Friday, November 4, 2011

5 plots. Fantasy swamp tavern

Usually when characters go to pub or tavern, it's generic. If they want rumors or drinks or place to stay I describe it and give usually description for owner. But I haven't designed several pubs with plot hooks. Well, I have designed adventures what you get from pubs (who hasn't) but haven't made these pubs characters stumble in to find something more interesting than just a place to rest, spend money and hear rumors.

So, here are 5 different pubs with plots to use.

Drunken Toad
Location: Next to a road in remote marshlands. Place smells rotten vegetation, mud and swamp gasses. It is always misty and you can hear the ballad of toads in the night. The pub is one day travel from next civilization.
Owner: Owner is old toad hunter. He captured toads some for food, some for wizards and alchemists to use in their experiments or extract poison. When he got old travels to swamp got harder. It's not easy to move in there. He got some wealth and opened this tavern. Today he is thin but in relatively good shape. He has some back problems what sometimes makes his movement a bit stiff. Biffron the Toad he is called because of his severe skin condition on face. He is not social for his time spent alone in swamps.
Outlook: Dark wet boards what smell a little rotten. Somehow the building hasn't collapsed but manages to stay together. Inside is warm and smalls incenses to keep rotten swamp smell away. Downstairs there are four tables with four chairs each. There are no wine but spirits and ale instead manufactured in the backroom. Fireplace is big and smells like urine. Stairs go up where are four simple rooms with two bunkbeds for total of four visitors per room. Behind the desk are three rooms. One is kitchen, one storage and one owners room. It is locked and there are no other valuables except money.
Assortment: Food is stew made with some mud tasting vegetables, herbs found from swamps and toad meat. Also some old bread is available when owner bakes it. Cheese is hard and old also. There is no wine available but ale is brewed and spirits distilled in the storage. Prices are high because of the location. Those who need place to rest in the swamps must pay the price to dry their clothes and seek a dry place to rest their head.


1. Owner Biffron the Toad is sick. He has caught swamp fever (-1 constitution or similar each day until none is left and contaminated is dead. Roll medium resistance test for characters not to get sick). He asks characters to find this rare toad to get remedy. If one of the characters is contaminated the motivation to find the frog might be higher.
2. Nightly robbery. While characters are resting they might wake up in Biffron's yells or hear racket downstairs (50% change which one). There is robbery going on. Biffron might be wounded (75% change he is). Robbers are mediocre for characters to beat. Maybe there is warrant on the robbers or Biffron might need medical help.
3. Biffron the Toad decides to join characters for a drink. Even though he is not social person he still enjoys listening to the stories. Especially when there haven't been customers for a long time. If characters refuse to let him sit with them, he insists even offering free meal or free stay. When listened enough and getting drunk he tells about a treasure in the swamps. He has seen the old ruins himself but never got there because of "strange swamp evil". He can tell the location of these ruins the treasure is but won't talk about the "strange swamp evil". He is uneasy about it.
4. Hooded figure is sitting in corner table. He greets fellow strangers and is willing to serve them drinks. He wants to hear fellow adventurers' story or wants to tell something he knows. What ever characters are interested in. After drinking nothing really important was revealed and characters eventually go to bed. Next morning they feel really sick and hooded figure is waiting for them downstairs. He tells he poisoned characters and before they can get the antidote they need to do what he wants. Hooded figure doesn't have antidote with him but it is in safe place. Hooded figure's condition is that characters escort him out of the swamp area. Actually hooded figure is just a lost traveller who is scared. The poison is mild what only enchants hangover. If characters escort him out of the swamp hooded figure will reward them kindly for their effort. He also tells a rumor he heard what characters might want to pursue (dungeons obviously ;) )
5. After resting the night in tavern and leaving characters notice that the tavern is not next to road but in the middle of the swamp. Asking Biffron about this he doesn't know or think anything unnatural has happened. He just says: "It's always been like this". If characters venture into swamp it is really hard to walk and they encounter giant ugly dragonflies (average combat encounter based on characters might. Flying monster, 20% change attack to paralyze for D4 turns). When all monster dragonflies are dead corpses just disappear. Continuing travel they are back to tavern. If they try again no matter what they do or how they navigate or what direction they move they eventually get back to tavern. (Every time characters walk away from tavern to "circle" back there is 25% change for dragonflies... or even nastier monsters of GM's choice). Tavern owner doesn't say what's going on. But when characters threat to kill him with physical pain he tells, that there is a man eating banshee witch who alters tavern's reality when there are customers. Banshee comes in the second night and eats travelers. That way he lets tavern keeper be alive for providing meals. But banshee told that if tavern owner tells about this trap he is as good as dead. Banshee is really powerful creature what lives in alternate dimension in this swamp. He is really powerful opponent and worth a lot of experience. No gold is gained but banshee body parts might be valuable items to sell for wizards or alchemists.

Naturally you can use these five tavern plots in other taverns also.

Picture of inspiration:
Picture from  Deviant Art. Artist AndreeWallin

1 comment:

Kevin Mac said...

It is alway a good idea to make tavern visits interesting. Gambling and sometimes bare knuckle or wooden sword fighting for money. Scammers and merchants and colorful characters (at least on the weekend). I've sometimes had tavern visits end up being the whole session when players are having fun with it.

Heck, for most of us back in the day with OD&D, the only location we had outside the dungeon was a tavern somewhere. It's the most visited location in campaigns. Gotta make them more than a place to drink and eat.