The Taste Tester
published: Dec 5, 2016 | last modified: Jul 6, 2017
estimated reading time 9 minutes

A Compendium Class for Dungeon World

This is a compendium class created for submission to the contest sponsored by the Discern Realities podcast. It was inspired by the OSR days of the “unidentified potion” and, in a time of extreme need (or imminent death), swilling the potion to see if it improves the situation. Note, this compendium class is not just for magical potions. The moves may be used in diverse situations like cooking contests and wine tasting.

The Taste Tester allows a character to sample liquids in an attempt to determine the characteristics of the liquid. At a more advanced level, a move is available that provides the possibility of creating temporary potions and brews.

The context is restricted to liquids, and there may be side effects besides the ones specified in the moves — an example would be “tasting” molten metal in order to discern the ore ratios for the secret of steel — the character might succeed and achieve the key ingredients and ratios, but also might not have a tongue left as it is, after all, molten metal.

The trigger for the class is a bit unusual and meta. We have all either witnessed it, or done it. Some groups even look for opportunities to exploit this. Someone cracks a joke or makes an (in)appropriate comment at the perfect time and BANG! the victim chokes and spews liquid from his or her nose. It is both uncomfortable and hilarious at the same time; even the unfortunate individual usually — after the fact — agrees; and then vows vengeance.

Though the moves are named " … CHAMOMILE TEA," the GM is encouraged to change this to whatever liquid is desired. I suggest whatever came forth from the nose of the player/character to whom this compendium class is applicable.

The Taste Tester


If a player sitting around the table enjoying the evenings entertainment, or a character in game, shoots liquid from his or her nose because of an unfortunate joke or surprise, the player may take the following compendium class for his or her character. If the trigger occurs in the real world, the player and GM should together determine appropriate fictional circumstances to justify the character gaining this class.

As George was taking a big pull on his grog, Fred cracked a very funny and distasteful pun about an elf and a dwarf. George cursed and vowed a beating as he blew foam from his nostrils.

Sally the wizard (OK, a wizard’s apprentice) was actively scrying in her chamomile tea when the nasal explosion occurred. The scrying spell flopped, and for some reason, the energy of the spell dispersed into the huge nose of the rude dwarf at the next table. Oh well, no harm, no foul. “Check please!”

There are three moves associated with this compendium class:

The next time the character gains a level, they may choose IT SMELLS LIKE CHAMOMILE TEA or IT TASTES LIKE CHAMOMILE TEA (the choice should be based on the fiction):


One’s sense of smell is closely tied to one’s sense of taste. When you take a deep breath through your nose of an aroma, fumes, or vapors from a liquid you may attempt to identify it. Describe the look and smell of the source; roll +INT:

  • The alcohol level in an adult beverage, and the fact it has a poison in it.
  • You can discern the differences between a flying potion, a levitation potion, and a feather fall potion.
  • The stone soup had been simmering all day; after taking a deep inhalation you announced “It has absolutely no effects. None. Not even nutritional value.”
  • It only affects felines, but it affects them with the voracity of catnip.
  • It should only be imbibed under the full moon. It should last to the next full moon.
  • Never ingest it - only rub it on the area to be affected.

10+ - choose 2 from the list above
7-9 - choose 1 from the list above and 1 from the list below
6- - choose 2 from the list below

  • A change of hair color (I like plaid).
  • Growing a tusk or two.
  • Unable to speak any language but bumblebee.


One’s sense of taste is closely tied to one’s sense of smell. When you dip your finger into a liquid and place a small drop on your tongue you may attempt to identify it. Describe the look and taste of the source; roll +WIZ:

  • The secret ingredient in that recipe for Rhubarb jam.
  • The true part of the potion that provides the magical property.
  • “NO! I am not going to ‘sample the latrine’ to determine how many goblins we are following!”
  • Looking for that perfect missing ingredient to complete your winning entry for the chili feed contest.
  • Determine the right herbs to neutralize the rotting disease in the local well (yes, you have to taste the well water).
  • Find the correct ingredients for a slurry to draw the protective circle to keep the ghosts at bay — based on the slime they leave behind.
  • Determine which body of water or well the canteen was filled from.
  • The distillery this particular shot of whiskey came from, and whether it was the angels share or the devils cut.
  • Individual identification from a blood trail (a crude form of DNA identification).

10+ - choose 2 from the list above
7-9 - choose 1 from the list above and 1 from the list below
6- - choose 2 from the list below

  • An invisibility potion may cause you to flicker in and out, or your head is the only part that goes invisible.
  • A particularly fine brandy may result in bouts of uncontrollable laughter or crying, or you reek of alcohol, though you are not drunk.
  • Vampire blood may cause light sensitivity, or a garlic allergy.

If a character has both IT SMELLS LIKE CHAMOMILE TEA and IT TASTES LIKE CHAMOMILE TEA, he or she may both smell and taste the questionable liquid and make a single roll +CON, combining the tables of the above moves to choose from.


Once the character has acquired both IT SMELLS LIKE CHAMOMILE TEA and IT TASTES LIKE CHAMOMILE TEA, IT PROBABLY IS CHAMOMILE TEA becomes available for an advance.

You have tasted and smelled enough wonderful and horrific things that you are pretty sure you know what will make just about any individual in any situation retch with your brew or swoon with your ambrosia. Describe your approach; do you look at this process as a magical ritual, an alchemical experiment, or master chef preparation.

When you assemble an appropriate group of obvious, and not so obvious, ingredients with the purpose of creating a beverage, soup, or smoothy for a specific situation with specific results, you believe you can do it given an uninterrupted hour. Describe the ingredients and why you chose them; describe the desired effect(s) of the end result, and any limitations associated with it. Consult the lists of positive and negative modifiers below and roll +modifiers:

That would be a bit more difficult

This should make it a little easier

  • Through a straw.
  • Standing naked and waist deep in a freezing lake.
  • During a solar eclipse.

Remember, the limits are no more than +3 or less than -3 total.

  • A potion of fertility results in twins.
  • A potion of invisibility results in an invisible smell also.
  • The wine reacts with the wood of the cask and the result provides a balance to the bouquet that is never achieved on purpose.

10+ - choose 2 from the list above
7-9 - choose 1 from the list above and 1 from the list below
6- - choose 2 from the list below

tags:  compendium-class  dungeon-world 
categories:  geek