The Friendly Bar Room Brawl

 Posted by on November 2, 2011  Filed as: Steal this Encounter  Add comments
Nov 022011

*Edit: This awesome encounter has been revised.
Go here to check it out!

How many times have you watched a bar room brawl on TV and thought, “Cool. Too bad it doesn’t happen like that in real life.”? Well, I usually say, “Cool. Too bad it doesn’t happen like that in RPGs.”

Now it does!

Introducing the Friendly Bar Room Brawl!

Use this encounter any time your players are in a bar, and you want some good old-fashioned fist fights (not the kind that can end in slit throats or explosive fireballs, but the kind that involves banging heads together and getting thrown out a window). In real life, bar room brawls are usually mean and dirty, and have the potential for serious injury or death. Not so with this encounter!

The setup:

  • The PCs need a distraction.
  • The PCs need to drink and relax.
  • The PCs need to drink and gain intel.
  • The PCs need to drink and gain friends.
  • The PCs need to advertise their presence.

The execution:

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 players to decide, but hopefully it doesn’t come down to that.

  1. Each PC gets a turn (and only the PCs). The player makes a simple or basic unarmed attack (or simply strength, dexterity, or agility attacks).
  2. The difficulty for these attacks should be a fixed number, not individual NPC defenses. If the PCs are in way over their heads, they should expect to hit about 25% of the time. If they are even-matched, they should hit about 50% of the time. If the PCs are considered “heroes” or “experienced” when the NPCs are considered normal, the difficulty to hit should be reflected so that they hit around 75% of the time. Find the average of the party’s to-hit bonus to figure out what the DC is for everyone. This can (of course) be adjusted if most of the people in the bar don’t like the PCs. Personally, I like the idea that the PCs only hit about 50% of the time.
  3. On a player’s turn, he makes a single attack roll. If he succeeds, he rolls on the Success Table, and if he fails, he rolls on the Failure Table.
  4. Each player takes a turn, and then the round starts over (NPCs don’t make attack rolls).
  5. The brawl is over when the PCs rack up a total of 16 successes, or 16 failures (that seems like a good number). Regardless, the PCs are tired and battered, but have not sustained any permanent injuries. Any hit points (etc.) come back after a little bit of rest.

In the end, it is the PCs who get to determine the ramifications of the fight, depending on its outcome! Do the PCs end up drinking the night away with their new friends, or get tossed out on their butts? Do they succeed in distracting the guards guarding the upstairs? Have they made their presence known? Barring any game-breaking consequences, let the players decide what happens, regardless of how the fight ends. They’ll love it, and trust you more as a GM.

Success Table:

  1. The group gets their normal success, but the PC doesn’t do anything special.
  2. The group gets their normal success, but the PC doesn’t do anything special.
  3. The group gets their normal success, but the PC doesn’t do anything special.
  4. PC throws an NPC out the front door.
  5. PC blocks a hit for an NPC, and makes a friend!
  6. PC manages to take a swig of beer or ale.
  7. PC grabs two NPCs and bashes their heads together.
  8. PC splashes ale into an NPC’s face.
  9. PC smashes chair across back of NPC.
  10. PC smashes stool across back of NPC.
  11. PC throws an NPC out the window.
  12. PC throws an NPC over the bar.
  13. PC tosses NPC onto table, smashing it everywhere.
  14. PC smashes beer bottle or pitcher of ale over NPC’s head.
  15. PC manages to steal a kiss from a server.
  16. PC hops on table and jumps off, knocking several NPCs down.
  17. PC performs some uncharacteristically agile stunt. He looks like the ultimo badass.
  18. PC taunts the NPCs. They cower for a moment. Some leave.
  19. PC has the advantage. Next round, he gets to make two attacks.
  20. Somehow, the PC manages to knock out several NPCs (player must explain how). This counts as an additional success!

Failure Table:

  1. The PC gets thrown onto the bar, dragged the length of it, then launched off the end.
  2. PC gets kicked in the groin. Crumples like a rag doll.
  3. PC gets thrown out the front door.
  4. PC accidentally hits an ally (the player to the right).
  5. A flying chair soars across the room, smashing into a PC.
  6. The PC somehow gets pantsed.
  7. PC gets ale splashed into his face.
  8. PC gets a chair smashed across his back.
  9. PC gets a stool smashed across his back.
  10. PC gets thrown out a window.
  11. PC gets thrown over the bar.
  12. PC gets tossed onto a table, smashing it everywhere.
  13. PC gets beer bottle or pitcher of ale smashed over his head.
  14. PC is mocked like a pansy, making others laugh.
  15. A small person lands on the shoulders of a PC, and smacks the PC senseless, repeatedly.
  16. PC slips on ale, falling flat on his back. Yes, everyone saw.
  17. PC gets a black eye which will be with him for several days.
  18. PC gets a busted lip, which he’ll have for several days.
  19. PC is at a disadvantage. Next round, he must make two attacks, taking the worse result.
  20. Somehow, the PC manages to get knocked the F out (player must explain how). This counts as an additional failure. Next round, he’s back in the game.

Remember, regardless of who wins the brawl, it’s up to the PCs to determine the outcome. How do they end the night?

I got this idea from Sully over at Pack of Gnolls from this article. Thanks Sully!

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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.

  6 Responses to “The Friendly Bar Room Brawl”

  1. I like this very much. I also really like it as an alternative ‘damage’ method. For a bar room brawl, that magic sword should have nothing to do with how well you smash a tankard of ale into a dwarf’s nose.

  2. Very cool! I’m going to show this to my DM. Sounds like fun.

  3. Thanks guys! I’m going to make sure my GM sees this as well. I really think it would be fun once in a while.

  4. Thanks for the shout-out! I am really looking forward to using this in my home game.

  5. I like it so much i’m going to make a french translation of it.

    Where did you find the picture ?

  6. @ All – Let me know how this works out for your groups, ok?

    @ Guillaume – French translation? Of course! Let us know where you post it, ok? As far as the picture, I wish I knew where I got it from, I just can’t remember. I do remember that it was a blog that didn’t say who the artist was, unfortunately.

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