CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

It's All Fun and Games

Things To Do In a Bar

Everyone goes to the bar to drink, but what are some other tavern activities that players might enjoy? As much as I enjoy a good beer, for many people the bar is more than just a place to wallow in alcoholalthough that happens too. In many modern bars you’ll have a pool or air hockey table. In NYC we have “Barcade” which boasts a full arcade of classic games to play while drinking. I’m still trying to get a high score on Q-bert. So what can our players, along with the interesting people we’ve met, do in these establishments until the adventure comes and bites them on the ass?

After pool the most common game you’ll find in a bar is darts. Many bars around the city have darts teams and there’s even a darts league. In a period medieval tavern they may have a larger target used for knife throwing. Could the players be on their local pub’s dart team? What happens on practice nights? What about game nights? How do they interact with rival teams players in the streets?

Barring the idea of a league, even a small-town inn might have a knife or dart board. Games of skill help hone necessary techniques in rural areas. Hand-eye coordination and thrown weapon accuracy can be a matter of life and death when the nearest farm to yours is a mile or two away. A friendly wager by the best thrower in town might garner some respect for the party or net them a rival from the dethroned bullseye king.

When people start drinking they get really confident in their abilities, and in places that cater to a more brutish crowd you might find tests of strength to be the order of the day. In a modern bar we have those punching bag machines that measure how hard you can hit, but in more period establishments you might find arm wrestling as the trial of choice. Crowds love a good contest of brute strength the same way they love gladiatorial battles, nothing gets the testosterone of a crowd flowing faster.

In bars that have outdoor areas, you might find tug of war as a means to test the strength of individuals or teams. You can even mix strength and agility with a game of push-pull as one opponent tries to throw another off balance. Like any of the other activities I’ll talk about, winning or losing may garner you respect or enmity. With tests of strength though, a sore loser might show his displeasure very immediately with a pop in the mouth.

Some contests aren’t physical and many bars with a stage for performers boast open mic nights. I’ve been to open mics, not just for musicpoetry and comedy also can draw a crowd. These kinds of contests are more likely to be found in middle class or upper class establishments, at least in my experience, I find dive bars aren’t into these kinds of things.

This is the perfect opportunity for your bard or party to strut their stuff. Many open mic nights will have a regular or two who think of it a personal showcase. Is your performer a local or an outsider? What happens if the audience takes to their performance over one of the regulars if they are an outsider? A good performance might also lead to patronage, or at least enough momentary fame to aid in the party’s ability to gather information. Fans are more than willing to buy the new star a drink and tell him or her things they ordinarily wouldn’t.

Probably the most common thing at any bar is the drinking contest. The words “I can drink him under the table” invariably lead to a duel of shots. Choose your weapon gentlemen: shooting tequila or chugging beer. In some places the contest might not even be about liquor; the Hagfish in Paizo’s world of Golarion boasts a fish tank full of muck and a hagfish. A contest of being able to finish an entire pint of this thick sludge works just as well as drinking dwarven fire ale.

Of all the contests mentioned, this is the one that is least likely to end in hurt feelings. I’ve gotten myself into quite a few and by the end of the night everyone is usually best friends. In contests against the house and not an individual, like the Hagfish contest, you can become something of a local celebrity if you manage to not lose your lunch.

Now although this isn’t a ‘contest’ per se, seeing as this is the last article in the series on bars, there is one non-drinking activity that should happen every once in awhile. The barroom brawl. Everybody loves the chaos of a good bar fracas. In some cases it’s about two guys who really hate each other and everyone just gets dragged in. Sometimes, however, people just like to fight. In the Justice League cartoon episode “Comfort & Joy” John Stewart and Hawkgirl celebrate the holidays by getting into a huge bar fight.

Running a bar fight in an RPG can be difficult though. There may be a dozen or more combatants. Do you roll for everyone or just make random decisions with the patrons not fighting directly with the party? I find playing a little fast and loose works well with the chaotic nature of barroom brawl. Or maybe your players start the brawl themselves as a distraction and now they’ve gotta wade through the melee to escape or get to their objective. This might make you job as GM a little more difficult.

And there you have it folks. We’ve taken “you meet in a bar” from trope to fully fleshed out encounter location. If you’ve missed them you can head back and check out the other installments of this series.

The CRB aims to bring you some great ideas on fleshing out your games worlds. If you’d like to buy me a beer consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a post over at the CRB’s Patreon Page. I’ve also expanded to other forms of social media, and the CRB is both on Tumblr and Twitter. Ever wonder how I actually play? I live tweet my Saturday and Sunday games.

No comments:

Post a Comment