The marketplace is a great location for fun and adventure, and also for providing a bit of local colour to give your players a sense that the land they inhabit or are travelling through is exotic and strange. Excite their senses with descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells! Have unusual wares for sale, and what better items to be unusual than the food and drink?
Everyone needs to eat and drink, and comestibles will form a large part of any market. Even if the market is primarily focused on non-edible goods of some sort, you can bet that there will be opportunistic stallholders nearby who are hawking food items for hungry shoppers. Some ideas:
- Make some of the items disgustingly unappetising. Eyeball soups, curdled yoghurt with maggots, weird fruits that smell like body odour, etc.
- Make some of the items incredibly spicy. They smell delicious and look okay, but one morsel and the taster has to run for the nearest water, eyes and nose streaming.
- Make some of the items taste awful. Again they appear harmless but the flavour is, shall we say, an acquired taste. Constitution rolls all round to avoid uncontrolled gagging and spitting it out, which will of course deeply offend the person who gave/sold you the food.
- Make some of the items actually good. But they don't look it, and the heroes will have trouble finding them amidst everything else.
- Have something familiar and appealing, but ridiculously expensive. Because it's a rarity here and so only rich people can afford it.
- Make the boring, bland, everyday staple something different or unusual. Instead of wheat or rice or potatoes or whatever, make it tree bark, or seaweed, or fungus, or insect cocoons. It can be virtually anything, as long as you declare it to be common, edible, and just nutritious enough that peasants can survive on it, more or less.
- Have some alarmingly strong alcohol. This can be true even if the culture ostensibly bans alcohol. There'll always be someone making contraband.
- Have a local specialty that is all over the place. Wherever you go, you see it. Surely it must be incredibly popular and delicious, right? Actually, it's really dull and flavourless, and they only keep making it for all the foreigners and tourists who seem to want to try it.
- Stalls run by tree-beings selling mammal meat next to stalls run by humanoids selling vegetables.
- Twice-killed meat, thanks to necromancy.
- Gases in bladders that have to be tied down to stop them floating away.
- Items sold as "food", but that are completely indigestible by humans: minerals, wood etc.
- Meat of a sentient species, maybe even humans, sold as an insult by a species that considers them inferior.
- Non-sentient meat creatures bred to look exactly like human children.
- Novelty bottles of soda made to look like potions, that have no effect (or at least most of them don't).
- Chicken - in a plane/dimension/planet where chickens don't exist so it's incredibly exotic.
- Mystery Meat sausages. You have to have mystery meat sausages.
Commentary by memnarch (who has not seen the movie)
Ok, the GM has to just be trolling Annie here. All of these salespeople except for the second one look human, and humans need water to survive. Even people that have adapted to live in the desert need water of some kind. None of these offerings seem great at rehydration or even staying hydrated, except possibly the gumbo. And if that's too spicy as well, Finn would start losing even more water through the increased sweating.
That said, water has not always been guaranteed safe to drink on its own. Perhaps the outpost has a contaminated water supply and they need to process it to make it potable. Exceptionally so if anything more than boiling is needed. If you lack for time or cheap energy, you might as well make something with the boiled water rather than let it cool down and potentially contaminate again.
Hmm. Prediction for next couple scenes, Finn meets up with Rey and BB-8 and barters for water by offering to work for them for a while. That would presume that Rey and BB don't say anything about the fact that they're somewhat associated with the Resistance of course, but that could make for more Fun™ and entertaining conversations in the future.
Commentary by Keybounce (who has not seen the movie)
So there is an obvious reference to the Monty Python Cheese Shop routine here. Being an RPG, Monty Python references are routine (and so only worth half XP).
So let's look at this desert. Remember, this is a dry place. We need moisture farms to live. People should be wrapped up to minimize moisture loss. Anyone who looks even half decent should have face masks, etc.
We have hot gumbo, spicy. (Well, that wants you to eat fat, not liquid afterwards, and it's another way to get your daily liquids).
We've got... Salty coffee? Salty? That would encourage more water drinking. Free refills? The water for that coffee would be really expensive.
Scorpion venom? To drink?
So why is there no call for water in the desert?
Oh, does anyone remember any of the names of these characters from the movie? Too bad there's no horse, or other beast of burden in these pics.
GM: Finn, you reach the outpost. Traders peddle wares in a makeshift souk.
Finn: Water... water...
Trader 1: I have gumbo, very hot, very spicy.
Trader 1: No soup for you!
Trader 2: Coffee! Nice, thick, salty coffee! Free refills!
Finn: Ugh!! Water...
Trader 3: Hey! Are you going to pay for that? It costs seven wupiupi.
Finn: But... please—
Trader 3: It’s lovely fresh sandscorpion venom!
Finn: Doesn’t anyone have any water? The single most popular drink in the Galaxy?
Trader 3: Not much call for it around here.