Cullinary Competition/Food Wars Brainstorming

Hi Gauntlet Community,

I often find inspirations for my games from media, other games, personalities and my own life. Recently I have become very interested in cooking. I am chewing through so many books to catch up on the art of food and of course this led to watching various competitive cooking shows. There is also an anime called Food Wars which more or less lead to me to seperate game ideas and finding systems for each.

The first would be very much lifted from food wards using Monster Hearts or Hearts of Wulin as a base. I lean to HoW more because replace combat with cook offs, and the stats are easier to change to the basic tastes of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami.

The other idea would be a system similar to Blades but missions would be broken into life, then recipe/prep/even ingredient hunting then the actual competition using said ingredients/techniques.

This topic is more to source any other ideas or guidance but it has been ‘cooking’ in my brain for some time.

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I really like this idea, but I wonder how deep to go. Cooking is all about mastery of techniques and flavor, and creatively combining them. And I fear that might be really hard to translate to a game without being very hand-wavy.

Most importantly, it needs a hook. Something to pull away from realism, because real cooking challenges require more knowledge of chemistry and taste than most people are willing to put in (what causes cremes to split? Can you brown this vegetable? etc). If you were cooking for aliens, or at least using alien ingredients for humans. Or if it was a fantasy setting, or even set in ancient times with ancient implements. Something to acknowledge that this is fictionalized cooking.

First step would probably be to identify the goal and the loop. What would a good session of the game accomplish? And what would the players do to accomplish it?

Perhaps a Monster-Of-The-Week style, where the players are presented with a new challenge (the Emperor is arriving, we must feed his entire retinue! A hungry dragon demands the greatest dish in the land, or they’ll eat the prince! ). This would allow the session to be broken up into phases:

  • Ingredients (research, acquisition, flavors)
  • Cooking (coordination, techniques, timing)
  • Presentation (serving, artistry, entertainment)

Which will allow players to find their niche and participate in different ways, and help shore up each other’s weaknesses. Players would need to learn about their patron’s preferences, maybe seek a unique or strange ingredient that gives big bonuses, and then actually interact (directly or indirectly) with their patron while they eat.

I am enjoying the idea of cooking for more than just humans. Or the challenges being extraordinary!

The concept of cooking a feast for an army. Then the next week a demon hears of such accomplishment and hires the crew. Basically the cullinary challenges keep escalating.

So I guess to begin to design of this, it would be monster of the week in that each challenge will be segmented into a new goal. Then maybe have an element that allows a bigger plot to simmer over a few sessions.

So gameplay wise, you’d have the introduction to the challenge. The investigation/cultivation of ingredients/planning phase. Then the execution of the dish(could be summed into in. Roll or two using bonuses from the planning), and finally the judgement phase.

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Right. The Judgement phase would be the opportunity for the GM to really ham it up as the taster. Make the players tense, describe the way the beholder levitates the food to its gaping maw, etc.

I’d keep the actual resolution rolls for the Judgement phase. Successes and failures during the Ingredients phase give bonuses/penalties to the Cooking phase (you got the Silverberries, but were poisoned in the process). Successes and failures during the Cooking phase give bonuses/penalties to the Judgement phase. And the Judgement is where the resolution actually happens. Creates a nice rising tension, especially if there are early stumbles (side note, a big part of balance would be to make success possible despite stumbles, or lesser victories even if things didn’t go to plan)

Yes. There should always be a chance at victory. I think that’s what certain specialists can use. Maybe of your character has butchery and understand the cut of meats or amazing at spice, no matter the dish it can really come together with spice. That should be the chance at victory.

Perhaps even cooking for certain creatures doesn’t mean death but your renown/reputation means more as a chef.

Also having random tables of ingredients, or even an ingredient generator to come up with ridiculous and fantabulous to seperate the game from reality.

Example challenge could be Ragnar the Red Dragon of The purple cliffs wants a dish created from the finest spiked bananas. These bananas are (random table generates elements).

