Add a little flavor to your tavern

“You meet at the local tavern . . . . . . . ”

How many times have you heard that at the gaming table? The tavern is one of those locations that every game seems to have and frequently used as a stop over, a way of meeting a contact, or just picking up a quick rumor, but why not add a bit of flavor to it?

Here are a couple of suggestions to do just that.

The Old 96er

It’s one of those movie scenes that just sticks with you. The sight of a 96 ounce steak hitting the table is just something you remember, and you can add something like this to your game. Create a “special dish” for your tavern and build a story around it, maybe it’s named after a famous explorer that always ate it before heading out, or maybe its a menu item that no one orders because everyone who does, dies mysteriously days later.

Just by adding one small item and adding a bit of color to it and playing it up makes the tavern more memorable without a ton of work.

Describe it well

A while back I wrote a post, it’s all about location, but instead of focusing on the location itself I concentrated on the description aspect. You have to remember when your group heads to that tavern (or anywhere to be honest) it’s up to you to provide the ‘color.’ The party can’t know what you have as a vision of the location unless you give it to them.

It’s important to go beyond just how it looks, try to pull as many of the five senses in as you can, what does it look like? Are there any noticeable smells? What does the party hear on approaching? Start to get the idea?

Give it a story

I took this route with one of the taverns in my Realms of Rylon setting, the Laughing Fisherman. When I introduced the location I added a one paragraph description for the players in my campaign newsletter:

This family establishment was originally opened as Gunthar’s Place. Gunthar Daly was originally a fisherman that worked the Nima River until he lost his left hand and forearm in a boating accident. Most of the other fisherman at the time while sympathetic to his plight thought it was laughable that he took everything and sunk it into a tavern. Gunthar retired a few years ago and his son, Rian, took over the establishment and renamed it. He thought is was appropriate as his father got the last laugh as those that had been laughing at him are still working the river while he’s retired now.

This quick paragraph tied the establishment to the setting, the area, gave the players a couple of potential NPCs to interact with, and, if I had wanted to, a reason for “unexplained events” to happen at the tavern (after all, who wouldn’t want to get back at the family for rubbing it in their faces?).

So I ask you, what do you do to add a bit of flavor to your establishments to make them memorable?

May your dice roll well.

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