The Friendly Bar Room Brawl, Revised!

 Posted by on November 16, 2014  Filed as: Steal this Encounter  Add comments  Topic(s):
Nov 162014

Hi, there! Long time no see! Well, I’m back – and I have a revision to make…

Bar BrawlSo, I wrote up an encounter a while back that was pretty fun for our group. As a post here at Stuffer Shack, it was also generally well-received. However, I won’t post a link to that Brawl encounter, because I’ve revised it – so it’s now a million times better!  [New rules are below…]

The last time I ran the Bar Room Brawl encounter, it just seemed to be missing something.  So, on a whim, I changed the rules.  The result was overwhelmingly the most fun encounter of our entire Rise of the Runelords campaign, and that campaign lasted well over a year!  How did I change the encounter?  By having the players interpret and dictate how the bar fight went down…  It was simply a blast… easily the most fun we’ve had in a while.

The Friendly Bar Room Brawl can take place for any reason. Do the characters have some downtime with nothing else to do? Are they meeting someone important and a brawl is a great interruption? Or is there an NPC or new PC that needs to be introduced to the group? Whatever reason, there’s always room for a Friendly Bar Room Brawl!

I’m including this encounter as a Word document that you can conveniently download and print for your game…

The Friendly Bar Room Brawl, Revised!

This is a semi-friendly fight – as soon as knives, guns, lasers, or fireballs come out to play, the fight either stops – or becomes a standard combat encounter. That’s up to the GM and the players to decide, but hopefully it doesn’t come to that.


  1. The brawl starts with the player on the left of the GM (or with whichever PC started the fight).
  2. The player makes a simple Strength, Dexterity, or Agility roll against an average target number (average target number for the group so that – in theory – they hit half of the time). The GM must keep track of the number of successes and the number of failures.
  3. Regardless of whether the PC succeeded or failed, the player rolls a d20 and compares the result to the chart below. If the player had succeeded in his attack roll, he/she must describe how they successfully kick ass that round while referencing the clue in the chart. If the player had failed in their attack, they must likewise use their clue to describe their failure. [“Oh crap! Well, I try to kick the big guy, but I slip on some ale and land flat on my back!”]
  4. Each player character in the bar gets a turn. When one player is done with their turn, the player on their left goes next. No NPCs or enemies get turns; only the player characters. When all of the player characters have gone, a new round starts.
  5. If there are only 2 or 3 players, there must be 6 rounds of brawling. If there are 4 players, there must be 5 rounds of brawling. 5 players = 4 rounds, and 6 or more players = 3 rounds of brawling.
  6. When the appropriate number of rounds have been completed (6, 5, 4, or 3), the brawl ends. If the players have equal or more successes than failures, they win the brawl. Otherwise, they lose! Here’s the kicker… it’s up to the players to decide the outcome of the fight. Do they make new friends? Do they make new enemies? Do they gain information or gear? Do they lose gear? Is the building even still standing? Make sure you and the players describe the aftermath. It should be fun and helpful in some way!


  1. Your turn involves the bar, front door, or window. How?
  2. You succeed or fail because of a non-combatant. How?
  3. Your turn involves an animal [WTF?]. How?
  4. Either you or your opponent is unbelievably unlucky. What happened?
  5. How, exactly, did you humiliate your opponent (or get humiliated)?
  6. Your turn involves a drink, pitcher, or bottle. What happened?
  7. Your turn involves a stool, chair, chandelier, railing, or table.
  8. Your turn involves someone REALLY big, or REALLY small, and it’s quite humorous or pathetic.
  9. Your turn involves the worst brawling wound ever, one that lasts for days.
  10. How, exactly, did you just make a friend?
  11. Your turn involves a server, bar wench, or bartender. How?
  12. You or your opponent does or says the dumbest thing – something that does not belong in a bar fight. What was it?
  13. Your action (or your opponent’s) is pathetic. How pathetic, exactly?
  14. How, exactly, did you demoralize your opponent (or get demoralized)?
  15. Your turn is uncharacteristically challenging and insane. Why?
  16. The outcome of your turn is a direct result of the previous player’s turn. How?.
  17. How exactly did you taunt your opponent? And what happened?
  18. What happened that gave the player on your left a +2 bonus or penalty on their next turn?
  19. Someone just got knocked the eff out! How?! If it was you, this counts as two failures. If it was your opponent, this counts as two successes!
  20. Either you or your opponent is the ultimo badass. Explain why. Also, this counts as either two successes or two failures! And… either a +2 or -2 penalty for the next player’s turn!

Download the Word Document Brawl Rules.

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Charisma Keller

Charisma is a self-proclaimed Gran Tourismo champion, and swears that it’s official (or that it should be). She loves strength and beauty, so she usually tries to combine the two. Her characters are confident, humble, foolish, and heroic, and has named at least two of them after her favorite drink, the Lemon Drop. Oh yeah, her favorite muscle car would be the 67 GT-500E.

  2 Responses to “The Friendly Bar Room Brawl, Revised!”

  1. I don’t know if you knew of this but decades ago, when White Dwarf catered mostly for RPG, they published an AD&D scenario about a barroom brawl ( making it a mix between RPG and boardgame, and it was a runaway success, so much that a few issues later they adapted it for Runequest…

  2. That sounds like it was fun. Adding it as a semi boardgame makes it seem even more fun!

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