Sample Tavern: Satyr’s Rest

Satyr’s Rest works best as a tavern in a small farming or trapping community located in or near a forested area along a route to a major town, but could easily be adapted to fit anywhere in your campaign.

The Tavern

A sign of wood inlaid with an image of reclining satyr and the words Satyr’s Rest hangs above a heavy oak door set into the stump of a massive petrified tree. Beyond the stout oak door is a cozy sitting room an owlbear skin splayed upon the floor directly in front of a hardwood bar. To the right a depressed area features several comfortable chairs around a hearth and to the left a series of tables provide seating for larger groups. Behind the bar are several casks of beer, bottles of wine and distilled spirits, and an array of tankards and goblets. The walls are of petrified wood aside from the back of the tavern which has been dug into the hill against which the tree sits. Hanging from the walls are several taxidermy monster heads collected by the publican over the years. Above the main bar hangs a fine greatsword of elven make, etched with elven script along the blade that reads, “The wind shall sing in the heart of those true and just”. The blade detects as magic and functions as a +2 greatsword. Knowledge checks may reveal the phrase to be the motto of an ancient elven noble house.

The Publican  

The owner of Satyr’s Rest is a Male Half-Elf who goes by the name of Ell’an. An ex adventurer Ell’an is getting along in years, his temples are streaked with grey as is his short beard and a few lines have formed across his graceful features. Ell’an was once a member of a group of adventurers seeking their fortune plundering ancient elven ruins, most of them were killed when attacked by a green dragon who made a hoard in one such ruin. Ell’an used his cut of the loot to establish this tavern, decorating it with trophies he acquired in his travels.Ell’an is a middle aged half-elf 4th level fighter. He has many stories from his adventures and knows much of elven history, he enjoys stories about adventuring, treasure, and monsters and can be a valuable resource for local rumors and goings on.

Ell’an’s wife a human woman named Nissica helps him run the tavern, primarily by making food in the kitchen and aiding in serving guests. She is somewhere in her mid thirties with brown hair and good looks that are starting to fade to time.

The Menu

Satyr’s rest features a menu designed by Nissica using family recipes and local ingredients.

Food

House Stew: A stew of venison, potatoes, carrots, turnips and spices served with bread.

Roasted vegetables: A plate of roasted leeks, potatoes, onions and carrots

Breakfast: Hearty sausage, bread, and hard cheese with some local fruit

Roast boar: Local boar roasted and served with sauce and vegetables

Dessert: Goat cheese, honey, dried fruits

Drinks

Farmhouse ale with blackberries: A bright and rustic farmhouse ale with blackberries added to add a sweet tart flavor that is widely enjoyed by the locals. The beer is cloudy  and smells earthy with notes of blackberry and barnyard, it has a dry cracker like taste with notes of black pepper and a tart finish. The beer is relatively low in alcohol content and extremely refreshing.

Pale Ale: This copper colored beer has a medium body and off-white head. It smells like stale bread with light floral and vegetal notes. The beer tastes bready with bitter earthy notes and dry tea like flavors. Ell’an tends to cut the beer with water in the tankard after a patrons first mug to make it last longer, which results in a weaker flavor. Moderately alcoholic but fairly low once watered down.

Local Mead: A sweet and floral mead made from wildflower honey. Fairly alcoholic and on par with wine.

Wine: Ell’an has wine bottle purchase from a local merchant who travels through every few weeks, he claims they are from one of the finest vintners in a nearby major city, in truth they are only decent wine and Ell’lan is probably over charging for them, though he doesn’t know it, in addition there is a 10 percent chance that the bottle is soured and tastes like fruity vinegar. Above average alcohol content.

Elven wine: Ell’an has a few bottle of well aged elven wine tucked away in his cellar, they are of good quality but he only offers them to wealthy looking patrons, or ones he trusts. Above average alcohol content.

Distilled spirits: Ell’an has a few bottles of strong whiskey available, it is all of the same type, smoky, fruity, and woody. It is strong and has an acquired taste.  Strong alcohol content.

