicated chilli head, so if habaneros already pose an insurmountable obstacle for you, I’d suggest confining this recipe to the realm f fantasy alone…however, if you are like me and LOVE the really brutal heat…well, then this one can be pretty awesome!
Polymorph-duration enhancing sandwiches, black-eyed peas that grant you low-light vision and darkvision, Diplomacy-enhancing herb twists – I really, really enjoyed these recipes – not only for their benefits, but also due to their quality of breaking down the line between in- and out-game.
This is not where the pdf ends, though -a total of 9 traits provide connoisseur-options for the core races, longer duration from magical food or better Craft (culinary) – and yes, they get bonus type/trait-class right. 4 feats provide means to get more magical recipes, more servings and even ingredient substitution.
The pdf also sports mundane items – from the armored apron that nets you DR 2/slashing and fire resistance 2 (and may be a bit too inexpensive) to batter mixes, frying pans or hand juicers, these are generally cool. 4 magic items further complement this book, including declouding whisks, vessels that grant resistances to the consumer based on the food’s temperature, breadboards that can generate food…pretty cool. The pdf also sports the culinary weapon property that enhances cooking and reduces prep time.
Finally, the pdf offers two archetypes – the kitchen witch gets a special athame that provides spells (but unlike a familiar can’t learn new ones apart from leveling). To make up for his shortcoming, the athame increases autonomously in power and the kitchen witch receives 4 more hexes chosen from a list. Finally, at 4th level, the kitchen witch gets a unique and cool ability – they can bake hexes into their food, which allows them to either affect targets or share the hex’s effects with allies. This can be used 3+ athame’s enhancement bonus+ Int-mod times per day and allows you to grant some otherwise less useful hexes to allies…or royally screw over any adversaries you tricked into eating your food. And guess what? I really like this archetype. It does something unique. Kudos!
The second one would be the Performing Chef bard, who gets Culinary Magic as a bonus feat, diminished spellcasting and an appropriately modified proficiency list. Instead of some of the classic performances, the archetype gains a nauseating performance, TWF-ing and an attack that adds Intimidate to his assault…and they use Perform (culinary) instead of Craft (culinary) while also being capable of quickly storing and drawing items. Once again, a fun archetype.
Editing and formatting are top-notch this time around – I noticed no hiccups or issues. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games’ 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has some nice interior artworks in B/w. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
J Gray, David S McCrae, Angel “ARMR” Miranda -congratulations! Why? Because this humble little pdf is imho all killer, no filler. Get it? Filler? Culinary…All right, I’ll hit myself for that one later. But for now: This is a surprisingly well-crafted, humble and inspiring pdf – the recipes are neat and work IRL and are appropriate for just about every table – from the gritty to the fantastic, one could make a point that these could even make sense in a no-magic setting. Yeah, that *is* pretty awesome. The supplemental material provides similarly is rather tight – from the neat traits to the items and archetypes, there is not much to complain about. Scratch that – I actually have no viable gripes, only criticism on the level of “okay, I would have done this slightly different, but it works this way and conforms to the requirements of concise rules-language.”
In short – after the already very promising first letter, this one knocks the ball right out of the park – culinary magic herein is balanced fun, and can actually provide some different snacks for you and your group, irl. What more to ask? Well…I, for one…want seconds! The concise presentation and balanced archetypes provide a great addition and make sure that this pdf will leave you wanting more. Fun, unique and flavorful, this is a great example for a 5 star + seal of approval pdf.