Inspiring food

4 Sep, 2021, updated 4 Sep, 2021 rpg food

I’ve seen people try to make healing more and more rules-light in their OSR games. No rolling of hit die. No “1HP per night”. No “well you need to have had at least an hour for your Short Rest”1. Just heal, or die already.

Into The Odd has “five minutes and a glass of water” for healing temporary effects. And Wombat (among others) has proposed “eat/drink/rest makes you heal”. And I wondered how to make eating more interesting, without making it more complicated. How can we add some roleplay, rather than some roll-play?

Tom (cartoon cat) serves chicken and mashed potato. In a cowboy hat
Dinner is served

Concept

So I was thinking about this idea this morning, in retrospect I probably had too small a breakfast. I like thinking about food! I like talking about food, and what happens if I get my players to talk about food too? In 5e, your reward for RP is Inspiration, granting advantage on a single roll. Let’s give inspiration for some food.

This isn’t the most complex of ideas - if the players describe their food engagingly, and have reason to believe they can prepare or buy good food that evening, they do so. They then get Inspiration on one stat-based skill-check that day, based on the food. For non-5e games this can be any mechanical advantage on a die-roll, or even reminding the GM that they ate this food. Maybe now no skill roll is necessary?

Actually, you ate so well yesterday, you can put on that extra burst of speed and catch the pickpocket running from you

Tom (cartoon cat) carves a ham

So, how would this work?

Well, you could get your Strength boosted from a protein-heavy meal. You can have your favourite meat or perhaps a good lentil stew or dahl. Dexterity makes me think of “low-GI” foods that are easily digestible. A platter of greasy eggs would not help you ride the wind.! Constitution is served by all the carbohydrates, in all forms. Carbs, carbs, carbs: baked, roasted, boiled, fried.

I started having to stretch here, but Intelligence could need a brain food, like oily fish? Not my ๐Ÿซ– personally but you don’t necessarily have to like the food you’re eating. Wisdom could be from smoking a pipe2, or from a sophisticated dessert. Charisma can go a few ways, there’s the foods that make you amorous, or liquid courage. A bit of confidence to brazen out your conversations. Or maybe you could use this for advantage on Fear saves, go right into it!!

Example meals

First of all, what would you get in the traditional western medieval euro-fantasy staple of the town pub? Simple hearty food, that’s what. Doesn’t have to be a black pudding3, but you’d be missing out.

Stat Pub grub
STR A hearty couple of carved slices off today’s spit-roast ๐Ÿ–
DEX A well-made porridge in the morning will have you up and out in a hurry
CON Delicious carby stodge. A well-seasoned turnip stew ๐Ÿฒ. Flatbreads from a street vendor
INT Fish chowder from today’s catch ๐ŸŽฃ
WIS ๐Ÿป Slightly less than two drinks of beer
CHA The secret, good, bottle of spirits the bartender will offer you “considering you’re well-regarded
Tom is attacked by Jerry with a medieval cannon filled with food.  He is screaming, and both are dressed in French tabards
Tom & Jerry getting a bit literal in the food fight

Now, what if you were in the town, and were spending your well-earned money ๐Ÿ’ฐ on the finest treats in the eateries available? You could get a bit carried away, and I’d kind of want to hear that. In UVG, treasure has the idea that its worth comes from how many adjectives in front of it. I can’t really link this in here, I just want people to talk about food! ๐Ÿ˜‹

Stat Haute cuisine
STR The most decadent meat ๐Ÿฅฉ you can think of, stuffed with the second-most decadent
DEX Roasted vegetables, drizzled in truffle oil
CON Your favourite ragรน. Mine is beef ๐Ÿฎ
INT Cajun halibut on a bed of steamed greens
WIS A selection of cheeses ๐Ÿง€ and port. Makes you look smart, anyway. ๐Ÿง
CHA Lobster thermidor ๐Ÿฆž
Spike (cartoon dog) BBQs a ribeye steak
Vegetarian options are also available

Finally, what would you actually eat on campaign? What foods could be prepared sumptuously over an open fire? I’m not suggesting collecting entheogenic plants (or animals ๐Ÿธ) for this part. There are typically established Herbalism rules that I’m not trying to interfere with.

But you could harvest something that would just relax you and prepare you for tomorrow. ๐Ÿ˜ช

Stat Camp food
STR Fresh venison, burnt on the outside, pink in the middle
DEX Fruit straight from the trees or bushes, juicy and bright as jewels ๐Ÿ“
CON ๐Ÿฅ” ๐Ÿฅ” PO-TAY-TOES! ๐Ÿฅ” ๐Ÿฅ”
INT Wrap that fish you caught in mud, slow bake it in the embers of the fire!
WIS Mushrooms; picked carefully for the right sort ๐Ÿ„
CHA Fermenting coconuts? ๐Ÿฅฅ

Damn. I mean damn, I’m hungry now.


  1. Citation - me. Every damn 5e game. ↩︎

  2. This is stealing from Adventures in Middle-Earth, mind ๐Ÿ™Š ↩︎

  3. For non-Brits: blood and oats. It’s honestly nicer than it sounds! ↩︎

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