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Sugar, Spice, and Everything Fights - Gourmet Golems & Animated Food Encounter for D&D 5e - Banner

Food and dessert constructs encounter for parties of 2nd-level or higher, with stat blocks for use in D&D 5e.

Despite the prestige of graduating, alumni of wizard schools often meet the difficult hurdle of finding gainful employment. So when Stephania Osew was met by a most serendipitous job offer bearing the name of a known noble family, she leaped at the opportunity. But the job was far from what was advertised. As it turns out, Zachary and Mara Ruanno are not the scions of the Ruanno family in search of a court wizard, but rather a distantly related couple who had sought a desperate graduate for their newest business venture.

Stephania has worked for the Ruannos for several months now, not as an advisor or spellcaster, but as a chef in the Magic Bean, the couple’s up-and-coming cafe in the town’s most gentrified neighborhood. Each day of work and each snobbish word from her employers has eroded Stephania’s sanity. She could no longer abide hearing the words ‘truly magical meals’, ‘enchantingly edible’, and ‘it’s a brew-tiful morning’ repeated to every customer, day after day. She had to do something.

The Ruannos are currently hiring adventurers to deal with the ‘unfortunate results of a business snafu’. This saccharin wording is, in fact, their way of saying that Stephania has used her considerable magical ability to animate the cafe’s food into defensive constructs and has taken complete control of the Magic Bean. Stephania’s magic has proven too much for the town guard, who have cordoned off the cafe as they try, and fail, to negotiate. 

The couple would like this situation to be rectified and their place of business returned to them. As one might expect, they offer an insultingly low sum of gold for the task and their faces twist at the very idea of haggling. Fortunately, neighboring business owners are more than aware of the couple. They are willing to add to the reward to ensure that the constructs do not damage their properties. Should a party accept, they are asked to destroy every construct they find, restrain or incapacitate Stephania, and deliver her to the guards outside.

The Magic Bean

The idyllic outside seating leads you to the main door, which rings a bell as it eases open. The building’s interior seems peaceful, though this is betrayed by smears of food and shards of broken kitchenware that litter many of the surfaces. A breeze whistles through the open doorway and through the eery emptiness. Its sitting areas remain largely untouched, with both a line of comfortable armchairs and several wooden tables for groups. The corner opposite the door, meanwhile, is dedicated to the front counter and displays of food, primarily cakes and other baked goods, though many of the dishes are empty. A door stands ajar behind the counter, the stone oven of a kitchen visible beyond and the smell of brewing teas and coffee drifting out.

The Magic Bean is a cafe in a section of town that has seen a sudden boom in popularity and development. The property was snapped up by Zachary and Mara Ruanno, a couple with more money than sense and more ambition than experience. The couple used their money and their name, being the distant relatives of a prominent noble family, to accelerate the cafe’s success beyond its competitors. They hired employees under similarly false auspices. One of these was Stephania Osew, who the couple targeted not just for her eagerness to work but also because, in their own words, “A wizard chef for the Magic Bean? It’s meant to be!”

The cafe itself is standard fare, though well decorated and pleasantly positioned in the town. It features ample seating and sells all manner of foods, desserts, and drinks. Perhaps its greatest fault is its owners, who insist on maintaining sickly sweet personas that only thinly veil the couple’s ego. This has grown worse since Stephania’s hiring, as the Ruannos swiftly pivoted to advertising their new chef’s magic education as the cafe’s central driving gimmick. Thus spawned all manner of greetings, catchphrases, and dish names dripping with poorly constructed wordplay and references to commonly known magical terms. Fortunately, Stephania lashed out before the gimmick could be extended to the cafe’s decor.

Lighting and ceilings. The Magic Bean’s ceilings all arch to 20 feet high, with thick rafters at a height of 10 feet. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling and lanterns are affixed to the walls, filling all the rooms with bright light. During the day, additional light pours in through the many tall windows in the cafe’s main room. 

Rooms. The cafe has a verandah of outside seating that connects it to the street. This opens into the main room, which features the interior seating, front counter, and food displays. The door behind the counter leads into the kitchen, where a further door opens into the sizable pantry. A final door leads out the back of the building from the pantry.

