Unhealthy food and games have been official bedfellows for decades, beyond the snacks that line your average video- or board-gaming marathon. This includes licensed cereal characters in ’70s and ’80s board games, cartoon food icons as pixelated gaming mascots, and modern promotional games like Burger King’s and KFC’s recent .
It’s not the subject matter we necessarily deem worthy of a brief at Ars, but this week, Wendy’s got our attention by rolling a veritable D20 die down our clogged arteries and into our hearts.
On Thursday, the fast-food restaurant chain released Feast Of Legends: Rise From the Deep Freeze. This free, 97-page PDF slaps cheeseburgers, fried chicken, Frosty desserts, and French fries onto a Dungeons & Dragons-style adventure that revolves around the years-old Wendy’s slogan of “fresh, never frozen” (a phrase that is literally chanted by townspeople in the village of, ahem, Freshtovia).
Two Beef Patties, please
So, yes, this is a 97-page advertisement for Wendy’s fast food, but we’re shouting it out for a few reasons. First, it’s an elegantly streamlined version of D&D, somewhere between that game’s 4th Edition and 5th Edition rulesets, and it revolves around standard-issue D&D tropes like multi-sided die, rolling for initiative, building a character with varied stats, performing a limited number of actions and moves per turn, encouraging creative decision-making (aided by dice rolls) when outside of combat, and maneuvering warriors on a grid of squares whenever battle breaks out.
As a newbie-friendly twist on D&D, Feast of Legends automatically chooses abilities and powers for each of its classes, and it also shrinks D&D’s six ability scores down to five. Whether you want to augment your heroes’ stats by spending gold on Wendy’s themed weapons (“spork”) or armor (“red polo, black visor”) is up to you.
Second, Feast of Legends includes a particularly robust starting campaign, designed to get players up to a D&D equivalent of level-five experience. Each step of the way includes towns, maps, puzzles, and custom-created monsters. Anybody with reasonable D&D expertise can pick this campaign apart to remove the most egregious fast-food branding should they want to run friends through a silly one-off tabletop campaign, either using these rules or a preferred system (D&D, Pathfinder, etc).
And lastly, the people who made this campaign are clearly having a gas with the ludicrous tie-in branding possibilities. Instead of creating characters based on classes like Fighter, Rogue, and Wizard, players instead select from the following groups: Order of the Beef, Order of the Chicken, and Order of the Sides. Dig deeper into those hierarchies, and you can absolutely make a party where a Frosty ice wizard can grant an automatic buff to the rogue-healer hybrid represented by French fries. Or see as the guide’s writers give the common “dual wielding” trait a new name: “Two Beef Patties.”
That’s not even getting into the world-building enabled by a Wendy’s-verse, set in a massive nation called Beef’s Keep. Dip a sacred chicken nugget into a magical fountain, and it becomes a key. Face off against a boisterous villain known as the Beef Bandit, and he creates a monstrous diversion: “I hope you’re ready for the toy that comes with your meal, because you won’t be happy to come face-to-face with the Frÿsta!” (The not-so-subtle digs at frozen beef patties and clown mascots keep up from there.)
Perhaps silliest of all, the game’s rules include an optional buff or penalty based on whatever you eat at your gaming table of choice. Did you order from Wendy’s? Add some stat bonuses to your rolls. (A Wendy’s salad will do wonders for your “defense” stat, apparently.) Did you settle on pizza? Your “charm” stat will go down two points.
Whether or not you take anything about this campaign seriously, anybody who counts themselves as a seasoned D&D fan (or just really into seasoning, ahem) should give the free PDF a flip-through, or watch the nerdy folks at Critical Role run their own FoL campaign on Thursday night. If you miss that Twitch showing, it’ll likely be archived at their YouTube channel.