Have a Drink on Me

Have a Drink on Me.

On this past episode of the podcast the guys spoke about creating and using taverns and inns.  They did a pretty good job and I am going to expand on what they presented with my thoughts and a tavern of my own.

 In AD&D (at least in my campaigns) the tavern serves many of the same purposes as it does in our society today.  It is a place some people use as an escape from the pressures of everyday life, whether to simply have a safe haven where you can relax or a place to drown your sorrows in alcohol, or a social setting where friends meet to spend time together or plan an evening out. It can also be a place of gossip, information, intrigue, and business (sometimes not always on the up and up).

 The use of the tavern in your campaign can take on a life of its own. In my experience while adventurers travel where ever the adventure (loot) leads them, they tend to always have a city/town/village that serves as a home base.  They also tend to frequent a particular tavern within that base, it is where they conduct a lot of business and get the latest gossip.  As a result of this, taverns and the NPC’s within them often evolve over time and become major pieces within the campaign.  Taverns can be anything from your general generic gathering place to a business ran by the local thieves’ guild that is a front for money laundering and fencing of stolen goods.  There could be taverns catering to the poor such as the ones on Gin Lane in 1700’s London, taverns that cater to your average working locals, and those high end taverns that cater to the merchants and minor nobles.  And adventurers of course would likely inhabit all three as one point or another.

One thing mentioned by the guys that I think stood out was creating inn & taverns that stand out in some way.  A place near some historic site (like the scene of a great battle) could be like a modern day tourist trap with a small shop selling tourist bobbles reflecting the site’s history.  The idea of taverns being more than just an ordinary building and being built in some out of the ordinary place such as the Inn of the last Home in Dragonlance and the tavern I will present in this article.  All of this adds flavor to your campaign and helps to give it personality, and that is what it’s all really about.  If you are just worried about placing the PC’s together or passing them information then any generic tavern setting would work.  It’s when you want to add a little life to your campaign that you spice up your tavern and those who visit it.

As I wrote earlier your tavern tends to grow as your campaign does and you will be creating new information about the place and people within as events occur and your players ask questions.  Even though you will have to do much of this on the fly it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t already have a solid outline before play begins.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself when designing your tavern basics.

Is it just a tavern or an inn as well?  Many inn’s have a downstairs taverns for guests is this the case with your tavern?  Or are you looking to make strictly a drinking establishment.

If it is an Inn & tavern how many rooms does it have and does it have stables?  This can be important to help you determine if there are enough rooms available for the whole party and since many adventurers have mounts what are their options if there are no stables.  If there are stables what is the cost to house a mount.

 Who owns it?  Is the barkeep also the owner, or is he a hired hand with the successful owner not doing any of the actual physical labor or may not even be present.

 How big is it?  Maybe it is also an inn with a couple of floors of rooms, or a two story tavern with a common lower level and a VIP type upper level.  Is it large with lots of tables or a crapped space with small bistro style tables just big enough to set a couple of drinks on.

What does it contain?  Is there a kitchen, where do they store the alcohol and/or food.  Are there any additional rooms other than the main bar area.

What is the layout?  Someone on the show mentioned having some inn & taverns that were like a hotel with a front desk to check in and the tavern being more like an attached area like a hotel bar.  I guess this could work just fine, but I have always had the setup more like what you would see in a western.  You walk into the tavern and there may be stairs that lead upstairs to a 2nd floor with rooms you can rent.  Either way it is important to draw out your tavern so you know what areas are available.  Also keep in mind storage rooms and the like.

What’s on the menu?  What can be bought at the tavern and what’s the cost.  This is the kind of thing that really changes over the course of the campaign, sometimes you want to introduce something special and sometimes the players are looking for something in particular.  Regardless you should already have a basic list ready when the players walk in.

Who’s there?  Who are the major NPC’s that will frequent the bar.  This is what will change the most as NPC’s come and go within your campaign, but you should already have a basic list with NPC’s and adventure hooks ready.

Having some answers to these basic questions can help you be prepared for your player’s inevitable questions and actions you weren’t expecting.

Now we could create some random tavern generation charts, and I did contemplate that.  However, I think the local tavern is to important to leave up to chance, it often plays to big of a role to not be something the DM fleshes out to his/her specifications.

I have a tavern that I have used in several campaigns (please forgive the poor map done in paint).  It has appeared in a number of cities from Silverymoon to Saltmarsh across numerous worlds.  I am going to present here some of the tavern and the people frequenting it.  I won’t flesh out all of the NPC’s and information as it would take me days to put it all down, but it should be enough to give you a jumping off point.

