Adventurers, in any genre, game or story need food and shelter. A good portion of your beginning and ending to a table-top game will take place in an establishment where drinks, food and shelter can be found. Some stories revolve around a saloon or bar. From a mining colony close to the Kuiper belt to a historical inn set in Oxford, England, characters will come into these establishments made for travelers and wayward souls. One can find a plethora of information about inns and taverns from the past here . Inns, bars and taverns serve as the cornerstone to any gaming or story universe and should be crafted with care. Some game masters or writers will simply grab established material such as The Three Feathers for Warhammer or bring to life the Friendly Arms Inn found in Forgotten Realms . But most writers want to create their own ideas. Every place characters go should be stocked with interesting personalities, descriptive drinks and food, paid services and a small stock of goods to purchase and plenty of quests, game ideas for many nights of gaming. Maps of the place may, or may not be needed so keep in mind what type of game you are playing. Seedy bars with lots of fights will often need to be mapped out.
Below I will give you some great tips on making your own establishment for your next story or game.
Cool mixer and music for image found here.
Inns and taverns get their personalities, backstory and looks from their owners. Creating the barkeep, servants and owner is essential and need to be top priority. When you describe the building you will be describing a part of this character as well. Approach this task from a perspective of character creation with a twist. Usually tavern owners are much older and have tons of life experiences behind them. Craft your establishment owner using a history of adventure. Tie them into specific events occurring in a timeline within your world. Older, experienced adventurers usually make up two thirds of inn keeps. Give them at least two different classes (or jobs) with a few legends. Tie at least one story to the founding of the bar. Once you create the owner, create her family as well. Most inns are family ran. Some inns do have an owner not in attendance with a small, poor family running the show. Make sure your barkeep, waitress, and stable-hands/ servants can answer the following questions:
- What do you have to drink?
- What kind of food do you serve?
- Do you have any room to sleep?
- Can you stable our mounts/ Room to park our vehicles?
- Is there anyone hiring?
- Are there any rumors going around? (Quest Related questions)
- Do you have any goods/services to sell?
Food and Drinks further define the reputation of the tavern that might stand on its own or be a part of the inn. I highly recommend watching a few shows on foods especially for a fantasy game such as Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman and Booze Traveler If you have multiple non playing characters staying at your inn, tell your players what they are eating/ drinking. A lot of information about what type of person they are can be gleamed from their food choices. Fantasy species such as dwarves and elves have their own types of particular foods. If an establishment carries delicacies for a particular species it might give the players more information to enrich the gaming experience.
Creating the inn itself should be the next item in your mind. A short paragraph describing the establishment always comes in handy. Take into account where the staff and owner sleeps. Also determine if the place is near a city or serves as a small in-between location. When you figure out where the exact location of the inn is, you can determine what type of trade agreements have been made to keep the place stocked with food, drink and goods. Think about the logistics of this establishment as it could come into play later on. Helping the bar owner with a problem involving her shipment of hops and barley would benefit players in many ways.
The tavern/ bar/ inn should be a place chocked full of ideas and one shot games for your players. Understanding the local economy, trade, wildlife and weather will give you much to go on. Local big personalities should flock to the place in order to recruit for dangerous missions. In a sci-fi campaign big time smugglers and crime lords could recruit here as well. It is important to throw down many seeds for adventures. By exploring the area around the Inn you can ensure the nearby graveyard might pose of interest to the adventurers.
By now your head should be brimming with ideas. This place of rest should be your number one area of generating ideas for adventures within the campaign setting. Creating a city is nice, but can be extremely cumbersome for people pressed for time. Try and localize the action and realize less is truly more. The typical bar and inn might be a well-worn troupe but it is quite effective in creating one shot or campaign games. Use it to the fullest and reap the rewards of happy gamers and game masters for a focused, small effort.