Unhealthy foods and games have been official bedfellows for decades, alongside the snacks that fill your average video or board game marathon. This includes licensed cereal figures in 70s and 80s board games, food icons from cartoons like pixelated gaming mascots, and modern promotional games like Burger King’s Sneak King and recent KFCs I love you, Colonel Sanders†
It’s not the subject we necessarily deem worthy of a briefing at Ars, but this week Wendy caught our eye by rolling a real D20 dice through our clogged arteries and into our hearts.
On Thursday, the fast food chain released Feast Of Legends: Rise From the Deep Freeze. This free 97-page PDF features cheeseburgers, fried chicken, frosty desserts and French fries in a Dungeons & Dragons-esque adventure centered around the age-old Wendy’s catchphrase of “fresh, never frozen” (a phrase literally sung by townspeople in the village, ahem, Freshtovia).
Two beef patties, please
So yes, this is a 97-page ad for Wendy’s fast food, but we’re screaming it out for a few reasons. First, it’s an elegantly streamlined version of D&D, somewhere between the rulesets of the 4th Edition and the 5th Edition of that game, and revolves around basic D&D tropes like multi-sided die, rolls for initiative, character building with varied stats , a limited number of actions and moves per turn, encouraging creative decision-making (aided by dice) outside combat, and maneuvering warriors on a grid of squares when battle breaks out.
As a beginner-friendly twist on D&D, Feast of Legends automatically chooses skills and powers for each of its classes, and it also reduces D&D’s six skill scores to five. Whether you want to improve 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 features a particularly robust launch campaign designed to bring players up to a D&D equivalent of level five experience. Each step includes cities, maps, puzzles and custom monsters. Anyone with reasonable D&D expertise can tear this campaign apart to remove the most blatant fast food branding if they want to take friends through a crazy one-off tabletop campaign, using these rules or a preferred system (D&D, Pathfinder, etc).
And finally, the people who created this campaign clearly have a gas with the ridiculous tie-in branding capabilities. Instead of creating characters based on classes such as Fighter, Rogue, and Wizard, players instead choose 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 definitely throw a party where a Frosty ice wizard can give an auto-enhancement to the rogue healer hybrid represented by French fries. Or watch the guide’s authors rename the common ‘double swing’ trait: ‘Two Beef Patties’.
That’s not even going into building a world powered by a Wendy’s verse, set in a huge country called Beef’s Keep. Dip a sacred chicken nugget in a magic fountain and it becomes a key. Take on a rambunctious villain known as the Beef Bandit, and he provides a monstrous distraction: “Hope you’re ready for the toys that come with your meal, because you won’t be happy to come face to face.” to stand with the Frista!” (The not-so-subtle digs at frozen beef patties and clown mascots continue from there.)
Perhaps craziest of all, the game rules include an optional buff or penalty based on what you eat at your gaming table of choice. Did you order from Wendy’s? Add some stat bonuses to your reels. (Apparently, a Wendy’s salad will do wonders for your “defensive” stats.) Settled for pizza? Your “charm” stats go down two points.
Whether or not you take this campaign seriously, anyone who considers themselves a die-hard D&D fan (or just really into spice, ahem) should check out the free PDF, or watch the nerdy folks at Critical Role own FoL campaign on Thursday evening. If you miss that Twitch show, it will probably be archived on their YouTube channel.
List image by Wendy’s