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Making Tavern Visits Remarkable Through Roleplaying

Making Tavern Visits Remarkable Through Roleplaying

Taverns have become part of the DNA of Dungeons & Dragons, maybe even more so than dragons guarding mountains of gold or evil wizards commanding dark armies. As a DM, it’s up to you to take the worn trope of a smoky inn and turn it into something unexpected and engaging.

Luckily, we have some great advice on how to make tavern visits remarkable, plus “The North Call Inn” – a complete free tavern download!

Memorable Quirks

Coming up with interesting locations for your players to visit is not easy: tavern visits can turn repetitive quickly. One of the easiest ways to make a tavern visit more interesting is to offer a quirk that just begs for players to engage with it. Even if it doesn’t lead to the next big quest or a promise of gold, it allows players to have some fun by roleplaying through it. Here are some examples:

  • A cat at the bar is speaking your language
  • Two gaunt barmaids challenge patrons in arm wrestling and always win
  • The blind orc sitting in the corner never moves
  • Old books and manuscripts are used as kindling

Free Download: The North Call Inn Tavern

Unfortunate Events

A party’s visit to a tavern doesn’t have to be as straightforward as sitting down at a table and ordering a round of drinks. Sometimes fate conspires to make the night a little more interesting…and potentially dangerous. Here are a few examples of ill turns of fate that can spur some roleplaying:

  • You trip over the innkeeperā€™s cat, causing a kerfuffle. He charges you 20gp for the damage
  • You absentmindedly stare at the crime lord’s partner, triggering his wrath
  • A rough-looking man rushes past you, pushing a leather satchel into your arms before fleeing the tavern
  • The barkeep tries to calm two quarreling lovers who are getting increasingly loud

Gambling and Cheating

Taverns are known for three things: drinking, fighting, and gambling. Whether or not you want to bring an actual deck of cards for a quick round of poker within your game, you can always add a dash of intrigue by introducing some ways for players (and NPCs) to cheat the rules:

  • Use a spell on one or more opponents to befuddle them
  • Accidentally drop a card on the floor. Replace it with another as you pick it up
  • Slide dice instead of rolling them
  • Intimidate your opponent to make him doubt a result or challenge the outcome

Ready to Start Making Your Inns Remarkable?

Free Download: The North Call Inn tavern

All of the ideas above come from our supplement book,Ā Remarkable Inns and Their Drinks.Ā This richly detailed 88-page bookĀ provides you with a wealth of unique and wondrous taverns to explore, as well as chapters to help you bring inns to life and create your own unique establishment. Don’t leave without at least grabbing the free sample tavern, ‘The North Call Inn’!


Christopher Mahon

Chris Mahon is a fantasy writer, speaker, and essayist living in Brooklyn, New York. His non-fiction work has appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, SyFy WIRE, Outer Places, The Portalist, and others. He's also spoken at New York Comic-Con, Columbia University, and the Glasgow International Fantasy Convention. In his free time he runs The Occult Triangle Lab, a blog on trigonometry, fantasy, and ungodly amounts of milk.

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