Monday, October 7, 2019

Feast of Legends... Is Wendy's New RPG Really Worth It?

If you're a fan of tabletop RPGs, then you've no doubt heard about Wendy's latest release Feast of Legends. And if this is the first you're hearing about it, no, this isn't a gag, or a joke, or a publisher with an oddly similar name... the fast food chain Wendy's, known mostly for their square patties and snarky Twitter feed, has released a legitimate, 100-page tabletop RPG that's free to download. Not only that, but it comes with it's own campaign that takes you through the kingdom of Freshtovia, and lets you experience play from level 1 to level 5 as you become heroes of the land.

This game has, of course, been all over the social media feeds and RPG forums for days. People have called it everything from a sure sign that gaming is now completely mainstream, to a cheap corporate stunt as a fast food chain tries to use our favorite hobby as a way to get us in the door to buy a frosty. However, a bigger question we should all be asking is, "How does it play?"

The short answer, silly, but fun.

Simple Enough Anyone Could Play It

If you crack the cover, and read through this RPG, you'll see that some genuine thought, effort, and polish went into making it playable. Additionally, you'll find that it's more like a stripped-down version of Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition that puts it closer to the level of a board game like Hero Quest. Which is not to say that it isn't fun, but that it was designed for people who either didn't want a game that's super simple, or for those who've never played an RPG before. Perhaps both.

Either way, it puts you into a fully-realized world that is clearly a corporate gimmick, but it's still giving it all its got to make it fun.

But how does it play?
I didn't make that HeroQuest comparison lightly, and this game basically feels like someone tried to either reduce 5E down to board game level, or beef up a fantasy board game until it was a legitimate RPG. So while you have your attributes, your movement speed, and your class powers, as well as a bevy of weapons and magic items to choose from, that's about it. There's no multiclassing, no feats, not even any skills to bother with. There's no XP, either; you gain your next level when the included campaign tells you that you do. And while familiar mechanics like critical hits, advantage, and disadvantage show their faces, they're sort of all you've got when it comes to the rules.

Now, not being a complex game doesn't necessarily make it a bad game. It is extremely silly, filled with puns and creating an entire tongue-in-cheek setting with areas like the Temple of Panda, the domain of the Creepy King, and the Deep Freeze wherein lurks the Ice Jester and his minions. And if you can get yourself into the spirit of the game, it's got the potential for a lot of fun. Especially if you need a palate cleanser, or you're looking for something super simple to induct some of your inexperienced friends into the hobby.

But How Are They Making Money Off Of This?

All the folks decrying this as a marketing stunt aren't wrong. Wendy's has a track record for doing all the usual corporate wickedness, and I'm not saying they created this out of the goodness of their hearts or the love of the game. Feast of Legends exists to make them money, pure and simple.

But if they give it away for free, how do they make money off of it? Especially since the game clearly cost some cash to write, commission art for, and to format into a professional-looking game?

Because it is happening, mark my words.
Well, the first way it's working is through exposure. Because let's face it, this went off like a bombshell in the RPG community, and it's been all anyone's talking about for days now. Critical Role played through the game, and got everyone in their audience watching. And with Wendy's firmly front and center in a lot of people's minds, at least a few of them got a craving for a Baconator.

However, there is another gimmick built right into the rules system. You see, there's a rule about what you eat at the table, and the bonuses it gives you. You eat Wendy's menu items, you get bonuses. Eat other fast food items, or just snacks, you get negatives. And sure, a lot of us would just hand wave that away, but there are going to be at least some people who play with that rule enforced. And with a 5 level campaign that can go on for months, that means a lot of players may suddenly find themselves getting Wendy's once a week. A habit they might stick with, even once they switch to a different game.

So yes, this is a blatant marketing exercise. But just because it's a marketing gimmick doesn't mean you can't have fun with it. Especially since it's free to download, and if you never buy anything from the fast food chain then you can just enjoy playing with the free toy they gave you.

Speaking of toys, though, I think Wendy's should have given away PC minis with their meals so you had some ready-made game pieces for use in this (and other) games. If the folks in corporate are listening, make that happen, and you'll notice a lot of folks suddenly lining up to get the meal deal that comes with the free prize again.

Also, if you're in the market for more free gaming stuff, then you might also want to check out my previous posts Consent in Gaming (If You Haven't Downloaded This Book Yet, You Really Should) as well as Can't Get Enough of Free RPG Day? Dig A Little Deeper on Drive Thru RPG!

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That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday. Hopefully you enjoyed, and if you've used run these kinds of games before, leave us a comment to let us know what worked for you!

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