Random Things: Odd Taverns

Taverns are an almost omni-present part of fantasy gaming and RPGs in particular, whether it be the smoke-shrouded hookah tents of Swords & Sorcery or the more stereotypical wooden building with the jolly innkeeper and buxom serving staff.

However taverns can start to feel a little stale or 2-dimensional after you’ve visited a couple of them, there are a few ways that you can liven up this otherwise staid RPG staple. The tables below provide a few options for tweaking taverns:

What is different about the tavern?
1D6 Roll Difference
1-2 Type of structure
3-4 Specialist Clientele
5-6 Something odd about the owner
Type of Structure
1D8 Roll Structure
1 The tavern is a large marquis, akin to those that you would more commonly find in a circus.
2 Built from the carcass of a de-consecrated church, many of the original features have been retained including the long church benches and a raised dais which is used for bardic competition and other hired entertainment.
3 The tavern is little more than a peasants hut with barrels and stools outside, cider is manufactured from the owners produce and drink served by his daughter.
4 Carved out of the porous rock of local hills, the tavern resembles more a series of small, interconnected caves rather than the traditional building. Although safe there are rumours of hidden passages and people who have mysterious vanished into the darkness of the larger cave system.
5 A huge, stone colossus once stood sentry over this area, but it has long since fallen to rubble and been harvested by locals for building materials, the only part that survives is a large stone foot. Part of the foot has been chiselled away creating a small inlet from which the tavern-keeper serves a variety of brews.
6 This tavern nestles inside the huge rib-cage of a giant, fossilised mammoth, canvas and skins have been stretched over the gaps creating a water-tight roof. Customers who pay are welcome to sleep in the tavern come closing time but facilities are sparse, consisting of little more than skins to lie on.
7 Rather than consisting of a single building, this tavern was formed by a number of neighbouring market stall holders who realised that they could increase their profits by providing a place for customers to sit, eat, drink and browse. The tavern is made-up of several market stalls set in a square with a large canvas stretched over them all and seats placed in the centre for the customers.
8 The tavern is actually just an open patch of ground where a local brewer regularly sets up a small cart and serves people drink from the back of it. If the weather is good people sit on the grass, if not then small milking stools can be rented (at a price) from the brewer.
Specialist Clientele
1D8 Roll Clientele
1 This place is somewhere you want to watch your pockets, a local thieves guild regularly meet up in this tavern to plan their operations, rumour is that they bribe the innkeeper and the city guard to look the other way.
2 The tavern is an enclave for a minority population in your setting, this could be demi-humans in a human city, or even a specific subset of an otherwise populous race. The clientele have been persecuted elsewhere and are suspicious of any strangers not sharing similar origins to themselves.
3 Located near to a fighting pit or gladiatorial arena, the warriors and their masters over rest and drink in here before and after bouts, this gives the place a raucous atmosphere. Violent conflicts often break out but seldom escalate into anything too serious since the owner is an ex-prize fighter.
4 Situated next to a market square the tavern is mostly empty besides for a few shoppers during the day, come the evening however it fills up with traders, eager to refresh themselves and spend some of their hard-earned pay. Used to shouting over the crowds, taverns full of traders are noisy affairs with people howling news at each other across the room.
5 The lair of a group of footpads, there watch for small groups of people, pay the barman to drug their drinks and then set upon their unfortunate victims as they walk past an alley near the tavern. Those who fall victim to this scam often wake up hours later lying (mostly) naked somewhere in the city's poorer districts, their possessions and money gone.
6 The tavern has a large monster-filled cavern system that stretches below it and is rumoured to link up with a number of tombs and temples in the area, this makes it a favoured haunt for adventurers. The owner–catering to his audience–even rents and sells common adventuring gear like ropes and lanterns.
7 This is a favourite haunt of the local city guard (or equivalent) who have one of their strongholds nearby. As a result of the armoured–and armed–off duty guards that are often in attendance other patrons tend to be extremely well behaved, although there are occasionally disputes between the common city guard and the royal guard, although these seldom escalate beyond name calling.
8 The clientele of the small tavern are actually all dopplegangers or some sort of shape-shifter, they meet in the open (under the plausible disguise of tavern customers) to discuss their plans of conquest. Conversations occur in code but relate to their planned takeover of the city.
Something odd about the owner
1D8 Roll What's odd about the owner?
1 The owner is the victim of a curse, he cannot physically leave the tavern grounds until someone willingly buys the tavern from him, once someone does the owner is freed and the new owner becomes trapped.
2 Actually a deep-cover agent from a foreign power, the owner portrays themselves as earnest and deeply interested in their customers, even offering to pay more adventurous looking people for information. In-fact the information is being gathered and fed back to their masters as part of some nefarious scheme.
3 The owner of the tavern is a member of a monstrous or not commonly encountered race, despite this they have managed to gain acceptance with the locals due to their many strange beverages imported from their homeland.
4 A failed mage who diverged into alchemy before a number of explosions convinced them to take up a safer career, the owner still has a way with mixing drinks and has created a number of unique beverages that smoke, fizz and pop as drunk and only cause gastric explosions on rare occasions.
5 The owner of the tavern is actually a demon, summoned to this spot many years previously it's master was not very careful with it's orders. After slaying the presumptuous mage the demon found itself still bound to serve anyone who entered the remnants of the mage's tower, able to produce wondrous beverages and vittles using demonic magic the tower ruins soon attracted people and became a busy tavern, although the owner still searches for a way to free itself and lay waster to the city that has entrapped it for so long.
6 The owner is a retired adventurer who sports many scars from their previous exploits, they are happy to regale people with tales drawn from their adventuring days and the walls are proudly decorated with the heads of the many beasts and fiends that they slew.
7 This tavern is owned by a kindly, cheerful monster of a type normally believed to be evil and black-at-heart, the monster is victim of a magic item that permanently changed their alignment.
8 The owner breed animals for fighting and sale, this tavern has the smells of fur and dung continually in the background although the floorboards are sluiced down regularly and scented candles burnt. Smaller creatures occasionally get free from their cages in the back rooms, causing much amusement as they run a muck and the tavern-keepers attempts to chase them back into their cages.

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