Welcome once again to the weekly Nerdarchy Newsletter. This week’s topic is food, which we discussed in our exclusive Patreon live chat. We hangout every Monday evening at 8 p.m. EST with Patreon supporters and talk about D&D, RPGs, gaming, life and whatever nerdy stuff comes up. You can get the Nerdarchy Newsletter delivered to your inbox each week, along with updates and info on how to game with Nerdarchy, by signing up here. The website for Nerdarchy the Convention is live! Our first annual event takes place Halloween weekend 2020 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. Halloween candy could be considered food, so there’s your bridge to the newsletter topic. As the site continues to grow we’ll be updating regularly with new guests, events and announcements up until it’s time to let the games commence. Discover more info about Nerdarchy the Convention here.
Delving Dave’s Dungeon
Food in Dungeons & Dragons — just imagines all the cuisines. In the real world you’ve got various cultures of the same species. In D&D worlds you’ve got all the varied human cultures, all the different races and then you can divide them up into different cultures for each race.
This creates an insane amount of possibilities. Then imagine going to a major metropolitan city where you might find gnome-orc fusions or authentic fire giant cuisine. Not only is there the possibility to come up with interesting foods and dishes, but also etiquette and customs around serving and dining on these delights. For example accepting food or drinks from the fey might leave you obligated to one of the fey courts.
Exotic herbs and spices could even be treasures for adventurers to find. Pepper from the elemental plane of fire or dried kelp from the elemental plane of water are a couple of examples. Or foods prepared by magical creatures might convey magical abilities to a mortal creature.
Menus make a great prop for the table. Imagine preparing them for taverns, inns and restaurants from establishments you think your characters visit often. This is fairly simple to do. What if the characters showed up and you’ve crossed out the favorite dish, because the cockatrice eggs supply has dried up. Maybe the characters offer to find out what has happened to the cockatrices in order to be able to get their grub on.
It’s amazing how often players will latch on to small details like the kind of food the tavern serves.
From Ted’s Head
There are lots of ways to combine tabletop roleplaying gaming and food. The staple at my gaming table like so many others has been pizza, but we have dabbled in other areas. Recently we were getting fried chicken but just what we eat while we game is not as much fun as seeing how they truly can mix.
Two things come to mind when I talk about combining the concepts of food and fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. One is to provide food and snacks themed with the adventure. Our friends over at RPG Crate currently have a Kickstarter for Recipe for Adventure. These adventure cards have encounters on one side and an actual recipe on the other. You can prepare the food before the game and then when you have completed the encounter you could eat the snack or meal the adventures just got the ingredient for in the game. This could be a normal thing for your group if you have someone who really enjoys cooking. I personally do not have a knack for it. I know how to follow a recipe but I have a bland palate. Ask any of my friends they will tell you. These leaves me with less options than my friends who really enjoy a variety of flavors. But you can get into the inner foodie by trying out new recipes and new food groups based on what you have as the adventure that night. You could experiment with new themes and new adventures. Ask yourself, what recipe or food would you make if you were fighting aberrations? Crab? Octopus? Would you be willing to go for bison steak if the party was fighting owlbears or would you use something else?
The other way of looking at it is to put the food in the actual game itself. When holiday adventures come around the idea of fighting the Gingerbread Gang or maybe a candy golem certainly increases in its likelihood. I was having a conversation with Jeremy from Erasmus Expedition and fellow Dawnbringer over on Mini Terrain Domain. He played a first edition D&D adventure with some crazy food monsters. There was your typical Cookie Monster but the real kicker was a Dough-ppleganger. Many monsters can easily be reskinned just describing them a different way but using the stat blocks we already have.
This method is a favorite of mine. Reskinning any oozes and jellies into soups and desserts can be fun. When you have an idea for something like a food monster look for something in the challenge rating range you are looking for and modify from there. Let’s say you are looking to have a food fight. Something crazy happened and the fruits are attacking. Cherries are Small so they could be goblins or kobolds while your apples could be any of the Medium sized monstrous humanoids like orcs or hobgoblins. Using the same thing a pineapple could be a lower CR golem designed to just crush its way through its enemies.
It is all in finding the similarities because you are open to doing something kind of ridiculous. But using this lesson to make people fight food helps teach us how to do these steps when we are just taking small leaps rather than a large one. You don’t need to make your players fight a vat of scalding hot soup to get through the adventure, but when you want something different you do not need to find a whole new stat block. We have loads of them already from all the great books already out and all the thid party stuff. You can use one of those and reskin it. You can change the description and occasionally have the monster do something not in the original stat block and there you go — a whole new monster for your world. I frequently modify on the fly this way.
Lastly while discussing the subject with my son — always a source of fresh ideas — he decided I should make a Monster Garlic Knot.
From the Nerditor’s desk
When it comes to food and fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons I’m all about it for a lot of reasons. If you think about your games I bet food comes up more than you think. The simplest examples are all the tavern stops adventurers make — often beginning their campaign within one.
Players love to ask what’s on the menu and Dungeon Masters get a kick out of coming up with fantasy menus. Food is relatable. Our RPG characters need to eat just like we do, for the most part anyway. There’s tons of fantasy menu generators and resources out there, and having a few ideas in your back pocket ready to go when characters ask what food and drink they can order helps make the world more immersive.
What I most love about food in 5E D&D though is all the amazing crossover opportunities between monsters and cuisine along with chances to engage characters. Off the top of my head the following food related D&D creatures and scenarios appeared in my games:
- Booze Ooze
- Bulette Mignon
- Catoblepas Death Cheese
- Chocolate Doppelgangers
- Gibbering Mouther Stew
- Flail Snail Escargot
- Abyssal Chickie Nuggies
- Marshmallow Golem
- Spicy Fire Newts
- Pizza Skull
- Ale Drake
- Mushroom…everything (Circle of Spores druid)
- Tempura Yellow Musk Creeper
- Purple Worm Wine
- Cosmic Double Boiler
- Umami the Goddess of Good Taste
- Aldani (lobsterfolk)
- A Kuo Toa Sushi Chef
No small number of characters enjoy cooking too. Cooking utensils seems to be a rather popular choice for tool proficiencies and considering situations for these characters to use their tools and keeping an open mind when players suggest it can create a lot of fun situations. In our Nerdarchy team game the characters learned about a reclusive wizard’s affection for shortbread cookies and set out a skill challenge to bake some as an icebreaker.
For players and Dungeon Masters with avid interest in food and cooking in 5E D&D we wrote about a great project over called Dragon Stew. The supplement includes cooking classes for characters. Along with race, class and background this additional facet gives characters special features related to food and cooking. You can read about it in the post on our website here.