Rooms

Ell’an is quick to point out that this is a tavern and not an inn and thus he has no major lodging accommodations available, but is happy to let patrons sleep in the chairs or on the floor for a few silver, so long as they are respectful. The patrons below, with the exception of Elwhyn, take this option.

Patrons

Jorun and Morun: These twins stopped off in town a while back looking for work and have yet to leave, the two are tall, muscular, blonde, and quite good looking. Touting themselves as mercenaries and bodyguards looking to protect anyone who will pay these two are actually little more than backstabbing thugs running a con game. The brothers offer their services and wait until they are alone with their employer before killing them and looting their bodies before moving on to the next town. These two are currently trying to strongarm Finra into buying their services but are considering moving on to the next town if she doesn’t hire them soon. The brothers are intended to be 3rd level fighters but their level and class can be adjusted as needed.

Finra: A younger woman with a studious look about her who is often scribbling in notebooks or pouring over a thick leather bound tome. She claims that she is here to survey some nearby ruins but as she is not a capable combatant she needs protection and is looking to hire some bodyguards.  Jorun and Morun give her a bad vibe so she has put off hiring them, although she is on the verge of doing so in light of having no other options. Finra keeps her desires for surveying the ruins, and the fact that she is a spellcaster , secret only stating she works for someone with an interest in them. Finra is offering to pay her bodyguards 30 gold pieces a day for each bodyguard in addition to whatever treasure they find in the ruins with the caveat that she gets to keep any scrolls, spellbooks, texts, and half the potions they find. Finra should be a 4th level wizard with a focus on divination and abjuration, but she can be changed to meet the needs of your game, her patron can remain as ambiguous or concrete as you like.

Grundi Stonethumb: Grundi is a stereotypical dwarf; stout, loud, and a little off putting. He a mason and jeweler just passing through and is staying in town a few nights to recover his strength before heading onward to a larger town to sell his wares to the aristocracy. Grundi is willing to purchase gems, jewels, and jewelry from anyone who has some to sell. Accompanying this dwarf are two dwarven guards both, 2nd level fighters, who fight to the death to defend Grundi and his goods.

Whiftle Lightfingers: This small and unassuming halfling lives in town for a few days each month and spend the rest of his time living in the wilderness hunting to make a living and protect the town from wild animals that may get closer than the citizens would like. Whiftle is dirty and unkempt, brash, and a heavy drinker but he knows the surrounding wilderness and its inhabitants better than anyone and often sells his services as a guide or tracker to locals and adventurers alike. Whiftle knows a few local rumors about wild beasts, hidden ruins, or anything else your game might need. The halfling is a multiclassed ranger/rogue of 4th level.

Elwhyn: The local bard is a beautiful elven woman named Elwhyn who plays in the tavern almost every night performing soft songs in elven for the patrons. Elwyn is quite old, older than anyone alive in the town today, and has tendency to direct discussion away from her past and her personal life, preferring to collect stories about those she interacts with so that she may use them to create new songs and stories. Nissica is slightly jealous of Elwhyn and gets frustrated whenever she converses with Ell’an in elven, as Nissica understands very little, and worries that something might be going on between the two despite their assertion to the contrary. Elwhyn simply finds a kindred spirit in Ell’an and their friendship is nothing more than that. Elwhyn does greatly relish the opportunity to speak elven and enjoys conversing with any who can speak it often making fast friends with them. She also enjoys elven lore, songs, stories, and goods, willing to trade for them. Elwhyn is a 5th level bard.

Aside from these distinct individuals many farmers, guards and other townsfolk visit the tavern on a nightly basis, and while it is never crowded beyond capacity it can get fairly busy.

A Satyr’s Rest works best as a tavern in a small farming or trapping community located in or near a forested area along a route to a major town, but could easily be adapted to fit anywhere in your campaign.

