Last Updated on June 5, 2023
Food is an interesting topic in a fantasy RPG like D&D, but we’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s talk about what food exists in these worlds we get to explore.
These are the food and meal prices outlined in the Basic Rules for 5e. Of course, if you want to be a bit more creative, there are a lot of ways you can spice up any old menu.
For starters, creating multiple types of alcoholic drinks is a good way to go. Mead, ale, wine, beer, whiskey, and even spirits are options you can present to your characters. Adding a name to it is a surefire way to make it seem more interesting, so you might want to try Dwarven Mead, Elven Wine, or Waterdeep Whiskey if you want your players to think you spent time on this tavern they’re sitting in.
Food falls into a similar mindset here. The type of food doesn’t matter, but creating the illusion of variety is what’s really important for a world that feels expansive. Instead of a chunk of meat, describe what meat your characters are going to eat.
You can choose just about any random 5e beast and call it a day, but the more exotic the better. Then, if you really want an out-there meal, serve up dragon steaks in a large, prosperous city.
The last thing you can do to spice things up is to create magical benefits. Again, this is something you’ll probably only find in a city, but it’s certainly an option. Drinks with random magical effects, meals that give you temporary HP, and all sorts of wondrous food items can truly put the fantasy in a fantasy meal.
The Role of Food in Dungeons and Dragons
We know this is going to sound silly, but food is a really divisive topic in Dungeons and Dragons. We’re not talking about arguments over what the best fantasy tavern name is of course. No, we’re talking about the concept of food in a fantasy RPG.
The concept spreads out further than just food, although food is probably one of the most important pieces of this. The topic that’s really at hand here is survival or on an even wider scale, immersion.
The question we get to ask ourselves is this: Is food really important in a game of D&D 5e?
The answer? Well, that’s kind of for you to figure out, although we certainly have some takes for you to consider.
Gary Gygax was a huge proponent of the importance of survival and immersion in his games of D&D. The main premise for him was that no one should have to be an adventurer. Adventuring, according to him, was something peasants did so that they could get rich and retire.
So, with that mindset, your finances are incredibly important. That means you have to pay attention to every copper piece you’re spending on arrows, rations, water, a place to lay your head, and more.
In 5e, things work a bit differently. In general, D&D today is a power fantasy where our characters slowly become strong enough to challenge all but the gods themselves. You can start off as a noble for Gygax’s sake!
In this kind of world where most people don’t track ammunition and where any currency less than gold is considered petty cash, food isn’t important. Of course, that doesn’t mean it can’t be.
You can always make 5e into a more gritty survival fantasy where the end goal is securing a keep and hanging up the sword. That might be a lot of work though, so we suggest redirecting yourself to an older edition or something like Old School Essentials that can act as a revival for those classic concepts.
For now though, if you’re playing 5e, let food be a fun way for your characters to pass the time and feel like they’re really living in the world around them. And, as always, happy adventuring.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.