This installment of the Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
After a brief introduction, we dive right into the first tavern of the trinity, the Angelic Imp: Dim, yet romantically lit, with red candles and vases of red and white roses, the tavern utilizes a romanticized aesthetic oscillating between the reds of passion (associated with blood and sin) and the purity of white – this is the place to go when you’re looking for a prime spot for a discrete candlelight dinner with excellent accompanying food – from grilled swordfish to saffron-tomato seafood stew and jasmine rice, the food did make my mouth water a bit; while the pdf does not sport menues with sample prices for the dishes, the tavern itself is fully mapped in a player-friendly little, functional map. The angelic imp, as such, has a reputation for privacy and rumors (4 of which are provided in pretty nice detail) are usually something you’d stumble across outside of the establishment. The 6 sample events provided deal with the obviously exquisite and delicate nature of the place; with customers being enraged at the prices of the bill, an artificial wine shortage and love and lust reciprocated or denied, the events fit well within the context of the tavern. Bellamy Brook, the establishment’s owner, receives the full NPC treatment (expert/sorceror multiclass, just fyi), while his striking server Malena is provided as a detailed write-up, including stats. There is also a love-triangle/jealousy-story waiting in the wings, with Albright Ansuer, son of a self-made man and bored and spoiled aristocratic debutante Jenna Saunderville featuring fluffy write-ups and quite some potential for intriguing scenes. Layout-wise, I’m not a big fan of a little advertisement box pointing towards a side-quest in the first Tavern Tales-installment in the middle of the file here, as it takes up 1/2 a page, but considering the low price, I can live with that.
But perhaps the PCs aren’t the biggest fans of romance. Well, then Blackberry Bill’s may be what their looking for – small and cozy, with a focus on pastries and the like, the tavern is run by the eponymous Blackberry Bill…who is btw. a brutal pugilist with some serious class levels – the grizzled dwarf is indeed a former adventurer and those stuffed heads on the wall…they’re not hanging there for nothing. Famous for his jams and massive infatuation with blackberries, Bill may not have the best people skills, but his food makes up for that. His waitress, Braybin Mockingson, a speckled and energetic halfling seems to make up for that in energy and impulse. A total of 6 rumors, from tall tales about Bill’s adventuring days to how in fact his blackberry creations reached their level of deliciousness, are provided. Now Bill, obviously, is relying on a secret patch of blackberries and hence, his obsessions with the fruits feature in the sample events: From experimental dishes to the quest for ever more blackberry recipes, thefts, customers bringing a cockatrice into the shop or kids gone missing near the patch…the adventuring potential is there and diverse/creative.
The third of the taverns featured herein would be the Pattering Platypus – and unlike the previous two, this one has an explicitly stated menu that changes by weekday, though it sports no prices. Much like the previous two taverns, the tavern comes with detailed and well-crafted prose depicting the owner, Titus Muldoon as well as Devon Winterhall and a local celebrity bard. Devon, just fyi, does get full stats and is a maneuver master monk that can make for an interesting bouncer. It should be noted that the food here is pretty much diner fare – with burgers in all but name, delicious fried chicken – and before you start complaining about anachronism here – there are reliable accounts on frying practices in the 17th century and considering that magic and our default setting come closer to the early modern period than the middle ages, I am fine with that. The rumors featured here deal mostly with the NPCs mentioned before and patrons misbehaving; in direct contrast, these are the weakest among the rumors/events herein – they aren’t bad, mind you – just not as diverse.
Now, the pdf also has more people to add to the respective taverns -we have an amethyst-eyed punk-aesthetic gnome sorceress looking for thrills and fun and her gruff, practical and realistic elven friend. You can also encounter Dizzy Izzy (full stats included), disheveled-looking and rather successful mesmerist/conman/information-broker or the charming, intelligent Harding von Orcson, gentlemen trader; you can try to best local legend Pie-eating Pete (fully statted), encounter an eccentric, but harmless pretend-noble. Finally, there is the powerful guard captain Ervyn Blackwall and his mount (again, full stats included); always a likely source of employment for adventurers or a powerful foil for less scrupulous forces. So yes,a dding these beings to taverns (or just scavenging them for other purposes) increases the conflict/adventuring potential for the respective places by quite a bit!
Editing and formatting are tight in both formal criteria and rules-language departments – I have no complaints here. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf features b/w-artworks for EVERY SINGLE NPC herein. Unless I am sorely mistaken, I have seen none of these before as well; for the more than fair price point, that is quite a feat and yes, even the fluff-only NPCs/non-combatants have their mugshots. Kudos! The cartography in b/w is nice and does its job well. However, particularly in a supplement with 3 taverns, I would have loved them to be collected in the back on one sheet so you can print them all out at once, cut them up and hand them over as a handout. The advertisement dropped in at the end of the first tavern was something I wasn’t too keen on either – I print out pdfs when I use them and collecting it with the other ads at the back would have probably diminished the effectiveness, yes; but it would have made the mount’s statblock of the captain not reliant on the final page, which is otherwise mostly advertisement.
Kelly & Ken Pawlik’s trio of taverns is a supplement well-worth getting; for a more than fair price, you get some nice builds, NPCs and places to drop in your campaign. While the absence of prices for the food and beverages is a minor detriment in my book, the places indeed capture the imagination, with the first two outclassing the third in my book; after the quirky and creative first two taverns, the third did feel a bit more common in direct comparison. That being said, this is still a great little supplement. I may have nitpicked a couple of components of the pdf, but as a whole, I am very much content with this pdf; I enjoy what is offered and in the end, while the third tavern is slightly less evocative than the first two, I will settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. If you’re looking for some cool taverns, this would be the pdf to go for.
You can get this cool, inexpensive sourcebook here on OBS!