What’s To Eat?

I am in need of a nap.

I am also in need of a recipe that can use a zucchini, potatoes, and onions-in one dish.

Other than that there isn’t much going on.

I continue to consolidate the blogs here, adding a new page to the Scrawlings heading a day.

What’s To Eat? is part of a larger game design series I wrote on Brainstorm Overload. I like it enough to put it here.

What’s to Eat?

Where is the food in role-playing games? I am not talking about trail rations, hard tack biscuits or any of the other fare found on the pages of many a game. I am talking about honest to goodness sections about food. Everyone eats or at least every game I have ever read everyone eats something. Let us remove vampires, undead, and other oddities like that from the conversation and focus on humans and human like races.

What do elves eat? What do dwarves eat? What do any of the races in the games we play eat? For that matter what is for dinner for the human characters, the one’s we should be able to relate to the most? Can my character hit the town to find a good burger, Chinese, or even Elven food? For that matter is all elven food the same or are their regional cuisines? Can I find some spicy elven food or some sweet and sour or is all elven food a vegetarian’s wet dream; twigs and berries. I imagine that there are plenty of meat loving elves; after all, at least they live above ground and usually in a forest.

What about dwarves? Dwarves live underground, that is what the traditional gaming mythology says and they drink beer, lots of beer. So what do they eat? An inventory of things underground would consist of bugs, lots of bugs, mushrooms, plant life, fish, if there were water, and maybe some small rodents. Not much else at least from the standard underground life point of view. I do not imagine that typical dwarven diet has a variety of flavors, something most people imagine about English or Russian food.

With some research about cooking, you quickly learn that English and Russian food has a lot of variety. Maybe dwarven food is like that, they have learned to take a lot of nothing and turn that into something special. Somehow, sitting down to a plate or bowl of mushrooms and insects does not sound appealing to me; perhaps diet is why dwarves are portrayed as grumpy for no damn reason.

I would hope that most games, especially fantasy, are not like Renfest, where “traditional” food is a turkey leg. I would hope that when my character goes out to eat that there is a lively menu. Yet food and the richness of food culture goes unlooked and unexplored in many games. Eating which is a very social activity and vital to living beings for so many reasons is left to that mysterious outside of game time when characters sleep and level up. In a way that is sad to me.

Perhaps I have an insight that others do not because I love to cook and many of the best moments in my life have happened around food. When I was younger even gaming involved food. Marathon sessions did not happen on willpower alone, everyone had to eat, pizza, burgers, you name the food and I have a story that involves that food and gaming. I even have a story about gaming, an orange, and Doritos…I guess that is two stories, but my point has been made, where is the food in gaming?

Should DungeonGameMasters have to learn about food, no, but theyshould know how to cook as a basic life skill…oops that is another thought…maybe DungeonGameMasters should put some thought into what everyone does eat. There isn’t enough space for me to explain in detail the connection between food and culture, history, world history, and economics, but there is a real connection between what a people eat, who has visited, who has had an influence, how wealthy they are, political influence…need I go on. So the next time you are playing in a game and end up in a restaurant ask what is on the menu. 🙂

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