Creating ‘The Bardic Vintner’s Respite’

Thinking more on the meta-game (inverse RPG?) tavern idea… I did a bit of extra Googling and it seems this is kind of done in AD&D, but not quite how I have envisioned it. I’ll be doing some reading of those books this week, to see if there’s something I can use. I also stumbled across a great page of info on what actually goes on in a tavern, and how it relates to RPGs:

Sitting in the car today on our way to the in-laws for Easter, I found plenty of time to flesh out the barkeep PC. Doing this was more about grasping an understanding of the world (or locale, at least) surrounding the tavern for me. I think I’ve settled on the name for the place, as well: The Bardic Vintner’s Respite. I even did a quick sketch of the sign yesterday in Painter Essentials. I’ll post that when I finish it up…  🙂

Here’s a list of points made on the PC and his world:

  • He is a messenger or diviner of sorts for a powerful but little known deity
  • His job is to “manage” the adventurers in the area, to carry out the deity’s wishes
  • He has only an immediate understanding of what’s happening, no overall plan is conveyed to him by the deity
  • The deity “speaks” to him via various methods: tea leaves, dreams, visions seen in a water bowl, birds scratching pictures in the dirt; numerous portents seen in the world around him
  • If the deity’s wishes are ignored, bad things happen all around the tavern, but in small doses for long periods of time (local farms see a blight in their barley crops, birds fall dead from the air around the tavern, all people staying in the nearby inn get lice, all ale is flat and rank out of the casks, much-needed rain misses the vineyards)
  • The barkeep knows he must put others in danger because he cannot sally forth on his own (being management and all), so he keeps no true friends or love interests
  • In spite of all this, he is a master actor, making everyone believe he is the most content, outgoing, friendly, sporting person around; people will literally die for him
  • He acts as almost a guild unto himself, and often helps adventurers out monetarily to get started on one of his quests
  • He requests a percentage of the loot captured if the trip turns out to be lucrative for the team
  • He uses this percentage to continue funding teams, so teams are generally honest with his share; he tends to give lucrative ventures to those who have helped him successfully in the past
  • He had an adventuring history of his own, as a bard of some talent, before he purchased a ramshackle tavern to “settle down”
  • He has become a shrewd investor, and owns several businesses in the city (including a semi-attached inn, and a winery with vineyards on the outskirts of the city)
  • The deity latched onto him during one of his final adventures (maybe he has to pay the price of getting out of a situation alive when others in his group didn’t make it out)
  • He does not know if the deity is good or evil, but its wishes seem to be good for the most part (for now?)… This could change if the story needs to be wrapped up
  • He tries on occasion to have a two-way conversation with the deity, but 95% of the time he is ignored
  • If the barkeep doesn’t seem to understand the portent wish, the deity seems to glom the situation and attempt different signs (correct understanding happens about 60% on the first attempt)
  • No one knows of his link to this deity; everyone believes he has his own seer powers
  • He worries he serves more than one master

Now that I have a better understanding of what the place is, what the barkeep actually does besides managing adventurers, and the framework for the stories it’ll create, I think I’m close to moving forward. Right now, this would make a great story were I to write it (and who knows, maybe I will!), so my next steps will be to “gamify” it. I need to pick the ruleset/engine, and the GM emulator, as well as some random tables to use to build the NPCs and adventures. I think this is the more difficult part of this game!

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