Gastronomy in D&D: The Truly Non-Standard Rations

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
So in the Dragon thread, @jasper posted the following:

Are dragons Hot and SPicy? How much are they for a dozen at Buffallos Wild WIngs?
And my immediate thought was, of course, "Boy, I bet a DRAGON WING would be pretty good in buffalo sauce. Not that I would, um, say that to the Dragon."

As always, though, my immediate thought was confuddled by later, more confusing thoughts.

Starting with the initial disclaimer: D&D Campaigns are different; Dark Sun is not Eberron is not Greyhawk is not the Realms is not your homebrew campaign.

But ... how do people generally view cuisine in their campaigns? How do they view gastronomy?

Now, I know that many people do the standard, "Write two weeks of iron rations and forget about food." Or, at most, maybe get some unspecified food (ALONG WITH A FLAGON OF ALE* at Ye Old Painfully Punny Publick Pub & Inn). But what about those who do more than that?

Specifically, I was curious about the following:

1. Do you have fine dining and "restaurants" that the PCs can go to?

2. Do you have regional cuisines, or different cuisine mapped out by races?

3. As a general rule, do people eat the same things we do (agriculture, domesticated livestock) or more fantastical things? How does a Roc taste?

4. Is there a prohibition (at least, among good races) to eating "intelligent" creatures? Would people partake in Red Dragon Brisket?

5. What about "field rations?" Do PCs in your campaign ever prepare creatures they have vanquished? What, if any, are the moral lines?

6. Finally, are you still a vegan if you eat a vegepygmy? Vegetarian?


Those are initial ideas and questions- feel free to chime in with other D&D gastronomy thoughts!
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
I tend to go all-in on food and drink in my games. If I know they’re going to be going to a bar or eating a meal, I always have detailed options that make sense for the culture. I use food to tell the story.

My current home campaign is a homebrewed earthmote world. As a result, cows aren’t really a thing because of the amount of space needed for grazing. So people tend to eat more goat, fish, and poultry. Plants that can be grown on trellises are popular. Wines and liquors are more prevalent than beer.

I do try to have lots of fantastical boozes in my campaigns. Gnomish glitterwine, Orcish Kruush, Dwarven mushroom spirits, and so on.

The question about eating intelligent creatures is made tricky when you can just cast a spell and talk to a plant or animal. I think I prefer to let that one lie. I had a PC cook and eat a merrow once. That was enough.
 
And my immediate thought was, of course, "Boy, I bet a DRAGON WING would be pretty good in buffalo sauce. Not that I would, um, say that to the Dragon."
4. Is there a prohibition (at least, among good races) to eating "intelligent" creatures? Would people partake in Red Dragon Brisket?
So, in one campaign, we kill a dragon, and acquire an egg (or maybe it was more than one). Typically, you can sell a dragon egg, or subdue the wyrmling or something.

Now, in the Philippines, there's a delicacy called Balut which is just a boiled egg, that was fairly close to hatching before you boiled it.

Yeah.

In another, my disgraced-noble Dragonborn is an unabashed carnivore with no qualms about how intelligent his meat may have been when it was alive. Also, not always careful enough about cooking it - can I get another Remove Disease, over here?

1. Do you have fine dining and "restaurants" that the PCs can go to?
I know restaurants aren't as anachronistic as they might seem, but, just no.

2. Do you have regional cuisines, or different cuisine mapped out by races?
I've done that, in some more 'slice of life' campaigns. (Yeah, I've run campaigns like that - no, they did not go over well.)

3. As a general rule, do people eat the same things we do (agriculture, domesticated livestock) or more fantastical things?
Frankly, some historical things people actually ate can seem pretty far out.
How does a Roc taste?
Like chicken, because it's the default taste for anything the machines lost the source code to.

5. What about "field rations?" Do PCs in your campaign ever prepare creatures they have vanquished? What, if any, are the moral lines?
Yes. In one goblin game, the battle-cry was "bacon!" and "Kill them in descending order of tastiness!" (Some of the enemies were riding dire boars, you see...)

6. Finally, are you still a vegan if you eat a vegepygmy? Vegetarian?
Yes.
 

Ulfgeir

Explorer
Well, they did have some interesting recipes in a Dragonlance-supplement (Leaves of the Inn of the last Home),
But normally we do not engage in specifics of food and drink.