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I love the 3 phase system in play here. Maybe play a couple games of Follow using the goal of cooking an important feast under pressure and see what challenges the players choose for themselves to guide the kinds of mechanics are most important to enjoyment during the final game? Might be an interesting insight into what the players expect/want from play

I have never played follow. I have imagined that pressure situation with competing clocks. I have imagined also, if I go the way of playbook or styles each could have a chef power and a sous chef power.

Another example being someone with a background in butchery as a chef they can use knowledge of a type of meat to get the most flavor or as a sous chef they reduce prep time when meat is involved.

Throwing ideas out still, but I like clocks a lot as timing is super important to cooking.

When you say clocks I think Blades in the Dark clocks, which are a tool for measuring progress overcoming an obstacle rather than timing, I’m curious how you would intend to use them

I do mean Blades on the Dark style clocks but with a twist. Imagine a cooking challenge of having one clock count down until serving time, while you have to manage a prep time or a few other progress clocks to finish on time. This would be for times challenges only and obviously with a story element to the game idea, it would be there to serve as a tension builder.

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Another potential thought I had speaking with a friend.

The three phases of Prep, Cook, Present can be mechanically

Prep - Build a Dice Pool, GM awards d6s through the prep challenges to spend in the Cook phase
Cook Phase - Head Chef distributes d6s to the team to complete cooking challenges
Presentation - burn remaining dice for presentation

To emulate in cooking shows when stuff goes awry, the dice can roll bad and it’s up to the head chef of the challenge to adjust and adapt. Each player/class can have skills to mitigate disaster, or even a have a head chef skill, then a sous chef skill to represent how their background is played in different roles.

The dice pool building, and maintaining would have to have a simplicity to track and utilize.

Edit: Instead of posting again, I have flesh out a little more of the ideas swirling in my head.

Challenges will be clocks that will tick regardless of time advancing. Example: Stew Creation 0/3 clock. And this thought popped into my head, successes give you a better chance to earn a presentation die. So if you have 2/3 successes you then roll at the end of the challenge a percentile or a d6, so you’d succeed overall on 3-6 and only fail on 1 or 2.

Presentation die are then rolled as a total by the head chef who then earns/loses renown which is used to determine the hierarchy of the team for the next sessions. (borrowing this idea from World Wide Wrestling where there can only be one too chef). And a secondary stay to renown would be stress. So your chef can either burn out or be shunned away.


I have started a Google Drive Folder with my hand notes and beginning ideas thrown on some paper and files. Feel free to check it out. I created a concept for a character sheet as well.


I’ve put some thought into the flow of the game and I have a prototype character sheet.

Session 0/1 should be an introduction to the characters and mechanics. This will be a battle Royale Cookinf Challenge ala Iron Chef style. The players will face off in an expedited format where they prep, cook and present. No one starts off with more than 1 Renown, and at the start of a session the player with the highest renown (or more recent player to reach the highest) becomes head chef for the kitchen/school/patron. Basically you play to find out who becomes head chef first.

Head Chef has the responsibility of negotiating a recipe/dish based on random tables that generate what the paying customers desire, then they must assign who does what for the line. Your character may do a station you aren’t skilled at (but as a chef you have had experience just it’s not your specialty). You can still earn dice by burning stress (like Blades) to still help complete those clocks. You may have moves associated with your background to assist you along.

When the meal is ready, the head chef then plates and presents. Renown is awarded/removed based on performances and a final roll.

I also like the idea of d6s with the following result table.
1-3 mistep/failure
4-5 success
6 Finese achieved (exploding mechanic, add another d6)

The Finese outcome would replicate moments of greatness for each individual or a break through.

The clocks would be filled in as such depending on the type of challenge is required

Easy 2 clock
Moderate 4 clock
Hard 6 clock
Expert 8 clock

How many successes earned is then calculated together for a percentile roll. So if you had 1 success out of 2 for an easy clock you 50% chance of earning a presentation die for the finally stage.

Essentially each stage is about building a die pool, spending the die pool for the die pool. Each step becoming more crucial than the last.