Shared frustrations. Several of Stephania’s fellow workers observe the situation from beyond the barricade around the Magic Bean. If questioned, they express sympathy and even gratitude towards Stephania, making little effort to hide their disdain for the Ruannos and telling of instances in which Stephania looked out for the other employees. One mentions the lack of injuries inflicted by the constructs and that the workers were also driven out, saying that Stephania was making sure that they were safe, even during her rampage. They implore the party to see their side and help Stephania, rather than simply going along with what the Ruannos would pay them to do.

Map & Asset Downloads

The Magic Bean is based on the building featured in our ‘Food Assets Pack’ but can be changed to fit almost any building map you wish to use or construct. We even have all the assets you would need to create your own cafe…

Stephania Osew

(CG female halfling mage)

A young halfling woman sits with an expression of resigned frustration. The white dust of flour and smears of colorful icing stain her clothing and pastel pink apron that were assuredly once neat, though have now been disheveled by an arduous few days. She releases a long, groaning sigh, drawing both hands through her frazzled hair and leaving it just as vibrantly sullied as her clothing.

Only several months ago, Stephania Osew was a hopeful graduate from a renowned school of magic. She was eager to enter the working world and show what she had learned, but was met by manipulatively cheerful employers who took advantage of her willingness. Stephania’s time working in the couple’s cafe has broken her. Her frustration with the Ruanno’s deception and the vicious difference between the mask they showed patrons and their treatment of their workers only grew. Stephania knew that none of the other employees could do anything, so she had to be the one to act.

As it turns out, the semester that Stephania spent studying golemancy provided more than just necessary credit. She enchanted constructs formed of the most easily available and poetically ironic resource in the cafe: the food. These meal-based minions drove out customers and workers alike, barricading themselves and Stephania within the cafe. She has been there for over a day, doing little but eating and contemplating the decisions that led to this point.

Stephania is not unreasonable, but simply frustrated and defeated. Her optimism has been diminished by her situation and she would be happy to have a way out; ideally, one that does not end with her imprisoned or badly injured. She has no wish to fight the characters. And should she be provided with a convincing answer to her woes, then her final, fleeting spark of hope may just compel her to take the chance.

Culinary Constructs

Stephania fused the food of the Magic Bean into a small legion of constructs, animating some and binding others in forms resembling oozes, golems, and even mimics. These minions now protect Stephania and the cafe from anyone that might attempt to enter the building. Unfortunately, their creation was hasty, impulsive, and fueled by distilled irritation. They do not attack Stephania, yet their master has no direct control over them and cannot dispel the magic animating them. The constructs must be destroyed.

Camouflaged constructs. The constructs that are able to disguise themselves through the False Appearance ability are hiding when the characters first enter the Magic Bean. Some are in inconspicuous locations, such as on plates or tables, while others are more obvious. The other creatures are sitting dormant, wandering around the cafe, or similarly hiding in wait for trespassers.

Flying Food

CR 1/8

The food drifts through the air, bobbing gently like a puppet on imperceptible strings. It drifts listlessly at first before twitching and turning, seeming to fixate on your position with unnerving certainty.

The simplest of the constructs are small items of food such as sandwiches, muffins, and the like, animated with the same magic as a flying sword or animated armor. This animated food is unthreatening on its own but most often comes as a side dish to its larger contemporaries, pestering targets with small strikes between attacks from the other constructs.

Coffee Jelly

CR 1

A puddle of mixed amber and brown wiggles and slides across the ground. Its shapeless body is a mixture of liquid and darker-colored gelatinous cubes that jiggle and rearrange as it moves. The strange creature judders every few seconds, shivering with building energy and giving off the unmistakable aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

A recent addition to the cafe is something known as ‘coffee jelly’, a variation on the eponymous beverage that is said to be popular in a distant land. The Ruannos heard mention of this jelly and quickly incorporated their third-hand understanding of it into the cafe’s menu. And with a name such as that, how could Stephania resist animating it as a form of highly caffeinated ooze?

The coffee jelly, much like its more edible original form, is able to incite a period of enhanced energy. Unlike its base food, however, this energy applies only to the jelly itself. It must also maintain the effect or risk being left vulnerable by the withdrawals that follow.

The coffee jelly’s Caffeinate ability is very similar to the haste spell but with two key differences. The first is that, rather than concentrating on a spell, the jelly must choose to maintain its caffeinated state each turn. If it is stunned or otherwise unable to use its bonus action, the caffeine withdrawals stun the jelly until the start of its next turn. This counterbalances the coffee jelly’s speed and strength with a potent weakness, should the characters discover it.

