I can't remember the last time I've been able to play D&D -- it's probably been a couple of years now. I'm watching Critical Role, campaign 1 episode 1 ("Arrival at Kraghammer") as I'm typing this. I miss playing so much!
I was also looking through some of my D&D books this morning as well -- Xanthar's Guide to Everything and, a recent addition to my bookshelves, Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. While I was reading, I remembered a 2020 purchase I made -- or rather, an investment. I supported a few Kickstarter campaigns last year, one of which was Dragon Stew. Created by Antonio Demico, Dragon Stew is a supplemental guide to enhance a 5th edition D&D game ... and everything in the guide is related to FOOD!
I haven't had the opportunity to play with it yet, but I still wanted to share my thoughts and opinions. (Spoiler alert: I love it!)
Let's start with the new race: Harvestborn. "Harvestborn don't have a strong connection to nature; they are nature." As you can probably imagine, Harvestborn are literally born from the soil of the Earth. There are three different subraces, my favourite of which is Flowerling -- they get a +1 added to Charisma, they are intrinsically magic (giving you an extra cantrip), and the scent of their flowers has a calming effect that allows them to cast the spell Calm Emotions. I don't know if I would play a Harvestborn for my first game -- I typically enjoy playing Human or Half-Elf characters -- but I would be open to trying out a Flowerling, perhaps for a one-shot.
I was super excited by how many background options there are; we have six to choose from -- Baker, Waiter, Butler, Store Owner, Hotelier, and Farmer. I feel as though most new D&D official books add maybe one or two backgrounds, three at the most. There's such a wide variety here in Dragon Stew, and in a 4-6 player game, each player could have their own unique background! I'm actually torn between three of them for which one I would want to play. My initial wish, of course, was Baker (which, by the way, has 8 specialities to choose from -- so even more choices!). I enjoy baking in real life, and would love to play that out in a game. But the other two that intrigued me were Hotelier (again, torn on what service I would offer -- spa, bed and breakfast, or cafe?) and Store Owner (no question -- I would sell journals and quills and other stationary! ... I know, this isn't food-related, but I'm sure I could bring in a food element somehow).
Next we have the subclasses. These are for regular D&D 5e classes. There are five -- a Bard college, a Cleric domain, a Druid circle, a Fighter martial archetype, and a Paladin oath. I don't want to give TOO MUCH away, as I feel I have done already ... but to give you a little insight, of the five, I would probably choose to be a Bard (College of Hosting). "A Host’s talents do not lie in music, singing, or dancing but in the purest, rawest form of charisma: conversation." Perfect subclass for a lover of words.
I think the feature I love the most of this guide is the cooking classes. The reason I feel this feature is amazing is because they don't replace the regular classes; "you can be a Wizard Evocation Baker, a Bard of Glamour Presenter, or a Barbarian Berserker Seasoner" -- so many combination possibilities! And although some of the cooking classes work better with certain "traditional" classes, Antonio says there is no wrong combination. Again, I don't want to give TOO MUCH away (at this point, if you haven't become intrigued by the idea of a food-related D&D game, you've stopped reading ... and if you are still reading, I bet you're intrigued enough to make a purchase, here, so you'll have all the information soon enough). But, since the Seasoner cooking class came up, I just want to share this one thing (because I thought this was so cool!) -- if you play as a Seasoner, for a bonus action, "you can coat your weapon before you make an attack for extra damage"! The higher your level, the more times you can use this ability, plus you can roll a larger die (starting with d4, going up as high as a d10) and different damage types are added to your arsenal (fire is the only one available for the first 4 levels, but along the way you'll be able to inflict cold, lightning, and radiant damage).
The final thing I want to bring up is the dessert familiars -- yeah, these are familiars (that you have to bake) based on desserts! About a dozen different options, my favourite based on name is Snail de Leche (a dulce de leche snail!) ... don't ask me why, I smile everytime I read it. My absolute true favourite though is the Teacup Dragon. I don't know where Antonio got the inspiration for this one, but I read a book by Katie O'Neill called The Tea Dragon Society -- so cute, and all I want now is a dragon companion (... in the game, of course)! So I know without a doubt I'd want my dessert familiar to be a Teacup Dragon. The dragon mainly brews non-magical tea, but if it steeps its tail in hot water for 10 minutes it can brew a magical healing tea, allowing the drinker to heal 1d4 hit points. (Antonio has also created a Teacup Dragon care guide. This is separate from the Dragon Stew guide; I only discovered it now as I was looking up the link for where you can purchase Dragon Stew.)
Everyone has their ideal vision of what they want to get out of a campaign -- fighting, looting, connecting ...
Me? I have a few different visions; I have a lot of games I want to play. But entering a baking/cooking competition (in a game) has been a dream of mine for awhile, and with Dragon Stew it's so much more possible now! ... I just have to find some people to play with me. (If anyone's interested in starting an online campaign using Dragon Stew, please please please message me on Instagram -- @kaitlyndawn.coach)