Roasted Boar's Head

Pig-Faced Orc:
The Other White Meat

An army travels on its stomach. As I am a former soldier, I can attest to this truth. But what about an adventuring party? With just a few heroes and maybe a handful of hirelings, the logistics of chow are much simpler. So simple, in fact, that they are generally just hand-waved away. And that’s fine. Unless the party is in an extreme environment, or some other hardship has been presented (e.g. escaping from the slave pens), there’s no reason for players to closely manage their party’s food-based resources.

Unless you give them one.

Skyrim Sugar Cookie

This is why I eat so many cookies in real life.

After reading George R.R. Martin and playing Skyrim (and to a lesser extent World of Warcraft), I’ve come to embrace cooking in Dungeons & Dragons. Much like it is in Skyrim, cooking needn’t be a trained skill. It’s not too far-fetched to assume that most folks in their teens during the medieval era were competent cooks. Not royal chefs, mind you, but good enough to keep their families hale and hearty. So let’s assume our PCs fit this mold. And let’s also assume that the adventuring party has basic traveling cookware and utensils with them (similar to modern-day campers).

Now, the PCs just need recipes and ingredients to start reaping some delicious benefits–oh, wait, yeah, what about benefits? Well, that’s where an inventive DM can help out the party in a slightly indirect manner. Treat recipes like you would spell scrolls and treat ingredients like you would potions. When you’re ready for the party magic-user to have a particular spell, you might drop that spell onto a scroll and add it to some loot. Same with dropping some healing potions in a chest when the party is pretty badly battered and bruised.

Medieval Cookbook

You may need to borrow a cup of flour from the Beholder next door.

Next time the party is exploring a library or a long-abandoned mead-hall, why not drop a special recipe into a cookbook? Maybe a Hearty Lamb and Leek Stew that doubles the healing rate for one night’s rest. Or a Fermented Mare’s Milk that gets you drunk but gives a +1 bonus to saves versus mind-affecting spells and abilities until you sober up. As for ingredients, consider adding some preserved meats to the larder in a bandit hideout or orc lair. Stock a necromancer’s laboratory with rare spices and dried herbs.

Gode Cookery

Click me for inspirational recipes

Think about using recipes and ingredients as a convenient way to introduce side quests. Give the party hints to the location of an ancient recipe for Charred Winter Wolf Steaks (that provide protection from dragon’s fire). Now, watch the PCs set out for the frozen North to hunt down both the recipe and a pack of winter wolves. Then, in a few more levels, when they face off against a Red Dragon, they’ll have a nice protective buff that they worked hard to earn.

Bon appetit!