It is one of the great cliches of fantasy gaming. The characters start the adventure as strangers in a tavern but are thrown together by events and form a party of adventurers.
In this week’s RPG Thinktank we refresh this tired trope with six ideas to start your campaign in a unforgettable way.
The Demons of Bastards Brew (Josh)
The Bastards Brew is a rathole of a pub in a dirt covered back alley. You are as likely to get the wrung out contents of the barkeeps washcloth as actual ale. One day the party notices a new regular. A seemingly human male who keeps his face hidden beneath a hood. He is seen talking to the lost and the damned patrons, and the next day they don’t turn up.They don’t turn up the night after that, and the night after that. The party eventually discover that the hooded figure is an acolyte of a demonic cult underneath the city. They then have to stop said cult from unleashing the rat-god.Who will devour everything in its path.
The adventures, all strangers enter the tavern and hear rumours of a series of earthquakes in the area. During the evening the biggest earthquake yet hits and a huge crack opens in the earth, swallowing the tavern whole. When the adventurers come too they are trapped in the underworld / under dark which has been thrown into chaos by damage done by the earthquake. The characters are forced to band together to make it back to the surface….
Barroom Brawl (Chris)
A twist on the old classic. The characters are loitering in a busy tavern filled with locals plus a handful of adventurer types. A drunk picks a fight with one of the NPC adventurers and in moments it spreads as the locals join forces to fight the NPC adventures who are forced to fight as a team. While all this is going on, the player characters are left undisturbed and ignore by all the participants. Slowly it dawns on the players the characters are not just being ignored but are invisible to everyone else. Then they notice a strange figure at the back of the bar waving to them, beckoning them to follow.
Something in the Water (Pat)
A new type of ale is doing the rounds! Its popular, tasty and completely sold out by the time the adventurers show up. Lucky for them then as when the full moon rises anyone who’s drunk the new stuff transforms into a snarling beast! Now every tavern the adventurers visit is selling the brew under various guises and no one seems to know who’s brewing the stuff! Can the adventurers discover the origins of the evil booze before the king shuts down every tavern in the land?
A Debt of Service (Jaye)
The PCs are a group of strangers, each going about their separate business in the tavern when a group of local thugs barge in. The thugs, numerous in number but low in skill, spread out about the bar and seem to make a point of picking a fight with each of the PCs. Once the fight is over, the local Lord arrives with his soldiers. Seeing the damage done to the tavern and that the PCs have clearly trounced the thugs on his payroll, he makes the PCs a deal. He’ll overlook their crimes and the extensive damage they caused if they work for him to complete a fixed number of tasks.
Nothing Happens – Chris
The characters, one by one, drop in to a tavern for a drink. Apart from the barman, no one else is in. Then nothing happens. There is nothing odd about the tavern and no rumours. It is the most boring pub in the world. Eventually the characters eyes meet and they are forced to engage in conversation. Eventually they finished their drinks and leave as a group, having found through their conversation a mutual interest in adventures. As they step out the bar, a man staggers down the street and falls dead at their feet, a knife sticking from his back…
What are you ideas? Let us know how you start adventures in tavern in the comments.
(Artword PD David Teniers II)