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, July 5, 2017

In the Center of Things

The Cracked Anvil Tavern

In the past we’ve built a lot of stuff based on Golarion or we’ve used Golarion as a base to figure out how things work, as it is the example reference world for Pathfinder. I’ve even gone so far as to flesh out a city in Paizo’s game world that had very little information presented about it. This week we’re going to start a new segment where we look at building something from the ground up. In particular we are going to be looking at the underpinnings of a town.

Many campaign worlds begin from one town or city. This is the central location from which the players can move out and explore – and in some places help create – the world around them. Some of these places are huge sprawling cities, but a lot of adventures begin in tiny little towns. In this case I’d like to start with a little hamlet where we can flesh out most of the inhabitants.

When I did my line of articles on taverns as more than just a trope, I spoke about how the tavern was many times the center of cultural life. Now it may not have been called a tavern, maybe it’s called a feasthall  or an inn, or something else, but food and drink have a major importance in the life of population centers of all sizes. So determining what kind of central establishment there is where townsfolk gather and who runs it is integral to building the rest of your city.

The Cracked Anvil

The Cracked Anvil is a long, squat building. Unlike many of the other buildings in town it is made from stone and not wood. The masonry work is of fine craftsmanship as befits the heritage of the owners. The ever present features are the chimney, which is constantly putting out a stream of inviting wood burnt smoke, and the etched wood sign depicting an anvil that has been cleaved in two over the front door.

The interior has a homey feel with massive wood beams supporting the stone ceiling from which hang assorted knick-knacks meaningful to the townsfolk over the years. Below where the chimney extends from the stone slab is a large circular fireplace that is the centerpiece of the entire establishment.  Surrounding the fire pit is a ring of wood benches and a few comfortable chairs. Past this inner ring of seats are about a half dozen long wood tables and seating for as many as a small family.

When the place is busy most of the townsfolk sit around the pit and enjoy each other’s company, but there is still a bar back by the kitchen area. If someone needs some time with themselves, they’ll sit here and the rest of the patrons will know to leave them to their quiet internal contemplation. The bar itself is sturdy and at one point fully varnished, although years of people's food and drink resting on it have left scuffs that mark the enjoyment of a pint or one of the proprietors famous pot pies.

The Cracked Anvil sets dead center In the one road town and has, since its construction, acted not just as a place to eat and carouse, but as a central meeting place. Gatherings to discuss any important goings-on happens in the establishment, and even the mayor is more likely to take a meeting at the Cracked Anvil then in his own office across the street. The town comes here to both celebrate and mourn. The announcement of engagements, blowing out of birthday candles, and the sharing of a pint over a lost friend are all commonplace around the warmth of the fire pit.

The Proprietors

The Cracked Anvil was built by the hands of its own proprietor. Thedrick Irontoe and his family are the only dwarves in town, and he crafted a building to remind him of home. Thedrick breaks the stereotype of the dour dwarf. He is always quick to a smile and offer a kind word. In trying to make a place that was homey to his own family he created an atmosphere that is welcoming to all the residents of his community.

Like many dwarves, Thedrick is a master craftsmen but his ability to create goes far beyond just masonry and woodwork. Thedrick is a near wizard in the kitchen. Although he doesn’t much like to talk about it ,he was a company cook in the dwarven army before retiring away from his people. Sometimes he jokes that the dwarven palate was wasted on his creations, which is why he moved away, but no one knows if this is true or not.

Thedrick lives in a stonework basement of the Cracked Anvil with his wife Henrett and their son Thurgard. He tends to the kitchen – although he comes out to talk to the patrons often – while Henrett mans the bar and serves up the food. Thurgard helps out but his interest his dwarven heritage means he can more often be found talking off one patron or another’s ear about the great dwarven berserkers.

The Irontoe family is very close and they’re not afraid to show their affection for each other. This attitude helps make the Cracked Anvil feel like a second home to those come to visit. Patrons get treated like extended family, and even the few travelers who pass through comment on a feeling of home so far from their own.


The Cracked Anvil carries a wide assortment of food and drink. Wine is bought from the vineyards of the Kalahan family, one of the five founding families of the town. Many of the farmer brew their own whiskeys and beers, which Thedrick will purchase and sell at the Anvil. Thedrick himself brews a few potables himself, one in particular that uses mushrooms in the brew is very popular.

The food that Master Irontoemagics up in the kitchen is usually rich and hearty. Then menu changes with the season as the out of the way farming town rotates through different crops. Deer is a popular meat as the abundant forests see the hunters bringing in a fair amount of deer meat for sale. But the specialty of the house areThedrick’s pot pies.

Each pot pie is individually crafted on request. The meat and veggies that stuff the flaky crust are fairly easy to recognize. It is the flavor of the pastry that is Chef Irontoes big secret.  He says he grows some dwarvish spices in a small dirt plot in the basement.  No one quite believes him as dwarvish food is known to be bland and utilitarian, and no one has ever heard of dwarvish spices.

So there you have it, a center of social life in a town with a few notes on things that may help us expanded the rest of our farming village. Little bits can be changed if you’d like to fit the Cracked Anvil into your own town, which you can feel free to do.

What does the center of social life look like in your town? Do you use a tavern, inn, or feasthall? What is the major eating establishment where your players live? What kind of person runs your local bar?

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