On Thanksgiving, what better topic to cover than food in RPGs?

While I was trying to think of a food-related GMing post, something hit me: In nearly every game I’ve ever run, food has been described in a fair amount of detail. And in books and movies, the food tends to jump out at me.

At least for me, including food in RPGs increases immersion in the game world.

Of course, most campaigns include food on some level: “The meeting takes place in a Japanese restaurant,” or “You eat iron rations for two weeks.” From an immersion standpoint, though, that doesn’t have much of an impact.

Describing some of the dishes at the Japanese restaurant, however, not only grounds the players in the game world, it opens up potential roleplaying opportunities. “Does your character like sushi?” isn’t a common question to ask during character creation, but it could be a lot of fun to answer in play.

In fantasy games, iron rations must really suck. Stale bread, smoked meat and hardtack for two weeks? Getting used to that is part of what adventuring is all about, and being used to it is the hallmark of a seasoned adventurer.

Describing exotic dishes with no modern-day (or even Earth-based) analog can also be an excellent way to highlight the differences between the game world and the real world. Would the Harry Potter series be the same without Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans? Nope — and that difference is part of the series’s charm.

In terms of flavor text (pun very much intended), descriptions of food are a fun way to cut loose. Appearance, smell, texture, taste, etiquette, local traditions — there’s just so much to describe! And the nice thing is that even a little description can go a long way, because food is so often overlooked in games.

The final element may be peculiar to me, and that’s that for some reason, involving food on a slightly more detailed level makes the game more fun, both as a player and as a GM. If it’s not just me, you may find that it has the same effect on your games, too.

Happy Thanksgiving!