Sunday, June 28, 2015

Three Taverns

Browsing the blogosphere yesterday bounced me back to an old post by Zak S called "How I Want to Hear About Your Setting."

I find Zak's idea of defining a setting and its various elements through strictly useful information (tables, rules, etc.), rather than using lengthy prose text, to be very appealing. I'm going to start tinkering with ideas for a future campaign world by doing this.

As an initial exercise, I made up three taverns just to see if I could differentiate them simply through their names and lists of typical encounters.

The High Road: 1d6+6 patrons plus (roll 1d8).
     1. Adventurers – looking for work.
     2. Adventurers – looking for a brawl.
     3. Traveler – for a drink, offers information picked up on journey.
     4. Barkeep – offers to sell information for 1d6 gp.
     5. Minor Notable – offers PCs a low-level job (caravan escort, watchman, bodyguard, etc.).
     6. Special.
     7+. No encounter of note this visit.

The Cat's Claw: 2d6 patrons plus (roll 1d8).
     1. Pickpocket – steals random item from one PC.
     2. Fence – will buy goods of questionable origin, no questions asked.
     3. Gambler – invites PCs to low-stakes dice game (50 gp pot; win/lose 1d10 gp per round).
     4. Prostitute – possible source of info; possible source of disease.
     5. Spy – can be hired to acquire information about anyone.
     6. Special.
     7+. No encounter of note this visit.

Winston Cellars: 1d6+1 patrons plus (roll 1d8).
     1. Bouncer – looks the PCs over; kicks them out if not level 4+.
     2. Dandy – drinks/talks with PCs only if CHR = 15+; offers minor future social favor/aid.
     3. Courtesan – can be bribed for info about high-level NPCs.
     4. Major Notable – offers PCs a dangerous (level 4+) job; discretion a must.
     5. Major Notable – has information on political goings-on.
     6. Special.
     7+. No encounter of note this visit.

GM can roll 1d6 if guaranteed encounter is desired; roll 1d10, 1d12 or even 1d20 if less frequent encounters are desired. Info and secrets may be false at GM's discretion; notables are any personage of importance (respected merchants, government or church figures, wealthy citizens, etc.). "Special" is for any out-of-the-ordinary event (appearance of monsters, sudden disasters, major criminal acts, people who are not what they seem like con men, doppelgangers, disguised fugitives, etc.).


  1. I like these, though I think brevity is important, there are some things about setting much easier conveyed just in prose than be implication in a table, and certainly things that wouldn't impact rules. Largely, I think it comes down to how "standard D&D" your setting is. Empire of the Petal Throne would be hard to get across in a coherent way done by tables or rules, though it would lead to some interesting interpretations of the setting that way.

    1. You're probably right about certain types of settings and setting elements. And that's probably all the more true in something you're publishing for others. In my case it's mostly just for my own reference. So if I do need prose I'm going to try and make it more like a dictionary entry rather than an encyclopedia entry.

  2. I want to party at the Cat's Claw. Either it'd be the best night of my life or I'd get stabbed in the spleen. Maybe both.