I started my Blackmarch 13th Age campaign this past weekend. It’s sort of like True Grit with swords and magic, and I decided to get the players into the frontier spirit by kicking it off with a good, old-fashioned tavern brawl.
I treated the other brawlers as low-hp mooks, so the PCs could emerge as epic bar fighters capable of knocking out three men with a single punch. A couple of the brawlers got colorful physical descriptions, and one or two lines of dialogue before they hit the floor. The players responded so well that they’ll be back later: maybe looking for revenge, maybe looking for help.
I created a list of 20 ready made tavern brawlers for use in future punch-ups. Use them freely in your game, and I hope you’ll add your own in the comments.
You just punched a(n)…
- Icon in disguise (to see which one it is, have the players make icon relationship rolls; if none succeed, choose randomly from the icons that weren’t part of the relationship check; if more than one success is rolled, you have the fun of deciding why those icons are traveling incognito together…)
- Scarred half-orc wearing a tunic with the symbol of the Three on it
- Tipsy gnome swinging a turkey leg like a club
- Dark elf with a crow perched on his/her shoulder, which flies squawking up into the rafters
- Ranger wearing the unit patch of the 75th Regiment
- Underboss of the local thieves’ guild
- Druid wearing a crown of hissing, snapping carnivorous plants
- Messenger for the Archmage carrying a leather courier pouch, which goes skidding across the floor and under a table
- Wizard who drops a glass bottle to the floor; it shatters and a vile little winged homunculus with nasty sharp teeth flutters out, cackling with glee
- Dwarf miner, and all of his/her friends are now turning their attention to you
- Stone golem; you take 1d4 damage from hitting a living rock, you big dummy
- Old man playing a lively reel on a fiddle
- Ghost of a deceased tavern patron who died while drunk, and drunk he/she remains
- Young man in a broad-brimmed hat and improbable mustache; they fall away to reveal it’s actually a young woman
- Zombie; your fist is now covered in foul-smelling zombie goo
- Bastard child of the Emperor; you literally can’t take a swing around here without hitting one
- Strange tall person whose cloak falls away to reveal three halflings standing on each others’ shoulders
- Paladin of the Crusader, who was just about to win a bet on how long he/she could balance a full mug of ale on his/her head
- Time traveling assassin
- Person you’ve been looking everywhere for, without success.