However we had an assassin in an Exalted 2e-campaign who masquerades as a chef (yes, he was good at it).. And during one session he offered Habanero Icecream to someone. That became a running joke in the campaign, and then later the pLayer actually came with home-made Habanero Icecream. It was chocloate icecream with finely cut habaneros. The one made with dark chocolate was much better than the one made with white chocolate...

And in our Scion 2e-campaign, we encountered grilled Taoist-priest. One of the characters who was from the Chinese Panteon, had married a demoness. All the demons that attended the wedding really looked forward to that meal. Most of the characters avoided eating it.
 
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Shiroiken

Adventurer
I try to make food different culturally. Most human cultures eat similar foods, but elves use mostly fruits with vegetables and a little meat, dwarves use more earthen vegetables (potatoes and such) than leafy ones, and halflings use a lot more spices and seasonings. Drink is much more varied (mostly because I'm an alcoholic), with each region having a specialty or two. Rations are... rations; just like MRE, no one likes them, but eat them anyway.

Eating intelligent creatures did cause a bit of commotion in my current campaign. We have a smuggler who was known for attempting to smuggle using a whale carcass, which exploded unexpectedly. Because of this, his smuggling ring uses whale meat as a signal. This lead to a dinner party, where the main course was whale... which greatly offended the triton PC.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
One Part-Orc character in the game I play in has as a motto: "except for Human and Orc, I eat what I kill". More than once he's had to save vs poison... :) Among his favourites are "man-cow" (minotaur haunch) and dragon steak; and a giant will feed him for a week.

Another now-retired character in the same game had expert chef as a background. His motto was "Here, eat this", as he produced from his backpack some culinary delight that probably had no business being there. :) He retired to, he hoped, start a chain of fancy high-class restaurants.

When these two ran together it got crazy - the Part-Orc kept trying to get the chef to cook up the latest kill.....
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
I still have my old copy from that book. The recipes still hold up pretty well. Otik's Spiced Potatoes is still my go-to preparation method.

The more recent cookbooks (Elder Scrolls, Song of Ice and Fire, World of Warcraft, etc.) from Chelsea Monroe-Cassel are all pretty fun and tasty. Well-researched, too.

Well, they did have some interesting recipes in a Dragonlance-supplement (Leaves of the Inn of the last Home),
But normally not engage in specifics of food and drink.
An entire adventuring party at my table had to do so because someone got it into their head to cook and eat a Chuul.

More than once he's had to save vs poison... :)
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
But ... how do people generally view cuisine in their campaigns? How do they view gastronomy?

Now, I know that many people do the standard, "Write two weeks of iron rations and forget about food." Or, at most, maybe get some unspecified food (ALONG WITH A FLAGON OF ALE* at Ye Old Painfully Punny Publick Pub & Inn). But what about those who do more than that?
It depends on the campaign honestly. Sometimes I've focused on it and other times not.

1. Do you have fine dining and "restaurants" that the PCs can go to?
In the bigger cities, I do this, yes. Otherwise, fine dining is reserved for the nobility of an area, though Inns usually act as a defacto restaurant in most small towns, etc.

2. Do you have regional cuisines, or different cuisine mapped out by races?
I don't usually think about cuisine by races but will often describe different regional human cuisines.

3. As a general rule, do people eat the same things we do (agriculture, domesticated livestock) or more fantastical things? How does a Roc taste?
Yes and yes. it's a fantastical world. Fine dining at least should reflect that. Cockatrice canape's and Owlbear Osso Bucco should be de rigueur!

4. Is there a prohibition (at least, among good races) to eating "intelligent" creatures? Would people partake in Red Dragon Brisket?
Most "goodly races" have this prohibition, yes.

5. What about "field rations?" Do PCs in your campaign ever prepare creatures they have vanquished? What, if any, are the moral lines?
Usually yes, though it is often glossed over with a single line of "I want to dress this creature" and some survival rolls. Moral lines are the intelligence ones noted above.

Obviously a party of Lizardmen might have different standards than a group of Human/Elf/Dwarf, etc, but I've never had to deal with that.

6. Finally, are you still a vegan if you eat a vegepygmy? Vegetarian?
oof. Since they're technically a fungus creature... yes? Technically a Fungivore. Blech.


We have an on-again, off-again 5e game which is entirely based around cuisine as a fun break from other games.

