There are a lot of ways I could talk about flavour. This is the first day where I looked for inspiration at the other words that are also suggested. However, because of my hard love for my current character, I’ve got an easy thing to write about, and what flavour means to my character also helps to explain the flavour of the world; what differentiates it from other settings1There are many other things as well, but this one’s thematic, so bear with me.. I’m talking about RuneQuest, Roleplaying in Glorantha, but the general idea here, of getting flavour from what is available to PCs, holds true everywhere.
My character likes flavour on her food. She sprinkles chili flakes on a lot of what she eats, and likes highly spiced jerky.
That tells us a lot about the world, and a lot about her. Let’s talk about her first.
She’s a natural rebel, which in this setting (and ruleset) is indicated by her having a lot of Movement in her. She’s got a big affiliation with the underlying universal force that indicates change, for the better and for the worse. As a result, she needs and craves new things, and her eating habits are part of it. Currently, she’s really liking chili.The spice mixes she likes are mostly her grabbing the contents of several pouches, and sprinkling them on food to try them out. Tomorrow she may stop bothering with interesting food because her attention is taken up by some new challenge, or she has a fight to prepare for, or she has decided to fast for the day. Sometimes, she eats hard tack and drinks water, and does not even realise she has eaten – she just keeps her body going while she moves, and while her mind works on other things.
The concept of the Movement power (Rune, in Gloranthan parlance) is part of the flavour of Glorantha. The rationale behind her changeable personality and her quick anger and her soft side is based on her Runes. As well as Movement she’s also strong in other Runes (as one would hope an adventurer would be) and they allow me to give her the right Gloranthan flavour, and also to solve questions of her personality easily. Will she blurt out the Truth? There’s a Rune on her sheet for that. Will she let someone else persuade her of a thing she does not want to hear or know? Again, that’s on the sheet. It’s not enforced, but it’s a very good thumbnail sketch of her personality, and I chose those Runes, to go with the personality I wanted. People talk openly of their Runes, and have them as tattoos. Her affiliations are drawn on her, and that’s part of Glorantha’s flavour too. You can tell a lot, but not all, about someone just by looking. You can tell their power, and their riches, and their connections. You can’t tell what they like to eat, but you might be able to tell whether they care about the material world, or are ascetics, so you can guess how much a feast will impress them personally.
And the other bit about the flavour comes from this fact: it’s a Bronze Age world with magic, and chili is available, in major trading ports. It’s not a grubbing in the earth, poverty-ridden setting (although there are parts of it that are, of course). It’s a rich world with great trade links and you can get spices from much of the known world, dyes, and silks. Luxury just costs money – it’s not impossible. The ports and tradeposts are loud and interesting. Trade and war are both common. It’s a 3D, complicated world, in which the adventurers make their way against a fascinating backdrop. All that, from the fact that my character likes chili sprinkled on new cheese with honey.