A tavern is more than a name or its bill of fare.

It’s the folk inside.

They’re the ones who belly up to the bar, order a round, risk all in a game of chance, grouse over a mug, join in a group song, do a little business, try to steal a kiss, concoct a scheme, agitate the rabble, debate politics, or seek refuge from the world’s troubles.

And while the tavern’s name on the board outside or the general condition of the building might clue you in on the type of drinking establishment that lies within, you’ll never know for certain until you cross the threshhold and meet the people who frequent the place.

So, check your weapons at the door, grab a d20, and see who is running and patronizing the Publik House these days.

Proprietors

  1. Jaunty Jill. A gambler who won the house on a roll of the dice, who keeps things lively by providing gambling.
  2. Mrs. Canhold. A widow respected by regulars for keeping a clean place and insisting on a sense of propriety.
  3. Capt. Vallas. A retired soldier and a patriot who indulges former soldiers who run up tabs and abuse his hospitality.
  4. Pontius. A former slave whose kitchen fare draws in customers as much as the house’s signature mead.
  5. Daughters of Voel Neller. Three women trying to keep the business afloat after their father went adventuring.

Patrons

  1. Regelius Stitchpurse. An humorless investor who conducts business over a glass of port, buying and selling shares in real estate and large-scale projects.
  2. Lilly Sachet. A flirty gossip who never hesitates to trade her secrets for a full mug.
  3. Art Haulin. Brawny, surly dockworker who only wants to drink his ale in peace after a long day at work.
  4. Cally Kandu. She’s the lure for the unsuspecting traveler, ready with a tale of distress. Her conferates wait outside to rob the unsuspecting.
  5. Freddy Fletcher. Honest dart tosser who is always up for a friendly game. Only plays for money when he challenges pros after seeing them hustling easy marks.
  6. Milicent the Mighty. Buffoon of an adventurer, but beloved for her good heart and steadfast loyalty.
  7. Carter Liberty. Political free thinker who is eager to discuss unjust laws and advocate for change.
  8. Patricia Wink. It’s her birthday and she wants someone to share a celebratory drink with.
  9. Squeaky Charlie. The first whisp of a beard appeared on his chin this morning so he’s come looking for his first drink. His voice is still changing.
  10. Chandra Cutter. Knife fighter full of piss and vinegar and spoiling for a fight and hard liquor.
  11. Samuel Stuffshirt. A high-ranking official in a city department with wide-ranging powers. His daily drink is to settle his nerves before heading home.
  12. Gail Sails. First mate on a fast ship who relies on the house to collect her mail and bank her share each time she’s in port.
  13. Mathias Smudge. Purveyor of small magics and alchemical products who sets up shop once a week.
  14. Veranda Terraced. Local gardener who brightens up a room with her delivery of floral arrangements. Always stops to fill her flask, to keep away the night chill, you know.
  15. William Touched. A smooth-talking rake who always seems to be short on cash and eager to engage in conversation.
  16. Zither Pantaloons. A brightly attired musician with a smile and a repertoire of crowd-pleasing tavern songs.
  17. Lucky Dan. Easy come, easy go. A windfall’s just come this regular’s way and he wants to share his fortune with a round for the house.
  18. Ephiny Rule. Penny-pinching tea-drinker of a strict and judgmental religious sect who only stopped because she needs a room for the night.
  19. Cannidius Cole. Former soldier who is missing an arm, with an even disposition but won’t hesitate to intervene when he perceives a wrong.
  20. Yonella Red Scarf. An exuberant fan of the sports arena, the gladiators, chariot racers and foot racers who is always decked out in the colors of her current champion.

Hope these foot the bill the next time your adventuring party decides to check out the nearest watering hole. As for the serving staff, those I leave to you to figure out. :)

 

 

 

 

About  Troy E. Taylor

Troy's happiest when up to his elbows in plaster molds and craft paint, creating terrain and detailing minis for his home game. A career journalist and Werecabbages freelancer, he also claims mastery of his kettle grill, from which he serves up pizza to his wife and three children.



11 Responses to Troy’s Crock Pot: Where Everyone Knows Your Name

  1. Fun! I love random prompts to get the brain going. I like all of the proprietors, which means you should roll a d6, where 6 is a slimy cheat who has a deal with the Thieves Guild. ;)

  2. While creating a crowd of pre-stated NPCs with backgrounds is certainly a very important aspect in making a tavern come alive, because I am a cartographer, the first place to give a tavern some life is the map/floor plan itself. Every location or potential adventure I site I create begins with a map first. Of what I might include in a given tavern – private chamber for high stakes gambling, secret chambers, escape routes for roguish characters, placement and size of windows, if there are rooms to let (as an inn), if there’s a second, third or other floors and/or cellar gives me a place to start. Then and only then, do I decide on who is the proprietor, who is the staff and who patronizes it comes second.

  3. I like this, it helped me jot out some good ideas in my notebook. Thanks! I really like the patron spread, a good mix of personalities and hooks.

  4. Great list, Troy. I do a similar thing, though I build taverns from a few basic characteristics.

    First I determine who frequents the establishment. Not a full list, but a few ideas are:

    1. The upper class
    2. The rank-and-file who represent the locale’s ethos
    3. Lowly laborers
    4. Outsiders and travelers

    Clientele are partly a function of the type and location of the joint, though a house which is seeming misfit could have an interesting backstory.

    Next, what’s the main activity at this joint? Again, a short list for example:

    1. See and be seen
    2. Enjoy the great entertainment (musicians, dancers, erotica, etc.)
    3. Gamble
    4. Eat great food
    5. Get soused
    6. Stay for the night; other stuff is incidental

    Once I know who’s there and why they’re there, it easy to fill the room with appropriate personalities. It’s also easy to work out where the business is located and what it’s floorplan is likely to be (hi, Gamerprinter!) based on these factors. I use this approach both for developing town plans in advance as well as creating things on the fly when PCs go in an unexpected direction.

    • That is a really detailed approach. Sounds like you do your research. Have you studied the development of inns and taverns in Renaissance Europe? Though there were many types, as you point out social class was a determining factor in its clientele. Generally, my builds are one or two types, the colonial-era public house, a place of business and politics that usually had a few rooms to let, or the Elizabethan courtyard, which evolved into old London’s first theaters.

      • I haven’t done historical research. I’ve just combined my experience of what I’ve seen in the world (including things I believe are virtually timeless, like social class distinctions) with what I’ve read in fiction with my own thought process for how to define what occurs in a game.

  5. The Japanese version of the typical fantasy tavern, believe it or not, is a bath house, which provides more than bathing facilities, but usually rooms to rent, a restaurant/tavern, sometimes as a gambling facility, sometimes a place that hires geisha to entertainment, and sometimes even as a brothel. I wrote, designed and did cartography of Haiku of Horror: Autumn Moon Bath House, an adventure site, map product and mini adventure module for my Kaidan setting of Japanese horror (PFRPG). The bath house is a hand-drawn version of an authentic 5 story, hot-spring-fed structure.

    It comes with a fully stated proprietor, staff of attendants, a hired yakuza gambler, a magistrate as a guest, and pilgrims, as this bath house is located on the temple circuit. A rather tragic ghost of a bath house attendant provides an encounter for those who spend the night here.

    • Thanks, Gamerprinter. I appreciate your description of what a traditional public house is like in a different cultural tradition. I’ll use that to add more variety to my own game settings.

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