Main PC is a Draconic (Red) Sorcerer with the Guild Artisan (chef) and Gourmand feat (UA Feats) named... Guy Fury ;)

My noble dwarven monk is his manager and patron, sponsoring him in food competitions and keeping away saboteurs.... and maybe sabotaging the competition when Guy is asleep. cough cough

DM put us in a chili cook-off as our first adventure. Low and behold there is an actual Dragon Breath Chili recipe created by none other than Guy Fury's RL inspiration. I couldn't believe it. So in the game, we actually made that recipe and developed marketing and price sheets around it.

We won a chef's wagon (FR food truck) for that competition and now travel around the lands selling our chili and getting into crazy adventures as we go. Most recently we set up shop in Waterdeep and are busy building up a base of business before we open a more permanent shop.
 

aco175

Adventurer
In some games it comes up more, but we tend to have it in the background. Once the PC was a brewer and he was trying to make a mushroom ale and the table got a lot of mileage out of that. Last campaign the half-orc was talking about eating the giant rats they killed, like in his youth and the halfling urchin made some comments about mixing the meat with seagull. There was some laughs, but generally it does not come up. Most taverns tend to have stew and maybe some eggs and bacon. We may spice it up if we are roleplaying a lot and go with some more exotic.

Some games have centered around food as well. One campaign started with gathering ingredients for potions and some involve a cooking competition where the PCs need to gather the main course and the more rare the better.
 
1. Do you have fine dining and "restaurants" that the PCs can go to?

Definitely have higher class establishments, Inns and taverns that have a more exotic choices and much more expensive.

2. Do you have regional cuisines, or different cuisine mapped out by races?

Different races at times but not so much regional other than fish or beef depending how close the sea/river is.

3. As a general rule, do people eat the same things we do (agriculture, domesticated livestock) or more fantastical things? How does a Roc taste?

Mostly domesticated it is just easier (but the exotic is high end Inns - see above)

4. Is there a prohibition (at least, among good races) to eating "intelligent" creatures? Would people partake in Red Dragon Brisket?

Never really thought about this but I think it has in an auto prohibition as such - can't think of any instances of eating intelligent creatures.

5. What about "field rations?" Do PCs in your campaign ever prepare creatures they have vanquished? What, if any, are the moral lines?

Yes they do - have one player or always tracks rations and what they eat - so the others just follow along with his. They do prepare 'field rations' and intelligent or humanoid creatures would be outside the moral lines.

One of the mages uses prestidigitation to flavour rations all the time has even made up a table of random flavours, with roll a d20 when casting the cantrip, on 4-20 the flavour is what he aims for on a 2-3 the basic flavour just not very nice version - on a 1 roll on the table that's what you get.


6. Finally, are you still a vegan if you eat a vegepygmy? Vegetarian?

Yes unless you are a vegepygmy which is a whole different story
 

Bohandas

Explorer
And my immediate thought was, of course, "Boy, I bet a DRAGON WING would be pretty good in buffalo sauce. Not that I would, um, say that to the Dragon."
I don't know about dragon wings, but I think that wings in general would be very popular among gnolls because their hyenaish nature would allow them to chew and digest bone, thereby abrogating the main drawback of wings


6. Finally, are you still a vegan if you eat a vegepygmy? Vegetarian?
This reminds me of an idea I had a while back for a race of tribal rabbit people that live by hunting motile vegetable

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3. As a general rule, do people eat the same things we do (agriculture, domesticated livestock) or more fantastical things? How does a Roc taste?
Cows from Mechanus are spherical
 
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1. Do you have fine dining and "restaurants" that the PCs can go to?
Sure.

2. Do you have regional cuisines, or different cuisine mapped out by races?
Never really elaborated on these, but I suppose we do.

3. As a general rule, do people eat the same things we do (agriculture, domesticated livestock) or more fantastical things?
Same things mostly, because fantastical things are still quite rare in my typical fantasy settings. I mostly run games in "points of darkness" mode, where seeing a fantastical creature with your own eyes means you are special. You don't eat it then, because it's either a creature that inspires awe or a creature that inspires horror.

4. Is there a prohibition (at least, among good races) to eating "intelligent" creatures?
There is no need for a formal prohibition because no one would ever do that, unless they are seriously evil (read: depraved and possibly otherwordly). Considering that "intelligent" typically means human-like, would you eat an animal with human-like intellect?