 

Tavern Music

Many games begin in a tavern, a few end in them, and it is the rare game that never sees one. Taverns a great place for adventures to begin, they are often a great place to find both information regarding the local happening and individuals who may need some pesky goblins harassing his farm taken care of. These places are often the center of a small town or a district if its a larger city and are a great way to introduce players to local cultures, movers and shakers, and of course allow them to spend some of that gold burning a hole in their bag of holding. Taverns can pack a lot of character and flavor into a small room and there are many details that can be covered but one of the most important and often overlooked is tavern music. Music speaks volumes in a tavern and and adds so much character when properly utilized that it’s a shame more dungeon masters don’t use it. I understand many don’t have the right equipment or perhaps even the time to search for the right stuff but i recommend checking around amazon or newegg for a cheap speaker and seeing if you can make it work with a smart phone or laptop, it will really enhance a lot of aspects of your game, and as far as what kinds of music to use I will provide a list at the end of the article.

Tavern music can help establish a lot of things and allow your players to get a feel for the room and help immerse them in the environment, it can tell them if it’s a busy evening or a slow night, a jaunty tune livens spirits while a somber one my calm the party down. The music can also help to establish theme and location since the musicians in a dwarven beer hall will be very different from a roadside inn or a tea house in an asian influenced game. The music should reflect the patrons and location so it’s a good idea to give it some thought beforehand and cone this has been established with your players there are a lot of fun ways you can tweak the formula to pull some unexpected tricks with your music that will intrigue and hopefully excite them. Perhaps they enter a tavern in a dwarven mining town only to discover the publican is human and the music is less drums and horns like one might expect from dwarves and more lutes and flutes playing soft melodies played by his daughter and son that remind the publican of his hometown, much to the chagrin of the dwarven patrons. In a busy tavern the music suddenly shifts to something a little more upbeat and the patrons get quiet before joining in singing the national anthem or perhaps a battle song from a great victory tied the location. A floating tavern frequented by pirates make sit hard to converse in over the drunken slurring of sea shanties that never seem to end. All of these help to make a tavern a much more memorable and colorful place that will stand out far more than “the place we bought some ale and a wizard asked us to get an amulet”.

Aiding in the pacing of a session is another great way to utilize tavern music, nothing quit silences a room like raising the volume of music followed by suddenly and sharply cutting it. I used to work in a bar and for last call we would pump the sound system up a few decibels and then kill the music, what was once a noisy room was instantly silent. This makes a very effective tool for adding some drama to your game, imagine a crowded tavern after dinner full of farmers and merchants and townsfolk sharing stories and drinks as the bard’s music plays in the background, conversation fills the air when suddenly the music stops on a high note, everyone immediately begins looking around for the cause of the disturbance to find a bloodied man has entered the tavern rasping about orcs invading, or maybe the bard slumps off the stage, a knife in his back and no culprit to be found, perhaps he becomes possessed and speaks a prophetic message no one understands. These serve as great interruptions and staccatos that break a scene into a more interesting piece. Instead of interrupting the music could get louder and faster as a bar fight erupts or even get slower and softer to frame the scene as your begin negotiating with said wizard who needs an amulet recovered.

Finally, another way to utilize the music is to involve the players themselves. If there is a bar din the party who wishes to take the stage, allow him to select the playlist so long as they remain playing in the tavern, let players tip the musicians and request songs and perhaps they request a song that the patrons can’t stand or is offensive in some way, maybe the song is actually a tavern favorite and earns them a modicum of trust form the locals. All in all tavern music can serve to add a lot to a scene or even make an otherwise unremarkable one memorable for the players. Another aspect I want to get into later is drinking songs, but that is a separate topic entirely. For now here is a list of some of my favorite taverns songs for different situations.

Ambience

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WX_BtI1fxU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wW4sBlfDvOE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWENXItygJ4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQA6271PhFA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsiaBSHGenE

A few reels and jigs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3xeTpgLP5o

The official D&D soundtrack from Midnight Syndicate has some great all around stuff.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6jg7Xhnx98&list=PLrCZa-RvpqmKFohR3B5zdoQWQHC3q4Q-v

Some songs I have used in the past for various taverns. A lot are from games and several I just stumbled across but hopefully this provides a good jumping off point.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M3O5DeZx44

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdJ913xkTPE&list=PLhPp-QAUKF_g-y-EPgmbq71M6LheK4PGz&index=3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M3O5DeZx44

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdJ913xkTPE&list=PLhPp-QAUKF_g-y-EPgmbq71M6LheK4PGz&index=3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcMbTg9qtNk