There are few locations as iconic as the local tavern in fantasy gaming. That’s because they are flexible enough to fill many roles…
Taverns come in all shapes and sizes from seedy dockside taverns, to welcoming traveller’s rests and opulent establishments catering to the rich and powerful.
Taverns are incredibly important locations in most campaigns. When a band of adventurers enters a new village, town or city they are virtually certain to visit a tavern (or two).
The good news is that, for the busy GM, taverns can serve a number of roles:
- Home Away From Home: Most adventurers don’t maintain a home base. While they might have a home where their parents live, I doubt many mighty warriors or powerful wizards live with their mummy and daddy. Sadly, an adventurer’s lifestyle means he is often on the move. This inevitably means he’ll need somewhere to stay and taverns fit the bill very nicely.
- Get Jobs: It’s one of the terrible cliches of fantasy gaming, but often adventurers meet their prospective employer in a tavern. In many cases, they have answered a specific summons or their prospective employer has just been hanging around waiting for adventurers to show up. Beyond these (lacklustre) job opportunities taverns are a great place for adventurers to suffer from mistaken identity, theft, assault and other events leading to their next adventure!
- Get Information: Taverns are often the social hub of a community or settlement. As such, they are busy places in which people meet and exchange news. Inevitably, this means the crowd is rife with rumours of both events great and small. Adventurers looking to get the latest news can do far worse than buying a few rounds of drinks at a local tavern.
- Hire Help: Sometimes, an adventurer may need help on his next adventure. Perhaps he requires a few guards to watch over him while he sleeps or he hopes to recover so much treasure he needs to hire a porter or two! Taverns are also a good place to meet prospective henchmen as adventurous types often lurk in such locations for the above reasons.
- Have a Brawl: Barroom brawls are fun (add one to your campaign today)! They are a great way for the players to let their hair down and roll some dice without the imminent threat of a PC dying.
Help Fellow GMs!
Do you find taverns useful for another reason? Do the taverns in your campaign fulfil another role? Let us know in the comments below and help GMs make better use of the taverns in their campaign today!
Raging Swan Press has published several products about taverns. This include:
- 20 Things #1: Seedy Tavern
- 20 Things #28: Travellers’ Inn
- GM’s Screen #4: Seedy Tavern
- Places of Power: Soulspur Inn
- Places of Power: The Last Resort
- Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn