Friday, October 4, 2019

Opinion: Feast of Legends (Fast Food goes Dice)

I saw this, saw everyone lose their shit and thought I'd throw in my 2 cents: prolific fast food chain Wendy's published a complete RPG with campaign, clocking out at 97 pages and is giving it away for free. This just up front, I'm having a blast right now. Genius. Beautiful. And rotten to the core ... I have opinions on that. Let's have at it.

Not a review ...

I've heard people state that this is a complete rule book and functioning. That is, to say the least, bullshit. No DM advice, no play examples and you only need to read the first page of the adventure/campaign to see that this is hollow and bad (also full of advertisement). That said, you could drop this into almost any D&D derivative of your choice (3e/Pathfinder/Basic Fantasy seem great fits) and it should work (no guaranties, though ... nobody says that this had seen testing for balance or what have you).

Might need some work, but could be fun. Maybe. Once. And you have to have experience DMing.

So it looks nice and crisp. Proper layout, nice illustrations, inspiring maps. It is great at mimicking to be a complete game and yet, it is decidedly not. So, no, I'm not investing time in writing a proper review. This is an artifact and in its understanding on what makes a rpg tick just as deep as you'd expect from someone selling pressed sugar mixed with sad excuses for meat as food. Compared to proper RPG this is what a hamburger is to Beef Wellington.

As I said, it is an artifact, at best. Something that is nice to have. I'd buy this as a book, just to have it in my collection. A RPG it is not, though.

Here's why it's funny

This coincides with another article I've read today, something about why successful subcultures are doomed. It describes how innovation draws consumers and sociopaths until a subculture goes full bloom in mainstream and goes away to die afterwards. I don't necessarily agree with the piece (which should be discussed in another post, I guess), but it gets the basics right and this here is a great example what the process could manifest like. 

I admit, 'funny' is a bit of a stretch. However, it has to be obvious at this point that this is nothing else but a marketing ploy to get some (well deserved, imo) buzz. It's well played and it works. The reactions are as you would expect: people hate it, people embrace it and the more money oriented folks already offer twitch sessions. This draws flies like an old burger in an alley (pardon the bun).

Way more funny, though, is that they treat our hobby like publishers already do for years now. Nice to look at, some variation to well known ideas and a new-game-hype every other week. Just a buck, just a little kickstarter, just something to put into the shelf and forget. We brought this unto us, and we deserve it ... It is how those things tend to play out, and yet, there is an irony to it all.

Here's why it's not funny ...

It's not all fun and giggles, though. We not only have to see this for what it is (a fun promo for unhealthy food), we also have to understand that this is IN NO WAY, SHAPE OR FORM different to what D&D under Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro is: a vehicle to sell product. Sure, you don't have to buy a burger in real life to gain a bonus in the game, but the principles at work are very much the same (and junk food has been a huge part of the gaming experience, so ...).

Splat books, miniatures, editions, merchandise ... the rules are designed with selling additional material in mind. Arguably more so than actually being playable (high level gameplay from D&D 3e onward, if you need an example). D&D's triumphant parade into mainstream shows more and more how they need to divert from the original concepts that spawned our little hobby towards something more .... superficial. It becomes something like a theme park of an adventure compared to the real thing. The difference between reading War and Peace and getting it retold to you by a 3-year old ...

I need to stop. Either way, this is where it's at.

It's not all bad (some will say)

If someone enters the hobby because Wendy's gave it some exposure, it's all for the better. It also does show others that variations to D&D are possible, which is just as well, considering D&D becomes more and more synonymous for RPG in general (while changing and watering down significantly for mainstream appeal ... see above). In all that, the ad is a good (and bright) marker and reminder what mindless consumption will lead to.

That's the morale, if you need one. Big Money will have its way with RPGs, if we want that or not. And while it's certainly good for most people, as it offers new and exciting forms of mindless entertainment, it leaves those behind who took the whole thing a bit more seriously. As with all dying subcultures.

