The holiday season is in full swing! Families gather around large meals and share time with one another… possibly even play a session of D&D together? In the spirit of the season, I was trying to think of a topic that might thematically represent this time of year. Ideas danced in my head like sugar plums… Sorry, I couldn’t resist. However, it did strike me that a common element when it comes to holidays is food.
Sweets, treats & beyond
With a broad spectrum of cultures represented in my own gaming groups, I realized each of us has our own ideas of what holiday food is. Part of this also stems from the fact we all have different holidays we celebrate, and even those of us who celebrate the same holiday do so in wildly different ways, with different emphases.
That brings us back to food. Food is a cultural staple, and the kinds of food people eat reveals a great deal about their culture. Even when a food is shared among a group of people, individuals often have their own stories surrounding food. What I’ve come to realize in my preparation for this article is food inspires stories.
This got me to thinking about D&D. Why don’t many of us place an emphasis on food in our game sessions?
Game to table
The majority of people I know who get together for game night share a meal when they play, and a few of my friends will make a special dish — or more often, a special drink — for a game session in which the players encounter said delicacy. Potions are an especial favorite, as they encourage alcohol, but if you do this please make sure everyone’s of legal age and drinks responsibly. 🙂
Serving a meal or beverage the players encounter in-game is a phenomenal way to add depth and immersion in your game. By serving it at the very moment they encounter the food in question, it also makes the experience much more memorable. This is doubled if the food is a staple plot point.
This, I think, indirectly helps to answer why we don’t place emphasis on food in our games. Food isn’t a mechanical staple… yet.
Suppose the food did have a mechanical benefit? What if the food was a magic item, even just a common one?
With the release of Eberron: Rising from the Last War, I think there’s no better time to introduce food with a magical kick. After all, in an arcanepunk setting where magic is mundane, why wouldn’t there be enchanted food? It’s not like it’s an especially revolutionary concept, either. Fairy tales are littered with magical food (not litter-ally, though — yes, I know, I’m terrible).
With that being said, we’ve got an idea for a common magic food item you can use in your games this holiday season!
Wondrous item, common
This collection of four tiny cookies are decorated with brightly-colored frosting runes that glow in the dark. When a creature tosses all four cookies into the air at one time and catches them, the cookies cast the augury spell.
After casting augury in this way, the cookies’ magic dissipates, but the sweet treats remain. Each cookie nonmagically restores a single hit point to a creature that eats it.
The cookies come in four iconic flavors: classic vanilla cinnamon, chocolate mint, tangy lemon and dark mocha. Many people believe that a set of cookies that features all four flavors is good luck.
Want to make these cookies for your players? I’ve found a couple of ideas!
Try this recipe for animal crackers (which makes the classic vanilla cinnamon variety). Instead of animal shapes, make rectangles, or whatever other tossable shapes you like. Omit the icing and instead frost runic shapes with decorative icing you can find here. Substituting other flavors for the cinnamon would be an easy way to alter the recipe to make the other cookies.
Alternatively, if you’re not much for the kitchen, you could always pick up some simple cookies as your local grocery store and make a few modifications. [NERDITOR’S NOTE: You could borrow a few recipes from Tika Waylan’s cookbook too.]
What do you think?
Do you like to incorporate food into your game sessions, both physically and narratively? What are some of your favorite holiday foods and memories? Let us know in the comments below!
As we enter this festive season, be safe, be kind, and be nerdy!