Meal Mimic

CR 1

The food unravels in a single, smooth motion. Misaligned rows of sharp fangs extend from its surface and pierce into you as it snaps closed again, wrapping onto you with a vice grip.

“Let’s see how you like it when your food eats you.” This stray thought entered Stephania’s exhausted mind near the end of her golemancy rampage, inadvertently giving rise to the meal mimic. The meal mimic is curiously similar to a mimic, with the ability to flawlessly disguise itself as the food it was created from and an almost mindless need to attack, adhere to, and eat anyone that touches it. The driving thought behind its creation also granted the mimic the ability to consume inanimate matter, such as other food, objects, or even the bodies of its victims, in order to nourish and heal itself. And while it may seem very similar to flying food on the surface, its enemies are sure to quickly learn the difference made by a set of razor-sharp teeth.

Gourmet Golem

CR 3

Breads, meats, and confections are all fused in the malformed approximation of a man. Its immense body moves with effortless strength, the various foods shifting like powerful muscles to support its weight and the clear malice of its construction overpowering the inherently bizarre nature of its form.

It was only natural that Stephania attempted to make the biggest, toughest construct she could. She combined all manner of snacks and meals into the hulking gourmet golem, a brutish enforcer and the main course of her domination of the Magic Bean. Of Miss Osew’s constructs, the gourmet golem most closely resembles other traditional golems, though with its own set of themed abilities.

The gourmet golem is, to put it bluntly, delicious. Even the smell of the food comprising its body is so enchantingly enticing that it can magically charm creatures that catch its scent, luring them closer. The golem can temporarily expand the radius of this smell which, combined with its physical strength and durability, makes it a potent and distracting threat for any close-range combatants.

Confectionery Construct

CR 5

A humanoid form of assembled cakes, pastries, and other sugary desserts squelches forward lethargically. Its body drips with brightly colored icing and custard, while denser biscuits and sections of crust are arranged as reinforcing plates across its torso and limbs. The saccharin smell is noticeable even from a distance, filling your nose with sugar as the creature approaches.

Cakes, biscuits, pastries; many of the cafe’s foods were baked with enough sugar to cause arrhythmia in even the strongest hearts. To Stephania, these were a perfect representation of the Ruannos’ venomous sweetness. So she combined them into the fearsome confectionery construct, a golem with the ability to drain its target’s energy to accelerate itself. The construct is Stephania’s most powerful creation and its enemies should be sure to not underestimate it simply for its bright, soft, and delicious appearance.

Balancing the Culinary Constructs

Aside from including a diverse selection of creatures and an appropriate Challenge Rating for your party’s level, there is little to consider when choosing constructs to include in the encounter in the Magic Bean. The lack of a single focal creature means that you do not have to include a confectionery construct or gourmet golem if they would inflate the CR beyond the characters’ capabilities. If you still wish to include them, the usual advice applies: spread the creatures further apart in the cafe so that the party can fight them in smaller groups. This allows you to include a larger total number of creatures while minimizing the risk of the party becoming overwhelmed. Even if the noise of a fight attracts constructs from other rooms, the characters still have space to move and think without being attacked by everything all at once.

Another option is to include Stephania herself in the most dangerous of the fights. She might be taking cover in the same room as the strongest of the creatures, where the battle’s CR would be considered deadly for the party. Stephania could be convinced, through successful skill checks, to actively aid the characters. Her assistance could then be the defining factor that turns the tide of the fight. Just be sure, should you do this, that the party can still succeed without Stephania’s help, even if it requires them to be more careful.

Here are some examples of construct groups you might use to achieve different CR values for each battle within the encounter:

CR 1 1/2: 1 coffee jelly or 1 meal mimic, 4 flying foods.

CR 3 1/2: 1 gourmet golem, 4 flying foods.

CR 5 1/2: 1 gourmet golem, 1 meal mimic, 1 coffee jelly, 4 flying foods.

CR 9: 1 confectionery construct, 1 meal mimic, 2 coffee jellies, 8 flying foods.

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About the author

Troy McConnell

Part-time DM and author of 2-Minute Tabletop's encounters, map lore, and characters. Basically, I write about all the campaign ideas that I don't have time to run. All with the assistance of my feline familiar, Wink.

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  1. You couldn't possibly have had better timing. My players just got into a city and joined the adventurer's guild, and I was able to seamlessly add this as their first in-town quest. It was perfect, goofy, and a ton of fun. Thank you for sharing!!

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