If you need to know what you can do about this, I'd say: built on that to be prepared for the decline. Innovation is what creates new spaces, as they say, and when the whole fad has run its course and D&D is nothing more than a theme park, those looking for more will find plenty. And that's the nice thought I want to close this with.

Guess what I'll have today [source]


  1. And next month Wendy's will claim this as the #1 RPG download and get a second shot of publicity before the game sinks into obscurity.

    1. The twitch comment was no joke. There's already more than that happening right now ... Not saying it got legs, but they are clever and I'm sure they'll milk it. We've seen parfum outlets offering character classes, car companies showing old school D&D action animation, now this, obviously there's a potent market. We'll see.

  2. The advantage is when the fad has run its course and "D&D" goes back to the world of nerderty, forgotten and neglected in favor of The New Shiny Thing, those of us who never forgot how to make stuff up will still be off rolling dice and being entertained. I certainly don't need to be part of a late-capitalism-sanctioned "subculture" to be creative.

    1. Thank you for that comment. I totally agree. Can't happen fast enough, though :)

  3. I got a comment on this post yesterday that should be marked as spam and forgotten. I really shouldn't publish it. That said, commenting on it and putting it on display seems fair to me, because otherwise the INSULT that it poses would just stay with me. Doing it like that, I can say my piece before you read what that person shared, because it is important to understand that not only the title of this post advises that this is my opinion, the first heading also states that this is NOT a review.

    So without further ado, please, dear reader, test your reading ability by comparing the following to what I wrote above (I don't care about the bad spelling, btw, this is about the content only):

    "I have played a couple of Dnd campaigns myself and I have something to say about this article and the game. I came here looking for a proper review, something that would give me some other opinion than mine. However what i foud is a merciless critic to theis game just because where it comes from.
    I read the game and it's not very well balanced, skills are repetitive and it lacks fight examples and some other stuff but, what about the pros? I can see it takes the base from dnd and the Meat Feast could come from Anima, it gives you a whole new world to explore, new monsters and theme and most of all, IT'S GODDAMN FREE!!
    We could have criticized Wendy's so much and maybe more if it had a price but its free so it's obvious that it would have flaws. And even then the art, design, maps, etc. look a lot like the ones in the DnD books and similar.

    Long story short, I came for an objective review and I recieved a forced dose of so called moral.

    [insult retracted]"

    You can't tell me that this was produced "in good faith", as they say. Or even that the person has actually read what I had written. Nothing of this resonates with what I wrote (I'm actually quite positive about the product, it's just not a full RPG by any definition and also flawed). It is as if he wrote about a different text ... or as if it was just a c/p hack-job for general appliance. Actually, if he had wanted a review, he should have stopped at the heading saying IT IS NOT A REVIEW instead of wasting his and my (and, sorry, now your) time.

    And the cherry on top: I provide a free service and that guy not only chose to write a comment how I DARE not to provide him with the information he was looking for he's also CRITICIZING me for being skeptical about something I don't support, while reasoning (screaming, really) that the thing is free and therefor only deserves support. The audacity.

    Well, alright, I said my piece. Stupid shit like this will be deleted or displayed on my blog, depending on how I feel about it. That's the only two ways. I hope this was just someone getting paid by Wendy's to troll bad press on their ad-stunt. The alternative would be very depressing, imo ...

  4. No DM advice, no play examples...

    Whilst I do take your point, I actually like to think that the hobby is mature enough, and that there are plenty of other sources for this information, that actually including this sort of generic advice in a modern RPG is generally a waste of space for most games and should be excluded.

    1. I think (and I might be cynical about this) that it's just too hard to do that kind of advice right. It's a real effort to get the mechanical part of the game (the orchestration of it all, if you will) right and the DM part is the most crucial of that. In my opinion it should be a standard that a rulebook teaches how the game works and how a DM is to make the game work. If you know your way around RPGs, you may have an idea how to use this, sure, but that's not what I'm talking about. It got too easy to get away with this kind of shit and I won't support it.


Recent developments made it necessary to moderate posts again. Sorry about that, folks.