yams, 1cp each

African Civilizations by Graham Connah

African Civilizations by Graham Connah

Apparently, among the important staples of ancient and medieval West African diet were palm oil and yams. These are foods I never eat. Nevertheless, in the book, there is, for instance, a big map of Africa with a dotted line showing the “yam zone”. This got me thinking about food exoticism in D&D and fiction generally.

Re-inventing common objects and foods is a worldbuilding rookie mistake. In a novel, it’s annoying if the main character drinks k’jinn instead of milk. It exoticises the main character and distances the reader. In RPGs, it’s even worse. If you say, “In my campaign world, milk is called k’jinn”, players will not start saying “Legolas takes a drink of k’jinn.” You’ll be lucky if you get “Legolas takes a drink of ka-spoon, or whatever milk is called.”

There is, however, a place for exotic foods and names. If a drink has a made-up name, that should mark it as exotic to the characters. If the PCs travel to a new continent, and everyone who meets them offers them a glass of k’jinn, this might make them feel like they’ve actually traveled somewhere.


3 Responses to “yams, 1cp each”

  1. Claire Claire says:

    Yams are not that exotic! It’s just that you don’t eat vegetables.

  2. Claire Claire says:

    But good point about players and ka-spoon!

  3. Sean Holland says:

    Very well put. Especially in a high fantasy world, why not have access to everything on Earth and more! But tagging what is exotic in game is important. “Voshian Blue Goat Cheese you say!”

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