RPGaDay August 26

What hobbies go well with RPGs?

P1000011_smAt first I wasn’t sure how to answer this one, since I didn’t really see the role-playing hobby as excluding one from other hobbies. Want to sky dive and be a gamer? Go ahead! Xtreme philately? Do it!

But I guess there are some hobbies which pair better with role-playing, like matching a good beer with your burger. Board gaming is an obvious match, especially with the recent rise of narrative-style board games. When you want a bit of character interaction, but you don’t want the full banquet of a role-playing session, you can break out games like Mysterium or any of the Dungeons and Dragons board games (Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon). Each will give you an RPG-lite experience to tide you over for an evening (though the D&D board games are pretty combat focused).

If you’re a game master, being a huge book nerd will never steer you wrong. Besides reading metric buttloads of fantasy and sci-fi, try non-fiction books on subjects related to our hobby. I love reading history books, especially if they are histories of places that don’t normally get taught in school (so, everywhere but North American and white). Our world’s history is an almost inexhaustible resource for RPG plots, NPCs, and settings. But I also enjoy reading about the history of our hobby, and we are lucky enough to have several people writing well-researched books on that subject. The Designers & Dragons series is a well written and well structured look at our hobby’s past, and reading it you’ll get a real sense that history repeats in our hobby. Playing at the World is another great book, and entertains through all 700 or so pages.

Finally, I recommend learning to cook if you want a hobby that compliments our hobby nicely. Gaming is a social experience, as is eating. Figuring out clever ways to combine the two is not only fun and challenging, but a great way to heighten the experience for your gaming group. You can make friends around the gaming table; add well-prepared food and that is almost a certainty.

That’s it for today. What hobbies do you feel compliment your role-playing? Let me know in the comments.

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Trail Rations: Qadiran Cockatrice Thighs

I like to encourage my regular Thursday night group to eat less junk, and to that end I often cook up a meal for us to enjoy before the game. Last time I posted a recipe for a hearty stew, but this time I wanted to get a little fancy.

Since we’re playing Pathfinder, I enjoy tricking out the dishes I cook to fit areas of Golarion. Things like this can really help to add an extra dimension to your game world, because the smells and tastes of cooking can evoke a very strong sense of place. If you are at all cooking inclined, I highly encourage you to give it a try at your next game night.

Since Qadira is the default Middle Eastern/North African area of the world I filed off the serial numbers of a Moroccan Chicken recipe I had filed away, and renamed it to suit the setting. Since cockatrice is very much a rare speciality cut of meat in our world, I substituted chicken thighs instead. Also, I find the dish a low to moderate heat but you might not share my love of spicy foods; in that case cut the amounts of paprika and cayenne pepper in half and you should be fine.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tray of chicken thighs, approx. 12-14 pieces.

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 3 carrots, sliced

  • 3 stalks celery, sliced

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

  • 2 cups diced tomatoes

  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained

  • 1 zucchini, sliced

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

To Prepare:

  1. Season chicken with salt and brown in a large saucepan over medium heat until almost cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  2. Saute onion, garlic, carrots and celery in same pan. When tender, stir in ginger, paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper and turmeric; stir fry for about 1 minute, then mix in broth, dates, and tomatoes. Return chicken to pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add chickpeas and zucchini to pan and bring to simmering once again; cover pan and cook for about 15 minutes, or until zucchini is cooked through and tender. Stir in lemon juice and serve.

This can be served as is, or you can make up a side of lentils or brown rice and serve over that. Or serve with naan for dipping, scooping. This makes enough for six people.

There you go! Fast and delicious food to help your players immerse themselves in the game world. Better than trying to convince them the Doritos are Dwarven…

Do you cook for your games? Have any recipes to share? Drop them in the comments!

Trail Rations: Hearty Slow-cooker Slaw Stew

My regular Thursday night group has a long tradition of eating a shared meal before we game. It started when we gamed at our then GM’s house and his lovely wife (also a member of our motley band) would prepare dinner for us. We kept that practice intact until Scott and Sheila moved, then there was a several year gap while we gamed at places that didn’t have kitchens (like the offices at BioWare Games). But now that we’re back gaming in someone’s (my) home, we are bringing back the tradition of sharing a meal before our game.

So I thought I’d share a quick and easy recipe my group enjoys, and one that I love making on busy days because it takes just a few minutes to throw together. Then the slow cooker takes over and does the heavy lifting. If you don’t have a slow-cooker you can do it in a large pot on the stove, just keep the heat low and stir often so it doesn’t char at the bottom.

Slow-cooker Slaw Stew

Ingredients:

1-bag pre-shredded coleslaw cabbage blend (found in the bagged salad area of your grocery store)

1-bag baby spinach (found in same place)

1-bag pre-shredded carrots (found in same place)

3-12 oz. (340 gram) cans of diced tomatoes

2-15 oz. (425 gram) cans of kidney beans

1-15 oz. (425 gram) can of black beans

1 large white or yellow onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, or 3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Optional:

One package lean ground beef (or whatever ground meat or stewing meat you prefer)

Preparation: Dice your onion; don’t worry about making the dice particularly small, the slow cooker will reduce the onion quite a bit. Add all the ingredients except the baby spinach to your slow cooker, stirring them together to blend them. Then add the bag of baby spinach, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover, and start the slow cooker. Don’t worry that the spinach seems overflowing, it will reduce a lot during cooking. I use the 6-hour setting on mine, but you can set it for whatever time works best for you. Optional: if you are adding ground meat, brown the meat in a pan just enough to give it colour, then add to slow-cooker along with other ingredients. One of my guys is vegetarian, so I wait until the slow-cooker is almost done and brown the ground beef in a separate pan for the rest of the guys to add on the side.

Serves five voracious gamers, with seconds, and I usually have enough left for lunch the next day. You can top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream or handful of shredded cheddar cheese if you like.

There you go! Healthy, easy to make, and delicious. And a nice break from the usual fast-food gamer fare. Give it a try at your next session.

What does your group do about meals at game time? Do you have favourite gaming foods or recipes? Let us know in the comments!