5. What about "field rations?" Do PCs in your campaign ever prepare creatures they have vanquished? What, if any, are the moral lines?
Beasts only, and certainly not all of them, since the ones encountered as enemies are typically carnivores.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Specifically, I was curious about the following:

1. Do you have fine dining and "restaurants" that the PCs can go to?
When it is plot relevant, sure. If they seek them out, sure. I am not generally pointing them out just because, though.

2. Do you have regional cuisines, or different cuisine mapped out by races?
Food is primarily used as an indicator for culture. So, generally, yes.

3. As a general rule, do people eat the same things we do (agriculture, domesticated livestock) or more fantastical things? How does a Roc taste?
It is culture dependent, but, broadly - if you have cities, you have agriculture and domesticated livestock. Going out hunting is not efficient enough to be a viable source for protein for large, settled cultures.

Also, giant creatures (rocs, dragons, purble worms, etc - larger than, say an elephant) has meat that's just too tough for humanoids to eat.

4. Is there a prohibition (at least, among good races) to eating "intelligent" creatures? Would people partake in Red Dragon Brisket?
See above. The dragon's too tough to eat anyway. No good-aligned person knowingly eats the flesh of sentient creatures without having significant levels of moral distress.

5. What about "field rations?" Do PCs in your campaign ever prepare creatures they have vanquished? What, if any, are the moral lines?
The moral lines are likely against eating sentient creatures, even if they were evil in life.

But, let's also talk health and aesthetics.

Aesthetics: Wild caught game is not nice and sweet and tender. We romanticize, but there's a reason why those who catch wild game hang it out to age for a while before cooking. Them's protein, but them's not really good eats. Wild game is generally tough and more gamey than a Monopoly Convention, because the animal has to actually work for a living, and you're typically getting older specimens. So - it is stews and soups, not tender roasts.

Also, broadly speaking... carnivores taste bad to human palates, and herbivores are not rarely aggressive enough to be something adventurers have to kill.

Health: you realize that wild animals that are not given what we'd call health care, even today, have massive loads of parasites, right? That giant toad has been living in fetid muck. And gods only knows where the wild boar the goblin was riding has been wallowing!

6. Finally, are you still a vegan if you eat a vegepygmy? Vegetarian?
Yeah, but... sentients man. You don't eat things you can carry on a conversation with.
 

Celebrim

Legend
And my immediate thought was, of course, "Boy, I bet a DRAGON WING would be pretty good in buffalo sauce. Not that I would, um, say that to the Dragon."
They are poisonous and acidic in my game, so it would be like trying to eat Alien.

But ... how do people generally view cuisine in their campaigns? How do they view gastronomy?
As a teenager I was fascinated with cuisine as an aspect of world building, and in particular one account about the Tekumel campaign how the GM was able to answer questions about what people in a typical culture could eat for breakfast (and it was both believable and original) really blew my mind.

I spent a lot of time thinking about menus at taverns and cuisines after that, but over the years I've come to realize that players mostly don't care and that when you are playing with a larger group, you don't really have time to devote to those gritty slice of life matters. Cuisine occasionally comes up in my games - there have been several important meals that occurred where the cuisine mattered in game to some degree and out of game (at least to me) a lot. But I don't spend nearly as much time worrying about it as I did at 17.

1. Do you have fine dining and "restaurants" that the PCs can go to?
Yes, though most fine dining occurs in homes and to have fine dining at a restaurant is a novelty unique to certain large cosmopolitan cities. The idea of going out to eat is novel and largely unknown through most of the world, and most tavern fare is typically for travelers or working class people who need midday meals away from home. Thus, it's much more like what we'd think of now as street food than fine dining, and in particular much of my take on what dining is like is influenced by the road side stands and rum bars of my youth growing up in the Carribean.

Do you have regional cuisines, or different cuisine mapped out by races?
Yes.

As a general rule, do people eat the same things we do (agriculture, domesticated livestock)...
Yes, although as a general rule, cuisine is not as limited as it tends to be in our high population density post-industrialized farm economy where everything is commoditized. However it is certainly an agrarian economy and 'bush meat' is not a typical food source or sustainable even at the population densities present in the less advanced society.

or more fantastical things? How does a Roc taste?
Probably a lot like hawk or eagle, though really, few if any people would ever know. For the most part, eating fantastical things would strike most cultures as highly decadent and probably gluttonous. Most cultures would frown upon it. Of courses there are some notably decadent cultures where something like Roman palace cuisine with its exotic meats, over prepared dishes, and conspicuous excess are more normal. And likewise there are poorer less civilized (in the literal sense) cultures where you eat what you can get and are happy about it.

