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Stat Boost: 5 Taverns

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About a week ago I got a chance to be a player in a game of Open Legend rather than GMing for the first time in years. It was a ton of fun, and I took a few things away from it that I think are going to really improve the games I run. I fully intended to talk about that today, but the post ended up becoming a lot longer than I thought it would be and I still haven’t finished writing it, so it’s going to have to wait until next week if I want this to be on time.

In my day job I’m a bartender. This means that I end up coming up with a lot of ideas that revolve and pubs and the people in them. I draw a lot of maps of taverns when I’m stuck for ideas. In order for my game to not just be one tavern encounter after another, all of these ideas go into one big folder that rarely gets looked at. For today’s Stat Boost I’ve gathered 5 of these together; there should be enough information here for you to drop them into your game whenever you need something to happen and the party have decided to go drinking.

The Happy Jackal

  • Landlord: Tuorg Greasefist (AKA The Happy Jackal, Happy Jack, Laughing Jack)
  • House Ale: Brown Paralyzer by Happy Jackal Slops (A cloudy brown ale; taste varies from batch to batch, 3.8% ABV)

Tuorg Greasefist – known as ‘The Happy Jackal’ – is an unusually civilised gnoll who has managed to forge a living running what amounts to a dive bar. Friendly and welcoming, Greasefist sees The Happy Jackal as a place that welcomes all comers. He is used to putting up adventurers for the night – and equally used to cleaning up the messes they tend to leave.

One Interesting Thing: Tuorg keeps an old halberd mounted above the bar. The shaft is carved with tiny Infernal script which seems to be a contract binding Tuorg to serve some entity ‘for all times past, present, and eternal’.

The Crossed Keys

  • Landlord: Arotorin Carter (AKA Artor, Arin, Carter)
  • House Ale: Melting Heart by Streetwater Brewing Co. (Dark cherry compote-infused oatmeal stout, 6.2% ABV)

Arotorin is an unusual sight – a rotund half-elf. He was a cleric and healer of some renown, but fell from grace when he took to the bottle. After a string of incidents that saw him being barred from most of his usual haunts, Arotorin took to making his own beer – and found that his years spent brewing potions and healing salves made him something of a natural. He began selling his creations under the label ‘Streetwater Brews’, and soon had enough money to get premises and set up his own bar – where he can drink as much as he likes, as long as the bills get paid.

One Interesting Thing: Arotorin is still a functioning alcoholic. He also harbors a deep-seated grudge against the clergy that excommunicated him and the god that stopped answering his prayers. He would love to regain his god’s favour – god-granted magic made life worth living – but he would also love to see the church punished for exiling him.

The Shining Sceptre

  • Landlord: Efrey Raventrack (AKA Effie, Raven, Ms. Raventrack)
  • House Ale: Rainbow Breeze by Wicked Tickle (Jasmine wheat beer, 5.1% ABV)

A high-end pub for high-end clients. Two doormen in full plate armour bar entry to the large, opulently decorated tavern to anybody who is not a ‘member’ (which means, generally, that customers must be wealthy and socially well-regarded). Efrey Raventrack is the distant cousin of a high-ranking member of the court, an ‘It girl’ and social butterfly. She is highly intelligent and enjoys embroiling herself in tangled webs of courtly (and social) intrigue, setting moves in motion and sitting back to watch the carnage. She wears a constant mask of ‘pretty but dumb’, and enjoys knowing that she is continuously underestimated.

One Interesting Thing: As well as being the kind of place people go to in order to be seen there, the Shining Sceptre also serves as a venue for those who don’t want to be seen. Raventrack also owns a smaller, dingier pub a few streets away; a long tunnel connects its cellar to that of the Sceptre, and allows guests to enter unseen and make their way to the Sceptre’s unadvertised private dining rooms. As of yet, nobody has figured out that Raventrack hears every word that is uttered in those rooms.

The Stave and Scripture

  • Landlord: Bekhead Bonechin (AKA Baldy)
  • House Ale: Crimson Tickle by Hourglass Hop Heads (Braised fig barley wine, 12% ABV)

Bekhead Bonechin is a robust dwarf with a head of thick, white, shoulder-length hair and no beard whatsoever. He was an adventurer – as evidenced by the three missing fingers on his right hand, and the scar that neatly splits his left eye in two. The Stave and Scripture was the family business of a young man who left home to adventure with Bekhead and his group. After the boy died while delving in the underdark with Bekhead and co. – leaving his ailing father with no heir to the business – Bekhead decided that he had seen enough violence and loss, and that he had been responsible for leading too many young men to their deaths. He promised to take over the duties of the lad he had lost, allowing the father to retire while keeping the Stave alive.

One Interesting Thing: Hourglass Hop Heads is the brewery arm of a local abbey. Their beers are highly sought-after, and they only take orders once per year on a specific day. On that day they invite buyers to the abbey to sample the brews on offer for the next year and place their orders; most pubs that stock their beers treat this as an unofficial public holiday reserved for the industry, and don’t open for business.

The Broken Spine

  • Landlord: Sinser Jelhani (AKA Jelly, Fingers, “That fucking gnome again!”)
  • House Ale: Gingerroot Blazer by Weird Wyrd (Spicy ginger pale ale, 5.5% ABV)

Sinser never wanted to work in a pub. He was a book buyer who traded mostly in rare and unusual manuscripts, but also ran a more traditional book shop in order to secure something like a steady income. Unfortunately the book business wasn’t the best choice; seeing his business dwindling, he took a gamble when the pub next door closed, purchasing the business and knocking through the walls to create one large book store/pub. The books soon began to play second fiddle to the drinks, and the Broken Spine is now known as a place where one can go to relax with an unusual beer and a book plucked from the labyrinthine stacks.

One Interesting Thing: A thrice-locked door at the back of the stacks leads to Sinser’s private collection, which houses unique and powerful texts gathered over the years. Sinser is still known as a man to talk to in circles interested by obscure knowledge, and occasionally strange visitors will arrive at the pub who Sinser accompanies to the private collection, sometimes for hours at a time.

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