 The Cellar Dweller

While many taverns may have some underground storage space this tavern is itself underground.  The Cellar Dweller is a tavern that caters specifically to adventurers of all races and types.  It is owned by Otto Stonechipper a dwarf who is a retired adventurer himself.

The tavern entry way on the surface is marked by a large wooden trapdoor in the ground with a plaque on it reading “The Cellar Dweller” and a large iron ring that can be pulled to open it.  When the trap door is opened there will be the sound of a voice echoing down below saying “door opened” (a magic mouth is triggered in front of the underground door letting those within know someone is coming.)  Under the trapdoor is a stairway leading down, light can be seen coming up from below.  The stairs lead down 20 feet and come to a stop in a well carved stone tunnel.  Light radiates from the ceiling in the center of the tunnel from a continual light spell.  The tunnel runs 30 feet to a large thick oak door.  As customers knock on the door a small panel in the center slides open and eyes look out to inspect the new comers.  If the customers have the look of an adventurer (if they are obviously not merchants or beggars or typical laborer types) the door will open revealing a gruff looking dwarf in chain mail backed by a huge half-orc in plate mail, these are Lorum and Ardin the tavern bouncers

No weapons are allowed in the tavern so they must be turned over to the bouncers when the customers enter.  They do not do a full search for only obvious weapons will be confiscated, they will then the bundled together and marked with a tag, the owner will receive a tag with the same mark so they can retrieve their weapons as they leave.  Only weapons are taken as there is no worry of magic or wands in the tavern since the entire area of the tavern from the door onward is covered in a permanent anti-magic shell.

The main part of the tavern itself covers a large area of 200’x200’ starting in the northwest corner and running 30 feet is a long bar behind which 2 bartenders fill drinks.  There are stools lined up along the bar and the room is filled with 15 tables big enough for 4 regular sized men to sit at comfortably.  The smell of hot delicious foot wafts from the kitchen and a bard plays a lute on the stage along the east wall.

1.  The Trap Door – This is the door on the surface that when opened reveals the stairs leading down to the tunnel entrance way.  A magic mouth is triggered in the tunnel outside the main tavern alerting those within.

2.  The Main Tavern – Large 200×200 area that is the primary tavern area with the bar and stage.  It contains 15 large tables and stools along the length of the 30 bar.

3.  Private Banquet Room – This 30×30 room with a single large banquet table lies behind a set of oaken double doors, and can be rented for 15 gp/hour.  It is a popular spot for adventuring groups celebrating a successful mission and is often booked for several days in advance.

4.  Storage Room – This storage area behind the bar holds the barrels and bottles of alcohol that is served.  The underground environment keeps the barrels cool, and only the bartenders and barmaids are allowed back.  Anyone else trying to enter the storage area is roughly ejected by Lorum and Ardin.

5.  The Kitchen – This 50×50 area is filled with pots and pans cooking over fires.  There are 3 cooks all reporting to the head cook Lela Strom.  Lela is the no nonsense type who takes her food seriously.  The food is superb and the house specialty is roasted vegetables over orange duck.  Fresh animals and vegetables are brought in daily as needed.

6.  Cooler – This is the primary food storage area, freshly butchered meat cuts are stored here hanging from hooks, and vegetables are kept protected in crates.

7. The Stage – This is the entertainment stage where various acts perform.  Otto has a house bard Landow who performs most nights, but time to time he brings in other various acts such as jugglers, tumblers, or sleight of hand artists.

The Menu

Meal Roasted Vegetables over Orange Duck 3 gp
Meal Ham & Bean Soup & Bread 1 gp
Meal Roast Mutton & Potatoes 1 gp
Meal Vegetable Soup & Bread 5 sp
Meal Steak & Vegetables 2 gp
Meal Roast Chicken & Potatoes 1 gp
Meal Chicken & Dumpling Soup 1 gp
Appetizer Crisped Potatoes 4 sp
Appetizer Boiled Potatoes 3 sp
Appetizer Lentil Soup 3 sp
Appetizer Beans & Rice 2 sp
Drink Pint of Ale 2 sp
Drink Pint of Beer 1 sp
Drink Pint of Mead 5 sp
Drink Pint of Wine 1 gp
Drink Pint of Bourbon 10 sp
Drink Pint of Gin 5 sp


Here are a few of the NPC’s I have developed.  I have not included all I have formed over the years, just the primary ones.

Otto Stonechipper
Dwarf Fighter/Thief
Level: 5/6
S: 15 I:13 W:12 D:17 C:16 CH:12
HP:40  AC:4
Equipment: ring of protection +3, short sword +2, boots of speed, wings of flying

Former adventurer and owner of the Cellar Dweller Otto is rather jovial for a dwarf and is typically in a good mood.  He spends a lot of time at the tavern interacting with customers and knows the regulars on a first name basis.

Lorum Dugart
Dwarf Fighter
S:17 I:13 W:14 D:15 C:17 CH:9
HP:61  AC:1
Equipment: Chain mail +2, Shield, Hammer +2, amulet of life protection, Ring of Feather Falling

Lorum is a member of the same clan as Otto.  Lorum is younger and grew up listening to Otto’s stories of adventure, this led to him to adventure himself.  Eventually he decided to retire and come to work for Otto

Ardin Greattooth
Half-Orc Fighter
S:18 66% I:9 W:11 D:13 C:17 CH:8
HP:79  AC:2
Equipment: Plate Mail +1, Two Handed Sword Flame Tongue, Ring of Regeneration

Ardin was a former adventuring companion of Lorum and the two became great friends.  When Lorum decided to retire Ardin followed him.  Between the two Lorum is the brains and Ardin listens and does as Lorum instructs.

Landow the Bold
Human Bard
Level: 1 (6 fighter, 8 thief)
S: 16 I:15 W:15 D:15 C:15 CH:16
HP: 59  AC:4
Equipment: Bracers of Defense AC:6, Ring of Protection +1, Short Sword +2 Giant Slayer, Pipes of the Sewers

Landow was a long time adventuring companion of Otto and now acts as his house bard.  Landow is friendly and knowledgeable, he has written several ballads about the exploits of his former adventuring party.

Derth Falen
Human Thief
S:12 I:14 W:13 D:18 C:15 CH:14
HP:42  AC:2
Equipment: Bracers of Defense AC:8, Ring of Protection +2, Dagger +2, Ring of Free Action, Sling of Seeking

Derth is a high ranking member of one the local thieves guild.  Otto is not a guild member but the guilds leaves him alone and don’t try to extort money from him.  His tavern is seen as a neutral territory between the guilds and often members will meet here to discuss problems or business.

I hope you found this useful, and good luck in your adventures.

The Looking Glass

I originaly created the the following item for the Tome of Minor items whixh can be downloaded on www.Dragonsfoot.org

Figurine of Minor Power      XP: 200                                GP Value: 700

There are various figurines, but all have the following in common. Each is apparently a statuette of small size, about a inch or so high. When the figurine is tossed down and a command word
spoken, it becomes a living creature which obeys and serves its owner.

If any figurine is destroyed in its statuette form it is forever ruined, all magic is lost, and it has no power. If slain in animal form the figurine simply reverts to its Statuette conformation and can be used again
at a later time as long as the statuette is not broken. When figurines of minor power are indicated, roll on the table below to determine the type.

1-2     Golden Tabby
3-4     Ivory Hamster
5-6     Silver Sparrow

Golden Tabby: at a word this statue turns into a common house cat that can speak common (HP 1-4, AC 8, attacks 1, Damage 1-2) the transformation lasts 12 hours and can be used once per week.

Ivory Hamster: At a word this statue turns into a small white hamster that can communicate telepathically with its owner. (HP: 1, AC:8) the transformation lasts for 6 hours and can be used once per week.

Silver Sparrow: at a word this statue changes into a normal sparrow that can speak common (HP 1, AC 9).  The transformation lasts for 1 hour and can be used once per week.

7 comments on “Have a Drink on Me”

  1. Mordekin

    Really Nice – Some very interesting ideas – Thanks!

  2. Greymist

    Excellent article Todd. I like the unique tavern presented as well as the well-thought out discussion of taverns in general. You have provided a simple yet effective blueprint for creating the home for every group of PCs!

  3. Adrian Sanchez

    I was wondeing if the link to this article still survives somewhere. i would love to see the map to this tavern so I could play it but the photo link is broken.

  4. Todd Hughes

    I have the original map image, I have emailed it to you

  5. Adrian Sanchez

    Thank you Todd, that would be great. I’d love to use your tavern in my next encounter.
    mr.bananchez (at) gmail (dot) com

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