Monday, August 04, 2008

Getting Out of the Tavern

Ripper X has a great post on places you can go in your games to gather information other than the cliché tavern:

The Market is a valuable source of info and work. Everybody has to eat, and these bright streets are the true hub and heart of any city, as is a well. Water is collected daily, all one had to do is hang out in this area and you will see everyone that lives in the area.

There are lots of great ideas in this post. I'd be cautious about how you use them, though. While it's good to shake things up, the nice thing about clichés is that they make everyone's life easier. If the players know they can get information quickly at the tavern, they can more quickly get to the meat of the adventure. And if by "meat" you mean "exploring a hole in the earth, kicking down doors, and bustin' heads" then it might be best if you stick with the tavern.

If, however, information gathering is closer to the heart of your adventures, as it is with Ripper X's, getting the PCs to cast a wider net makes good sense. Helping players decide where they might best search is still important, since you want to get the best use of your gaming time. "The Special Glow" post at Amagi Games has a number of good ideas on this topic.

Of course, just knowing where to look is only the beginning. Some of places mentioned in the post can be a challenge just to get into:

Another civil place where one can discuss things in private, as well as obtain the peace required for ruling a corrupt public is a garden. Gardens are kept behind walls and again, one must be a member to enjoy the splendor of them.

The PCs know Lady Gloria walks through the Three Swans garden every day after lunch. But how do they gain entry to the well-guarded and magically warded place? Answering such questions is how information gathering becomes adventure.


Edward Ott said...

how about a coffee house instead of a tavern. that is what i like to use in my fantasy campaigns.

trollsmyth said...

Or maybe a klava house?

There are all sorts of ways you can handle this. I played in a game where adventurers where registered and operated out of guild houses, so everyone hung out at guild house for the latest rumors and jobs. In another game I played, I had an ex-demon (long story) sage with a magical home that had doors in all the major cities of all the important worlds. The PCs knew they could always find what they needed through him, if they were willing to pay the price. I've also used pleasure houses, sprawling complexes that are part tea house, part casino, part restaurant, and part bordello. The key is to fit the locale for information mining to both the setting and the sort of information being gathered.

- Brian