Is there a prohibition (at least, among good races) to eating "intelligent" creatures? Would people partake in Red Dragon Brisket?
Red dragon flesh being consumed would strike people as relatively weird, and eating any part of its toxic acidic flesh safely requires extensive knowledge of cooking. Roast dragon heart is the sort of thing a palace chef could do and might do to celebrate the triumph, but it's not something most people would even think to do. The intelligence of the dragon wouldn't really be in the first few things that they think about. I mean, forget dragons, any educated person knows that radishes, kale and maize are intelligent or at least can be intelligent, and the culture's experience of "intelligent" is entirely different than our own were we tend to think of ourselves as the solely intelligent thing and define intelligence as an emergent quality (that appears right around our level) and not a spectrum.

Certainly the other free peoples mostly abhor the fact that goblins freely eat other free peoples, and most free peoples who are of the opinion that goblins are no longer free people would site their relish of flesh as one of the proofs of that. And certainly, most good peoples and beings abhor the idea of killing and eating other good peoples and beings, but mostly because it involves killing and acquiring a taste for the flesh of good beings would involve killing.

But, even a farmer asks permission of the garden before he harvests it, and promises to not waste it's bounty and to replant it and to honor and be grateful for it when his family consumes it. So this idea you have is at odds with the world the people live in.

What about "field rations?" Do PCs in your campaign ever prepare creatures they have vanquished? What, if any, are the moral lines?
Sure. If the creature tends to remind the players of some real world food (or is a real world food), then the players tend to be, "Hey, lets eat this for dinner." Giant crabs, dinosaurs, crocodiles, etc. tend to end up on the menu.

Finally, are you still a vegan if you eat a vegepygmy? Vegetarian?
Sure, but in a world where trees, carrots, and even grass is obviously intelligent, is that really even an important question?

UPDATE: I managed to quickly find my notes on the last 'important meal' eaten in my campaign. The menu was:

Smoked Oysters and Fern Fronds
Caterpillars and scallions stir fried in coconut oil
Roasted Yam and Breadfruit
Barbequed fish with scallions and roasted peppers
Baked octopus with carrot and young taro greens
Roasted lemur
Taro pudding, salted smoked fish and sea algae
Raw sugarcane
 
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Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
Tekumel's world-building is crazily deep. All the moreso when you consider the era that it was developed in. It wouldn't have surprised me if there was a Tekumel cookbook out there.

I dig that take on harvesting - in a world where Speak with Plants is just a druid away, I think a degree of animism is to be expected.

As a teenager I was fascinated with cuisine as an aspect of world building, and in particular one account about the Tekumel campaign how the GM was able to answer questions about what people in a typical culture could eat for breakfast (and it was both believable and original) really blew my mind.

But, even a farmer asks permission of the garden before he harvests it, and promises to not waste it's bounty and to replant it and to honor and be grateful for it when his family consumes it.
 

aco175

Adventurer
Is it murder if you eat an awakened carrot?

I also find some good descriptions in the Volo Guides. Most of the inn and taverns have some stuff on food served at each place. Granted it is just the NW Sword Coast and regionally just there, but that is where we mostly play.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Is it murder if you eat an awakened carrot?
Presumably if the carrot doesn't want to be eaten it could be. However, in my game world at least, it's highly likely that a plant spirit that had completely its life cycle wouldn't necessarily object to being eaten. Plants object to being wasted, but being nibbled on or eaten doesn't have the horror for them that it has for animals and they have a tendency to view themselves not as individuals but as parts of a collective. Still, there are plants that get upset about the whole cycle of life thing and their place in it, and become actively hostile to animals.

Carrot presents a particular challenge that I haven't really considered before. A typical herb spirit in my game would represent not an individual carrot, but the collective intelligence of an entire field of carrots or all the carrots to be found in particular valley or even an entire mountain range. But the spirit of an individual carrot that became awakened, were such a thing possible, would probably object to being eaten for reasons that are unique to carrots. Carrots are really only edible when young. And wild carrots typically require two years to become mature. So the only point in the carrots lifecycle as an individual when it would normally be comfortable with its own death is a point when the usual suspects would no longer consider it useful and worth eating. I can see an awakened individual carrot as being a very unhappy plant, and it would likely consider its awakening to have been a cruel and terrible curse on it.
 

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