When was the last time you gave any thought to what your character eats? If your gaming group is anything like mine you don’t even track rations on your character sheet. A lot of players are content to let the little details remain little and not worrying about them. (It’s a good thing they have faithful servant to see to these things.) But in a fantasy RPGs like D&D, the world is full of strange and exotic creatures. So doesn’t it make sense that some of these beasts would eventually find there way into common cuisine?
As long as the PCs are on the road their diet will probably consist of dried goods and trail rations. Basically anything that’s easy to carry and packed full of nutrients. Good for the body, but bland and tasteless. Since exploration and travel is such a big part of D&D you know that when PCs finally get to a village or city they’re going to make the most of it. They’ll go to a nearest tavern, inn, fest hall or any other place where they can have a warm meal and a cold beverage. Most of the time PCs just say something like “I order food and drinks” and that’s all the DM requires. But why not be creative and add some flavour to the menu. “Today’s specials are deep fried displacer beast tentacle, boiled basilisk tail, gorgon steak and steamed sahuagin eggs.”
A clever DM can even bait an adventuring hook by placing a few interesting things on the menu. As the PCs hear the options they may start to wonder where this restaurant is getting its monster meat. More importantly how can this place possibly keep enough meat on hand to be featured on the menu with such frequency? After a few inquiries, the PCs may learn that the proprietor can’t keep up with demand for these new items on his menu and he is willing to pay adventurers a fair sum to keep his meat locker stocked.
Once the PCs realize that monster meat is valuable (and delicious) they may take steps to field dress the next really exotic monster they defeat in combat. Of course transporting the raw meat and then convincing anyone to purchase it may become a side-quest in and of itself, but it may be worth it. Assuming everything goes right and the PCs sell the meat, what happens when people realize it’s delicious and want more? “Those beholder eyestalks were the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten. Got any more?”
Perhaps a wealthy patron, possibly a retired adventurer himself, has developed a strange craving for some exotic food (dragon steak is a good example). Realizing that the city’s limited supply is running out he may hire the PCs to find more for him. But how do adventurers get their hands on more dragon steaks? Do they try to purchase meat from other towns or adventuring companies or do they decide to hunt down a dragon for themselves?
What if it’s a PC who’s developed this strange cravings and not some NPC? Maybe the PC was served dragon steak at a banquet, not knowing what it was, and now that’s all he wants. He orders it any time he sees it on a menu and will travel great distances to get a good cut of meat. If his cravings are strong enough he may even try to hunt down a dragon himself. How will his desire for this exotic food influence his decision making?
The next time the PCs pull up a chair and get ready to order a meal, give them more options than stew. You may find that giving the PCs a taste of something exotic on the menu leads to great role-playing and adventuring ideas.