So What is the Tavern Like Anyway.....honestly, if you are not familiar with this series yet, and you are a GM I have this feeling you fall into one of three categories...that GM who glazes over everything whilst his players walk through a land of vanilla drabness, the frantic nervous wreck of a GM who just spent the last six days detailing every possible thing in a community, praying her play-group will actually interact with something, anything to make it worth it. Or, the control freak, the person who literally is above the rest of us, who has designed their world down to the count and color of pebbles on their beaches...I tend to think a great deal of GM's fall somewhere in between the first and second, and that is why this series is so awesome and a must have. Every installment in this series tackles another topic/theme. This time out, it happens to be the classic tavern, as so many adventurers do spend a great deal of time in them, but short of returning to the same tavern, in the same town over and over....how many times have you heard yourself give the same boring description of a tavern to your players? Want to change that with a method that will require about a minute of your life, if that?
Let us take for example, The Abandoned Dragon. With a bad reputation for pickpockets, and a huge painting on the wall of the current landlord battling a dragon single-handed (This never happened – the landlord has always worked in pubs but dreams of adventure), this alehouse's specialty is fish cooked in ale with mashed swede and potato. A young lad with a shaved head and multiple piercings leans against the wall behind the bar. Answering to Wennig, he is the alehouse's excellent cook, fish and seafood being his specialty. Grodor, a short bearded bartender pours beers agonizingly slow behind the bar, much to the frustration of his thirsty customers.
So, that took longer to type then it did to put together...minute and a half...grand total. Starting to get the idea why the books of this series are so valuable? Mass charts, organized by the old school random dice roll, some by the d20, others by percentile...or simply waggle your finger, close your eyes and stab. Point is, it makes designing on the fly so much easier.
You've got lists for names of taverns, example customers, staff, menu items, drinks, events, interesting features and features...folks, if you can't design a tavern to full realization from this book in just a few short dice rolls that will thrill your players...you need to check their pulses, there might be something wrong...just saying.
Now...lots of lists with a lot of hidden gems, hooks to let you build off of, a child seeking a father who has been missing for over a day, a disguised ruler amongst his subjects, thieves starting a brawl to cover a theft...and many more easy to use hooks to engage your players...but then we get to an interesting section of this collection, and things take a turn, toward immersion. I love the idea of a product that gives me something I can use to further immerse my players in the world I am describing, so a selection of lyrics for bards to be singing in the taverns the players will be finding themselves within is nothing but pure win in my book!
Ending with a section detailing popular barroom games, with mechanics to let your players engage in them, everything from dice games to drinking games, jousting with brooms to that time honored classic, arm wrestling. An excellent way to end this collection of features to enhance the classic tavern beyond the typical glazed over boring descriptions it has suffered through for far to long.
Raging Swan continues to impress me with their releases, an easy 5 stars and well worth the price of admission.